Tuesday, December 9, 2014


This blog will be used to support the IB PYP workshop Making the PYP Happen in the Classroom at ASB in January 2015.

We hope you will find the information in the blog posts useful and that you will join our learning community by adding your comments and reflections.

In the 2 days of this workshop we will be looking at 3 big questions:

  • Why? - this is the philosophy behind the PYP
  • What? - this is the theory behind the curriculum.  We will be looking at the written and the assessed curriculum.
  • How? - this is our practice and how we bring the curriculum alive.  We will be looking at planning for inquiry, teaching and learning.

Transdisciplinary Theme:  How We Organize Ourselves
Central Idea:  The PYP is a philosophy and curriculum framework for an international education
Lines of Inquiry:
  • the essential elements of an international curriculum
  • inquiry as a stance
  • teaching and learning of the whole child
  • planning and assessing to inform and transform teaching
Key Concepts:  form, function, causation

Summative Assessment:  Consider an upcoming unit of inquiry.  Develop a summative assessment task that caters for the learning of all students (i.e. should involve differentiation) and demonstrates the engagement with the unit through the 5 essential elements.

Session 1: Creating a Community of Learners

Individual teachers' beliefs about the experiences related to teaching and learning impact on the way they teach.

Aim: Reflect on own beliefs and practices within a community of learners
No learning occurs in a vacuum We construct meaning personally and uniquely, building on our prior knowledge, feelings and engaging within the context of our current learning environment.

We will be using the Concentric Circle Model to explore our own beliefs and values and to discuss commonalities for the group.

How will we know what we have learned?
Commonalities from the fireside groups:

  • How to create a meaningful lesson, which is versatile to different needs - that develops a deeper understanding of the unit of inquiry.
  • Confidently explain the PYP to others.
  • Understand PYP better, and different teaching strategies within the framework.
  • How is PYP able to truly support student dreams and allow time for student driven inquiry, especially in the Early Years
  • To make connections with the programme, other teachers and students in order to aid in teaching and learning.

This session will also give you a brief introduction to the IB and its history. You will be able to highlight the links between the various aspects of the PYP on the diagram as we cover them.

Finally in this session we will be establishing essential agreements for the workshop using the PYP attitudes. These are the dispositions which are expressions of fundamental values, beliefs and feelings about learning, the environment and people.
Refer to Making the PYP Happen page 24

Our Essential Agreements:
  • Independence:  We will feel confident to speak our ideas, listen to others, and discuss these ideas cooperatively in a safe environment.
  • Enthusiasm:  We agree to actively engage in all learning.  We will cultivate our passion and curiosity and ... have fun!!!
  • Curiosity:  We will be interested about what we are learning and not shy away from not knowing.
  • Commitment:  We will be present by thinking, asking, listening, sharing and sticking with "it".
  • Respect:  We will be open and supportive and avoid being judgemental for how others express their ideas and understandings.

Where are the rules?  Formulating Essential Agreements in the PYP

A Vision of 21st Century Teachers

Session 2: International Mindedness and the Learner Profile

International mindedness is encompassed in the IB Learner Profile.  It is further developed by practices under the PYP standards.

From the IB Mission statement

The International Baccalaureate aims to develop inquiring, knowledgeable and caring young people who help to create a better and more peaceful world through intercultural understanding and respect. 
To this end the organization works with schools, governments and international organizations to develop challenging programmes of international education and rigorous assessment. 
These programmes encourage students across the world to become active, compassionate and lifelong learners who understand that other people, with their differences, can also be right.
Venn Diagram:  How does the IB Mission Statement compare with ASB's mission statement? Refer to p10 in the workbook.

Explore and develop understanding of internationalism

International Mindedness - What is it?
Quadrant Brainstorm with a definition at the centre that all share.

International Mindedness, the IB Mission Statement and the PYP

Our visual definitions of International Mindedness:

The Learner Profile is the expression of the PYP and contributes to being an international person

from Making the PYP Happen
What, then, is a PYP school? It is a school that, regardless of location, size or constitution, strives towards developing an internationally minded person. What is an internationally minded person? It is a person who demonstrates the attributes of the IB learner profile.
This is the kind of student we hope will graduate from a PYP school, the kind of student who, in the struggle to establish a personal set of values, will be laying the foundation upon which international-mindedness will develop and flourish.
The school promotes international-mindedness on the part of the adults and the students in the school community.
The school provides students with opportunities for learning about issues that have local, national and global significance, leading to an understanding of human commonalities.
To summarize, when seeking evidence of international-mindedness in PYP schools, teachers need to look at what the students are learning, how they are demonstrating that learning, and how to nurture students within the school community. They need to consider whether students are making connections between life in school, life at home and life in the world. By helping students make these connections and see that learning is connected to life, a strong foundation for future learning is established. In striving to make it happen, and in looking for indicators of success, teachers, principals and/or heads of schools need to look everywhere, since all aspects of the school, from overarching philosophy through to policies and their ensuing practices, will reflect either the presence or the absence of a sensitivity to the special nature of PYP schools.

