PYP New Staff Induction as a Unit of Inquiry

This year we had 25 wonderful new staff join our Primary Years Program. As PYP Coordinator, myself and my trusty partner are charged with the privilege of training them in all things PYP. We decided this was a great chance for us – as coordinators- to participate in a process of collaborative planning and design our own Unit of Inquiry to structure our 9 one-hour sessions with our new staff. Here are the big pieces of our UOI:

staff induction UOI

We had 3 overarching goals:

  1. Have our new-to-PYP learn about the PYP, by learning through the PYP
  2. Model inquiry based, concept-driven teaching and learning practices they could take back and use in their own teaching
  3. Stay connected to the process of unit planning, unit delivery and unit reflection from a teaching perspective

Here is a brief (not so brief!) summary of what we did each week to hopefully accomplish these goals!

Week 1 – General overview

Diagnostic Assessment: What do you know, or think you know about the PYP?

Teachers sketched their own model of the elements of the PYP and how they work together.

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Tuning in: How do you feel about your current understanding of the PYP?

Teachers wrote their name or a symbol on a post-it and stuck it to a reflection spectrum that ranged from “I don’t even know what PYP stands for” all the way to “I should take over the PYP Coordinator’s job”

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Tuning in: Introducing the Unit of Inquiry

We shared the central idea, key concepts and lines of inquiry with the teachers.

Tuning in: Q&A

We facilitated an informal question and answer session and made sure to take note of questions that could guide our planning for future sessions.

Week 2 – International Mindedness

Tuning in: What is international mindedness?(Form)  How does it work in the PYP?(Function)

Teachers jotted down what they think they know about the form and function of international mindedness into their “Inquiry Notebooks”.

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Finding Out & Sorting Out: Resource Exploration & Visible Thinking Routine – Connect, Extend, Challenge

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Teachers explored a variety of resources we provided about international mindedness and organized their ideas based on the Connect-Extend-Challenge Visible Thinking Routine.

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Making Conclusions: Reflection – How might I develop IM in the grade/subject I teach?

Teachers sat with colleagues who teach the same grade or subject to chat about and brainstorm ways to put their learning about IM into action.

Week 3 – Transdisciplinary Learning

Taking Action : Reflecting on international mindedness

Teachers discussed how they had put their learning about IM into action in their own teaching and how it went.

Tuning in: Visible Thinking Routine – 3,2,1 Bridge

VTR 2

Teachers completed the first part of the Visible Thinking Routine “3,2,1 Bridge” about transdisciplinary learning.

Provocation: Decomposition Lab

Teachers watched this YouTube video that shows a Grade 4 transdisciplinary unit in action and discussed what they noticed.

Sorting Out: Transdisciplinary Theme Visible Thinking Routine: Chalk Talk

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Teachers completed a chalk talk for each of the 6 TD themes in the PYP, brainstorming what topics or specific areas of study could be explored in that theme.

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Making Conclusions & Reflection: 3,2,1, Bridge

Teachers completed the second part of the VTR “3,2,1 Bridge” and reflected on how their understanding about transdisciplinary learning had shifted and changed.

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Week 4 – Concept-Based Teaching and Learning

Taking Action: Reflecting on transdisciplinary learning

Teachers chatted about how the attempted TD learning in their own teaching practice based on what they had learned the week before.

Tuning in: +1 Routine

Teachers brainstormed a list of all the pieces of information they knew about concept-based learning.

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Provocation: Dr. David Perkins

Teachers read this startling statement “90%  of what we teach in schools is a waste of time… it just doesn’t matter” and then watched this YouTube video of Dr. David Perkins to provoke their thinking about “what’s worth knowing?”

Finding Out & Sorting Out: Resource Exploration & Visible Thinking Routine +1

Teachers explored resources that we provided and added relevant ideas and information to their +1 routine.

Going Further: Key Concept Questions

Teachers brainstormed questions about the Kuwait Towers from each key concept lens.

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Making Conclusions: Visible Thinking Routine- Headlines

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Teachers wrote a “headline” that summarized their current understanding of concept-based teaching and learning

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Reflection: Stop, Start, Continue

Teachers reflected on their learning so far and provided us with feedback about what we could “stop, start and continue” to better impact their learning about the PYP.

