PYP Exhibition

I was invited by the Faria Group to lead a webinar on the PYP Exhibition. This is one of my most favorite things to talk about so it was an easy ‘yes’. The enhancements to the PYP have brought about a lot of clarity (in my opinion) as to what the Exhibition is and what it can be. Here is a summary of the ideas shared in the webinar:

This is the ‘one word’ that I kept thinking of as I was prepping for the webinar. The degree to which agency is present in the Exhibition will likely correlate with the degree to which it exists in all of your learning spaces. If you want students to be agents of their own learning, start now – don’t wait for Exhibition! And if you don’t know where to start, tap into this holy grail of all things agency as curated by Taryn Bond Clegg.

These are two films I suggested sharing to all members of the learning community as the journey begins. The first one, Alike, will help people see why we want kids thinking for themselves and moving independently about the world. The second one, by John Spencer, will help remind us that it all might be a total failure – but that it doesn’t mean WE are total failures. Play them back-to-back to get best effect. 🙂

NOTE: John has a great follow-on video called When Projects Fail which may/may not also come in handy!

The IB Principles to Practice are DEFINITELY worth reading – in particular in relation to the Exhibition. Figuring out the purpose of the exhibition, how it will look in your context, what roles each member of the learning community will play, and the degree of release toward a student-led exhibition, are key factors to consider before getting started.

Collaboration is one of the key components of the exhibition and again, this won’t just happen unless we are intentional about it. Destination Imagination has some great resources to help both develop team relationships and then reflect on how they might be made even stronger.

Figuring out what you think/hope the exhibition will look like is a great start. I think most of us have visions of a straight, uncomplicated, but long path. Reality, it looks a bit like spaghetti junction, most of the time. Having a plan before you start is great. Your plan could look something like this:

  • Identify a global issue or opportunity that has meaning to the student(s) and connects to the school or local context
  • Collaborate to develop central idea(s)
  • Identify group or individual lines of inquiry and student questions
  • Connect with mentors and use class time to focus on ongoing Exhibition inquiries
  • Designate ‘check-in’ times with mentors to monitor and document progress, and to provide feedback and feedforward.
  • Decide on the culmination of the exhibition to share the learning process. Consider the environmental impact of the culminating event when looking for ways to make the learning visible. 
  • Reflect on the Exhibition process

You will then want to think about assessment. What I like about this is that students are asked to have a strong hand in creating their own success criteria. What does that mean or look like? I took the main features of the exhibition and the assessment guidelines and then created a few question to guide students in assessing their learning. Great to share these with the students and to get their input on them too.

Start with the end in mind…

On the topic of assessing, or thinking ahead to what is coming, I like to have students take a leaf from Seth Godin’s “Ship It” manual and speak into the future about their own success and achievements before they begin. A powerful way to take a moment to think about what they hope to get out of this process.

Exhibition is not meant to be a solo experience for kids or teachers. Key to the success of the exhibition are mentors. I wrote a post about different ways of including adult support for the exhibition in a post called We(Chat) Are The Champions. It has some good stuff on different ways of making the most out of mentors.

Step by step…

I am not a fan of checklists but I do understand that having some sort of framework when undertaking such a big project is absolutely necessary. Here is my six step version of a checklist. I just implore you to not think of it as written in stone. It’s just a guide so when you and/or your kids are wound up in spaghetti junction, you have some idea of which way is up.

Let’s get ready…

So, we are now (almost) ready to go! But here’s one last-ish word on what that means. It can be really easy to get bogged down with ‘research’. I encourage you to consider a bias toward action – a phrase that comes from Design Thinking and the Stanford d.School. Equally, consider developing a Producer Mindset – different from a consumer mindset. Raising Producer Kids by Philip Guo is a great read.

Great questions are the key to a great exhibition and if you want to brush up on your skills in relation to helping kids pose and pursue great questions, look no further than The Right Question Institute.

A tool you might want to consider is the Post-it App. I love this app. It is not a ‘must have’ but it does make this process fun and there are so many ways to use the kids thinking to build their understanding of the questions they are asking and to help them figure out which questions they REALLY want to go for. Here are some other ways of organizing and categorizing questions:

This visible thinking routine: question sorts, is probably one of my favorites. Questions that end up in the bottom right quadrant are the ones most likely to generate engagement, insights, creative action, deep understanding, or new possibilities, while also being questions that one really cares deeply about investigating. After you have these questions, you could take them and sort them again into concept categories:

Everything you need to know about these cards is on this blog. Check out this post to get started.

