Provocations

Provocations are exciting ways to stimulate curiosity and incite enthusiasm before a unit of inquiry begins. This allows students to think about and reflect upon their current understanding and beliefs about the concepts that will be explored during the unit.

At Discovery School, a range of exciting provocations have recently taken place. Below you will find an overview of some of them.

  • In Grade 1, the students were forced to move to different classrooms after they came in one morning to find their classroom a complete mess! The students were sent to different classrooms from Kindergarten to 6th Grade while Miss Smith and Miss Parsons worked diligently to tidy up the classroom. The provocation began a discussion in the classroom about migration and the movement of people, it also provided them with a shared experience to ask questions and discuss their feelings about the move.
  • In Miss Rahall’s class, the students found a box in their classroom with a range of different belongings, including a pillow, a baby picture and a teddy bear. Over the course of the week other objects began to appear in the box. Miss Rahall asked the students to think about who they might belong to, challenging them to offer justification for their answer. At the end of the week the students learned that the owner of the box was their very own Miss Rahall! The activity began the students inquiry into personal histories and identity.
  • In PreK, the students came into the classroom one day to find the carpet completely covered with empty boxes. The students were eager and excited to play with them, intrigued to find out where they had come from and why they were there. They used their creativity to make a range of different things including robots, boats and race cars. The provocation activity started their unit of inquiry into creativity and learning.

Happy holidays!

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Student-led conferences

On Monday, October 8 Discovery School was alive with the buzz of enthusiastic students and parents engaged in student-led conferences! Student-led conferences put the student at the forefront of communicating their learning. This replaces the passivity of students during parent-teacher conferences and requires them to become active learners. Students take responsibility by sharing the learning process with family members. This often involves them demonstrating their understanding in variety of different ways, including work samples, reflections, games and presentations. Students prepared for this in class by adding work to their portfolios, practicing with friends, setting goals and reflecting on their learning so far. The teachers took on the role of facilitator by leadingd a center or circulating around the classroom to support students and answer clarifying questions. For more information about the benefits of student-led conferences, check out this article on Edudemic, http://www.edudemic.com/guide-to-student-led-conferences/

 

Collaboration

Collaboration provides people with different perspectives and allows groups to capitalize on the resources and skills of other people, while working together towards a shared goal or task. This belief is central to the IB philosophy as can be seen in the Programme Standards and Practices under C1: Collaborative planning. To ensure that as a school we achieve this standard, a recent planning meeting involved teachers from Preschool to 6th Grade, as well as specialists to plan upcoming units of inquiry in Grade 1 and above.
In groups, teachers were given a blank copy of the PYP planner that included the central idea, lines of inquiry and the key concepts. They were asked to discuss and record ideas about how best to support the assessment and exploration of the units. These templates were then rotated so that each teacher had the opportunity to document their thinking. By the end of the process, the previously blank planners were filled with ideas and suggestions about how to develop a significant, relevant and engaging units of inquiry.
The importance of collaboration is something that is shared by Helen Keller who said, “Alone we ca do so little; together we can do so much”.

Action – how do we want students to act?

Action is a voluntary demonstration of a student’s empowerment as a result of the learning process. In the PYP, the belief is that education must extend beyond the intellectual to include not only socially responsible attitudes but also thoughtful and appropriate action. An explicit expectation of the PYP is that successful inquiry will lead to responsible student-initiated action, which will most certainly look different within each grade level. The action component of the PYP can involve service in the widest sense of the word: service to fellow students, and to the larger community, both in and outside school. Effective action does not need to be grand or elaborate. On the contrary, it begins at the most immediate and basic level: with the self; within the family; within the classroom, the recess field and library.

Effective action:

  • should be modelled by the adults in the school community
  • should be voluntary and involve students in exercising their own initiative
  • is best grounded in the students’ own experiences
  • is most beneficial to the students when they are able to witness the outcomes
  • usually begins in a small way and arises from genuine concern and commitment
  • should include anticipation of consequences, and accepting of responsibility
  • may require appropriate adult support in order to facilitate students’ efforts and to provide them with alternatives and choices.

At Discovery School, we are working hard to recognize and celebrate students, and teachers, for the action they have taken. An “Action Board” has been created and is on display in the hallway by the Mandarin room. A range of people have already been recognized for their contributions to the school and the wider community. Since authentic action often takes place at home (sharing what they have learned, showing motivation for a particular cause, or an interest in a topic that extends beyond the learning in the classroom) we have created a Google form for you document and share any action your child has taken – https://goo.gl/forms/dWbODnpTUarEHPu03. We look forward to reading your submissions!

 

 

Bibliography

IB (International Baccalaureate). 2009. Making the PYP happen: A curriculum framework for international primary education. Cardiff, UK. IB.

The IB Learner Profile

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At the center of each of the four International Baccalaureate programs is the IB learner profile. It provides a framework for all members of a school community including students, teachers and parents. These 10 attributes demonstrate the IB’s commitment to educating the whole child and developing internationally minded students.

At Discovery School, we are working towards one of the items on our PYP action plan by making the learner profile more visible. We are doing this through shared displays and by recognizing students who emulate an aspect of the learner profile. Any teacher who sees a student being either a risk-taker, knowledgeable, balanced, caring, an inquirer, a thinker, a communicator, open-minded, reflective or principled, will be given a sticker  that say’s “Ask me how ….” Keep an eye out for your child wearing one of these stickers and be sure to ask them about it. This is a great opportunity to celebrate some of the great things your child is doing!

To find out more about the IB Learner Profile, please visit the IBO website found here.

 

Essential Agreements

Essential agreements are a great way to set up behavior expectations in collaboration with students. Essential agreements are different to rules in that they encourage positive behavior instead of saying what should not be done. Essential agreements generally,

  • are few in number
  • are written as a group
  • apply to all people in the room, including both students and teachers

Check out some examples of the essential agreements created by Discovery students and teachers below.