Week 5 – Attitudes and Skills

Taking Action: Reflecting on Concept-Based Learning

Teachers discussed how they had used the key concepts with their students.

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Tuning in: Skills and Attitudes as Learning Targets

Teachers experienced what it is like to have learning goals/targets structured through PYP attitudes and skills

Staff induction targets

Finding out: Making the PYP Happen Jigsaw

Teachers worked in partners to research either attitudes or skills in order to share their learning with their partner. Teachers inquired into the form and function of the attitudes and skills as described by the IB in Making the PYP Happen.

Going Further: Resource Exploration & Visible Thinking Routine- See, Think, Wonder

VTR 1

Teachers explored provided resources and organized relevant discoveries through the VTR “See, Think, Wonder”

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Reflection: Attitude Reflection

Teachers reflected and posted which PYP attitudes they used the most throughout their learning activities.

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Week 6 – Action 

Tuning in: Quick Write about action

Teachers took 3 minutes to write everything and anything about action in the PYP.

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Finding Out & Sorting Out: Making the PYP Happen & Visible Thinking Routine- 4Cs

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Teachers read the section about action in MTPYPH and pulled out “connections, challenges, concepts and changes” based on the Visible Thinking Routine.

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Making Conclusions” Visible Thinking Routine- Colour, Symbol, Image

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Teachers choose a colour, symbol and image to represent their understanding of action in the PYP.

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Week 7 – The Role of subjects in the PYP

Taking Action: Reflecting on action

Teachers discuss how they have supported student-initiated action in their teaching recently.

Tuning in: Teachers jotted down what subjects they think make up the PYP.

Finding out: Teachers split up into groups and each group inquired into the role of different subjects in the PYP.

staff induction subjects

Making Conclusions: Teachers presented their findings to each other.

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Week 8 – Summative Sharing

Check out this post to see a full recap of the provocative “PYP test” and real PYP summative!

Week 9 – Personalized Learning Plan

Even though our new-to-PYP staff training was coming to an end we did not want the learning or support to stop. We helped our new-to-PYP staff develop Personalized Learning Plans for the remainder of their first year in the PYP.

Tuning in: Teachers reflected on their current learning about the PYP and identified areas they wanted to pursue further. They set their own “learning objectives” based on what they want to learn more about.

Finding Out & Sorting Out: Teachers explored the OCC and this google doc to find resources that would support each of their learning objectives. Teachers browsed, skimmed, bookmarked, printed, and copied links that would be of interest later on when they had time to dive in. The idea is to invest all the time it takes to find, vet and organize resources so that for the remainder of the year, if there is a pocket of time to learn you already have everything you need!

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After our last session, we knew what we had to do… REFLECT! So, true to our goal of treating this like a Unit of Inquiry, my partner and I sat down together and collaboratively completed the PYP unit reflections.

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We also completed an inquiry self-reflection to help us identify how many ‘signals of inquiry’ were present in our adult learning community and if there we any ‘warning bells’.

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We discovered that next year we need to work on noticing, honouring and using our learners’ questions more to drive the inquiry and better build an environment filled with wonder and curiosity. We also noticed that after 9 weeks our new-to-PYP teachers learned so much about the PYP yet we never “taught” them anything, in the traditional sense. There were no Powerpoints filled with information. There were no lectures. There was no standing and delivering. That felt good!

What a great experience it was to plan, deliver, assess and reflect on our new-to-PYP staff training as a PYP Unit of Inquiry! We can’t wait to have a second chance next year to put our reflections and new goals into action!

We would love your feedback about our Unit of Inquiry! Please share your questions, comments, connections and suggestions with us. 

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What is the PYP? From the perspective of new-to-PYP Teachers

We have 25 wonderful new PYP staff. They have been working SO hard to make sense of a completely new education framework. They have spent 9 weeks after school reading IB documents, browsing blogs, teaching one another and sharing ideas. Now comes the time for consolidation and sharing… aka a “summative”.

