I started this post right after I finished the lengthy report cards about my 11 students in my class. And never posted it. Now I felt the need to scrap what I had written, and start over.
The report cards we write in the primary school contain the following sections:
- Units of Inquiry
- Language Development (English and Italian)
- Mathematical Development
- Teacher Comment
So where have I developed this year? I will start with the “teacher comment”, a general section on motivation and other bits.
New things tried this year:
- Gave over more control to students: I have really made the classroom a more equal place for the class community. I let students have a lot more input in what is going to happen and how. I still think I could work in this more, but as with the students who struggle with having this “freedom”, I think one step at the time.
- More technology used: Despite the limited access to computers and other technology, I have used a lot of different technology. And I believe that, looking at the SAMR model (here on Tech Transformation), that I moved from enhancement to transformation quite a bit over the year.
One of the tools I enjoyed using was Voicethread with my Grade 3/4 in Pisa, where they were able to share their work and developed a new culture of feedback. I also enjoyed using ToonDoo as part of the first unit in Modena. I found this to be a challenge, as students used new ways to express their ideas, and this required substantial rethinking on my part as well. The ideas expressed in some of the cartoons were huge,
but too much time was also lost on it by “messing around”.and the time “messing around” made the students more comfortable with using technology and new tools like that! Lastly we used Glogster to create posters. The idea was simple at first – substitute the normal offline poster with an online version. But again, students were transforming the task much more, commenting on each others work, sharing ideas, embedding videos and creating much more than “just a poster”.
- Making connections: Both in Pisa and in Modena, we made connections and flattened our classroom walls. We used emails and skype to connect with people around the world. We used Twitter to find experts and people who helped in disasters. There were many lovely people who were willing to help and connect with Grade 3, as they explored why people take action and help in disaster zones. The idea of resources being limited disappears with flattening classroom walls. Often in the case of the PYP, the units of inquiry deal with concepts that publishers don’t consider important for the primary years. This makes books a hard-to-get resource. Information on the internet can also be limited, so we need to rethink our resources and consider “user-created knowledge”, sharing ideas and connecting to people. It certainly made learning more meaningful in my class.
- The five essential elements of the PYP: The IB defines the five essential elements of the Primary Years Programme as knowledge, concepts, skills, attitudes and action. This year I have tried to make the elements more visible in my classroom, so that I would pay equal attention to them. I found that it worked, on top of making the learner profile central to everything we do. I still struggle with the action component, and can definitely improve in the skills area, but I think it helps to make the areas you chose to develop during a unit explicit, and to develop them in all areas of the curriculum.