Resources that might be helpful to you:
- Making the PYP Happen: This is the digital version of the PYP "Bible"- all answers are pretty much in here and the digital version is great for all those "command+F" searches I do when I don't feel like skimming through the whole book to find the right page
- Visible Thinking Routines: Developed by Harvard's Project Zero, this website has a lot of great inquiry-style ideas to help students drive your inquiries. The tabs on the left separate the routines into categories depending on the intention of your lesson. These routines are printed and explained even more thoroughly in the book Making Thinking Visible: How to Promote Engagement, Understanding, and Independence for All Learners. It is one of my favorite go-to resources for planning inquiry lessons it the PYP!
- P4C: Philosophy for Children discussions helped me to more understand what inquiry looks like in the PYP. I wrote a page about it on my website that introduces the idea but I love to facilitate P4C sessions and would be thrilled to come into your classroom anytime to show you and your students how it works.
- Essential Agreements: Here are some more examples and tips for creating your own Essential Agreements with your students in the first few days of school. Remember that it works best to limit your agreements to 5 or so in order to actually give students a chance at remembering them.
- Great tips for getting started thinking about Essential Agreements: https://whatedsaid.wordpress.com/2014/01/26/10-tips-for-creating-a-class-agreement/
- The blog post I mentioned today including the idea about determining class values first: http://blogs.ibo.org/sharingpyp/2013/12/03/where-are-the-rules-formulating-essential-agreements-in-the-pyp/
- Scroll down to view a ton of different examples of essential agreements to get a better idea of the typical range: http://www.peoriapublicschools.org/Page/11713
- Another idea that I always enjoy is having students do a mini inquiry into perfect classroom would look, sound and feel like. After determining the ideals, then it is easy to agree upon behaviors that support what we all want. I like to have students illustrate posters or act out photos to make a sign for each agreement. I always have them sign each one too in order to remind them later that they personally agreed to that behavior if they have a momentary lapse in decision making. ;)
How do you implement the big ideas of IB in a realistic/concrete way?
This is always the biggest question amongst teachers who are new to the PYP and it was definitely my biggest question years ago. My suggestion is to start using some simple inquiry-promoting routines in your classroom until you feel confident enough to branch out and create your own inquiry structures. The Visible Thinking Routines and P4C are great for exactly this. If you choose interesting provocations related to your central idea (videos, books, articles, demonstrations, field trips, etc.), you will find that student naturally have questions that can drive your Unit of Inquiry. The Driving Question Board (after a thought-provoking experience, students come up with question and organize them into categories to learn more about) and Summary Table (page 2 of attachedSegment_checklists_summ_table_Rev_Unit_6_Step_5) ideas I came across recently in my summer classes at Northwestern are good organizational tools to start with too! Specifically, the new Visible Thinking Routine called Question Sorts has worked really well in my classroom PYP inquiries before. I also love the "Talk Moves" in the attachedTalkScience_Primer_1.pdf for more ideas on how to be an inquiry teacher.
How do we decide which questions to focus on for each unit?
The Question Sorts routine mentioned above is also helpful to get a hang of this. As long as the student questions are relevant to the Central Idea and Lines of Inquiry, they are fair game within the unit! The questioning training I give students in P4C helps a lot to get them used to identifying "arguable" and "global" questions rather than simple questions they can Google or specific questions that do not apply to more than one situation. Here is an awesome graphic based on Jack and the BeanStalk that explains this concept (sourced from Jason Buckley's diagram in his Pocket P4C resource that I just beautified a bit). Again, I love talking to students about these ideas and want to join you in your classroom so please feel free to ask me to introduce this to you and your kids!
Good news! While I know how beautifully decorated and organized you all keep your learning spaces, there is no pressure to get everything looking nice right away. In fact, starting with blank walls is common in the PYP, as blank space begs to be filled up with student learning. While of course it can be useful to label things like lockers and shared resources in order to introduce students to routines in the beginning, the rest can be seen as an empty canvas to be co-constructed with students. If you feel more comfortable having at least basic titles on your walls, here are some ideas for areas you might consider designating in your rooms. This is not a required checklist but rather a snapshot of all the things that might fill your walls in the coming months.
