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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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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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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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Concepts vs. Topics: Bringing clarity for IB PYP teachers

Concepts vs. Topics: Let's Get clear.

In Module 1, Lesson 2 of my online professional development course, Essentials for Inquiry: Getting Started with Student-Led Inquiry, I dive into bringing inquiry teachers an understanding all about conceptual teaching and learning. As an inquiry teacher, it's that important to have this fundamental understanding right from the beginning because we approach our teaching through a transdisciplinary lens, and it is through those concepts that the children are able to make their meaning far more enduring, transferring this understanding across disciplines, time and place. As we plan conceptual learning experiences for and with the students, we want their learning to have this authenticity and the scope for expansion as they begin to make those rich connections, forming meaning for themselves. In this article, I'm delighted to be sharing teacher-author, Misty Paterson, as she helps to uncover the difference between concepts and topics.  The...

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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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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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New to IB PYP Unit of Inquiry? This is for you

 

If you're new to the IB PYP and about to step into the realms of the unit of inquiry, then this article is for you. In response to many questions, I've put this overview together for you as a guide to the whats, hows and whys. Get excited! Inquiry based learning is such a hands on, fun way to learn....for all involved! I have also created a guide for 10 Ways to Bring Inquiry Based Learning Into Your Classroom. If you'd like this free guide, simply add your e mail in the box below and I will send it to you. If you're looking for more in-depth guidance and training, you may be interested in my Getting Started with Student-Led Inquiry training kit or the complete online course, Essentials for Inquiry. So many options. This is a lengthy read, so grab a pen and notebook and get comfortable. Read on!

The Unit of Inquiry: Its form & function.

The unit of inquiry is the road we take for all of the teaching and learning that will take place over the course of 4-6 weeks. It is a...

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Making Thinking Visible

It is no great news that children are created in a myriad of different ways and the way they synthesise things is as varied. We have the listeners, the visual learners, the kinesthetic and the cognitive to throw out  a few of the technical terms. Our challenge is not only to cater to all of those varying forms of learning but also to be aware of who our different learners are within our classroom.
 By making thinking visible, it helps us, as their educators, to see exactly what is going on ( or not going on in some cases) as each child is learning and to facilitate their learning further. Also, for a child to be able to show their thinking and explain how they came up with a solution, is a big confidence booster! :

 
The book that I’m about to plug is aptly entitled, “Making Thinking Visible”. It was given to me by one of my head teachers about 6 years ago. Since then, we have actually done a staff PD using the book to help us. The strategies are...
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