PYP, Teaching

Questioning Conceptually

We are two weeks into our Passion Project and my kids have pretty much narrowed down their area of focus for their passion: travel, gardening, healthy living, animals, music….the list goes on.  These are all big, broad areas of interest, so how do we begin on our passion journey?

Our ‘way in’ was through the PYP concepts. We thought about these in two ways: as lenses and as keys. Some kids really bought into the idea that they were picking up and putting on different glasses with different colored lenses through which they would look at their topic.  Some kids bought into the idea that they were standing in a room with eight colored doors and each key in their hand unlocked a different door to step through to their passion. I was pretty impressed with the speed at which they figured this out, actually!

concept cards 2 concept cards 1

Each child made a set of concept cards using the following information.  A descriptor of the concept on one side, and curriculum area sample questions on the reverse. These were mounted on different colored cards and bound together with a ring. We were ready to begin!

picture-15 picture-16

I started with the whole class and a topic close to my own heart and one they could relate to: dogs. We started going through the concepts and thinking of questions that would fit that lens:

FORM: What are the distintive characteristics of a dog?

FUNCTION: How do the lungs of a dog work?

CHANGE: What are the newest medical advances that are now in place to help injured dogs?  

Each child was given a large concept question planner and, armed with their passion topic and their concept-question cards, were asked to think of questions for each concept.  PDF Concept Question Planner

Concept Question Planner

We discussed that some concepts may lend themselves to more questions and some to fewer questions. As we continue with this on Monday, my hope is that we can help each other focus our inquiries through the use of concepts. I also want to make sure that their time is spent on relevant, engaging and worthwhile questions.  I want their questions to be deep and open. But how?

I came across the idea of a Question Quadrant to help see if where your questions ‘fit’: The Quadrant can be used to distinguish closed and open questions that relate specifically to a text; or closed and open questions that stimulate intellectual curiosity.

Question Quadrant

I also really like the Visible Thinking routine Question Starts.

Question Starts

Once they have generated questions, I am thinking of using the Visible Thinking Routine, “Question Sorts” to help my students ensure they are really focusing on questions they care about:

Question Sorts

A question sort, would be similar looking to the question quadrant:

Question Sort

I am still thinking about how best to help them make the most of their inquiries.  I think we are off to a good start! I know a lot of the focus still remains on ‘producing a product’ which is not the goal of this project but is something that I think people are more comfortable with given that is how we were educated: to produce ‘something’.  My goal is to keep putting the tools out there and hoping that the more product oriented ideas arise from the deeper inquiry, rather than become the sole purpose of the project.

Advertisements
Inspiration, PYP

More on Passion!

I was playing around today with the idea of evaluation for the Passion Project.  I am not the biggest fan of rubrics, but I am interested in providing meaningful indicators of success for my students.  To that end, I want to share two items I am thinking of using as evaluative tools:

RUBRIC

I was greatly inspired by the work coming out of my former place of work, NIST (New International School of Thailand, in Bangkok).  There is a blog for Exhibition teachers and through that, I came across a simple post: How Do We Assess the Exhibition?  I really liked the style of the rubric and have used this as a platform for tailoring one to our Passion Project.  It is still a work in progress – I have a couple more weeks before the big kick-off – but I want to put it out there in the hope of making it better.  Click on image for larger view.  Click to download PDF.    Click to access Pages file.

PYPX Rubric

 

REFLECTION

We had the students reflect in a variety of ways last year.  While I like this, I also like giving them some kind of structure to guide their reflection, should they need it.  To that end, I created a student reflection sheet based on the Learner Profile.  Click on images to enlarge – the first is a set of guiding questions for the student to consider during the weekly reflection.  The second provides space for notes.  Click to download a PDF copy.

Reflection - Guiding Questions

 

Reflection - Student Responses

 

21st Century, Creativity, Inspiration, PYP

Gearing up for Passion!

In a few weeks, we will kick off our fifth grade Exhibition unit: The Passion Project. It was our first year doing this last year and over the summer, I put a lot of work into the Passion Project – it was (and is) my passion. In addition to pulling out the ‘tried and true’ of last year, I have been looking for ways to connect this project with my new class of students.  They are different to my kids last year and I am different to how I was last year and the world as we know it is different to last year – so it only makes sense that the Passion Project be different too.

