AGIS Conference Reflection – Part One

This past weekend I was at the AGIS annual conference (Association of German International Schools). One of the teacher-led workshops I attended was run by Chris Graham of the International School of Düsseldorf.  He was sharing his passion for coding in the elementary school. Prior to the conference, Chris created a screen cast of his presentation, which you can watch here:

Chris had created a website (using Weebly) to share his extensive collection of coding sites and lesson plans to support the implementation of coding in classrooms. He shared a number of sites that I am quite familiar with and included in my Hour of Code SMORE.

In addition to his coding website, Chris shared a great tool for editing videos called EduCanon.  Essentially, you simply upload a video from the source of your choosing to EduCanon and you can then insert pauses to the video and pose questions to your viewers.  This would be a great addition to the toolbox of a teacher who likes to flip their classroom and have students watch videos at home. I would add a caveat to that: One of the examples I viewed on the EduCanon site was the great video by LifeVest Inside about the power of kindness and the chain reaction random acts of kindness can have.  It is a video that deserves to be played in its entirety and for students to develop an understanding of what is going on, at their own pace. When I  watched the teacher edited version on EduCanon it was much choppier and the message harder to follow.  Using EduCanon might be the way to go for the second or third viewing.  There are some videos that don’t need to be interrupted with more talk.

I was inspired by the slick look of Chris’s website to explore Weebly for myself.  I ended up creating a website for the PYP Exhibition.  I have made one of these before using Wix when I was teaching at Riverstone International School in Boise.  I took some of this content and things from my current school to create a source of information for students, teachers, and parents leading up to, during, and after the exhibition. Weebly is awesome and so easy to use.  

While at the conference, I led a Roundtable discussion on the PYP Exhibition with the hopes of gaining insight from other Exhibition teachers as to how they plan, implement, and evaluate this culminating component of the PYP program.  Notes from our discussion are here if you are also a PYP Exhibition teacher and are interested in our collaborative thoughts. Please add your thoughts too!

One of the things we discussed was how to guide students to take authentic action.  I shared the following video about how NOT to take action:

I also shared 6 Ways of Taking Action which I first learned about via a teacher blogger in Australia who I can no longer track down as his blog has been deactivated.

Screen Shot 2015-02-10 at 19.12.49

When discussing the idea of ‘Action’ it was good to be able to share different ways that this could look. You can download the 7 page Action PDF which features each way of taking action on a different page and a summary page of all 6 ways. You can read my FlipSnack Book here

One of the biggest ‘takeaways’ for me following our discussion was the idea that we are pretty hard on ourselves as teachers.  I think that there are so many great ideas out there and as a teacher, it can sometimes feel like you are not doing enough, reading enough, innovating enough. What you realise when you sit down with a group of fellow educators, is that often what you are doing may seem obvious to you but amazing to others. And that’s a good feeling.

PYP, Reflection

A Joint Effort


One thing we learned last year during the Exhibition is that it really does help for the parents to be ‘in the know’ and supportive of their child.  It also helps when those unwritten expectations of fifth grade  (being timely, organzied, thoughful, perserverant) are made explicit to students and parents so that we are all on the same page.

Over the next couple of weeks, I will be working on the following prep sheets with my class and their families.

Click on each image to enlarge.  Click to download a PDF copy. 

We will do the student portion at school and the sheet will go home to be shared with families and for parents to offer their input.  My main goal?  To create conversation. To get students and parents and their teachers talking and sharing and supporting one another.

We say it is a team effort – now let’s work like we really mean it.

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:


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



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


Inspiration, PYP, Reflection

Be The Change-Maker

I was continuing to reflect on the learning that occurred yesterday and in doing so, I had my kids line up in a human continuum.  I know these are used for lots of things but I wanted to use them as a reflective tool and a tool for self-regulated action.  Once the kids were lined up on the continuum from “I must have the manuals for the lego kits and a friend to do it with and I am still freaking out somewhat” to “Just throw the manuals out and unleash the kit on me – I want to create!” I had them take a good look around the room.  I then asked them to consider the following questions:

  • How could you help someone else?
  • Where do you plan on being on this continuum in two weeks time?
  • What will you do when you need help?
  • How will you move forward from where you are at?

My purpose in doing this?  To empower the kids in the class to choose to act.  Making explicit the notion of action is one of the five essential elements of the PYP.

Stated quite simply, the action cycle asks students to reflect, choose and act. As they stood and looked around the room, my aim was:

  • To help them see that there are options within our room to offer help and to be helped and to seek help.
  • To provide them with like-minded colleagues to work with and also give them the opportunity to see who was out there that they could improve their understanding by working with.
  • To provide an opportunity for those with greater experience to be gracious in the sharing of that knowledge in order to move the whole group forward.
  • To remind them that choosing NOT to act was also taking action – the ball is in their court.

Now, I do know that these sound like lofty goals.  BUT….there are times when it is good to be reminded that to experience change, you can wait for circumstances to be different, the season to turn, or the wind to blow, OR you can be a change maker in yourself. Will it work? Will I see an immediate, overnight transformation of 10 and 11 year olds choosing to “Be the Change”? Maybe not.  Doesn’t stop me hammering that option home every chance I can get though!