My grade five learners are coming to the end of their self-chosen design projects. At the moment they are choosing how they want to reflect on their learning and what questions they want to be asked.
I am adding a question to their list:
How will this project inform your thinking for your work in the PYP Exhibition?
We have had a few false starts.
We have had a few failures.
We have had a few who have not used their time to best effect.
None of this matters, in my opinion, as long as this knowledge feeds forward into their next project. If they take what they learned, what worked, what didn’t, and they move forward in their learning.
So, to that end, we will be starting a new design project in a week or so in which they think about their Exhibition and think about what they are wanting to achieve. To that end, I saw a graphic on Twitter that was co-created by IB PYP teachers as a culmination of ideas from Twitter. I have recreated this graphic with some pictures to share with my learners. I want to support them in figuring out their purpose within the Exhibition and designing and creating something that moves them closer toward achieving that purpose.
I like the idea of thinking about purpose and then creating and designing according to that purpose. Whilst doing this, I will be working with our IT Coach to look at how best to visually engage our audience by tapping into the work of Keri-Lee Beasley and her Design Secrets Revealed book on iTunes. This book provides a wealth of information about graphic design and effectively engaging your audience through the principles of design. It is a MUST for any teacher undertaking #pypx who can’t bear another presentation in rainbow colored Comic Sans font with ALL the transitions 🙂
If you are a single subject/specialist/integrator, how are you connecting with your learners undertaking the PYP Exhibition?
A note on student agency…
Recently, a new blog “Educator Voices” has started. A blog designed as “a place to share and celebrate how we are pushing the boundaries, shaking up the system and challenging the status quo.” It is a blog focused on making school different and there is a lot to say about student agency. I encourage you to check it out and engage in the comments on blog posts. This is a tipping point in education and in “school” as we know it. None of us have all the answers but if we keep sharing our ideas and championing each other, we are likely going to get closer to serving our kids in the best ways possible.
I was going through my digital sketch book and came across two graphics on Agency that I created a few weeks ago. The first looks at the relationship between agency and action. The second asks you to look at how your decisions support agency in the PYP.
Agency isn’t a new concept. It is linked to choice and to self-efficacy – the belief in one’s effectiveness in performing specific tasks. And it isn’t something we as teachers need to give but rather, create room for.
These graphics illustrate WHAT a dynamic outcome of agency could look like and offer reflective questions for educators on the path to creating opportunity for learner agency, but HOW do we put it all into practice? Cue #studio5 at ISHCMC and a very thorough post on how agency is approached with students, thanks to Taryn BondClegg : Student-Planned UOIs. Regardless of where you are in your journey toward agency, this blog post will give you an idea of how one school are putting into practice what they believe about student agency.
WHAT ARE YOUR THOUGHTS ON STUDENT AGENCY?
It is the phrase any parent will know in their sleep. But why isn’t it echoing in our hallways at school? Where is the demand to be seen? To show off what has been created? To share one’s creative endeavours?
The other day I (somewhat) jokingly said to a colleague that we should “Banksy” the heck out of our school walls. Art Activists. Spreading a message. I think I would start with “Watch me!” – the war cry of children who create.
This leads me back to having a Bias Toward Action. Think of your kids. How often are they taking action? And don’t confuse this with “working” or “being busy” but actually making, doing, creating, producing of their own accord?
One of my Maker heros passed away last week. The phenomenal Amy Krouse Rosenthal. She was a maker. She was a creator. She was someone who looked at the same things as everybody else, but through “Amy colored” glasses. She was kind, lovely, generous, smart, and oh so creative. I miss her already. And I wish for more. I have more to say on Amy. But for now, in her honor, please think about having your kids make things. Challenge yourself to do away with worksheets and pre-cut shapes and cookie-cutter “art” projects. Let your kids MAKE things. Stop having them fill in checklists and tick boxes and conform to your timeframe and LET. THEM. MAKE.
It is one of the core components of the PYP and yet it is often something teachers seem to struggle with – inspiring action in their students and helping grow authentic action from inquiries.