We are keeping our Passion Tour – a day trip around our city in which we meet people who love what they do and love how what they do, connects them to their community. Here are some other resources that we will be taking a look at:

The Future Project: Playbook

The Playbook

This became known to me this week (yesterday!) and I love it.  The playbook is designed to be used over a couple of months which is perfect for our project.  Every kid will have one and I will encourage them to take one for their family members as well – the more the merrier! What I like about the Playbook is that it is a way to inspire thinking about yourself, your passions, your possibilities.  It looks at things from a different perspective and gives you multiple ways of tapping into what makes you uniquely you.  Download the 60 page Playbook.   Follow The Future Project on Twitter or check out their website for more information.

Inspirational Videos – Inspire My Kids

If a picture is worth a thousand words, a video is priceless.  If you are looking for really great videos that show awesome kids doing awesome things, you really can’t go past the amazing website, Inspire My Kids.  I can’t say enough about this site.  Over the years I have seen it expand its content and the teaching materials/ideas/question starters that they offer are great. It is inspiring, well organized, current and uplifting.  I was reminded of this website when a friend sent me the following video which I had first seen through Inspire My Kids.  This website is packed with videos like this one that are perfect for showing kids what kids can do.

Short and Powerful

Another great resource is the Zen Habits Short but Powerful Guide to Finding Your Passion.  It is great.  Last year, I found it about two weeks after we started and I wished I had found it sooner.  This guide won’t be comprehensive, and it won’t find your passion for you. But it will help you in your journey to find it. It does so by asking 10 questions. Read the full post to have these ten points explained:

  1. What are you good at?
  2. What excites you?
  3. What do you read about?
  4. What have you secretly dreamed of?
  5. Learn, Ask, Take Notes.
  6. Experiment, Try.
  7. Narrow things down.
  8. Banish your fears.
  9. Find the time.
  10. How to make a living doing it.

Oflow – App

Oflow is a combination Playbook and Zen Guide – it offers over 120 tips for having more ideas and being more creative. From creating a mind map and drawing in the dark, to re-organizing your thinking and utilizing help from strangers, Oflow has enough creative methods to make sure you’ll be thinking like a creative genius. When you first open the app you’re presented with a random idea – a new random idea every time you open the app. From there you can browse the other creative methods, bookmark your favorites to use again later, email any of the creative methods to yourself or anyone in your address book, and create a note to store ideas or random thoughts. The app is created by Tanner Christensen, a creativity expert, entrepreneur, and author. He currently writes for the  creative inspiration blog, Creative Something, and founded the creative ebook publishing house Aspindle. You can follow him on Twitter @tannerc or learn more about him and his work by visiting TannerChristensen.com

A quick browse of Creative Something, led me to this gem, “What Makes A Genius?”

What Makes a Genius

There is a lot more buzzing inside my head with regard to what is arguably my favorite part of the year.  I will endeavor to keep posting as we move forward! Until then, one final gem:

Rules of a Creator's Life

Inspiration

Don’t Underestimate Encouragement or the Power of a Great Question

In response to the letter I sent out to my incoming class of fifth graders, one student wrote back with the following quote that is so far, fueling her passion to be “fifth grade and fearless”:

“Nine-tenths of education is encouragement.”

-Anatole France

So true. And it can come in many forms.

For me, I rely heavily on what my husband refers to as “my emotional paycheck”.  Like most teachers, I am not in it for the money.  I am grateful for having a job, and one that I love at that.  The paycheck = great.  The feedback, encouragement, critiques – way more valuable. So to are the people who give so freely of their time to help make me a better teacher.  Recently, I have been working on a new website to showcase our PYP Exhibition: The Passion Project.  It has been a mountain of work, but totally worth it.  When I was at the bottom of the mountain, I put a few feelers out to people I have worked with – and they came through big time.  The ideas, suggestions, critiques and encouragement were all so welcomed and so valuable.

Most valuable were the really good questions. The ones that didn’t tell me what to do, but gave me something to think about and ultimately led to a better website than could have been created on my own.

So…that’s my takeaway for the coming school year.

1.Ask better questions.

I came across a book called “Ever Wonder” by Kobi Yamada.  The Ever Wonder book is filled with intriguing questions that invite powerful answers. The quality of our lives is in direct proportion to the quality of the questions we ask ourselves. If you want better answers for your life, ask better questions. Ever Wonder raises our awareness and points us toward life-enriching change. Ask Better Questions.  Love it!

 

 

2.Give encouragement freely.

If you want something more tangible than words of encouragement, you can’t go past the adorable gift left on my front steps today from a sneaky duo.  A beautiful book of encouragement and celebration.  I can see my class making these for each other next year….