Our PYP community is in a unique situation. We welcomed in the PYP Enhancements last school year – but for many of us, it was mid-way through the year. Which means this is the first time lots of us are planning our first weeks with the enhancements in mind.
I’m sure many of these considerations were already present in our previous approaches to back to school planning. But now we have a solid, common, intentional framework from which to plan our first day, our first week, and even the days leading up to the first day.
So as we plan our start to the year we need to be sure to ask ourselves and each other:
Are we thinking about The Learners?
Are we thinking about Learning and Teaching?
Are we thinking about the Learning Community?
To help us all in this collective goal I’ve shared some ‘start of the year’ blog posts organized around those 3 categories:
The first thing I knew I needed to do was get to know them as learners. So I sent out a quick Google Form that helped me begin to understand who they are and what they are hoping for from our time together.
The results were very informative and helped me put together a day of professional learning about agency tailored to their needs.
From there I focused on building a workshop where they were able to not only learn about learner agency, but learn through experiencing their own agency as learners. All of my planning and decisions were guided by the question, “How can I help them learn about student agency” instead of focusing on “How can I teach them about student agency”.
Before the day of the workshop I also spent some time putting together a virtual learning space, our own Google Classroom, to help distribute documents and resources.
I knew that not all participants were comfortable on Google Classroom, so I insured that there were plenty of other options and avenues for accessing resources and using some of the templates.
For example, sending out links via email:
And having shorty links visible when they arrived the day of the workshop:
When participants arrived the day of, I made sure they all had access to the presentation slides – which were editable – as there were a few activities where everyone would need to contribute thoughts and ideas.
First we started with a simple activity to help them connect with each other, the topic of the workshop and their own experience as a student.
Then I was transparent about the structure of the workshop – Choose, Act, Reflect – and my thinking behind it.
The “Choose” Portion of the day…
To help them self-assess where they are in their own journey of understanding and supporting student agency, I used a Gradual Increase of Independence (adapted from the original design by @orenjibuta)
Next I guided them in using the data from their own self-assessment to create their own personalized success criteria for the day
Then, we co-constructed a menu about documenting learning – starting with the “why”, and moving to possible “hows” and “whats”
Everyone took a turn to share how they were planning to document their learning throughout the day, and it was so great to see so many different approaches!
After that, it was time for them to plan their day! I took some time to give them an overview of all the different possible options that could support their learning throughout the day.
I briefly explained what my optional workshops were about and how the conferences would work:
Who the Skype experts were:
I helped them centralize the things they might want to discuss with one another:
And then… they were off planning!!! (using their success criteria and self-assessment to inform the choices they made about their learning)
The “Act” Portion of the day…
1. The “Why” Behind Student Agency
First we started with an opportunity for them to tune into their own understanding of what they think student agency is.
Next we moved into a “Tug of War” to help them debate and discuss a variety of underlying beliefs, assumptions and philosophies connected to agency.
Finally, we did Chalk Talk to help them engage with some provocative stimuli to poke and provoke their thinking and emotions further. (Warning – some stimuli are quite extreme!)
2. Transferring Decision into the Hands of Learners
First, I had everyone brainstorm all the decisions they make in their role as an educator
Then, I had them use a quote from the Empower book to challenge them to think about which of those decisions learners “should” or “could” be making themselves.
Then I invited them to visit other groups and leave some feedback to push each other’s thinking a little further.
Finally, I had them reflect on any shifts in their thinking as a result of the activity.
3. Self-Reflection and Planning for Action
First I introduced a few self-reflection tools, to help them see where they are already respecting and supporting student agency and also where there might be some space to make some changes in their practice to work towards even more respect and support for student agency.
Once they had some time to engage with the tools, I supported them in using their self-reflection to develop a personal action plan
Optional Guided Groups or Conferences:
I only had one conference slot filled about agency vs. the curriculum. We sat and chatted for 15 minutes about questions, challenges, ideas and resources.
Skypes with experts:
I was so fortunate to have 4 amazing educators donate some of their weekend to support the learning of people in the workshop.
