Tag Archives: International Baccalaureate

The PYP-X Files – Chronicles of an Exhibition, Weeks 6 & 7: Transferring

Our Exhibition is tomorrow! The last week and half have been filled with a busy energy as learners engaged in the hands on work of creating the different components of their presentations and exhibits. Week 6 is all about constructing, creating, collaborating and communicating as students work in their inquiry groups to bring the plans they created in Week 5 to life. Learning spaces become construction zones and Grade 6 student can be found in every available space in the school engaged in the realization of their plans. Sometimes students find challenges in making a plan become reality. It’s our job as the adults to give them the space they need to approach their challenges with their team members to find solutions, and to not step in unless we’re asked for support or to be an objective “third eye”.  It’s amazing to watch the students bring their ideas to life – this is a time to see their confidence and creativity shine. All aspects of the presentations are created and completed at school. They have lots of time to make it all happen and by the end of week 6 each group is feeling ready for the “beginning of the end.”

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A web page created by the Water issues group designed to raise awareness and funds to support the building of wells.

Week 7 begins with time for rehearsals. Each group presentation consists of a 10-15 minute presentation where each group shares their issue, perspectives, solutions and action. Students also have the option to have a table where they can share artifacts, art work, statistics, interactive components and any other visuals. All students display their Exhibition journals and planning as well. Students work in their groups to rehearse and interact with their props. Because we believe that Exhibition Day is a day of celebration, group presentations are formally assessed during the “dress rehearsal” in class presentations. They are given immediate feedback (stars and wishes) from their peers and their teacher provides them with feedback and evaluative data as well. We find that this de-emphasises marks and instead places the emphasis on opportunities for continued growth. Students have the opportunity to reflect prior to exhibition day and this means that each group uses the feedback they receive and applies it to their public presentation on Exhibition Day. There are no clip boards, rubrics or check-lists on Exhibition Day – just passionate students sharing their learning . As I watch the dress rehearsals I am in awe of the girls’ Exhibition journey and the diversity their work shows. Every group has chosen unique ways to share their learning about their chosen issue. Passion and commitment are highly evident; knowledge is delivered in creative ways; students show they are risk-takers through their provocations and their confidence.

The range of emotions I experience as I watch our learners transform into teachers leaves me at a loss for words: goose bumps, discomfort as my thinking and assumptions are challenged, teary eyed from shocking facts and statistics, inspired by messages of hope and action, and even laughter. These reactions tell me that the PYP journey is coming to an amazing end for these learners. They are living proof of the power of the IB framework and philosophy in action in our school.

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A student working on a model house that will show building materials that support a more sustainable future.
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Artwork created by the Animal issues group showing the impact of pollution and waste on habitats.

The exhibition is a process that reflects the development of the Learner Profile and the 5 Essential Elements of the PYP over time. In short, it acts as a school’s summative assessment of its entire PYP program, not just the final year of the program or one day. It is a milestone day that represents a significant journey for every learner and teacher in a PYP school. Presentations should be significant, relevant and engaging. They should also showcase each learner’s unique skills, talents and perspectives. Our job is to set our learners up for success by both challenging and supporting them. Today as I walked the spaces and interacted with our grade 6 students as they made their final preparations, my question to each of them was, “Are we ready?” Their resounding response – “YES WE ARE!”                                    

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An interactive game designed to help players compare 3 different health care systems.
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The Power of Teaching Others

Learning Pyramid
Learning Pyramid (Photo credit: dkuropatwa)

One of my favourite aspects of being an IB educator is being a part of the IB volunteer network. Giving workshops on behalf of IB is by far the best professional development opportunity that I participate in. I am a bit of a PD junky, so giving workshops feeds my addiction on so many levels! I can still remember sitting in my first PYP workshop 10 years ago in complete admiration of the presenters. They inspired me, and as soon as I could pursue the opportunity to become a workshop leader I did. Here are my “Top 10 Reasons Why I Love Being a PYP WSL”:

