Describing the world around us

Grade 6 Individuals & Societies Class sketching our local environment

Grade 6 Individuals & Societies Class sketching our local environment

In an early unit for the Grade 6 students at PIA, we’ve begun to explore ways of describing the world around us in geographical terms.  Students have been analyzing and creating their own maps and building their vocabulary as it relates to our immediate environment.

On Friday, we spent the morning practicing techniques such as field sketching to capture and communicate the world around us.  Students finally got a chance to get up close to the cows in the pasture across school as they sketched the landscape around campus.

Read more about our morning and check out photos here.

This activity is building towards a summative assessment, in which students will be asked to create an informative brochure, which focusses on part of our island.   Students will be drawing their own maps, describing the local area through words and drawings and demonstrating their knowledge and communication skills through this independent project.

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.

Continue reading

The Daily News

As update to a previous post, our MYP 1 Humanities unit on Current Events is in full swing.  Screen Shot 2014-05-17 at 17.28.19I’ve been totally amazed by the energy and investment in learning from my students.  Collaborating with my former and future colleague @LanaMLautamus from Bangkok, my unit has unfolded with a daily sharing of news.

Every day of class, my students come ready to share a news story they’ve read.  Four students are chosen at random and they step up to the news desk and report.   I’ve been amazed at the depth of their reporting.  To date, they’ve tackled #bringbackourgirls, the continued conflict in the Ukraine, racism in the US, Shariah laws in Sudan, the Indian elections, and media bias in South Africa.  I ask them to summarize the main idea of the story and the main people/groups/countries involved.   Continue reading

Keeping up with the Neighbors

In a professional development (PD) workshop earlier in the year, several of my fellow teachers and I were given a set of random statements and asked to interpret them and develop a unit around them.   Anything.  Open the box and jump around.   What came out the other end turned out to be so potentially cool that I’ve decided it will be my next unit of the year – tentatively called, ‘Keeping up with the Neighbors’ – a look at current events through the lens of global interactions, power and causality.  Inquiry questions need work, but I like where this is going.   The poster below reflects the six statements from our PD exercise – all related to interactions and the implications surrounding ones action:  the Suarez canal, US support to India for the UN SC, Snowden asylum, missile testing in Iran, lifting sanctions in Myanmar, and the kidnapping of truck drivers in Lebanon.  As always, suggestions and comments are most welcome!   This is a classic example of building the plane as we fly.   Updates to follow on what I expect to be an interesting trip for all!

Unit Poster

Poster for Keeping up with the Neighbors Unit, MYP1 Humanities

MYP1 Humanities in Action!

 

MYP1 Students in action

MYP1 Students in action

MYP1 Humanities in Action!

 When the students saw the extent of the problem, there was no other option – they needed to take action.

What began as a simple Humanities unit on Earth Systems evolved into an island-wide action project.  MYP1 students (grade 6), age 11-13, took it upon themselves to design, plan and execute two very different, but no less engaging, action projects. With inspiration from our community and like-minded students around the world, the classes divided themselves into two groups and dug in to learn as much as they could on their chosen topics, with focus on the biosphere – all living things – and on coastal conservation – oceans and beaches here in Phuket.  

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.