A new edition to my Exhibition toolkit (and one I have not tried with PYPX students but use regularly with our XBlock students) is a project summary. This is a one-pager that students can use to summarize their thinking, free from jargon, and with their voice at the front of everything. This would be a tool I would use to conference with students and help them to put a voice to the nature of the project they are about to undertake.

Conceptually thinking…

When students have created lines of inquiry based on concepts, I have found some of them will often get this ‘now what?’ look about them. What do I do now? The following chart would be a great tool to guide conversations with students about what they might be doing if they were pursuing a line of inquiry connected to one of these concepts. This idea of connecting verbs with concepts was first shared by Cristina Milos and I took her idea and added these prompts.

Action is a key component of the exhibition. Under the PYP Enhancements, action is broken down into a number of categories. These next two images show what those categories are and then the second, what students might find themselves doing depending on what they are trying to achieve:

Link to full post

Learner Profile and ATLs

The following cards are under construction. I am working on the icons in collaboration with our Early Years teachers and I want to work on the language of the guiding/reflective questions. If you have any advice, I would love to hear it!

Suzanne Kitto has generously shared her work on ATLs via her Twitter account. Rebekah Madrid has bounced off this work to create ATLs for MYP students. I was inspired by both educators and made a set of EY ATL cards. You can’t go wrong.

In the webinar I pulled math as an example and shared some information about three different ways that three different educators have used to bring math into the PYP. All the details about this can be found in this post.

Documenting the journey

I think most people have ways that they enjoy using (adults and kids alike) to document learning. This might depend on access to technology or student interest, but for the most part, taking the time to document what is going on is a key part of the Exhibition journey. The night before the webinar I had a slide prepped with bullet points about documenting. Then I put my daughter to bed and read “Ish” by Peter H. Reynolds. In that book, Ramon (and Peter) reminded me that it really is ok to NOT document everything – the learning still exists. Love it.

Staging the Exhibition…

When you and your students are getting ready to share, I offer these three things to remember:

  1. It is a celebration! Be joyful! Have fun! And remember to celebrate the process, the failures, the false starts, the milestones, the massive achievements. It is all part of the journey.
  2. Be kind to the environment. Consider the message your physical products are sending to your audience.
  3. Keep asking yourself, “Who’s fingerprints are on the work?” – this is a phrase my friend and fellow design teacher uses to remind us that at the end of the day, it’s the kid’s work. Let their academic voice shine through.

And to the students, I would say:

I will post a link to the webinar when it becomes available. I want to make sure I thank all the educators who so generously share their work with the rest of us. I also want to thank Leila Holmyard from Managebac who helped me think through the process of exhibition and was so open to helping me synthesise and expand on my wonderings based on the PYP Enhancements, and Kelby Zenor of Faria Education for inviting me to the Webinar.


PYP Early Years ATLs

I keep coming back to the ATL’s that run across all the IBO programs as an opportunity for discussions with learners about learning, a way to differentiate learning, a way to plan for new learning to occur.

My most recent discussion was with my daughter’s K2 teacher. She wanted a way to communicate the ATL skills to her learners in a clear, simple way. Looking through the Early Years document under the Principles into Practice, we tried to pick out one skill in each of the five areas. I later went back to the document and created a second set of skill cards to cover other ideas under each skill category.

This is a work in progress and two of our early years classes are trialing ways to use these cards to see if they are useful or if there is a better way of working with them. One teacher has containers with small 2-inch black and white cards that the children will select and tac to their work. Another teacher has large posters with one skill on each poster that children will write on/place sticky notes on.

Here are the images and the PDF download.

Icons made by Freepik from www.flaticon.com is licensed by CC 3.0 BY

Millennials?! Who Needs ‘Em?

