Daily Archives: October 18, 2010

Back to Teaching & Learning: Unpacking the International Baccalaureate Primary Years Program Learner Profiles with 5 & 6 Year Olds- ‘Open-minded’

The International Baccalaureate Learner Profile

Inquirers, Knowledgeable, Thinkers, Communicators, Principled, Open-minded, Caring, Risk-takers, Balanced, Reflective

Focus: Open-minded

“They understand and appreciate their own culture and personal histories, and are open to the perspectives, values and traditions of other individuals, groups and communities. They are accustomed to seeking and evaluating a range of points of view, and are willing to grow from the experience.” IB

Recently I teamed with our PYP coordinator to unpack the Learner Profile  Open-minded with my Prep students (5&6 Year Olds). My students are wonderful thinkers as a result of the IB – PYP program.  They will challenge ideas and seek clarification as our coordinator found out. They ‘dig deep’ and are not satisfied with superficial answers…and I love this!

Understanding what open- minded means is not easy. To ‘kick off’ the children’s thinking, we asked each child to say what they thought open-minded was – gathering their prior knowledge. What next?

To introduce our Learner Profile we use picture story books. We selected a number of books specifically about ‘imagination’ – opening the mind. The children loved these books and were starting to inquire further. One child shared his thoughts about a closed mind. Now we were really starting to get somewhere! Not giving answers is a key. The children need to form their understanding after a lot of discussion, thinking and questioning.

After each story the children form a ‘talking circle’ to share their thoughts. This is ‘formative assessment’ and helps guide our planning. Each child explains their ideas. New questions are asked as they continue to deepen their understanding.

The children were read Imagine A Place by Sarah L. Thomson and illustrated by Rob Gonsalves.  Reading a book once is not enough. We often read a book many times discussing the main idea, author’s intent, new vocabulary and carefully looking at the illustrations. We are mindful that these are young children building knowledge,  structuring and re-structuring their understanding, building new knowledge on existing knowledge.

We decided to make our own wonderful book. The children were given an opening phrase – Imagine a place… to scaffold their drawing and writing. They were asked to draw the picture they had of their amazing place in their imagination first. Opening their mind to all the possibilities! They then wrote about their picture starting with the phrase, Imagine a place….  I’ve included photos of my student’s writing and pictures below.

We also read a wonderful story about a young boy Ben who helps save whales beached in Western Australia. They discussed why Ben was open – minded and his actions that displayed this Learner Profile. My students are also being introduced to the attitudes and use these in context. Other Learner Profiles are discussed in relation to all stories. We constantly talk about the Learner Profile but focus deeply on one each week. This strategy is working for this group of children.

We read other stories during the week identifying the Learner Profiles and looking for characters that were open-minded.  It was great to team up with another teacher to un-pack this Learner Profile. We are also learners here!

Cheers Nina

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