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5 Steps to Introducing Visible Thinking Routines Into Your IB PYP Class

Regardless of the age you are teaching, integrating Visible Thinking Routines into any IB PYP classroom can significantly enhance student engagement and learning outcomes. Today, Im bringing you five effective ways to introduce Visible Thinking Routines (VTRs) into your classroom that I have found to be most effective:

  1. Begin with a Foundation:
  • Before diving into Visible Thinking Routines, establish a positive and open classroom culture where students feel comfortable sharing their thoughts and ideas. This sense of community enables a feeling of security and that there is a partnership to the learning.
  • Ensure that your students have a fundamental awareness of their metacognition and what it means to BE an inquirer and a thinker, underlining this is a practical way to bring these attributes to life; what it looks-sounds-feels and acts like. I ALWAYS begin the school year with a focus on Thinking Skills, specifically the sub-skill of Reflection, which includes metacognitive...
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Easy Activities for Developing IB PYP Communication Skills

This article is bringing you some creative ideas for developing the IB PYP communications skills with your students. These are all practical and simple ideas that I've used in my class over the years with much success, much laughter and a lot of meaningful learning too. As I was listening to Claire, from The Art Engager podcast, this quote stuck with me, as I thought about how to better support my learners and reminded me of a really simple activity for mindful listening.

"Becoming more aware of your listening skills is the first step to improving them. "

The Art Engager Podcast

LISTENING MINDFULLY

Listening is often overlooked as a communication skill and so I like to begin here to remind the children that this is really a big part of collaborative discussions. We need to be able to listen to respond to others rather than listening to react.

And so, a simple but effective activity for all ages that can be done indoors or outdoors is to just simply stop and listen. If you throw...

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Supporting A Collaborative Classroom in the IB PYP

The very nature of the student led, inquiry based classroom is to amplify the children's voice and bring their thinking to light. As part of 21st century skills, we know that collaboration is a key player in this development of learning.  There is no doubt that the process of learning through collaboration is the evolution of expanding understanding. It breaks away from that traditional " I" and "me" method of learning and brings forth the community mindset. We want to build up this sense of collective agency through our culture of community learning.

Why Collaborative Learning?

This form of learning enables a multitude of sub-skills and ALL of the IB PYP Approaches to Learning Skills. It brings meaningful experiences to learning and allows our students to work towards a higher level of thinking as they build upon each others' thoughts and ideas.

  • Social skills: Becoming active participants of a social setting presents opportunities for the children to become more effective...
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Integrating Inquiry Based Math in the IB PYP

The Inquiry-Based Math Project in the IB PYP

Integrated maths inquiry, concept based maths, project based learning….it doesn’t matter what you call it, well designed projects support learning through a guided inquiry that has enough scope to ensure that maths concepts are approached authentically and with a student-led perspective. These projects naturally lend themselves to support all types and levels of learners. They are transdisciplinary in nature, allowing concepts and skills to be transferred and applied towards an end product that has largely been created with the children's voice as an obvious part of the process. They're open-ended enough to allow your students room to expand and direct the project yet structured enough to support those learners who aren’t quite ready to take that leap into independent inquiry.  As you watch the following video, where I share my strategies together with Parvana Guliyeva (an IB PYP grade 4 teacher, currently in...

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Bringing Student Agency into Assessment in the IB PYP

 

Student Agency and Inclusive Assessment

Over the years, Ive chatted about inclusive assessment as a practice that needs to become embedded within any student-led, inquiry-based classroom. This message has been spread far and wide that this is a really important part of our daily routine. The IB themselves shifted towards on-going reflection, we have student agency as all the buzz ( and hallelujah for that!), numerous educators within our community are sharing their rationale for the value that inclusive assessment brings and none of this could have come a moment too soon. Yes, its that vital.

If we consider assessment as a key element within education, then we have to reconsider the role our students play within that element.

If you'd like to catch up with my 3 part series of articles from 2018-2019, you can link to those here. They cover the form and function of assessment in the inquiry-based classroom, together with  strategies for developing inclusive

...