To provoke their thinking about summatives, we first gave them a 4 page “PYP Test” as a provocation to experience what it is like to be on the receiving end of a test and to hopefully challenge the thinking that summative means tests. Their reactions and reflections about being “tested” were fascinating:

  • I was instantly fearful
  • I went blank
  • I knew everything, but I just couldn’t explain it in words
  • I remember learning it but I didn’t have it all memorized
  • I was worried about failing

This lead into a great conversation about shifting the notion of “summatives” away from tests and more towards authentic opportunities to share one’s learning with others. We used the RAFT format to structure our real PYP summative.image

So here they are! 25 PYP summatives where our new-to-PYP staff share their current understanding of the PYP with all of you! We’ve got songs, videos, raps, drawings, models, Prezis, journals, blog posts and more! Enjoy…

Blog post: IB in Kindergarten? Yes, IB in Kindergarten.

Prezi: Examining the PYP

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How creative, confident, reflective and knowledgable are our new-to-PYP teachers!?!? We feel very thankful to have 25 teachers who are truly living the IB learner profile.

After they finished their summative task, they assessed their own understanding of each line of inquiry and the central idea. Our hope is that at the end of the year we can pull the new staff back together and have them self-assess their understanding of the PYP again and see evidence of the growth and progress they have made over the year.

Do you know one of the most interesting discoveries throughout this process? I, as the ‘teacher’, couldn’t pull myself away from reading, watching and exploring their summatives! So often teachers dread marking. Maybe that is a clue that a summative is not actually an authentic sharing of learning, because apparently when it is… you actually look forward to exploring their summative and providing feedback!

Please help us continue to learn and grow! 

Leave us a comment and let us know what you think.

What does an inquiry-based, first week of school look like?

During this year’s staff orientation, we used inspiration from two blog posts (sowing the seeds of inquiry & 10 things to do on the first day of school) to move towards a more inquiry-based, first week with students.

Here is a glimpse into what it looked like in classrooms from KG to Grade 5…

Students helped set up their learning environment:

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Students helped choose what to do for the first week:

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Students explored the school:

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Students’ questions were honoured:

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Students and teachers learned about and connected with one another:

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Students and teachers discussed what it means to be ‘students’ and ‘teachers’:

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Students shared what they want to learn about in the coming year:

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Students thought about and shared their learning preferences:

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Students explored the learner profile, PYP attitudes, key concepts and action:

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Student constructed essential agreements:

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Students reflected:

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Students played:

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The week was a success! The feedback from teachers and students was overwhelmingly positive. Students loved being included in the planning and set-up for a new school year and teachers felt the more ownership they handed over to students the more positive and enjoyable the learning community became.

There is a definite buzz around our elementary school. Enthusiasm… fresh ideas… confidence… inquiry… I can’t wait to see where all this amazing energy takes us this year!

What does your inquiry-based first week of school look like?

 

 

Inquiry-Based Staff Orientation

Warning: This is a long post! My partner and I wanted to be risk-takers and, as much as possible, run an inquiry-based orientation for our new and returning PYP staff. Here is a sneak peak into how it went.

Our leadership team had four main goals to guide our staff orientation this year:

essential agreements

So first we set-up our inquiry-based professional learning environment…

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  • collaborative, flexible groupings
  • learning materials on each table (blank paper, markers, recipe cards, post-its etc.)
  • blank walls to display learners’ questions and thinking
  • resource wall to post strategies and visible thinking routines we use
  • wonder wall for questions

Day 1: An inquiry into learning spaces…

We did a Think, Write, Sort to open up a discussion around classroom set-up.

Think: What are the usual tasks of setting up a classroom?

Write: Write each classroom set-up task on a separate post-it note and place it in the middle of your group.

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Sort: Organize all post-it notes into 3 categories. 1 – Tasks to do with students, 2 – Tasks to do before students arrive, 3 – Tasks that don’t belong in a PYP classroom. (Get rid of duplicates!)

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Walk: Walk around and see what other groups think.

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Post: Display teachers’ thinking in the learning space.

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Day 2: An inquiry into learning communities…

We brainstormed the ways we, as staff, demonstrate the attributes of the learner profile in our professional learning community.

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Then we took a break to play together. We played rock, paper, scissor entourage and it was AWESOME!

Everyone faces off against a colleague for a one-stop shot of rock, paper, scissor.