Ah….we do. The six millennial Co-Chairs of this year’s Annual Meeting have delivered a strong call to action to participants in Davos. Their stories ask us to consider:

  • refugees
  • climate change
  • sustainable development
  • circular economies
  • reimagining education
  • global food crisis

Mohammed Hassan Mohamud is a Somalian refugee who has spent the last 20 years living as a displaced person in Kenya. His speech (which is appropriate for elementary students) is passionate, quiet, and real. He says to the leaders in Davos:

My story is inspiring, I get that….but what will it inspire you to do?

Mohammed Hassan Mohamud

What will it inspire you to do?

Mohammed’s speech is about 4 minutes long. It is about as long at the “viral” video of a group of catholic school boys and a Native American elder. I would suggest that if you ask in the break room if your colleagues have heard about the “catholic kids” or the “Davos refugee”, one will rise quickly above the other in the “most viewed” list. However, to both videos, I would say, “What will it inspire you to do?”.

For me, the response is: build empathy to inspire action. Empathy on it’s own is not enough. Consider this:

“Empathy is not endorsement. Empathizing with someone you profoundly disagree with does not compromise your own deeply held beliefs and endorse theirs. It just means acknowledging the humanity of someone who was raised to think differently.”

Dylan Marron

Dylan explains this further in his TED talk (below) and was inspired to create a podcast “Conversations With People Who Hate Me” in order to understand those who, well, hate him.

And then, take action. What will that look like? Will start a campaign, change your own behaviors, advocate for others, raise awareness, include challenging scenarios in your teaching to promote those difficult conversations?

Here are some ideas from the TED Ed Blog:

4 Ways to Promote Empathy

How to teach Empathy through STEM

What Does It Mean to Be a Refugee?

Last week I happened to be on Twitter at the right time and saw a tweet about a unit planning game to support the SDG’s. I tried it out and it looks really useful. I can see students being supported to use this to plan inquiries with purpose.

How might we take what we have learned from 8 minutes of video this week and turn it into something for good, something that demonstrates that through empathy we can take action to bring about sustainable change? I plan on asking my kids and look forward to seeing how they might use our units on game design and sustainability to create change.


Imagination and Designs

We did a reshuffle of our kids for semester two Design today. We introduced our provocation and shared the basic premise of what would be happening in each of our classes. Then kids chose where to go.

As I sat with my new class of kids, I decided to use the rest of the lesson to just get to know them and for them to get to know me. I also wanted to get a head start on organizing our written communication/file sharing so I had everyone create and start adding to an introductory document. I shared three prompts:

  1. Things you should know about me.
  2. What I learned about Design from Semester 1
  3. My goals for Design in Semester 2

We sat and talked while we were working, sharing stories about who we are and what is important to us. I learned that Kai’s fourth grade teacher was Mrs. Gijzen (“She was so kind!” – ahh, what a legacy!) and that all my kids are fluent Mandarin speakers (I see opportunities to engage with our local community in our future!). Tonight I came home and in opening each student’s document and reading what they wrote, I came across this:

“Design was completely different than I thought it would be. I thought it was a class that was full of imagination and designs, but what I have learned was that Design class is full of essays and writings and I need to work on my writing to be better at Design”

Grade 9 Student


Because I thought it was a class full of imagination and designs, too! 

In Design, we are guided by the MYP Design cycle and the MYP Criterion. And what I realize I have done is approach this in a very, very traditional way that results in a bias toward those who are capable of writing well in English. When I think about last semester, the image that comes to mind is students hunched over computers, tapping away. Is that what Design is?

I had lunch with a colleague today in which I was sharing ways I wanted to simplify and scaffold the written portion of Design and this has only amplified that goal. Imagination and Designs – that’s what’s on the menu in my class this semester. What I have realized is that my practice hasn’t supported my ideals. I have wanted one thing but have shown I value something very different by the way I both structure the class and reward participation.

This feedback was a gift. Now to ensure I put the learning into practice. We are moving into our unit about our impact on the planet and what we can do about it and I keep thinking of this quote:

“If not now, when?”

And then in browsing Terri Eichholz’s Video Board on Pinterest, I saw this:

“The difference between what we are doing and what we are capable of doing
would solve most of the world’s problems.”
Mahatma Gandhi

How do you ENGAGE your students? How do you ease the written burden that we sometimes saddle our students with?