Thankfully, there are a lot of really great resources out there to help us in our quest to help kids take action. I have posted about a lot of these, but in light of the fact that it is “Exhibition Season” for many PYP schools, I thought I would do a little roundup of some oldies-but-goodies from the Post Archive and a new graphic that I created last week on the heels of a quick photo posted by a friend of her kids in Singapore working in their classroom.
Speak to Inspire Action
This is the title of a post and of a download by Simon Sinek with 11 “tips to help you speak and present in a way that will inspire others”. It is a great resource and is accessible to fifth graders as well. Check out the blog post about this resource.
Six Ways of Taking Action
This post was sparked by one I read by an Aussie educator, Richard Black, who had broken “action” down into six ways of being, doing, thinking, saying, feeling, and having. I took his words and turned them into a set of posters to help kids visualize what it means to take action. The post also includes links to playlists of inspirational videos for kids and teachers to get them fired up for making a difference.
I was tagged in a tweet by my friend Jocelyn, who teaches in Singapore. (Side note: Jocelyn is an amazing educator, please follow on Twitter – she is so generous in her sharing and creative and thoughtful and inspired in her teaching practice). As I flicked through the photos, I saw an action pyramid. I loved it. And I also knew I could feed my addiction to The Noun Project if I took her picture and ramped it up a bit with some iconography.
Here is the visual or here is the PDF of the Pyramid
I really like this as a conversation starter for kids. I think it breaks things down really nicely, having them look critically at what is happening, hypothesise why this might be so (and even research to make sure that is true), reflect on the impact their own actions could make, think creatively about solutions, and DO IT!
How do you build a culture of action taking at your school?
And start with rethinking worksheets.
I believe that in 7 minutes, you will never look at a worksheet in the same light ever again. What are we doing to our kids when we don’t take the time and effort to breathe creativity and agency into our classrooms?
If you are interested in taking this discussion further, take a look at The Ten Principles For Schools Of Modern Learning. This Whitepaper is the best thing I have read about education and change since I read Seth Godin’s Education Manifesto.
I have just started a course in Creative Teaching and Learning as (a final) part of my Masters Degree and my hope is that we will come up with practical ways to inject greater creativity into schools. One of my classmates shared this video and in it, the speaker tells of the need for knowledge in order to fuel creativity.
The idea being that having knowledge helps you build creative ideas to problems and challenges. Do you agree? I certainly side with Tony Wagner’s thought that “it is not WHAT you know but what you DO with what you know” and believe that the ‘knowing’ and the ‘knowledge’ are important parts to being a creative person.
It comes as no surprise to me that Tony Wagner is an “Expert Education Advisor” for the award-winning film “Most Likely to Succeed”. A ‘grown up’ version of the animated ‘Alike’ this film is on my list of things to watch (when I write up my grant proposal to get the money for a screening).
Most Likely to Succeed Trailer from One Potato Productions on Vimeo.
These three questions are from the latest Kid President video. His video is a call to action, specifically for support of #socktober, but also just a general call for people everywhere to ask themselves:
1. What am I not ok with?
2. What do I have?
3. What can I do about it?
With action being such an important part of the PYP, I couldn’t help but think how useful these questions are to help kids focus their thinking and ideas in order to take action.
Need an example? Take the dolphins.
1. I am not ok with the slaughter of dolphins or the trapping and raising of dolphins and marine animals in captivity for the purpose of human entertainment.
2. What do I have? Well, if I were Michael Beerens I would say that I have artistic talent and the ability and passion to create videos of my art. If I were Mirim Seo I would say that I also have the ability to tell a story through my art. Both artists also have the incredible power of the internet, a global platform from which to share their work.
3. What can I do about it? I can make a video. I can illustrate a book to get my point across. And then I can share my work online:
TILIKUM from MICHAEL BEERENS on Vimeo.
Click here for her full story.
How could you use these questions to help your students in their quest to take action?
For additional resources on inspiring action in your students, check out Inspire My Kids – one of my favorite places on the web with inspirational stories about kids taking action. It has a wealth of resources and is the site you need to check out if you want to feel inspired by the young people of our planet.