  1. The amount of involvement and application/transfer of my own understanding and knowledge of PYP framework and philosophy is deepened with each workshop I prepare for and deliver. That pyramid image with the base showing that we retain 90% of what we teach is 100% true!
  2. Collaborating with another colleague whom I only share a common understanding of the PYP with is such a testament to the power of the IB. We communicate prior to the workshop without having met before (in most cases) and share our experiences and stories as we construct shared meaning through the workshop framework. We plan on the fly once we meet in person and together we adapt and adjust once we get to know the participants in our workshop. We learn from each other and take away new strategies and ideas.
  3. While there are common IB objectives, each workshop experience is unique. Each room is different – sometimes there is a considerable range in participants; while other times participants are more homogenous. This can also depend on the level of a workshop. In a level 1 regional workshop the diversity of the group can be huge; while in a level 2 or 3 workshop there is a more shared understanding of the PYP and everyone in the room is there to go deeper to enhance teaching and learning even further.
  4. Being a part of a person’s or school’s “PYP Journey” while not knowing what the end looks like for them is highly motivating for me. I love bumping into people who attended a workshop I led or co-led at a future workshop who share their success stories of how much they’ve grown and changed. I love the ambiguity of “loving them and then setting them free”.
  5. The 2.5 day workshop experience is INTENSE! You enter a room as a stranger and you leave with a new network of PYP friends.
  6. 6.      An IB Workshop is the action cycle in motion.
  7. Reflection! As a WSL every moment is one hinged on reflection – Is this what the group needs most right now? How do I know? How will I change course to ensure that questions and points of tension and moments of wonder are built into the framework of the workshop? Truly differentiation at its best.
  8. Challenge – every participant group poses diverse problems and brings forward new challenges. Exploring solutions and what “that might look like” stretches me and causes me to dig deep in my PYP well to support them.
  9. Seeing shift happen right before your eyes. Change is directly measurable in a workshop – you can literally see it happening right before your eyes. I recently conducted an on-site workshop and witnessed the faculty of a school collectively come to the realization that in order for their school to succeed in their PYP journey that collaboration was going to be essential. The time they spent collaborating in the workshop opened their minds to the impact that the PYP can have not only in the classroom, but on their faculty too.
  10. Every time I return back to my school after giving a workshop I am better for it. Giving workshops changes my practice. I learn IN experience with the participants as we share in experiences to construct meaning. My own perspective shifts and I bring new insights and experiences to my role as a coordinator as I support my own colleagues in their PYP journey.

    My planning map for a recent Level 1: Making the PYP Happen in the Classoom

The Learner Profile in a Changing and Growing (IB) World

On Friday, I had the opportunity to listen to and participate in a Learner Profile focus group with Robert Harrison, a curriculum manager for IB continuum development in the The Hague at the IBSO annual PD day. Robert shared some sound but provocative thinking around the review of the Learner Profile and the challenges the organization is facing as the alignment of the 3 IB programs (PYP, MYP and DP) continues to evolve. The IB Learner Profile, originally called the PYP Student Profile is a set of 10 attributes that describe what humans could/should strive for if they seek to be an internationally minded citizens of the world. The 10 attributes are:

  • Inquirers
  • Thinkers
  • Knowledgeable
  • Communicators
  • Open-Minded
  • Reflective
  • Caring
  • Balanced
  • Principled
  • Risk-Takers

Since it’s inception with the PYP in 1996 the profile itself, while since being adopted by all 3 programs,  has undergone very little change, even though the organization has grown considerably. The profile is the living, breathing manifestation of the IB Mission statement and at the heart of all three IB programs. All teaching and learning in the IB, including knowledge, concepts, skills, attitudes and action can in theory be born of the Learner Profile.

As with any review that takes on a truly reflective stance, questions start to arise, such as: is the Learner Profile truly an international set of attributes? Does the profile impose a set of western values on schools in the east? Where should the emphasis of influence lie if the Learner Profile is truly representative of global citizens who are in effect living without borders? Are there attributes that should not be a part of the profile? Are there attributes that are missing? Just how many attributes should define what an internationally minded, globally conscious citizen is striving to be? Is there an end to our growth within the profile? Is the profile in and of itself measurable if there is no end? Should we be measuring it? How? When? …

These are just some of the questions the IB is grappling with as it examines and reflects upon the Learner Profile across the continuum. I admire and commend their work. No, the Learner Profile isn’t perfect. But, it does ensure that how we are educating our students is at the core of what we do. For me, it keeps the calling of education to be something nobler alive. The Learner Profile is not just for students – it is for EVERYONE – we are ALL learners (or at least that is the hope!).

“I think it must be apparent to every thinking mind that the noblest of all professions is that of teaching, and that upon the effectiveness of that teaching hangs the destiny of nations.” ― David O. McKay

Do you have opinions and ideas you would like to share with IB as they continue collecting feedback? Do your students? I encourage you to take action by completing the learner profile global survey and by participating in the virtual focus group. Visit http://sgiz.mobi/s3/LearnerProfileReview before October 31. Don’t miss out on this great opportunity to be a part of the evolution of IB!