Here's a fun activity that could be done at anytime of the year to introduce or review the PYP concepts with your class. My co-teacher, the awesome Audrey Pagoli shared it in our collaborative planning meeting and I fell in love! It's a great way for the students to look at one thing through the different lenses that the PYP Concepts provide. It can also be used with just about anything across the curriculum. Here, I used it as a whole-class activity to look at our class stuffy, Domo...it's a bit messy and my whiteboard marker stopped working...but you get the idea!
This was a great activity to kick off our Who We Are unit and as an "introduce yourself" task at the beginning of the school year. I am also feeling this as the cover page for student portfolios:
My other Grade 4 partner in crime, Kristi Wheeldon, took this activity and used it to explore materials and matter in our current unit, How the World Works. I really appreciate activities that can be used across curriculum areas and can be easily pulled out of the PYP toolbox.
Attached is a very generic copy of Exploring the Key Concepts. However, it is a very simple thing to whip up a 3X3 table and tweak it to suit what you are doing. Happy exploring!
Generating Questions and Sorting Questions are Student Keys to Driving an Inquiry. I am always trying to find effective ways to include student voice in planning an inquiry. These two simple but effective resources help me to hand over the keys to the inquiry vehicle so students can drive their own inquiries.
Students can write the central idea in the middle, and begin formulating questions for each concept.
For students to identify their most powerful questions that could guide their inquiry and deepen their understanding, they can sort their questions. The Generative-Genuine double continuum is a great tool to sort questions. Inquiries need questions that are both generative (that take us somewhere) and genuine (that we care about) and this does the trick just nicely. I named each quadrant in order of value to inquiry as:
Although students pursue one DRIVING question, the thinking involved in generating questions and the insight it provides is valuable information about student learning.
When asked to explain inquiry, this is how I make sense of the different inquiry cycles available.
I have made a table with the cycles or processes I use and aligned them with Kath Murdoch’s model. We use the cycle that best supports the student's inquiry and leads to ACTION.
Many cycles or processes have elements that are key to a quality inquiry, such as, the traits for writing, or, the elements of music for composition. I find these equally useful.
As inquiry is an active present verb, it is also important to plan for inquiry where students are actively connecting and thinking within the discipline(s). For example, students should not only study scientists and their discoveries, but also experience BEING a scientist to make his or her own discoveries.
In addition there are skills and key questions, even attitudes, that can be used at different stages to support the inquiry. For example, you can use the questions within Problem Solving Talk and Problem Solving Steps for the Math Problem Solving Process. Alternatively, you can use the Question Frames for the Reading Comprehension Cycle.
These individual posters printed large and displayed, assist students in the problem solving process in Math. Specific questions are selected to support each stage. I reworked them from my original post Math Is How We Organise Ourselves to use in my classroom during problem solving situations mainly in Math but I can see their potential to be useful beyond Math, possibly in social interactions in the playground.
The skills and attitudes of students are equally important to planning and assessment as their knowledge.
I really like the PYP Transdiciplinary Skills and look for ways to explicitly integrate them into my instruction. It is a touchstone in helping me make student learning more "split screen", a term that I picked up from the fabulous, amazing and incredible Kath Murdoch in one of her workshops. Not only do I want students to learn content, but I also want them to learn how to learn. Here is a picture that hopefully shows what I want to be going on in the minds of my students:
Anyway....one Transdiciplinary Skill I find not only important for students to learn but also a skill I feel increasingly confident in making explicit is analysis which is:
taking knowledge or ideas apart; separating into component parts; seeing relationships; finding unique characteristics.
One way my class does this is when they analyse a piece of art. One of my aims for this year was to integrate art into my instruction more regularly. The class worked together to analyse a Piet Mondrian painting....you can see below pretty clearly how we went about it:
Students really liked analysing other works of art. This has been a great activity to start art lessons and as the students learn more Elements of Art, they can expand their analysis.
I am explicitly teaching analysis when we look at writing too, just substitute the Elements of Art with the 6+1 Traits of Writing!
Research is like writing, the more connected a student is to the topic at hand the more relevant information they will find and higher quality presentation they will create. This makes for better learning experience students will receive from the process. Scaffolding young students research will support their success and set productive patterns and honest approaches in their future. They time we can spend teaching young students how to research productively (and enjoy it too) will save much future time and energy regarding issues of plagiarism.
So what is the 'teaching solution' to text-copying problems?
Get your students connected to their research.
How do I get my students connected to their research?
I'm glad you asked. The UOI Research Support worksheet will help guide your students (and maybe yourself) through the process of formulating a question, reading and selecting information (FINDING OUT) and the making of and sorting notes (SORTING OUT).
Before you begin, as is true with anything new, I would provide a short period of time for students to openly explore the topic (chosen or nominated), its boundaries and possibilities. This will make the process richer, quicker.
I've been trying find ways in which to approach even the smallest of curriculum aims, through inquiry. Instead of turning to a text or a series of hands-on activities I could prepare and set up for my class, I thought about the type of learning that was most engaging for my students this year. It has always been when there has been a structure, organizer, process or schema to support their learning but at the same time keeping it open for them to explore freely and learn within it. Processes always delivered an appropriate balance between independence and support. I turned to my students prior knowledge and thought of using parts of the Scientific Method they had learned about and successfully used in a previous Unit of Inquiry. My aim was for them to use our thinking skill of application: making use of previously acquired knowledge in practical or new ways. After a brief discussion, note taking and a walk-through example, each student was able to work out the probability of a single event of their choosing.
ProDivas is a simple sharing approach, teacher to teacher, for our professional development. We collect and share bite-sized practical ideas. Once you take a bite, you may be self-motivated to eat the whole meal! We aim to find ideas supported by research to then apply for “best practice” but some ideas are too good to miss and are just simple “teacher tips”.