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The winner goes on to face another winner, and the loser becomes the winner’s entourage who then cheers on the winner!

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Then the loser and his or her entourage join the entourage of the winner, as the winner faces off with another winner. And do the pattern continues until there are only 2 winners left with HUGE entourages, cheering loudly!

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Then we got back to work learning, using a Growing Definition to draft our staff essential agreements.

First in partners,

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Then in groups,

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Finally, as a whole staff (or in our case with a staff of 120, with a collection of representatives from each group!)

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Now, we are ready to post our essential agreements. We plan to “live ’em, not laminate ’em” and continually reflect on them throughout the year as needed.

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Last but not least, a reflection! Not about what we learned, but instead about how we learned.

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Day 3: An inquiry into inquiry…

We mixed and mingled our PYP, MYP and DP teachers to learn and share about inquiry across the continuum. Inspired by this post by What Ed Said.

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We used the Kath Murdoch inquiry cycle and this prezi to structure our inquiry.

Provocation: What ideas about teacher and learning does this video portray?

Tuning In: What is your experience with inquiry?

Finding Out: Based on your current understanding, what are you questions about inquiry?

Sorting Out: Using the resources provided, self-select some blog posts, videos, twitter hashtags, pictures etc. that are relevant to your questions.

If you are beginning your understanding of inquiry:

 Blog Posts:

Strategies for Inquiry Based Learning

What do you notice? A first step down the path towards inquiry

Introduction to Inquiry Based Learning

Inquiry Cycle: Why, what and how

What does inquiry look like?

Planning and Inquiry Based Start to the Year

Videos:

An inquiry approach

Inquiry based learning – developing student questions

If you are developing your understanding of inquiry:

 Blog Posts:

Developing independence and inquiry

Inquiry, inquiry, inquiry… but how do I do it?

What does inquiry learning look like?

Said no true inquiry teacher ever

Different models of inquiry

Inquiry and the specialist teacher

Moving on from the KWL chart

Is inquiry a struggle for you?

If you are extending your understanding of inquiry:

Blog Posts:

Letting inquiry unravel naturally

What inquiry isn’t

Busting some myths about the inquiry cycle

Minding our language: teaching in the inquiry classroom

This is how inquiry teachers teach

Inquiry and the art of listening

Inquiry and the culture of permission

Effects of Inquiry-based Learning on Students’ Science Literacy Skills and Confidence

Classroom Set-up: How much should we be doing without students?

Twitter Hashtags:

#pypchat 

#mypchat

#dpchat

#inquiryteaching

#inquiryclassroom

#inquirylearning 

 

Going Further: Using what you’ve learned, create a Frayer model that demonstrates your current understanding of inquiry.

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Making Conclusions: Based on what you discovered, what are you new questions?

Taking Action: Now that you know what you know, what are you going to do about it?

Reflection: What was it like to learn through inquiry? What did you notice about yourself as a learner? How will that impact that work you do with your students?

notice self learner what was it like inquiry impact work with students

Day 4: An inquiry into the first week of school…

Provocation: We used this post from What Ed Said to disrupt our comfortable thinking about what should take place the first days of school.

Then we gave time to grade and subject teams to collaboratively plan their first week of school, using the following resources.

Examples of Inquiry-Based First Week Activities:

What do you want to do on your first day of school?

What do you believe about learning?

Essential Agreements

Students Creating their learning space

Photos of student’s designing the classroom set-up

 Blog Posts:

10 things to do on the first day of school

Essential Agreements

What’s Your Story?

Who Owns the Learning?

First Impressions and the Inquiry Classroom

Tips for Creating a Classroom Agreement

Beginning of the Year Student Questionnaire 

Re-Thinking the Start of the Year

First Day Back Fun 

10 Back to School Icebreaker Games

3 Non-Icebreaker Things to Do the First Week of School 

8 First Day of School Activities

Why the first week of school needs to be vigorous 

Day 5: Reflection and Feedback…

Using this visual, we encouraged teachers to think about what they learned this week, and more importantly what action they took based on their learning.

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Teachers then filled in post-its with their action and posted them on our action wall.