Parasite on the Planet

By @tersonya on Keynote with Apple Pencil

For semester two, our provocation in MYP Design, Grade 9, is “Parasite on the Planet”. We want to challenge our designers to use design to make less of an impact on the planet.

For my part, I am going to look at how we might repurpose, reuse, and generate new ideas for fashion related items. I am hopeful that there is enough scope to this provocation to make it engaging and meaningful for all learners.

For the most part, we will be driven by the concepts of sustainability, culture and fashion. Do we live in a disposable culture? How does one determine if something is fashionable? How can we develop a sustainable and fashionable culture?

Here is the overview I want to share with our kids:

Made on Keynote

There is a lot of other material out there with regard to this topic that inspired this choice of unit:

Thanks, Mitch, for sharing this one!
Can fashion be a source for social change?

What might you add? Have you done a unit like this before? Any ideas are welcome!


Game Over…

This semester I have been working on a Game Design unit with my Grade 8 Students. As with most units that you run for the first time, there were elements of success and elements of “hmmm….not sure I would do that again that way next time”. 

I tend to give a lot of freedom in my classes.  The expectations are clear, the support is there, but I let kids decide on what they want to do and how they want to do it. Which inevitably means some kids choose to be more flexible with their time than I would like – something they become acutely aware of as the semester draws to a close. 

So, what have I learned from this experience? 

It’s About the Process

I want to be more explicit in the keeping of a process journal to document learning. Many of my kids do this, but not all and not to the same level of organization. I came across this post which offers this advice that I am going to adopt: 

We will begin to keep a weekly process journal of what you’ve accomplished in and out of class for the week. This is a way for you to organize your work as well as your thoughts. It could/should include:

A summary of what you  accomplished in class.
A summary of what you worked on outside of class.
Any ideas or inspiration you have for your project.
Links to resources you found or notes you took.
Screenshots of what you have done.

This journal should be updated at least once a week. It should be at least a paragraph (±100 words?) but probably not more than a page.

Its All Connected

I am pretty open to kids doing this in a traditional written format, or if it is better for them, a reflective vlog might also be an option if they choose. I want it to be useful as a tool for keeping us (them?) focused and organized. 

Start With The End In Mind

I want to share all the Criterion rubrics with the students at the beginning of the unit. I think it will help with organization and with the big picture thinking. I also hope it might lead to a less linear approach to the unit if the kids (and I ) can see the whole Design Cycle in front of us and can choose to add to different parts of the overall assignment as we jump from research to testing to refining to rethinking – instead of feeling like there are a few weeks for inquiring and analysing (Criterion A) and then move on.

Here is the summary rubric I shared with my kids to help them pull their assignments together at the end of our unit – something I will share at the beginning the next time I teach this class.

Get Connected

I want my kids to have access to people and resources beyond our classroom, our school. To that end, I have found that there are loads of people and resources in the realm of game design that I can connect with in order to improve the unit.

Kathleen Mercury has an amazing blog packed with Resources to Teach Game Design. In particular I love her approach to beginning a game unit: Introducing games through play and 10 Minute Prototyping for Game Design. But honestly, that’s just the tip of a massive iceberg. She has so much stuff there it is crazy! And her Twitter feed is just as amazing. I need a few weeks to plough through it all but I know there is some great stuff in there!

I then happened upon this tweet in December that got me thinking about a collaborative student project:


I am looking forward to seeing how this idea develops in the near future!

I sought feedback from my kids along the way during this unit and I got a lot of helpful advice for how I could do things differently and what they liked about what we were doing. Ultimately, I want to make sure we are process oriented, connected, purposeful, and playful. I will keep you posted when semester two kicks off in a few weeks!


The Day You Begin

Today a box of books arrived at my school. I love books – and the book whisperer who sent them. They all looked amazing but the one that I read first was, The Day You Begin by Jacqueline Woodson, Illustrated by Rafael López.

As I read the inside of the jacket, this stood out to me:

And they remind us that sometimes, when we reach out and begin to share our story, others will be happy to meet us halfway.

The Day You Begin – Jacqueline Woodson and Rafael López

This is a great “new beginnings” book for those people starting a new semester or getting ready to start a new school year. And it’s also a reminder that while calendars or school years can mark the passage of time, there is nothing like the present moment to make the decision to begin something new or choose to see things in a new light.

