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Strategies for Developing IB PYP Conceptual Thinkers

Concepts are such a big part of our IB PYP lives. They begin with our transdisciplinary planning and end with the students' assessment of their conceptual understanding. And in between, we are nurturing and developing their awareness of those big ideas so that they may transfer their knowledge and understanding across disciplines and the programme of inquiry.

Following on from my conversation on Facebook, LIVE with  Misty Paterson from Pop-Up Studio, I wanted to offer some ideas that I have used for developing concept-seekers. I'm going to give you the super-quick tutorial on conceptual learning and planning before I dive into the tools I use to develop conceptual thinking within my students. If youre looking for ideas for assessing the related concepts within our transdisciplinary themes, you will LOVE this article that shares my strategy for rich, rigorous and student-led conversations to reflect and assess those related concepts. Take a look at this article below:

Enhancing...

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Lost in the Right Direction- New Year, New Goals

Happy New Year!

For those who know me, it's not unusual for the restlessness to kick in and spark my wanderlust. I returned to Colorado only 18 months ago, after dragging my teenagers around for a  year in France for heaven's sake! The credit card is still recovering from the costs of shipping furniture across the Atlantic and back again! ( I do NOT recommend shipping your entire household goods, its cheaper to start afresh! But that's a whole other blog post I suppose. ) Yet, here I go again.....planning, planning...my next adventure.

My wings are temporarily clipped however. A promise was made to my teenage children that we wouldn't move again until they graduated high school. So, two years to plan. ? One can come up with a lot of mischief when given two years to think about it.

Keep in mind, when I travel, it isn't for a two week package tour, although nothing wrong with that if that's your preference. Oh no. I'm more of the "shut up shop for a year or so"...

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My Favourite Read Alouds for IB PYP Units

I’ve been reflecting lately on the books I’ve used as read alouds  throughout our various units of inquiry, that have both reinforced the inquiry as well as integrated many reading skills and strategies.  I’ve compiled a list that may help you also, when planning your units of inquiry and aligning them with the elements of the PYP as well as your reading standards. Over the years, I have taught mainly from 3rd grade ( Primary 3/4) up to 6th grade ( Primary 7) and so you’ll find these books to fit the upper elementary age range more.

There is another blog post relating specifically to books that I love when reinforcing the traits of the Learner Profile. You can link to that post here. But this list is more for read alouds that will tie to many of the essential elements of the PYP, as well as slot in nicely to particular Transdisciplinary Themes.

I have created this list for your convenience. You can click on the picture and the title of...

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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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Planning the IB PYP Unit ……with the Kids!

It never fails to amaze me, when given the opportunity to take the lead, how much our students rise to the challenge. With the enhancements to the IB PYP having recently been unveiled, I felt that this would be a great time to address co-planning the unit…..with your students as your co-planners!

Encouraging greater student agency in your classroom is more than simply listening to the student voice. In my previous post  about implementing student agency, I mentioned the difference between passive learning and active learning. Allowing the children to actively contribute to the planning of their own learning, absolutely promotes meaningful student involvement.

The unit of inquiry has been planned  in a variety of ways over the years:

  • teachers develop a skeleton plan and complete it as they are informed by the childrens’ inquiries and progressing knowledge.
  • teachers may collaboratively develop the unit with their team, before...
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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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FREE Video 3 Training for IB PYP Inquiry Teachers

Hello again! I am delighted to be sharing this inquiry teacher video training series for those of you new to inquiry-based teaching and/or the IB PYP.  If you missed video 1 and video 2 on concept-based learning, you can catch up right here by clicking the links. 

ANOTHER FREE WEBINAR COMING SOON!

With the ENORMOUS response I have had from this summer video series, I have decided to go one step further and will be hosting a FREE webinar about planning the inquiry!  And I know we are ALL over the world, so I have scheduled several times. Hopefully, you are able to make one of those webinars. I shall be sending out invitations to register in the next few days, so, keep an eye on your in box. If you would like to join in, and not yet subscribed to this blog, please drop your name and e mail in the box below.

Collaboration and Inquiry : Summer Training Video 3

The subject of this video in the series is something that is an integral practice to the...

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