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Finally, we asked for their feedback. We referred back to the 4 goals we introduced on the first day of orientation week and asked for “stars and wishes”  about what we did to accomplish those goals and what may have hindered those goals. We will keep this valuable feedback to help improve our staff orientation week next year!

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After 5 days, our empty walls were filled with resources along with our teachers’ questions, thinking and action!

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Now we are ready to start an amazing new school year!

How have your teachers prepared for a new year in the PYP?

 

Daily PYP Objectives: An Attempt to Balance the 5 Elements of the PYP

A few months ago I posted about how our school was trying to better balance all 5 Essential Elements of the PYP. As we reflected, we felt that we were heavily focused on students’ attainment of knowledge and we were getting better at developing their conceptual understandings, but we still felt that we could do a better job bringing the learner profile, attitudes and skills more to the forefront on a daily basis.

As an attempt to further that goal, we have started to discuss the use of posting daily “PYP” learning objectives. Many education systems are posting “daily objectives” or “learning targets” as they relate to academic knowledge and skills. Many PYP teachers are hesitant to do this (and rightfully so!), as the PYP focuses more on students inquiring into their own questions, drawing their own conclusions and constructing their own meaning. However, if we adopt this model of daily targets, but focus it on the Essential Elements of the PYP it might help us be more explicit and purposeful in the way we plan for activities that allow us to develop the learner profile, attitudes and skills of our young learners. Instead of posting “Today in math students will learn that…” we can post how certain parts of our day help us develop the elements of the PYP that we are focusing on for any given unit.

PYP Learning Objectives

These daily PYP learning objectives would also present a great framework for helping the students to reflect on the essential elements of the program at the end of each day.

“How were you an inquirer today?”

“How did you show independence today?”

“When did you use self-management skills today?”

Obviously, these PYP learning objectives could be as simple or as fancy as the teacher likes. Anything from writing on your whiteboard each day to writing on erasable sentence strips/photo frames, to writing on a recipe card and posting it with a pushpin! Be creative and find your own style. Here are a few examples of ways to post daily learning objectives that can be adapted to focus more on the Essential Elements of the PYP.

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Hopefully having a visual reminder of the learner profile, attitudes and skills posted in our classrooms will help us stay focused on what really matters as PYP teachers… helping to make good humans.

Educating the whole child

One of my favourite things about the PYP is the balance of the 5 elements.

Knowledge: What we want our students to know.

Concepts: What we want our students to understand.

Skills: What we want our students to use.

Attitudes: What we want our students to show.

Action: What we want our students to do.

I loved the 5 elements because I felt they equally valued all the things needed to make good humans.

But then I took a close look at the rubrics we use to assess our Units of Inquiry.

I noticed that our rubrics heavily valued the knowledge gained in a unit, and sometimes the understanding of the concepts but there was no acknowledgement of the skills that were developed, the attitudes that were shown or the actions that were taken. This really got me thinking. If our rubrics are only focused on the knowledge and the understanding, isn’t that a reflection of what we as teachers were valuing as well?

The answer was yes.

As we started to reflect on this with our teachers it became very clear that we were taking the time to select the skills and attitudes that we wanted to work on throughout the unit and  identify them in our PYP planners– but then not doing anything with them.

So in our latest planning meetings we decided to step back, and design a rubric that acknowledges all 5 elements of the PYP. Our hope is that by having all the elements explicitly on our unit rubric we as teachers will be more mindful of balancing the 5 elements within our day to day learning experiences. We’re also hoping that this style of rubric will inspire us to create a summative activity that gives students to chance to show the knowledge they have gained, the concepts they have understood, the skills they have acquired, the attitudes they have developed and the actions they have taken.

Here is a sample of our “balanced” rubric.

UOI Rubric Template

UOI Rubric Template

A few teachers from each grade level are going to try this rubric as a pilot and then we will reflect on the benefits and challenges of using this type of rubric and whether this rubric helped us as teachers to do a better job using the 5 elements of the PYP to help make good humans.

As this is something new we are trying, I would love to hear  your questions, concerns and insights surrounding this pilot rubric and the bigger issue of properly acknowledging, balancing and valuing all 5 elements of the PYP in efforts to do a better job educating the whole child.