One of my roles as a PYP Coordinator at SEK International School - El Castillo was organizing the staff's professional development.
The great challenge we had was having enough time for teacher to gather in collaborative learning environments where they could reflect together and conduct their own inquiries into teaching and learning.
I tried several different alternatives to face this challenge, such as online workshops, self-paced inquiry groups, and webinars.
The example in the video below is of a webinar that I created around the concepts and ideas of Visible Thinking and Creating Cultures of Thinking in the classroom. I created this webinar and used it as a tool for information and reflection during staff meetings.
This unit of inquiry was implemented with children ages 3 to 4 with the objective of them understanding that living things have needs that must be respected.
Within their inquiry, children wondered about the way that animal's needs were fulfilled during captivity, as a result of a visit to the zoo in which they reflected on the animal's living conditions.
To further provoke reflections on the concept of captivity, I organized different learning engagements in which I hoped for them to build empathy towards animals in the zoo. We used role play and free play as a way to promote inquiry, reflection and questioning.
The following video shows the play based activities that were carried out with this object in mind.
The last few workshops I have led have been paper less. This is a goal I had set for myself a while ago because of the enormous amount of paper that usually gets wasted during teacher workshops.
It is common, especially during a PYP workshop, for the leader to create a workbook that the school or workshop venue prepares prior to the workshop, filled with articles, resources and activities.
I have never found these workbooks to be as helpful as they should, mainly because they are rigid and must be prepared well in advance, which limits my possibilities of making last minute changes to the workshop as I notice the teacher's specific needs closer to the workshop, or even during the workshop.
Using technology, I have been able to develop much more flexible content, catered specifically for the group of teachers I am working with at that moment. It also helps me share out the resources and content progressively, as I see fit based on the needs of the teachers, as opposed to presenting them with a lengthy workbook at the beginning, which sometimes makes teachers feel nervous or overwhelmed.
For the past four workshops I have led, I have used an online workbook in the form of a blog, which I set up prior to the event.
Below are two examples of these. Note that these are for workshops that have already been completed, which means they are filled with information and evidence of the teachers work and learning. At the beginning of a workshop, the blog would only have a few tabs rather than all of those you will see currently.
*For easier navigation, once you have clicked on the link, make sure you select "sidebar" view. This will allow you to see the different tabs for the sections of the workshop.
Blog created for the workshop "Literacy, Math and Symbolic Learning in the Early Years" (Shanghai, China; November, 2017) CLICK HERE.
Blog created for the workshop "Concept - Based Learning" (Copenhagen, Denmark; September, 2014). CLICK HERE
Learning is dynamic, emergent, and unique to each child's learning style (especially in the Early Years), which makes it difficult to assess objectively and easily.
While checklists, rubrics, continuums, and other tools similar to these can provide for valid information on early learner's progress, learning and development, I have found that the best way to document and report on the learning of children 0 - 5 years of age as Learning Stories.
The book by Margaret Carr and Wendy Lee has informative and inspiring ideas on how to take Learning Stories into practice in the Early Years, and it has helped me further develop my skills of documentation.
Accompanied by technology tools that help make the process easy and practical, documenting children's inquiries and learning can be a fantastic way to track their progress, share this with other teachers and families, and aid reflection and further learning.
Throughout my year as Nursery Teacher at WISS I actively used the tool Storypark to create Learning Stories for each of my students, documenting their learning through the five essential elements of the PYP.
Using video, photographs of the children and their work samples, voice recordings and many other evidences of learning, I created detailed pieces of documentation that gave insight into student learning and development, and allowed to track their progress throughout the year. Along with this, it gave parents the opportunity to stay up to date on what their children were doing in school and make their own comments, ask questions, or collaborate.
Here are some sample portfolios you may download to have a closer look:
I was fortunate enough to be part of an amazing project which involved the renovation of the learning spaces in the Early Years section of SEK International School - El Castillo.
What was most interesting about this is that it involved an in depth inquiry done by ourselves as leadership and teaching team.
The results were fantastic, and we had the pleasure of sharing these on the official PYP online magazine - Sharing PYP Practice.