@bondclegg chatted with MYP and DP educators about how to up the agency within and around program restrictions
@hktans chatted with leaders and administrators about how to support the development of teachers when it comes to understanding agency and also how to bend and break rules in order to re-imagine what school could be
@ms_AmandaRomano shared her own personal journey as an experienced educator unlearning, learning and relearning how to support student agency as a classroom teacher
Stephen Flett chatted with educators about how learning support can function within a system that supports more student agency
There was LOTS of connecting, chatting, dialoguing, brainstorming and challenging
There was also lots of personal inquiry into the resource document
The “Reflect” Portion of the day…
When we all came back together at the end of the day, I guided them through a formative self-assessment where they were able to choose how best to assess their personalized success criteria to know where they currently are and where they need to go next
Then we spent some time collectively brainstorming the “why”, “how” and “what” of reflection
and everyone chose the style and content of reflection that was most useful and comfortable for them. It was great to see such a wide range of approaches to reflection! Everything from painting, writing, sketching, talking, sleeping… to even graphing!
Then we spent a few minutes talking about how the learning doesn’t have to end…
How fears are normal…
And how leaving your comfort zone often leads to something amazing!
Finally, before they left, I asked if they could share their honest feedback with me about the day. I wanted to make sure I was honouring their voice as learners!
When I got home, I read through the feedback:
Reading through their feedback was so helpful. It helped me reflect on what parts of the workshop worked really well, and also some parts of the workshop I need to revise for next time.
As I was reading through the “wishes” I noticed that there were many people who felt that two things were missing from the workshop:
At first I started to go down the path of regret and all the shulda, coulda, wouldas…. but then I realized that just because the workshop was over, didn’t mean that my support for their learning had to end! So I decided to take action and respond to what their feedback was telling me.
I made two Google Slide presentations (linked above) – one to address each area that seemed to be missing from the workshop. And I sent those presentations to the workshop participants via our Google Classroom and email.
Now I can feel a little bit better that I honoured their voice as learners, and took action to respond to their needs… even if it was technically “after the workshop”.
overall, it was a really great day
learning through agency is essential in order to understand agency
empowering educators to understand themselves as learners and where they are on their own journey helps the learning extend beyond the hours of a workshop
investing time in the “before” and “after” really helped me honour their voice as learners
this structure created a really relaxed, comfortable vibe for the day
the medium IS the message
How do you support educators in developing their understanding of student agency?
What feedback do you have for me as a workshop planner/facilitator in order to better meet the needs of my learners?
APPENDIX (added to the original post)
The Monday after this workshop I received the following email from one of the participants:
What a great feeling to see that learning from the workshop lead to action that resulted in happy, successful teachers and students!!!
As PYP Coordinator, my job is not only to support my colleagues as teachers, but also as learners. When I meet with them to talk about their professional learning I usually ask the same three questions:
What have you been learning about lately?
How have you been learning about it?
What do you plan to learn about next?
When I’m having these conversations, it’s often responses to the second question that stick with me and get me thinking about different types of resources, how they support different purposes and where they fit along the journey of a life long teacher-learner.
Based on my own reflections and perspectives, I created Taryn’s Taxonomy of Professional Learning Resources to illustrate my beliefs about the many different sources teachers use for their professional learning.
Pinterest – I’ve shared my opinions about Pinterest before. So have other educators. I think similar to Teachers Pay Teaches, time spent on Pinterest is most often focused on the “what” of teaching, not necessarily the “how” or “why”. Focusing on the “what” keeps us in the cycle of doing school and prevents us from moving closer towards real learning. Many teacher-friends have been telling me that Pinterest has gotten better lately – for this reason I have placed it above TPT- but I still have my reservations. Until the comments shift from “I saw something on Pinterest I am going to try” to “I learned something on Pinterest that blew my mind and totally challenged my thinking about _____” it will remain on the lower end of my taxonomy.
Blogs – Blogs. Now we’re getting somewhere! True, some blogs can still be stuck in the “what”, but good blogs start to move into the “hows” and “whys” of teaching and learning. Blogs allow teachers to share their practice, thoughts, questions and reflections. This reflective, narrative quality is what opens up the conversation to allow for the exploration of how to turn theory into practice and why something is worth knowing or doing in the first place. Really excellent blogs even go so far as to critically look at teaching and learning, ask provocative questions and challenge your thinking about why we do what we do – and why we need to do it better! However, something to be cautious of, is the fact that anyone can blog, which means much of what is written is coming from one person’s experience and perspective (like this post for example!) so you have to be discerning and critical as a blog consumer.