Learner Profiles & Attitudes
- Student-created definitions and examples
- Interactive displays where students and teachers can move their names/photos near a specific Learning Profile or Attitude when they demonstrate it (this is great for introducing and reinforcing these important parts of the PYP early on)
- Transdisiplinary Theme
- Current Central idea and Lines of Inquiry
- Identified key/related concepts and skills to focus on
- Student thinking
- Some teachers like to leave space for a process board/wall where student questions and work can be posted to show the progression of thinking in the unit from beginning to end
- Driving question board- student questions are recorded, sorted into areas for further investigation and revisited often to check growth
- Summary chart (see second part of attached article)
- Student-created definitions and examples of at least the 5 main categories of skills can be helpful for referencing with students during inquiries: Research Skills, Thinking Skills, Social Skills, Communication Skills, Self-Management Skills
- Some teachers like to post the action cycle on their wall as a guide for research and student-initiated action:
- By recording and celebrating student action on an Action Wall, action becomes more central to student thinking and learning
- Student-created photos or drawings of what it looks like to follow the agreed upon Essential Agreements for learning
How can inquiry be incorporated in the math class?
Great question. There are a lot of answers to this that we will explore more in our team planning but for now, you might want to check these resources out:
Here is a great resource for math in the beginning of the year: https://www.youcubed.org/
I love the positive, research-based messages about math mindsets and the collaborative culture these experiences create. You just need to set up a free account and then you can view the Week of Inspirational Math. I did each lesson over two days last year with 4th graders because there was so much great material and I did not want to cut anything short. If you have any questions, just let me know.
A few other great math resources that I love are linked here too.
Inquiry through authentic tasks (Three-Act Tasks from Dan Meyer): https://www.teachingchannel.org/blog/2016/05/13/modeling-with-math-nsf/
See Dan Meyer's famous TEDTalk here: https://www.ted.com/talks/dan_meyer_math_curriculum_makeover?language=en
Are there documents that align the Common Core & PYP?
In the IB Workshop that I took last summer on Common Core in the IB, the presenter had worked on a team to look at the alignment. For some reason that document was not published or even shared with us at the workshop. No worries though! In my experience, the PYP Scope and Sequence documents are far more broad and refer to the big concepts where the Common Core State Standards are much more specific. They compliment each other well. I have not come across any clashes. In fact, the Mathematical Practices and the ELA Instructional Shifts pieces of the Common Core are very PYP. Since PYP is a framework and not a set of standards, it just gives us the philosophy and ways of teaching where Common Core gives us exactly what we should be teaching in each year level. They get along just fine. :)
How do we set up a daily schedule (math, etc.)?
I tend to schedule out language, math and UOI (Unit of Inquiry) times in my day. Depending on your grade level specialists class schedules, you will have to adjust but I generally do language in the morning, math before or after lunch and UOI at the end of the day (mostly transdisciplinary Science and Social Studies but can also include unit math and language links). In an ideal PYP school there would be no blocked off times because everything would be transdisciplinary and relate the the unit (except for the Number strand of Math and the Foundational Skills in Language). I saw a really cool school schedule example recently where instead of subjects the teacher just wrote the questions they were focusing on for each period! Since we have CPS regulations too and have to be sure to teach the core subjects, it would make sense to me to block off your language, math and UOI times.
Do you recommend any successful activities you've seen for the IB Learner Profile qualities?
In my Category 1 workshop training, the workshop leader had a cute idea for younger learners where she posted student-created posters for each Learner Profile in one area of the room. She then had each student's picture and name cut out and laminated so that it could be stuck on the wall and moved around. Whenever the teacher, that student or others noticed a child displaying a specific Learner Profile, that picture was moved near the corresponding poster. My 2nd graders loved this and really started to understand the IB language as a result.
For older students one of the teachers here mentioned having a sort of "I noticed" slip where the class could fill out details about other students they noticed demonstrating the Learner Profiles. At the end of each week she reads out which students were "caught" demonstrating the Learner Profile and how to the entire class. Cool idea to motivate students to report good things about their classmates and continue to familiarize them with the Learner Profile attributes!
How is SEL incorporated into daily learning?
In the PYP the Learner Profiles and Attitudes drive these Social and Emotional Learning discussions. Many teachers in PYP schools (and here, I hear!) like to do Morning Meetings to address SEL in their daily routines. I found this link on the IL Board of Education website that vaguely outlines SEL in IL. There is also a link to SEL resources at the bottom of that page, which might be good to explore. Please let me know what you think!
This is a TON of information so please feel free to comment with questions or suggestions anytime. I love to help learn from all of your great experiences too.
Keep up the great work!