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Strategies for Teaching English in IB PYP International Schools

As an international teacher, it is highly likely that you will be teaching English as a second or even third foreign language. In many international schools, we find ourselves with a beautiful broth of multiple languages and cultures within our classrooms. And, we deliver our inquiry-based framework to the children in English. For many others, we are teaching in a host country, to a class full of native speakers from our host country and, again, part of our repertoire is to teach those children to not only speak in English but also to learn in English.

Language therefore becomes more than simply a means of conversation. We are teaching a language, about language and through language and we do all of this with that authentic, inquiry-based approach that we truly believe in.  In this article, I will be sharing a recent video from a conversation I had live on Facebook with grade 4 teacher, Maria Vidal. ( @bilingualising on Instagram) [caption id="attachment_2738"...

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Developing Thinkers & Inquirers in the Early Years IB PYP

 

The early years in the IB PYP can be a whole new experience for teachers new to student-led inquiry. It is a beautiful mix of play-based exploration,  guiding invitations leading to inquiry and  provoking wonder all led by the children's natural curiosity.

I do not profess to be an expert with this age-group. Having never taught in an early years classroom, it amazes me when I see creative early years teachers working their magic and bringing the elements of the PYP seamlessly into practice with our youngest learners.

Common Challenges

I often hear from early years teacher-facilitators that their challenges include questioning and developing this skill with the children.  Such struggles include:

  • How do I get the children to ask meaningful questions?
  • How can we use thinking strategies with such young children?
  • They can't  read or write, how do I plan for inquiries?
  • They're too young to ask good questions.

Perhaps you can relate to one or a few? Well, I am...

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5 Things You Don’t Have To Do As A PYP Teacher

When it comes to being an inquiry teacher and an IB PYP teacher, there are a bazillion articles and blog posts and podcasts and books telling us what we can do: become an effective facilitator, research new curriculum,changes to practices, to assessment etc. etc. and on and on,  all while making sure we follow through with the latest buzz words -this is all well and good and no doubt valuable. But sometimes it becomes, and I'm speaking from personal experience, totally and utterly overwhelming.  Well, to add a variation to the theme,  I'm here today to tell you what you DONT have to do! :) Ready? Here goes. You DON'T HAVE TO.......

1. Give Feedback Daily

But how will I know if they are meeting the objectives? How will I know they understood the concepts? What if they are falling behind?  These are a few of the questions that I used to ask myself back in the days when I was rushing around in a stressed out state, trying to ensure that I had enough evidence of...

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Provoking Curiosity, Inviting Wonder: The Art of the Provocation in the IB PYP

No matter whether your inquiry is happening online or in the classroom, setting the scene of the inquiry and tuning in to the possibilities requires sparking curiosity, triggering background knowledge and provoking wonder. This is where the magic begins and the student-led inquiries stem. This is the art of the provocation. But what exactly does it mean? What is this thing we call "a provocation"? These synonyms from the definition of the noun (provocation) from  the Oxford English Dictionary are  indicators of what we are aiming for:

goading · prodding. inviting · rousing · stirring · stimulation · prompting · inducement · encouragement · urging · inspiration · stimulus  · teasing ·
 
 

We want the provocation activity to be familiar yet unfamiliar.

  • Prod the children's...
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Being An IB PYP Inquiry Teacher

I played around with the title of this article, largely because the job of an IB PYP teacher never looks the same from teacher to teacher. I tried, ' The Role of ....", then, " The Job of.." and finally settled on the above because basically job refers to the content  and role refers to the context . Our role and job, I felt,  can look quite different depending on the grade level, whereas being brings our own uniqueness to the role which amplifies the job. Make sense? I may be putting too much thought into it. Ha!

Anyway, the most common queries I receive from teachers new to student-led inquiry and the IB PYP is that they are seeking clarity as to how their job ( the content)  may differ from their previous teaching positions and what their new role ( the context) , will look like. Well, rather than simply providing a list like a job description, I created points that summarise  what happens as we make that shift from the traditional classroom teacher, to that...

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