Twitter – Twitter is in a very similar category to blogs for a few reasons. First of all, on Twitter you can find “whats”, “hows” and “whys”. However, the benefit of Twitter is that you are exposed to a wide range of everything all at once so you can easily skip past the “whats” in search of the “hows” and the “whys”. Also – similar to blogs – you also have to be a critical consumer when reading people’s perspectives and opinions about teaching and learning. Yet, even though Twitter is a forum where personal perspectives are shared, research is also discussed and cited quite regularly. Edna Sackson advocates for professional learning that challenges our thinking by providing us with tensions to work through and big ideas to connect. In my opinion, Twitter as a resource successfully accomplishes that very goal!
Research – Education research… the highest level on the taxonomy… the apex of the pyramid… and sadly, the most seldom used source of teachers’ professional learning (present company included!). Sources like ERIC, ASCD and Google Scholar provide access to thousands of journal articles that provide strategies for teaching and learning that are supported by data. Education research can provide answers to our questions about the “what”, “how” and “why” in research-based ways. It’s not one educator’s opinion about what they think is effective in the classroom, it’s what has been shown to be effective through rigorous research design, large amounts of data collection and sophisticated analysis and interpretation. The question is, if all of this amazing, data-supported education research is available… why aren’t more of us using it in our professional learning?
Peers – I have placed peers as a resource for professional learning all the way up the pyramid. This is because I believe peers can be an amazing source of professional learning – depending on what is being shared. Peers can be an avenue for sharing everything from a “what” found on TPT all the way up to research-supported “hows” or “whys”.
When I think back on my own journey as a learner, I can see how I have moved up the taxonomy over the years- starting from focusing on the “what” and year by year getting closer to focusing on the “why”. I was never much a TPT user, but I was definitely a Pinterest addict and spent my early years in education looking for things I could use in my classroom. Last year I got into blogs to support my inquiries that were more focused on learning about how teachers made inquiry-based, concept-driven education a reality for their students. This year I am all about Twitter. I love scrolling through and having my own beliefs about teaching and learning challenged and learning about new ideas and initiatives that help me move away from “doing school” and closer to being able to facilitate true learning. I can clearly see where I need to head next…. in to the scary land of education research. That will be my focus for next year.
When thinking about this taxonomy and my role as PYP Coordinator, I am beginning to think that my job is not only to support teachers’ learning… but also to support teachers as learners by helping them move up the pyramid to use sources in their professional learning that are grounded in research and focus on big conceptual shifts in thinking.
Where are you on the taxonomy?
What are your perspectives on the different sources of professional learning?
What sources of professional learning am I missing? Where would you place them?
How do you help your colleagues move up the pyramid?
During our half day of Personalized Professional Learning, I hosted a workshop on inquiry-based math strategies, but not everyone who wanted to attend could attend… so I thought I’d recap the workshop here for those of you who could not make it – and for those of you at different schools who might be interested in this topic as well.
The structure of the workshop was very hands on, so in the absence of you being able to actually engage with the materials and manipulatives, I will provide a combination of notes, photos, questions and reflections that will hopefully allow you to engage in some of the same ideas, just in a different way.
Tuning in – What do already know?
Think about or jot down your current understanding of each of the inquiry-based math strategies listed below:
math time capsule
open ended centers
visible thinking routines
If you have a thorough understanding of each of these strategies, you probably do not need to read on. If you think your current understanding has room to grow, read on!
I’ve already written a post about open-ended math centers and how they work in our early years classrooms. During the workshop today, each group had a bin with the three essential ingredients of an open-ended math center: manipulatives, writing utensils, and a placemat/whiteboard.
Here are some pictures of how teachers tested out a few open-ended math centers:
Kath Murdoch’s inquiry cycle is a great way to make any math more inquiry-based.
A CCSS math standard: Know and apply the properties of integer exponents to generate equivalent numerical expressions.
What do YOU already know about this?
What do YOU need to find out about this?
How could YOU find out about this?
Math Time Capsule:
Now, think about or jot down your understanding of each of the inquiry-based math strategies listed below. A math time capsule is a great way to show growth and progress in math – whether it’s over the course of a unit, a year… or even of the course of a workshop!
math time capsule
open ended centers
visible thinking routines
How did your understanding of these strategies grow and change?
In the actual workshop, after each strategy, we took some time to discuss how the strategy could be applied/adapted to different content and different age levels. Too often when we are looking at strategies we are focused on the actual strategy within to confines of the example that is used. This leads to the conclusion that “That doesn’t work for the grade/content that I teach”. Instead, I challenged the participants in the workshop – and I challenge you in the same way – to focus on the essence of each strategy and how that same approach can be used in different ways, for different ages and for different strands of math.