This is the opening page of the book. It is framed to evoke a feeling of apprehension. My hope would be that kids read this as a positive statement of just how special and unique they are – and that everyone is. And because no one is quite like you, take the time to listen and learn from each other.

A lot of the book is framed in this way: emphasising the “different-ness” of one’s lunch, language, vacations, families. It ends with an affirming message of celebrating the differences in us all. I would just hope that this is the message that rings through.

I love Jacqueline Woodson’s books. Each Kindness and The Other Side are two favorites. I question sometimes whether these books are for kids or adults. I look at the way my daughter settles in with her “new best friend” be they boy or girl, older or younger, English speaking or not, and I wonder if she needs to listen to a book that points out our differences. Then I read the comments on blog posts and news sites and I wonder if it is not the adults who need reminding of the simple truth that “every new friend has something a little like you–and something else so fabulously not quite like you at all.”

I would read this book to humans of all ages. It’s a message we can’t hear too often.


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 🙂 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 🙂


Parenting in the Digital Age

This week, our counselors and tech team hosted a parent coffee morning on the subject of “Parenting in the Digital Age”. As the parent of a rising first grader who will be asked to buy my child an iPad for use at school next year, I was very interested in hearing what was said at this morning meeting. 

As a member of our school strategy team, I have been working with Grade 1 teachers to analyse at we already do in relation to iPad use. Our wonderings are focusing around the big ideas of:

  • educating students to be more mindful
  • the developmental path toward self-regulation
  • tech addiction – what are the facts?
  • what are our intentions for using technology in the first place

I recently came across the organization ZeroToThree. They caught my eye on Twitter when offering a webinar about screen time for young children in which they were planning on talking about “minimizing the negative effects of screen time”. 

Screen Sense: All the Need-to-Know Research on Screens for Children Under Three from ZEROTOTHREE on Vimeo.

This was the first I had seen anyone suggest that negative effects existed. Take a look. Most people when you ask them (and I did) start talking about creation over consumption. This is good. I have said these same things before. But I haven’t known what to say when it comes to minimizing what we know to be true: that there are negative effects of extended time on screens. Here are my notes from the Webinar. And here is a really useful and detailed report on the research behind the webinar

So, what are my big takeaways from looking into this thus far: 


Negative effects of screen time can be minimised if the quality of content that your child is consuming/interacting with is high. If the TV they are watching is educational and interactive, if the apps are challenging and require mind-on thinking. ZeroToThree suggest you evaluate media and apps using E-AIMS:

  • Is it engaging? Is there a goal or story as part of the experience?
  • Is the child actively involved – that is, are they required to have their minds on? Are they responding to questions? Is it interactive?
  • Is the content meaningful? Does it reflect their everyday life and therefore can they relate to it?
  • Is it (or can it be) social? Is it language rich? Is there talking or responding? For some games or online experiences, this element can be provided by an adult or other child so there is an element of exchange within the experience. 

There is a flowchart to guide you through choosing media content that is available for download on the ZeroToThree website

For a copy of the full flow-chart, visit the ZeroToThree Website.


The suggestion is that all media pass through a simple test: 

  • Is it age appropriate?
  • Is your child on ‘auto-pilot’ while using?
  • Is your child challenged but not frustrated? 

This made me think about apps we load on iPads. Do they pass this test? Are we paying as much time and attention to the apps our kids use as we do the books they read? Are we as discerning? Are we seeking out the same quality? Are we playing the games with our kids the same way we might read with them (or read the same book as them before they read it?). 

Or, as Marina Gijzen put it: 

Is it intentional or out of control? 

Great question. I would argue that we have good intentions but our reality does not always match up. We are inconsistent. We are human. We want to allow for student choice – except when they make “poor” choices. In the case of technology, I would argue a need for a family/home/school/class agreement. I would also advocate for teachers to be mindful of when they are asking kids to use their tech and when it could be tech free. Sure there are great brainstorming apps, but there are markers and paper and they work well too. What percentage of your lesson are you expecting or allowing kids to be on a device? Now multiply that by the number of classes your child has in a day. 

What is your school doing to address tech use in your school beyond the ‘creation/consumption’ mandate? How are we helping our kids to self-regulate their behavior?

