Approaches to Learning, Communication, PYP

Needs-Based Planning

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I recently saw this graphic on Twitter. Posted by Bethany Hill , it was retweeted 48 times and liked 71 times, so obviously it was resonating with an audience.

I have been thinking a lot about communication and how we communicate. I was also thinking about how we communicate through things like our unit planners and the ideas we choose to focus on in our classroom.

Over lunch today, a colleague and I were discussing the idea of planning units based on observed needs of the students at our school. It just seemed to make sense to us. What if we were to observe our kids and identify things that stand out to us (both positive and negative) and build units of inquiry with those things embedded in them? What if we were to consciously plan to help kids address issues that continually arise within and across grade levels?

Sometimes it can seem like the issues that arise have to be put aside because of time or other things that need ‘covering’ but what if the issues were the thing? How might we plan differently if we started with the needs of our kids in mind?

In reviewing the Program of Inquiry, I would suggest we answer these sorts of questions:

  1. Are there needs not being met?
  2. What social skills do our kids lack?
  3. Do our kids have multiple ways to communicate?

What other questions should we be asking? Lets move beyond “vertical and horizontal articulation” and ensure the things we are choosing to focus on in our classrooms are reflective of the students in front of us.

Approaches to Learning, Inspiration

How To Write A Great Blog Post

Step One: Don’t give your post a lame title 🙂

Our fourth grade students are blogging this year. It has taken a while to get them started but they are growing in their tech skills to be able to do this more independently. Now that they (mostly) have the mechanics of blogging sorted, I wanted to switch my focus to the content.

Up until now the posts they have done have been directed by their homeroom teachers or by me. As they head off on their own, I wanted there to be some sort of checklist in their room to help them. But more than a checklist. I didn’t want it to be purely mechanics. So I turned to two of my favorites: Simon Sinek and Peter H. Reynolds.

Simon STARTS WITH WHY so I did too. We talked about leading with WHY, following up with HOW, and concluding with WHAT. Typically a blog post from a student goes like this:

This is my video of my project.

Using the Sinek way:

I wanted to explain how I understand the connection between people and the impact on the environment. The best way for me to do this was using Adobe Spark Page so that I could add pictures, videos, and links and so I could make sure to tell all the things that I know and how I want to make a difference. I hope you learn from the Page that I have created.

How do you minimise your impact on the environment?

Typically the content speaks for itself but this simple WHY/HOW/WHAT routine helps give a snapshot into the purpose of the post and its content. The question at the end is to give the readers of the blog (mostly classmates) something to respond to in the comments.

My other favorite person is Peter H. Reynolds. He has collaborated on the 4C’s project. I love the 4C’s. In addition to checking other mechanics of their blog post (capitals, punctuation, categories) I wanted to challenge them to check their blog post against the 4C’s. Does their post (and thus the content they created) hit on one or more of the 4C’s? Massive bonus if it hits on all four!

Here is the blogging checklist I created (PDF download):

Blogging 101.jpg

 

Approaches to Learning, Learning, Publications, Technology

Into Alignment

Approaches to Learning (ATL) are a hot topic at my school at the moment.  We recently had Lance G. King at school to guide our understanding of how ATLs can and should be embedded in our teaching and how this long list of skills and executive functions can significantly impact our students.

With this in mind, and with a desire to see technology integration become a more fluid part of our program, I typed all the ATLs into a document. Tedious but also helpful, giving me time to think about each one and its connection to technology.  I then pulled up the new ISTE Standards for Students.

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7 standards, each with four descriptors. I copied and pasted next to what I felt was a correlating ATL. A third column saw me list possible scenarios you might see in which these skills and standards were put into effect.

Confusing? Hopefully more clear if you take a look here:

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My thoughts upon doing this?

  • I found the process was super helpful in taking a wide lense look at how everything can and should work together
  • I wondered, “Who else is doing this?” and “Can we do it together?!” I did google around a bit before starting and I know of one person who is starting down this road but would love to hear from anyone else also doing this or who would like to join me in working on this. Let me know and I can share the Google Doc with you.
  • I realized I am far from done! Here are my next steps:

 

  1. There are some ISTE standards that hit more than one ATL or standards that only partially apply to an ATL so I need to duplicate and add, and I need to highlight the specific portions of standards that apply
  2. The “How might we….?” column needs to be added to, linking with existing sources and documentation and external websites and apps
  3. Consideration needs to be given to a fourth column that encompasses the Visual Literacy curriculum objectives as many of these can be taught in the context of technology usage, media creation, viewing and presenting. Likewise, there are considerable overlaps with Visual Art (the Elements of Art and, particularly, the Principles of Design) and with the Library scope and sequence documentation.

These ideas are less than 24 hours old so there is a lot of scope for development but I am intrigued to see how this will develop in terms of guiding teachers toward a more integrated approach to technology in (and out) of the classroom.