Here are a few examples of how the same strategy can be adapted for different content and different ages:
Math time capsules – In Grade 5 you might give students the summative task on the first day and then again on the last day to show all of the growth and progress they experienced. But in KG, you may conference with a student and voice/video record everything they know about shapes, and then record them again at the end of a unit to capture growth in their understanding.
Magic question – In KG you might show a ten frame and ask “What do you notice?”. In Grade 2 you might show a hundreds chart and ask “What do you notice?”. In Grade 4 you might show a multiplication chart and ask “What do you notice?”.
Inquiry cycle – In Grade 1 you may use the inquiry cycle to structure a whole class inquiry into measurement. What do we know about measuring objects? What do we want to know about measuring objects? How can we find out more about measuring objects? In Grade 6 you might use the inquiry cycle to structure self-directed, personal inquiries towards calculating volume of 3-d shapes. What do I already know about finding volume of 3-D shapes? What do I still need to find out? How can go about that?
The possibilities are endless. If you focus on the “why” a strategy is effective and “how” a strategy helps foster thinking and exploration… then the “whats” become infinite! I also shared this google doc with some of my favourite inquiry-based math resources (books, blogs and Tweeters!) Feel free to have a look!
What are your favourite inquiry-based math strategies?
So, to all the amazing risk-takers I work with, who took the plunge and joined the wonderful world of Twitter, I dedicate this post to you.
Here is my advice about what to do next:
I know there is often hesitation from new users to post a picture of themselves on their Twitter profile, but I can tell you that it is essential. If I’m being honest, as a Twitter user, I feel much more comfortable interacting with other Tweeters who have a profile picture and I rarely add someone who is rocking the “egg” (aka the default picture). In my experience, I have never had any Twitter experiences that have made me feel unsafe or regret my choice to de-egg.
Clarify your purpose
Are you interested in using Twitter as a tool for your own learning or for your students’ learning? Depending on what your primary purpose is, the nature of who you follow, what you post and how you use it will all hinge on this question. If your answer is both, I recommend having two separate accounts. One for your own learning, where you can follow other teachers, post your questions about teaching and learning and share your professional successes. And a separate one for your class where your class can follow other classes, your students can post their questions and they can share their learning successes.
Fill in your bio
When I am deciding who to follow on Twitter, I often refer to their bio to get a sense of who they are and what they might be Tweeting about. The more specific the better. If I’m going through a list and I can’t see where you teach or what you teach, I am probably not going to follow you. It doesn’t have to be too personal, but a few lines about your position (principal, Grade 3 teacher, PYP art teacher) and educational interests (inquiry, digital citizenship, play in the classroom) can really help you connect with other educators.
Begin to curate a collection of people you wish to follow
The more people you follow, the more useful your Twitter becomes. And the more you tailor your list of people to your specific position and interests, the more you will get out of Twitter. If you are using Twitter for your own learning, my advice is to start with this list of over 500 PYP educators. Scroll through, read the bios and follow anyone that you feel will be worth while. If you are using Twitter for your students’ learning then check out this list of tweeting classes, and scroll through with your students to select which classes you want to follow. Another great way to curate your list is to find someone relevant to your purpose and scroll through their list of followers.
Dip in – Dip out
Twitter is a never-ending, bottomless pit of amazingness. There are always “New Tweets”. This is both a blessing and a curse. Trying to see everything and stay up to date is futile, especially if you are new to Twitter. You can literally update your homepage every second and at least one new Tweet will appear. The best thing you can do it “dip in and dip out”. If you have 5 minutes to spare, open up your account and scroll through your homepage or your favourite hashtag. When your time is up log off.
“Like” things you wish to save for later
One of the best things about Twitter is that you can get a lot out of 5 minutes worth of browsing. One of the worst things about Twitter is that it is constantly changing and tweets get buried pretty easily as time ticks on. If you come across something you are interested in, “like” it and come back to it later when you have more time. All of your favourite Tweets are saved and can be accessed from your profile page so you can go back to them at any time.
But only when you are ready. For the first little while after I joined Twitter, I didn’t post anything. So if you are at the stage where you just want to browse, explore and discover the awesome ideas and resources that are being shared by other educators- that’s perfectly fine! When you have something “Tweet-worthy” you’ll know it. At my school we refer to this moments as the “You gotta come see this!” phone call or email that you send to your PYP coordinator when you just know amazing learning is taking place. So when you get that feeling – that you’re doing something with your students that you want everyone to know about – take a picture, log on to Twitter, click the icon of the feather and capture the magic with 140 characters or less. To help your Tweet reach more educators, choose from this list of popular education hash tags.