Diamond Rankings of the Learner Profile

This is a Visible Thinking routine for connecting new ideas to prior knowledge (workbook page 11).

How International Minded is ASB? Individually complete the chart on p12 of the workbook then share with a partner.

How can we foster the Learner Profile at ASB? Bus Stop
How do we promote international mindedness and the learner profile in the classroom? Refer to p13 in the workbook.

Teaching Practices
  • Student voice and choice 
  • Differentiation/individualization 
  • Explicitly telling students that a "wrong answer" contributes to everyone's understanding 
  • Open ended questions 
  • Promoting a safe environment 
  • Community agreements 
  • Encouraging discussion 
  • Allowing student choice to drive the inquiry 
  • Self assessment and reflection 
  • Individual, peer and group assessment 
  • Responsive classroom 
  • Opportunities to work within small and large groups 
  • Creating safe places where students feel OK making mistakes - "celebrating mistakes" 
Classroom Environment
  • Physical space contributing to intellectual and emotional learning 
  • Build a sense of belonging 
  • Place to show student learning and growth 
  • Reflect children in the room and also other cultures (even those not directly represented) 
  • Students own their space through their own artifacts 
  • Space for student's voice to be heard 
  • Build in respect for "stuff" 
  • Students work in "caves" 
  • Warm and inviting and comfortable 
  • Materials should be accessible

Daily/Weekly Routines
  • Morning meetings - helps being a risk taker and working with different partners 
  • Being a good communicator when playing games 
  • Closing circle - how was the day? What did you learn? 
  • Reflect on their skills 
  • Energizers 
  • Transitions (safe) 
  • Being open and learning new games 
  • Time to share with peers 
  • Student ownership 
  • Thinking/quiet time 
  • Challenges that make them think 
  • Balance 
  • Outside active time and routine 
  • Student owned time 
  • Recess 
  • Time to make
  • Self-evaluation and self-reflection 
  • Understanding what you learnt 
  • Giving opportunities for students to be assessed in other ways (i.e. take a test verbally) 
  • On-going assessment 
  • Ability to work with others 
  • Process not product 
  • No assessments 
  • Multi-sensory assessments 
  • Dialogue with parents and peers 
  • Narrative component 
  • Examining personal growth 
  • Variety of artifacts 
  • Not what you know but how you know it and how you learnt it - and what you think about it 
  • Authentic assessments 
  • Pre - to know where they are, Post - whey they successfully reached
Student Learning
  • Intentional structure 
  • Time to think - reflecting on profiles 
  • Encouraging students to have confidence in themselves and their inquiries 
  • Provocations 
  • Emphasise understanding and empathy 
  • Learning reflections (assessed) 
  • Active and hands-on 
  • Document the process and the outcome 
  • Connect the student needs and interests to the profile 
  • Field trips, PBL 
  • Fill your bucket concept 
  • Provide student choice to encourage wonderings 
Reflection on the blog: Reflect on the learner profile and your teaching practice:
  • which attributes are well developed in your classroom? 
  • which are challenging for you? 
  • what is your take away in promoting these in your classroom? 
Reply to this post to answer this question.

Session 3: Learners Constructing Meaning

At the heart of the curriculum cycle is the learner constructing meaning.

I see ... I think ... I wonder 
Use this thinking routine to talk about the artifacts displayed on table tops.
Try to connect the artifact with the correct owner.
How does this activity show constructivism?

What does an environment for constructivist learning look like?
Workbook page 17 - 18.  During this session you will be thinking about an effective/not effective learning experience that you had. What contributed to the success/failure of the experience. On post-its list these and display on Promotes Learning/Hinders Learning posters.

Promotes Learning:
  • Intrinsic motivation 
  • "Meaty" content 
  • Multiple approaches 
  • Engagement 
  • Balance 
  • Reflection time 
  • Exact directions 
  • Trust 
  • A vision of the end product 
  • Safe environment 
  • Sharing of ideas 
  • Visual representation 
  • Sharing 
  • Mindset 
  • Type of feedback - encouragement 
  • Group work
Hinders Learning:
  • Rushing
  • Unclear expectations
  • Failure
  • Anxiety
  • Boring lessons
  • Seat placement
  • Not being ready for the information
  • A rigid approach
Bus Stop Activity
What are you doing to develop constructivism in these areas:

