We have been working hard over the years to refine our Who We Are Unit of Inquiry. We are always striving for the unit to be as engaging, relevant, challenging and significant as our remaining five UOIs. We are happy with our progress so far and feel that we have come a long way to help create meaningful inquiry for our students. It is always exciting action our reflections from the past year. Here are some of the ideas that are working well with our classes:
We broke the PYP Transdisciplinary Social Skills into the descriptive parts for each skill identified. Then we used a writing strategy Draw-Label-Caption to illustrate and label what students thinking on or knowledge about this skill from two key and concrete perspectives:
We used inside-outside circles or concentric circles to share our ideas with each other. To assess understanding we were able to identify three things:
The Tricky Words that needed explanation became a homework dictionary and discussion task.
We highlighted the difficult words in context of each Social Skill descriptor. We sent this sheet home along with a Tricky Words worksheet.
It was an excellent opportunity for parents to read and familiarize themselves with one set of our Transdisciplinary Skills. Plus discuss these as a family. These are BIG words for 8 year olds so discussion was key.
On return of their homework, we asked students to check/tick the words they felt they now clearly understood without looking the word up and to circle those that they felt they still needed support with. The average response was they now clearly understood 10 of the original 21 words identified. PROGRESS!!
The Concept of Responsibility
and PYP Attitudes and Learner Profile
We wanted to gauge students' knowledge of their responsibility within their school relationships using what we called Egg Maps. We needed to hear students' concrete explanations so we identified three levels (best mates, class mates and school mates) of relationships and two key questions;
To Go Further, we connected our class summary to appropriate PYP Attitudes and aspects of the Learner Profile. This provided one of our first opportunities to ask students to justify their reasoning and cite evidence from our Egg Map summary. We incorporated Visual Language by showing their connections between what we had summarized and our PYP Attitudes and Learner Profile by designing a poster.
Following this, we asked students to observe younger students learning at play and work. They used our Egg Map summary to highlight the actions they saw. After which, students summarized their findings by writing a letter to the younger student congratulating them and celebrating their use of Social Skills and making suggestions of tips or strategies that may help keep building healthy relationships in school.
Students often understand the ideas behind why we need to do certain things but they often need help with unlocking HOW to do it.
We felt that Fables were a great resource to use for this particular unit. They are found in multiple cultures, they are short, they often use animals with obvious stereotypes to demonstrate behaviour and quite a few have themes or a precise and explicit message about relationships in similar form to a strategy.
Plus it provided us with a golden opportunity to introduce the 8 Reading Strategies for our students' continued practice of comprehension with the range of texts they are accessing.
We began by filling our bookshelves with fables from Malaysia, Singapore, India, Korea, Japan, Indonesia and anywhere else we could find. Then we used the one page fables found in The Rabbit And The Turtle: Aesop's fables retold and illustrated by Eric Carle.
Eventually they will choose their own books to read and group-up based on their personal interest in books and the skills they can offer and need from a small group.
In addition, to model ACTION one of the suggested Synthesizing tasks will be to write their own fable based on what they have learned about building healthy relationships from their own ideas, their observations and the fables they have read. The younger students which they observed and wrote letters to may enjoy collaborating with the illustrations of fables partially about or that were inspired directly by them.