New Twitter users – what other questions do you have?
Experienced Twitter users – what other advice can you offer?
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:
We had 3 overarching goals:
Have our new-to-PYP learn about the PYP, by learning through the PYP
Model inquiry based, concept-driven teaching and learning practices they could take back and use in their own teaching
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.
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”
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”.
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.
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.
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.
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?”
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.
Making Conclusions: Visible Thinking Routine- Headlines
Teachers wrote a “headline” that summarized their current understanding of concept-based teaching and learning
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.
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
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.
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!
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.
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’.
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 somuch 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.
Through many collaborative planning sessions, professional development afternoons and informal conversations our staff has discussed some of the limitations of using worksheets in the classroom. Here is what we’ve come up with so far:
One-size-fits-hardly-anyone: For some students the worksheet will be too easy and they will fly through it. For other students the worksheet will be too difficult and they will struggle through it.
Detached from student questions: Worksheets are usually selected by the teacher, based on what they want their students to learn, often before or irregardless of students’ interests and questions.
Work without learning: Students can complete a worksheet without learning anything. A student who already knows how to add two-digit numbers or locate a verb in a sentence can complete the 20 questions on the page without building their knowledge, gaining new understanding or challenging a misconception.
Work without thinking: Students can complete worksheets without really thinking. Many worksheets are watch and do, read and copy, fill in the blank, or find the ‘right answer’. This doesn’t leave a lot of room critical thinking or heavy cognitive lifting.
School land: Worksheets force students to operate in ‘school land’, a place detached from their real life. How many toys does Adam have total? Who is Adam? Who cares how many toys this make believe person has?
Focus on finishing: When worksheets are being used, ‘finishing’ is usually the goal. “Finish your work before recess?” “Stay in and finish your work.” “Put your work in the unfinished bin.” If a student isn’t ‘finished’ their work, maybe that is a sign that it was too difficult for them, or too easy… or just plain boring. Who cares if they don’t finish anyway? Shouldn’t our focus be on their learning and thinking, not finishing a worksheet?
(Not to mention worksheets are wasteful, bad for the environment, clutter causing, hard to organize, time consuming to prep and mark…)
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:
So first we set-up our inquiry-based professional learning environment…
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.
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!)
Walk: Walk around and see what other groups think.
Post: Display teachers’ thinking in the learning space.
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.
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.
The winner goes on to face another winner, and the loser becomes the winner’s entourage who then cheers on the winner!
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!
Then we got back to work learning, using a Growing Definition to draft our staff essential agreements.
First in partners,
Then in groups,
Finally, as a whole staff (or in our case with a staff of 120, with a collection of representatives from each group!)
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.
Last but not least, a reflection! Not about what we learned, but instead about how we learned.
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.
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.
Teachers then filled in post-its with their action and posted them on our action wall.
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!
After 5 days, our empty walls were filled with resources along with our teachers’ questions, thinking and action!
Now we are ready to start an amazing new school year!
How have your teachers prepared for a new year in the PYP?
This is a cautionary post to those of you who are planning on spending hours browsing through teaching-related Pinterest boards.
Don’t get me wrong. I LOVE Pinterest. Most of my hairstyles, outfits and potluck contributions come from amazing things I have seen on Pinterest!
But when I overhear a teacher saying, “I found something on Pinterest”… I cringe as the following questions swirl around in my mind:
Is it inquiry-based?
Is it in response to students’ questions?
Is it purposeful to learning?
It is concept-driven?
Is there rich, deep thinking involved?
Is it cute?
Sure, cute looks good up on a bulletin boards, but don’t our young learners deserve something better? Don’t they deserve learning that is significant, relevant, engaging and challenging… no matter how old they are? Can’t they handle the authentic process of growing and changing their understanding of themselves and the world around them? Shouldn’t they be involved in deep thinking and heavy cognitive lifting?
Or do we want them to spend their precious time at school making/doing something cute?
Do I think you could find some great inquiry-based teaching and learning strategies that will help tune into your learners’ interests, curiosities and misconceptions in order to challenge their thinking, make their own discoveries and build their own knowledge? Yes!!!
But I bet you have to discerningly sift through a lot of cuteactivities before you find them.