In terms of my own parent community, I enjoyed listening to our parents at the coffee morning. It made me think that there is still somewhat of a “them and us” divide with regard to kids and tech when really we all want the same thing: happy, healthy kids. Now to keep the conversations moving forward on how best we might achieve this in a way that is respectful, meaningful, and mindful.  Wish us luck! 


Secret Agency

unsplash-logoryan skjervem

Recently on Twitter, I posted a tweet in a moment of frustration but also deep questioning, hoping against all hope, that the ‘sunshine and jellybean’ type posts which Twitter EDU is somewhat known for, might step to the side for a moment so that my unperfect question could be posed. To my surprise, I quickly found I was not alone in my wondering, and, I got a massive amount of comments that were thoughtful, inspired, and most of all, really helpful.  


Here are some of the responses that really got me thinking: 

Finding the Sweet Spot

This image from Maggie has definitely been a huge help when talking with students about their work. 


It actually reminded me of some posts on questions that I have used with students in the past when trying to create their own inquiries. Ask Great Questions speaks to the depth and quality of questions we can ask with students.  And Questioning Conceptually which drives home the idea of developing questions worth inquiring into via a number of thinking routines – in particular, the Visible Thinking routine Question Sorts   This routine is used by our grade 4 CNU teachers to help students choose ideas worth inquiring into and would transfer to any aged audience – especially middle school. 



Autonomy. Mastery. Purpose. These things are somewhat out of whack for me and my kids (I think). Most of all purpose. “Why do you want to do this?” or “How might you share your learning” are really difficult questions for some kids to answer. What I am finding though, is “Show it on the TV screens around the school” is becoming a really popular response. They want their peers to see their work – simple. They want that feedback. Other kids are looking to go further. Just this morning I got this email from one of my 8th Graders: 

How cool is this kid? I love stuff like this! Motivated by other students to rally his advisory group to action. I can’t wait to support him on this. Celebrating those who ARE motivated  and keeping trying with those who are not as per this suggestion: 


Making Time

Time is a massive factor. Fortunately, we have a lot of teachers all working together and we are each allocated students to mentor. This tweet stood out to me: 


Thinking about this I put together the following spreadsheet of questions. I am able to check in with 2 or 3 students during the X-block hour that I am working with my group. I have modeled these questions from this Kath Murdoch blog post: Getting Personal


Having students respond to the question, “How do you know what success will look like? is proving to also be helpful. It puts the ownership of the project back in the hands of the students and reinforces that they are not doing this for me or for a rubric or even for a grade, but for a purpose of their own choosing. Which is challenging but also empowering for some. Working hand in hand with TIME, is it’s friend…


Today on Twitter, Tania Mansfield posted the following: 


The word TRUST kept jumping out at me as this is something we talked about earlier in the year as being vital in building a cohesive team as per the Lencioni Trust Pyramid (in which an absence of trust is a leading cause of dysfunction within a team). 

Lencioni Trust Pyramid

So I responded to Tania’s tweet: 


To which Tania replied to the original thread on student agency in MYP:


This made me think of what happened when I did just what Tania suggests we do in her tweet:


Do I think there is a ‘secret’ to Agency? Probably. The secret is going to be different for different kids though – and that is the secret within itself. My tweet is not indicative of ALL students – just the one or two I worked with on that day. Their purpose is becoming more clear, we are spending more time with each other, I am showing them I can be trusted to support them should they choose to take greater risks in the challenges they set themselves. It is an ever changing game or dance between the two of us. Learning about each other and what we are capable of, who we are, what we can do or can’t do….yet.  

I don’t have all the answers but thanks to this one Tweet, I do have a lot more than I began with. What’s up your sleeve when it comes to growing a culture of student agency in the Middle School? Another educator, Mary Wade has recently posted in light of my tweet: Strategies to trust students to own their learning when they seem uninterested. It is full of great ideas and is definitely worth reading to further your thinking on this topic.  Mary concludes her post with an Alfie Kohn quote that I love: 

“Working with people to help them do a job better, learn more effectively, or acquire good values takes time, thought, effort, and courage.”

Alfie Kohn

I am grateful to those educators who engaged with my tweet. Your time, thought, effort, and courage was very much appreciated.