PYP, Teaching

Getting Deeper

One of the things I keep pressing my kids to do, is to go deeper in their thinking and in their responses to questions.  Rewardingly, my persistence appears to be paying off as I am increasingly getting work of an incredibly high caliber from many of my students.

As we prepare for the Exhibition, I am wanting to drill this home even more. Which led me to digging around and finding a couple of resources to help me out:

Blooms Taxonomy Question Stems

These look great to me. Just by looking at them from Remember to Create you can see the level of thought required to “list four….” and “compose a…”. I am learning that making this information explicit to kids isn’t going to ensure success (you can lead a horse to water…). I am also learning that just because they all aren’t going to buy in, doesn’t mean I shouldn’t share in the first place.

Source: via Sonya on Pinterest

Being An Explorer Of The World

This is another piece of awesome that I will be sharing with my class before we head out on our Passion Tour next week to kick off our Exhibition.  The tour consists of us visiting with six passionate people in our home town: a vet, the CEO of the YMCA, a doctor, an athlete mechanic, a financier, and a restaurant head. We have an agenda but there also the importance of an unwritten agenda – or at least, an unassigned agenda. In addition to their notes I also want to make sure they remember to be an explorer of their world:


“Going Deeper” is sometimes hard work!  Everybody needs a little reset switch pushed once in a while. This is a 60 second brain break for you and your students. I used to have a ‘reading gong’ in my class that kids would take turns (one kid per day) ringing to signify 10 minutes of reading.  During Exhibition, I can see the need for the odd ‘brain break’ and this could be a fun addition to the program:


What do you do to “go deeper”?

How do you provide opportunities for your kids to take a break?


Four Ideas for Reading in the New Year

I was going back through all the “pin now – read later” items that I had pinned on Pinterest and noticed there was a bunch of really fun finds to do with reading.  In no particular order, here are four ideas for reading in the new year.

Read Your Way Across the USA

I love this.  I have read a few of these books but I like that someone has taken the time to prepare a map of books that take place in each of the 50 states.  For those kids that are looking for a fun challenge or want to expand from their usual genre choices, this might be a fun way to encourage the introduction of a few new authors into their reading life.  My fifth graders have read some of these books but some might be a bit beyond them at this point.  I also like the idea of them creating their own reading map based on books that they have read or want to read and seeing if we can also make our reading way across the USA.

Source: via Sonya on Pinterest

Reading Genres

I have kids who tell me, “I don’t like fantasy” or will ask, “What is the difference between Science Fiction and Fantasy?”.  This guide looks really helpful in helping kids independently make choices about the type of genre they will read next. I like the similarities column as that to me seems to be the way to get the kids to expand from the genres they currently read into new ones.

Source: via Carol on Pinterest

Read Write Think Website

read write think

If you are yet to discover this website, you are in for a treat.  If you are a regular user, you will know how awesome it is.  I did a quick search for “reading” and “strategy guides” and then narrowed down the results by clicking on “inquiry based teaching”.  What I got was a great guide to teaching research skills with an inquiry approach.  The guides are comprehensive, fully supported by research, come with appropriate handouts and/or links to other websites, and best of all, are less of a ‘one stop shop’ to be reproduced and more of a spring-board for your own interpretation and ideas as a teacher.  The detail and depth of this website makes it a firm favorite of mine and really does hammer home the connection between reading, writing and thinking – as it’s name suitably suggests.

Blooms Taxonomy

Encouraging higher order thinking is something that can be done when children are reading.  The following graphic is one which explains the ‘higher order’ and provides kid-friendly synonyms for each level.  I will be introducing this in my classroom as a way of highlighting these ideas to my kids and getting them to delve deeper in their thinking as they discuss and write about the books they are reading.


What tools, ideas or strategies are you reading in the new year with?

Brain Research, Innovation, Leadership

Blooming Orange and the Magical Number Seven

I love the color orange so of course, anything with “orange” in the title is going to catch my eye.  The people at Smart Tutor have been busy creating a new way of looking at Bloom’s Taxonomy with the creation of the Blooming Orange.  Now, Blooms’ Taxonomy is not new but this is a fresh way of looking at it.  Here is what makes it different:

  • the stages of the taxonomy are typically presented as steps or as a hierarchy.  In this diagram, they all take a spot on the outer circle to signal that most of the time, these skills do not occur in isolation but simultaneously alongside other skills
  •  careful thought has gone into choosing the verbs that fill each segment of the orange. The list is by no means definitive but serves the purpose of clearly articulating what you would see someone doing if they were “understanding”  or “applying” in their learning.

You may have noticed that there are seven verbs in each segment.  This number was decided upon purposefully as a result of research into how many discrete pieces of information the human brain can contend with at one time.  Newer research would say that the number seven is too high – that it is more like 3 or 4 – but the Smart Tutor folks felt that seven was a good number and would ensure all could be recalled.

Download the pdf’s here:

I think it is a good idea to share these types of things with students.  I also think they are good tools to use as a self-assessment of what you are asking of your kids as a teacher. What segments get the most of your attention?  What do your kids spend the most of their time doing?

Today I got some great advice from Simon Sinek in my mailbox that in the light of our Exhibition, I not only endorse and believe in, but I know to be true.

And isn’t that what school is for?  I asked that question during our Fifth Grade moving up (to Middle School) ceremony.  What is school for?  In my opinion, and to quote myself from my book “Imagine a School…” our goal should be to nurture

“passionate, persistent citizens, who are fearless and strong”.

Nothing there are being compliant, checking of boxes, waiting to be asked.

We need people who will take initiative, look for responsibility, lead without regard for title or power and care more than is necessary.  With that being said, how do you assign responsibility in your classroom? How would you answer the question,

“What is school for?”