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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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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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Integrating Math into an IB PYP Unit of Inquiry

  Keeping it real with inquiry based math.

I’m often asked how I integrate maths into our IB PYP units of inquiry. I won’t deny that depending on the unit, it can sometimes be easier said than done. However, I’ve found over the years, that it’s best to keep it relaxed and, if necessary, simply focus on concepts in maths rather than content.  Often, especially within the public IB schools in the USA, we are expected to meet certain maths standards by a certain time. This often results in a clash of math units and units of inquiry and a creative juggle ensues. But hey, who doesn’t love a challenge?  The rest of the IB world?  You’ve got it luckier, I assure you! Anyway, a great resource for math in the beginning of the year is https://www.youcubed.org/. It encourages a maths mindset and is centred around collaborative thinking. It does require signing up for a free account but, once you’re in, you can view...

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Developing the IB PYP Approaches to Learning Skills with Drama

Drama! It brings out the risk taker in many and inspires  Oscar-worthy acting in others. It really is one of my favourite activities in the classroom that incorporates so many skills, which is why I wanted to share some ideas with you regarding using drama with your class.  Perfect for any IB PYP theme, especially How We Express Ourselves, it can be incorporated into all subject areas quite seamlessly, not to mention a fabulous way to enhance an Exhibition presentation.

The IB PYP  Approaches to Learning Skills ( formerly known as the transdisciplinary skills) are grouped into five areas of skills that we use in our daily journey of learning – Thinking, Communication, Social, Self Management and Research.  You can link to a separate post that focuses on developing the children’s awareness  of these skills here.  I have found that when I throw some drama into the mix of my plans, things really start to spice up when it comes...

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Engaging Learners with Authentic Inquiry

Engagement. You know the scene; the entire class is actively involved in their learning. There’s a quiet buzz going on all around. Children are chatting to each other, conversations are focused discussing ideas, plans, strategies. There is movement around the room, with tools and equipment being independently gathered, heads are together, collaboration is seen all around. You know that you’ve nailed it when the busyness of learning is their business!

But…..and there’s definitely a but, how do we keep this going across the curriculum? Is it too idealistic? Time consuming? Can we cover all standards this way? Can we really trust the kids to run with this? How do we, as the teacher, fit it in?

This post isn’t about what engagement looks like in your classroom but rather  about how to initiate and maintain the engagement within authentic inquiry focused learning. Engagement is so much more than just keeping the children busy with...

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Teaching Time with An Inquiry Approach

If I’m to be honest, teaching elapsed time is not my favourite thing to do. It’s pretty close to pulling my own teeth, but of course, ultimately, far more rewarding. 🙂  With interactive timelines things get far more interesting.

 children-cute-drawing-159823

With 3rd grade, it is such a tricky concept to grasp, particularly with hours and minutes. And then when you throw in years and A.D and B.C ( now also known as Before the Common Era /B.C.E and the Common Era/ C.E) , we can really end up quite tied in knots. But once they’ve got it, by golly, the wee angels are soaring! And their teacher is on cloud nine with them!

The review, by the time we get to 4th and 5th grades, isn’t quite as painful, thank goodness, and fine tuning those time lines and introducing more complex variations can even become a fun experience for all involved with great digital variations that the kids love exploring. I’ll get to more of those in a bit.

There are numerous ways to teach elapsed...

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Brilliant Picture Books for Integrating Maths in the IB PYP

I’m an avid believer in making maths an adventure of discovery and creation rather than simply an expected chore. By integrating maths into our units of inquiry and making it an authentic experience, we are dispelling the myth that maths is boring and we turn our learners into investigators, truth seekers and explorers! Far more exciting already, don’t you think?

I’m well aware of how tricky it can be to integrate maths into all of our units of inquiry and so there are several alternative routes that I turn to when the going gets tough, which I’ll be sharing soon in a future post. But for today, I want to share how picture books are one of the easiest ways to bring the adventure back to your maths lessons.

Here are some of my favourites that I’ve found provoke inquiry and are simple to slot into multiple units of inquiry, whilst covering many maths standards. Many of them are flexible enough to adapt for all ages. You can link directly to each book for...

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