Teaching Practices
  • Educated in a way that value individual ability 
  • Responsive Classroom 
  • Talk less 30/70 
  • Guides and facilitates rather than talks to and lectures 
  • Classroom agreements - holds students accountable to these for a safe environment 
  • Provides opportunities that encourage curiosity and drives learning 
  • Teacher as a facilitator -> guide on the side, not sage on the stage 
  • Lots of collaboration with colleagues - even in other grade levels 
  • Multi-sensory 
  • Building motivation in students, encouragement 
  • Connecting prior experiences with learning 
  • Understanding the students - listens to students 
  • Identifying and scripting out language which facilitates constructivist learning 
  • Appreciation for all learners 
  • Creating thinkers
Classroom Environment
  • Student social and emotional needs met
  • Easy access to classroom materials
  • Welcoming
  • Nurturing environment
  • Designing areas that are easily recognized
  • A variety of materials for students to work with and explore with their learning or to drive their learning
  • Sense of ownership
  • Documenting their learning i.e. rough draft
  • Organized
  • Learning centres
  • Safe environment leads to risk-taking
  • Inquiry based
  • Not just one room or even inside
  • Student input and ownership
  • Versatile indoor/outdoor caters to different learning styles
  • Visual aids
  • No window displays
  • Student work displays
  • Walls - distractions
  • Lights/sounds/space
Daily/Weekly Routines
  • Morning meeting
  • RC Approach - 1st 6 weeks, creating agreements
  • Modelling academic choice
  • Students have ownership of classroom after coming to common expectations
  • Teacher check-in
  • Group activities
  • Partner sharing
  • Dialogue sharing
  • Greetings/characteristics of positive language
  • Building a community
  • Routines are student led/created by students
  • Formative assessments are constantly used to guide inquiry
  • PBL
  • Photographs
  • Students have choice of demonstrating understandings
  • Authentic assessments - designing an assessment that shows what kids know/learned
  • Artifacts
  • Using rubrics that are shared/created beforehand with students
  • Messy
  • Dictating/recording verbal conversations 
  • Videos recordings of student understandings
  • Parent-student-teacher
  • Reflections on activities done
  • Student-led conferences
  • Explicit learning - learning intention and success criteria created with students
  • Collective evidence to show learning has taken place
  • Self assessments and teacher assessments
Student Learning
  • Exploration
  • Self-select/different levels of the same concept
  • Student choice
  • Working in centres
  • Scaffolding
  • PYP Teacher Profile
  • Sharing - show and tell
  • Knowing your students and yourself (positives and negatives)
  • Students as teachers - student-led lessons
  • Encouraging curiosity
  • Critical thinking
  • PD
  • Teacher as a facilitator
  • Support for student and teacher
  • Classroom management
  • Student self-control and management
Summative Assessment Task and Criteria
Show understanding of and connections between the 5 Essential Elements.
Consider an upcoming unit of inquiry.  Develop a summative assessment task that caters for the learning of all students and demonstrates the engagement with the unit through the 5 essential elements.

Session 4: The Five Essential Elements

The five essential elements resonate throughout the entire curriculum

In this session we will explore the essential elements using the Jigsaw strategy.

Read Making the PYP Happen pages 11-15.  Match the standards that best fit under the 6 Transdisciplinary Themes.

On the blog
What was the main message for you?  How do the Transdisciplinary Themes support individual disciplines and standards?   Reply to this blog post with your thoughts.

Session 5: Knowledge, Concepts, Skills and Action

The PYP curriculum is concept-driven and transdisciplinary

Knowledge is reflected in the Transdisciplinary Themes and Scope and Sequences. Knowledge is the significant, relevant subject matter we wish the students to explore and know about. The construction of knowledge requires skills.


Use the 4As Protocol to reflect on Lynn Erickson's Stirring the Head, Heart and Soul.  (Workbook pages 112 - 119)
Read the text silently, highlighting it and writing notes in the margin or on post-it notes to anwer the following 4 questions:

  • What Assumptions does the author of the text hold?
  • What do you agree with in the text?
  • What do you want to argue with in the text?
  • What parts of the text do you aspire to? to?

What we aspire to - sharing

What we can do - sharing

21st Century Skills
In groups brainstorm how PYP Approaches to Learning (Transdisciplinary Skills) align with ASB's 21st Century Skills:

  • Creativity and Innovation
  • Critical Thinking
  • Information Fluency
  • Collaboration
  • Communication
  • Managing Complexity
  • Multicultural Literacy

The Inside Out Circle
  • What does action look like?  What could it look like?
  • What isn't action?
  • Effective action should ...
  • Why is action one of the essential elements?
  • Discuss action as service?
  • What is parent involvement in action?
Consider an action that your kids have done recently and where does it fit on the ladder and why...Reflect on the blog

Student initiated action in the PYP - Blog post by Gareth Jacobson

Session 6: Central Ideas and Lines of Inquiry

How best will we learn?

What is worth understanding? Avocado model - workbook page 45
(40 years, 40 months, 40 weeks)
Central Ideas
Keeper or Thrower?  - workbook pages 27 - 29
Use the criteria sheet for central ideas
If thrower-change them and record your responses on the paper

If keeper- identify the (key & related) concepts in the Central Idea

Lines of Inquiry

Workbook page 30

Create lines of inquiry for the Keepers. Each group will choose one keeper and create 2-3 lines of inquiry, keeping in mind subject specific standards.

IB PD Website - Written, Learned and Assessed Curriculum