It all started with a lot reflection and self-assessment. Each teacher, with the guidance of both me and the Early Years Coordinator, @judecanning, reflected and analysed pictures of their current learning spaces. We used the book "Designs for Living and Learning" by Deb Curtis and Maggie Carter to guide our thinking, and the the amazing feedback from Andrea Muller, from Innovative Global Education, who we were consulting with at the time. As a result of this reflection, we started brainstorming the changes we wanted to implement in our learning environments, and began working with architects, constructors and designers.
The process was very enriching because it was great to see how the ideas we put forth started translating into practice. The result is an amazing looking learning environment, through which meaningful learning and child - centred inquiry is fostered!
Please check out the article on Sharing PYP Practice, which explains the process and the results with more detail!
This culminating event of the PYP is an exciting time for students, teachers and parents. This year was our school's third exhibition, and my first as the PYP coordinator and as a Year 6 teacher.
Having had participated in exhibition before at my prior school, Santiago College (Santiago, Chile), as a mentor and under the amazing guidance of @jessievas12, I had some experience and knowledge about what the exhibition is all about, and this was a great chance for me to continue developing these understandings and taking the risk and challenge of leading the year 6 teachers and students through it.
The process was an amazing success and Exhibition Day was a wonderful moment. Because an image is worth a thousand words, and therefore a video should be worth even more, here is a video I created to share the process we followed and the outcomes we reached.
As the PYP Coordinator at the school I was asked to lead a workshop for parents at the beginning of the year to help them better understand our teaching and learning philosophy and how this translates into our teaching practices.
I planned a workshop in which parents could truly experience the PYP philosophy and like that understand the way that their children learn at our school. Therefore, I included collaborative activities and moments for reflection.
The following is the powerpoint presentation that I used for the workshop, and here you can download the video of the workshop itself.
You can also click here to see the school's blog post about it!
My Year 6 class has been using Educreations a lot to create their own content, share their learning and develop their understandings.
One of the ways we have been using it is to solve a big problem I was facing.
Because I am the only teacher in class with the students (as I was very used to a co-teaching model!), it has been hard to do guided reading and impossible to have the minute to sit with each student one to one to work on reading with them.
However, Educreations has helped solve this problem.
As students are very used to using this App to demonstrate their understandings and communicate their ideas, I have now asked them to use it to read a loud, as if they were reading to me.
Before starting, I have them reflect on their reading attitudes and skills using this rubric:
Then, I ask them to take whatever book they are reading, and find a quiet place around the hallway, to record themselves reading out loud, at least 3 pages of their book. I ask them to think aloud any connections they are making or questions they are having.
The result is this Educreations video, which I can later watch and use to assess student's progress using the same rubric:
This is evidence from a summative assessment conducted to evaluate the childrens' new understandings as a prodduct of the Unit of Inquiry about materials and their properties, for the transdisciplinary theme "How the world works" from the Prymary Years Program.
Children demonstrated their newly acquired knowledge on the following concepts:
Along with this, children showed their development of the following skills:
... and showed their understanding of the following lines of inquiry:
The assessment was a an open-ended task where students were asked to create a chair for a stuffed animal, "Mr. Bear". To do this, they had to choose among a set of materials: paper, rubber bands, clay, or lego blocks.
Children worked collaboratively in groups of four, and had to organize themselves and make every decision to pursue the task.
Children had to observe the materials they picked and use the knowledge they acquired throughout the unit to make decisions about the best way to build a chair for Mr. Bear. Because they knew that the materials to choose and the form to give them depended on the function that the final object would have, they also had to observe and analyze
"Rubber bands are not so good, because rubber bands are rubber, they stretch, like this... so they are no good because they can't hold on. Plastic is good so - so, it is a little weak, but you can still do it (the chair), because it is not as elastic as the rubber bands".
"Paper is soft and it falls. It's good because we use it witch scotch tape. Scotch helps make the chair more resistant, because Mr. Bear is heavy so it has to be resistant".
"Legos can be used to make houses, but toy houses, not real ones."
"Legos are strong, I don't know why they are strong. They are strong plastic."
"I think they have something hard inside them."
"Mr. Bear can sit on this chair made of legos, because its hard, but a real person would fall, because people are more heavy".
In this video you will see a lesson or students 6 to 7 years of age, in which they use "the donut", or "inner-outer circle" strategy to communicate their research findings in the context of a Unit of Inquiry into "Sharing the Planet".