Planning Process

Earlier this year in April, I was asked by the IBO to create a planner for the PYP. Under the new PYP Enhancements, schools are able to create their own planners. The IB have created a planning document to guide this process – kind of a ‘cheat sheet’ to ensure your planning is balanced and reflective of the PYP elements. After being asked to do this, I tapped into one of the most valuable resource a school has: its people. Within a very short space of time, I had our principal, math coach, literacy coach, 2 second grade teachers, and a 4th grade teacher ready to help.  We met, standing up around a white board table with markers in hand, and we talked. And we listened. At the end of it, I would take our ideas and try and synthesise them into a visual planning tool that both reflected our beliefs about learning and the PYP ethos on learning and planning for learning. And then we’d do it all over again. And again. And again. Until we came up with version six or seven which was submitted to the IB. 

The big ideas from this planner: 

  • it is about each individual student
  • we need to take time to provoke and wonder
  • we use our observations and conversations to guide next steps
  • our role is to gently prod and guide kids to their zone of “I don’t quite know what I am doing but I know you’ll help me learn”

The document is on the PYP Communities page and can be downloaded by schools. I created it on Pages – which I know is not everyone’s cup of tea, but it is my tool of choice for projects like these. I still “own” the document and can share it and schools can choose to use it as it is or as a starting point for their own planning journey. 

Recently, at the Learning2 Conference in Tokyo, Ben Sheridan shared an L2 Talk titled, “Together We Are Better”.  And I couldn’t agree more with that sentiment.

What could have been a lone endeavor on my part became a collaborative undertaking. I learned a lot about listening, about digging into the intentions behind people’s words, about respecting ideas and asking questions to make sure I was understanding what others were trying to say. I am really proud of the work we have done. Is it the best planner ever? Almost πŸ™‚ What it is though, is a reminder to me that we can harness the power within our schools to create great things when we work together. 

Last night I recorded a Webinar with Sarah from the IB on the Planning Process. It will be released soon and contains a wealth of information for you if you are planning on embarking on your own planning odyssey.  From my perspective, the freedom to do this is a welcome change to the PYP and the learning about learning that occurs as a result is priceless. Give it a go and then share your ideas. I would love to work on Version 67 of this planner we have drafted….but first, Christmas holidays in New Zealand πŸ™‚

40 thoughts on “Planning Process”

  1. So excited to see this out so people can start to use it (and improve it). So many good conversations went into this. Sonya, you have the ability to capture ideas and beatuifully synthesise them for the world to understand. A gift! Thank you for sharing, as always. πŸ™‚

  2. Hi Sonya’s so lovely to hear that!
    Can you pls email me the planner on pages? If you have the steps mentioned, then request you to share the same too. Thanks very much.
    Email-id, soumya_75@


  3. Hi Sonya! Thanks for sharing and helping push our thinking forward. I’d like to be a part of Version 68.
    Your biggest fan,

  4. Hi Sonya. An interesting and inspiring post as usual. I am wondering why you haven’t included a link to the file on this post? Would love to see it as I can’t access the PYP Communities page between jobs. Thanks πŸ™‚ (And enjoy that well deserved break in New Zealand!)

    1. Hi Kate, WordPress won’t let me upload a Pages doc. I can post a PDF link on here but was wanting people to use the IB communities page as their access point as it is more than just this planner, it is the renewed focus on the planning process as a whole. I included images of the annotated version but I see they aren’t the most clear or easy to read. I can email the documents to you if you’d like?

  5. Sonya, I was so happy to see this post arrive. It was an honor to be invited to work with this group on our re-thinking a planner. I loved standing around that whiteboard table and filling it with ideas, scribbles, wonders, and sketches. So meaningful! Miss you all tons.

  6. Greetings from Spain! I just found your planner and I think it is amazing. You can really see how hard yoyΒ΄ve worked on it. I tried to find it in the IB communities page, but couldnΒ΄t. Can you send it to my email so I can look at it more carefully? Thanks

  7. Hi Sonya. Thank you very much for all the work and thought…I have found the post on IB Communities but it is in a PDF format – could you please email me a pages version when you have a moment (
    Thank you very much. πŸ™‚

    1. Hi Kath – It took me a while to find it too! Sending you the Pages version. Always happy to help out a fellow kiwi πŸ™‚ Appreciate your interest in the planner and would love to see what you do with it, any changes you might make!

  8. Hi Sonya! Thanks for sharing your work. Your planners are truly inspiring and thought provoking. I think it will be a trial and error approach initially for us teachers, while implementing the enhanced PYP planners. However it is exciting to explore and try different planners or create our own which will eventually support teaching and learning. I was unable to find your planner on IB communities. Is it possible for you to email me a copy? My email id is

  9. Hello my friend. We are experimenting with planning formats do you have this on a google doc, we would love to try it out!
    Keep on rockin’ sister!

  10. HI Sonya. Great work and generous sharing! You have provided teachers with such thoughtful prompts to scaffold this complex and emergent process. I was wondering where teachers might be prompted to consider what the learner reveals to them about their current thinking/prior knowledge/misconceptions….Sometimes a provocation will reveal this but other times we need to really think about how we will tune in to the learner’s thinking early in the piece. This helps tune us into their thinking and also provides a nice basis for self assessment and evidence of growth. Just a thought! Thank you so much for sharing this πŸ™‚

  11. Dear Sonya,
    Greetings from Pakistan, I simply love your planner was thinking of merging it with IB planner. May I please ask for a page copy as well as the ones I have found are the PDFs, but would love to be able to have the Pages version as well. Thanking you in anticipation. Sonya can I please get in touch with you on email for some questions.
    Warm regards

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