This learning experience was inmersed in a Unit of Inquiry for the PYP's trandisciplinary theme "Who we Are" , and was created as a way to connect academic outcomes to the unit of inquiry. Students were ages 6 and 7.
The learning goal was for children to explore different shapes as a way to begin working with geometry, and at the same time explore the concept of symbol as part of the unit's lines of inquiry regarding the way we create symbols to represent who we are.
For this activity, the following inquiry cycle for teaching and learning was used:
Previously, children had brought in a homework assignment where they had to search for different symbols. Many of the children brought in flags of different countries, and they seemed very interested in these since they related them to soccer matches that had taken place the year before for the 2010 World Cup, so we decided to work with flags and their geometric shapes.
Flags from different countries were provided so that children could discuss the symbols, their colors and shapes, around the idea that each symbol has been chosen to represent something particular to that country. These discussions were done using the think-pair-share strategy, where first each student thinks about these ideas in his or her own and at a signal, pairs with another student to share their thoughts. At a third signal, students take turns to share what they have concluded as a pair.
Students were invited to work with the pattern blocks, which they had used several times before, and were asked to create some of the flags that had been used in the discussion with the pattern blocks. During this exploration, children were encouraged to talk amongst themselves about the shapes involved in each flag, the colors, and what they thought these symbols meant.
For this part of the experience, the students were gathered in a group to share what they had done individually. The discussion involved the concept of symbol (why did the country choose that particular color? What do you think this color represents? Why did the country choose these shapes? what are they a symbol for?) and gemoetric concepts as well (What shapes did you use to recreate the flag? With what other shapes could you recreate it? How many of each did you need to use? In how many different ways could you create the same flag with different blocks?).
As a branching out experience, students had the opportunity to create their own flags,thinking about the symbols they would like to include (colors and shapes) and about the block shapes they would have to use to create their designs.