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Project Based Learning in the IB PYP Inquiry

I've shared a lot about project based learning with our Instagram IB PYP community and how it fits into our student-led inquiry framework. Many have asked me if it offers fidelity to the inquiry process, to student agency and to transdisciplinary learning.  With this post, my intention is to share my perspective based on my experience and hopefully bring some clarity as to how project based learning fits seemlessly within the unit of inquiry.

There is a common misconception that PBL is not as rigorous or as organic a form of inquiry-based learning. I say, that depends on: *Our understanding of an inquiry-based project *How we implement the process *How we differentiate inquiry *How we support student's voice within the project *How flexible we are with plans *How open we are to multiple strategies *How we view structure in the learning environment

 
 
 
 
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A post shared by Susan Powers...

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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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Planning Through the IB PYP Approaches to Learning Skills

The IB PYP Approaches to Learning Skills are a BIG deal! We think of them as the tools that support independent learning, amplifying the journey as the children progress with their development of those 21st century skills. And it is so important to identify those skills and then acknowledge them. Transparency is key. 

The functional language or action words help us when planning through the ATL skills with the children, to assist with recognising the skills in use, being able to transfer those skills authentically and connect the purpose to their learning meaningfully. Read on for practical ideas and tools for assisting with co-planning through the IB PYP Approaches to Learning Skills and watch the video where I share practical strategies for including the children in the planning process.

As you know, the PYP aims to develop inquiring, knowledgeable, and caring young people who help to create a better and more...
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Implementing Visible Thinking Routines in the IB PYP

When it comes to reflection and assessment of our IB PYP transdisciplinary inquiries, we are fundamentally assessing the abstract; understanding of concepts, transfer of knowledge and development of skills. These are not things that can be monitored with multiple choice assessments. (If you'd like to explore more about assessment in the PYP, start with this article here. ) Part of our assessment strategies include on-going documentation of the learning process, which includes the children's thinking and this is where the valuable visible thinking routines assist. I am delighted to welcome my guest writer, Jahnavi Aswani, a homeroom teacher-facilitator with PYP 3 from Mount Litera School International, Mumbai. She is bringing her experience with visible thinking routines and practical ideas to share with our community. As you read through Jahnavi's article, consider the Approaches to Learning Skills that are put into practice within the different thinking routines. Read on for some...
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5 Keys to Develop Collaborative Learning Experiences in the IB PYP

There is no doubt that within most of the IB PYP units of inquiry we have those subjects that have to be addressed as "stand alone" lessons that require explicit teaching and a very real need for paper and pencil work. However, when it comes to engagement, we need to remember that hands on investigation, authentic application of the skills and student input is far more memorable for the children, enables transfer of understanding and supports a sense of ownership. Let's talk about the collaborative learning experience. I am using maths and reading skills as an example but it can be applied to any subject.  Welcome to OPERATION COOPERATION.

..... it is fundamental to the philosophy of the PYP that, since it is to be used in real-life situations, mathematics needs to be taught in relevant, realistic contexts, rather than by attempting to impart a fixed body of knowledge directly to students  -Oxford Mathematics & IBO

I will be sharing some real-world examples from...

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Surviving Report Cards in the IB PYP School

Love them or hate them, report cards are a much-needed communication for all involved. The IB PYP report card gives you a road map of the standards your student is working on together with those abstract elements that are essential parts of the whole child. If you're new to the PYP report card, it can look a little overwhelming, bordering on an essay in some schools! (I am not kidding!)  However the format, the report card provides an opportunity to look closely at each child’s journey of their learning and, most importantly, from a whole child perspective. If you're looking for some guidance and a free set of report card comments, read on.

The Whole Child Approach

Every child meets or exceeds expectations on a different day at a different time, or quite possibly a different year. The expectation we have to emphasise with learning standards is that it's a journey, not a race.

The expectation we have to emphasise with learning standards is that it’s a journey, not...

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Tips for Sharing the IB PYP with Parents

Engaging the families of our IB PYP students and getting them on board is so important for all involved and not least for bringing that cohension to our learning community. Often times, it is the parents in our learning community who are the last to understand what exactly it is that we do. I receive many questions and requests from teachers, coordinators and school leaders who are presented with this job of bringing the PYP to the parents. Do any of the questions below sound familiar?

So, what exactly is the PYP?

How is my child actually learning?

What do you mean that you're a FACILITATOR?

I'm a little concerned about this student-led inquiry thing?

Well, here's my advice for you if you've been given the soapbox to step upon and deliver the message of why we encourage inquiry based learning, support student agency and proudly fly the flag of being a PYP school.  These tips are designed with ideas to pick and choose. Obviously, what you do depends on time, space and your...

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Adding Depth to SEE-THINK-WONDER in the IB PYP

The good-old SEE-THINK-WONDER thinking routine. You could probably walk into any IB PYP classroom in the world and you will see it being used. How often do we use this oldie but goodie as a thinking routine? Without a doubt, it is a powerful starter to provoke our students' curiosity and then invite children to think more. But how much do we really utilise the power of this thinking routine as a means for developing the journey towards self-directed inquiry?  When we dive deeper into SEE-THINK-WONDER we uncover the IBPYP sub-skills that fall within the Approaches to Learning Skills.  In particular, we reach into the thinking & research skills.  I have a few exclusive PYP teaching tools to support the popular thinking routine of SEE-THINK-WONDER for both our youngest learners and our upper grades and have them all developing those oh-so-important comprehension skills.

A Thinking Routine for ALL Ages:

Thinking routines help our students to think critically about...

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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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