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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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Mindfulness in the Classroom

Mindfulness. It seems to be another of those words that is making the rounds lately. Mindfulness. To me there are so many takes on the word and I feel that it is one of those trends that we do within the IB PYP anyway. I was curious as to how the children perceived this word and so, I asked. 

The responses were eye-opening really. Thankfully, many of the kids referred to the IB Attitudes, since we are constantly using this language and philosophy in school. It surrounds them.

Practicing Mindfulness

An Attitude of Appreciation.

A plan of action was to become aware of what we were thankful for amongst each other. We began to notice how we  could help one another with random acts of kindness that really were small and otherwise unnoticed. Simple thing such as complimenting one another, passing an eraser, smiling across the room. This was facilitated with Compliment Coupons. The children really learned to recognize the goodness that was all around them .
 

Quiet Time:...

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Essential Tools for Every IB PYP Classroom

 Cooperation- how to construct a 3d model of a volcano.

Back to school preparations are in high gear for some and are coming to a screeching halt for others as summer is upon us! I tend to fall into the latter category myself…despite good intentions every single year. You know, last minute cramming, moments before the kids walk into the classroom?  But that’s how I roll after 23 years of this gig! However, for the many, many teachers who will be new or newish to the PYP this year, I wanted to put out a list of the essentials for every PYP classroom, giving even those of you who, like myself, tend to procrastinate all summer long, plenty of time to prepare.

Every PYP classroom, regardless of where you are in the world, ( 4655 IB world schools at the last count in 2017!), will have some commonalities as I’ve listed below. Your PYP coordinator will be able to provide a printed checklist list for you from the IB website, MY IB. Entry to this site...

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IB PYP Approaches to Learning Skills

It Takes Skills! 

The word is well and truly out. The newest hub bub in the IB world is the Approaches to Learning Skills. Formerly known by the International Baccalaureate Organisation as the Transdisciplinary Skills, these are, simply put, a set of skills that we use when we are involved in learning. They come grouped into five sets: Thinking, Social, Self Management, Research and Communication. They naturally have growth mindset occurring within them, since they cover many different behaviours, self control as well as thinking and communication strategies.

 

As part of your IB PYP  classroom, it is usual to see the skills listed somewhere within the room, as posters ( more posters can be found in my store here and also here) and as part of our daily learning objectives. We often refer to those throughout our week and I also like to list them on my daily Learning Objectives boards, tied in with the subject and goals for that day.

 

By...

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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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The Inquiry Jar – Developing Inquiry Skills in the IB PYP

Hello dear teachers! I’m excited to share this idea with you. It is really easy to implement and can be done with ANY age level. I call it the INQUIRY JAR. (I know, really imaginative, right?) Let’s get straight to it!

Developing inquiry skills with a simple but effective tool.

A few posts ago, I wrote about developing inquirers and the three stages that are CRUCIAL to this development; structured inquiry leading to guided inquiry before you finally have independent inquirers.  ( You can link to that article here if you like.) Well, this activity with the Inquiry Jar, is a great way to encourage the inquiry process and model what it looks like and sounds like as well as moving on to teaching higher level thinking skills through questioning and thought analysis. You can find this plus 9 more ideas for bringing inquiry into your classroom in my free guide. It also comes with another great, FREE activity.

Structured...

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Assessment and Student Agency in the IB PYP

I recently attended an IB ARMS ( Rocky Mountain Association of IB World Schools) symposium in Denver and found myself in an interesting conversation regarding student agency.  I think that the current buzz word student agency must be recognised for its role of bringing greater awareness to our role of giving the children more pertinent opportunities to use their agency. In other words, providing the children with more authentic chances to use their voice, make choices for themselves, both collectively and as individuals, and to encourage ownership for their own learning. So, let’s look at the area of assessment and how we, as the facilitators, can increase the children’s’ involvement with this part of their learning cycle.

Since this is a lengthy subject, I’m going to break it down into 2 parts. I will also be including free samples of assessment tools. If you’d like to follow along, please add your e mail...

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Strategies for Authentic IB PYP Inquiry with Distance Learning

And so it continues….

As some of us are now knee deep into distance learning, and some of us are still finding our feet with it all, the fact of the matter remains that for many of us, this new form of teaching and learning that has been thrust upon us, isn’t going away any time soon. I know, I know. But…..it isn’t all bad news. Let’s not forget the skills that we have learned, the inner strength we have developed and the technology hurdles we have overcome! Or perhaps that last one is just me? Anyway, I have a video replay with a few strategies up my sleeve that I’d like to share with you to help keep the inquiry authentic with the on-going remote learning.

                             
Distance learning brings out the crazed and the crazy in us all. Hang in there!

    

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