Positive action inspiring positive action

It started for me with the ALS #icebucketchallenge – sent from the suburbs of Boston all the way to my home in Phuket. I was up for the challenge and then decided to bring the story to my Grade 7 council.

We had a laugh at a few wet/cold celebrities and then watched the Pete Frates back story on ESPN to understand how and where this inspired action began.  I was thrilled by what happened next.   My reflection for Council was something like:  ‘What is something you feel is important enough to do something about?  What are you passionate about?’   I was worried that the awkward question would be met with awkward silence.  I was wrong.  In turn, each student shared very personal stories and passions for causes that they will tackle.   This included animal protection, access to education, pollution and environmental conservation, cancer research, Alzheimer’s, polio and ebola.  One by one they took their turns sharing, referencing uncles and grandparents, family friends and pets to inspired their passion in whatever ideas they spoke about.   Many of us had tears as we explained ourselves.  We all left feeling ready for action.    

Now it is on me / us to plan for ways to support this passion.   How can we nurture and incubate a spirit for action?   Does it fit within the IB MYP Individuals & Societies curriculum?   Does it happen through the Global Issues Network (GIN) or some other structure?   The kids are ready!

 

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Project-Based Learning – How my kids and I spent four weeks in Yunnan, China

After weeks of hard work, the MYP2 Humanities class took their places at the roundtable to engage in a two day debate towards a solution to a real world problem.   In their project-based learning unit, entitled ‘River of Life’, MYP2 students strengthened their inquiry skills (and more!) as they tackled the question of hydropower electricity on the Jinsha River (Upper Yangtze) in Yunnan, China.

This activity served as a culminating experience for the students, who drew upon topics from their year of study, including cultural identity, migration and displacement, and human engagement with river systems.

Working independently, the students took on specific character roles** for the debate, addressing questions of alternative energy and environmental and social issues, as they honed their arguments and developed solutions.

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Mindfulness

In August, I will be taking up a new post at Phuket International Academy Day School (PIADS), teaching Humanities and English in the Middle Years Program.   We are excited for many reasons – the new adventure, the new chapter in a winding career, the sand, and – not the least – the opportunity to connect mindfulness in the classroom.   PIADS is doing ground-breaking work in this area and I’m excited to join that process.

Over the next months, I will hone my own practice and prepare for my approach to students and colleagues.    I will use this space to collect and collate some resources on mindfulness in and out of school.   Further suggestions are most welcome!

Here is a good start:  Jon Kabat-Zinn bringing definition to mindfulness:

I also found this overview by Amy Saltzman helpful for teachers.  

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What’s your itinerary? AOI to ATL – building life long learners

The IB approaches teaching/learning with scaffolding and support to the process.   This includes framing Middle Years Programme (MYP) around Areas Of Interaction (AOI) in order to foster connections between subjects.    One of these AOI is Approach To Learning (ATL), which aims specifically to build intrinsic motivation, responsibility and skills to learn within every learner.    The ATL essentially addresses ‘learning to know’ – one of the four pillars of education, presented to UNESCO in the Delors report, ‘Learning:  A Treasure Within‘, looking at education in the 21st Century.   Clearly this is a central concept at the heart of education and the development of a society where learning continues well beyond the classroom.

The challenge with any approach is the measurement of its success.    Irregardless of the obstacles, this is a challenge that must be met.   It was told to me once that we tend to ‘measure what we treasure, and treasure whatever we measure.’    This translates into a call for action for improved measurement of the ATL.    We must measure what we treasure, for it is too easy for those making decisions on policies, programmes and budgets to treasure whatever is measured, or measurable.