Tag Archives: IB-Australia

IB-PYP: Maps – Gathering prior knowledge: Show me the way to your home from school. What did I learn? I should have known more about this student!

We’re learning about maps so I asked my students to show their way home from school. They could choose how they would show their journey. One of my students started drawing…. What did I learn? I know that how we ask children to show what they know is incredibly important and when gathering prior knowledge we can’t assume what a child knows. One of my very quiet 7 year old students started drawing their map.

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Can I find the way to my student’s home? YES How did this student know what they know? Would I have discovered what I now know about this student and their thinking if I’d presented my initial question a different way? QUESTIONS!

Cheers Nina


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The IB – PYP: That’s where we’ll hang our hat! Part 1 – At the grass roots…

This is the year of the circle.

My father always said children need something to hang their hat on and something bigger than them.

So what does this mean in terms of learning? Schools are our young peoples’ community, something bigger than them and where they can hang their hat. Primary schools exist for young learners, but they are also children (so keep that thought). A school has a greater responsibility than just teaching the 3Rs. Schools are where our young people learn about relationships, community and develop a sense of self.

My school is an IB-PYP school. So why be an IB school? It’s a question I’ve thought about for some time and relates to what my father told me. Children need something greater than themselves and so does a school! Schools are an important part of their local community, but where does a school hang its hat and be part of something bigger than it?

Example 1. Developing a sense of community: The IB Learner Profile.

The IB has developed a framework known as the Learner Profile. The Learner Profile relates to all learners, teachers, administrators and wider community members. The IB Learner Profile recognizes the broad needs of young learners and young people across the world.



Let’s take a look at the IB – PYP at the grass roots – my Australian Year 1-2 classroom…

Example 2. Developing a sense of community: Being part of something bigger.

My students understand that we are a team and being part of a team has associated responsibilities. Our team is part of the school community, local community, government education system and IB World Community. Young learners (6, 7 & 8 year olds) need to grow their understanding of responsibility by being part of a community and the classroom is where they start.

Two Simple Diagrams:

Two simple diagrams underpin my students’ learning about being part of a team and managing relationships.  I bring everything back to the IB Learner Profile and attitudes. The picture below is our Learner Profile circle and ‘working wall’.

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The learner Profile represents our classroom essential agreements. My students know that as learners we make mistakes and learn from them, however, they also understand that being a member of the team is about demonstrating the Learner Profile through our actions. The Learner Profile is part of our daily learning. It’s not just a pretty display, it is a living and growing record of our growth as learners and young people.

Diagram One: The Team Circle

Sometimes someone may not have exhibited the Learner Profile and as a consequence moves to the side of the team. The young learner then has to develop the trust of the team to move back. Being a member of the team is very important to these young learners and they are incredibly supportive of each other. It has become a very positive approach to classroom management. It would require another post to explain how students learning self management is powerful for their confidence and learning.

Diagram two: Friendships and relationships

This one was developed to show how ‘he said, she said’ works. Two friends have an argument and involve others and rarely, but sometimes parents get involved. However, by the time the two best friends have sorted their differences, the outside circles are still arguing! This is where we learn CHOICE and my students are now thinking about the choices they make. They will help sort out problems but rarely become part of the problem. They are incredibly mature and honest! Simple diagrams but visible…

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Cheers Nina

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Our Inquiry: The choices people make affect their health and wellbeing.

Who We Are
Central Idea: The choices people make affect their health and wellbeing
Lines of Inquiry:
.What it means to have a balanced lifestyle [reflection and responsibility]
.Daily habits and routines (hygiene, sleep, play, eating, work/school, leisure)
.How the choices we make affect our health [causation]

This year has been busy, but I say this every year. Once again I have an exceptional group of young learners. They’re learning about mapping their own learning journey, the importance of being able to articulate what they have learnt and what they are learning now. Some are even able to talk about what they need to learn.

Young learners need to understand that learning is part of their health and well-being and is part of having a balanced lifestyle, good daily habits and being able to make good decisions. My hope is that very young learners understand that they have many choices to make each day and that choosing good choices is crucial to their well-being.

Young learners amaze me with their ability to take responsibility when encouraged. It actually empowers them! I’ve been in many classrooms where the teacher takes the responsibility for most things. Not in the JD classroom… as I believe choice is important and builds life skills and improves self-esteem. I’ve had children over the years ask me what color paper they should use or should their paper be ‘this way’ and my answer is always ‘you choose’.

Enabling learners to make choices is what this inquiry has been about. After unpacking and discussing the central idea in groups, as a class, individually and in pairs the children were asked to come up with three ‘best fit’ labels. Their labels & some ideas were:
Feelings Health-brave, ‘have a go’, independence, pride, joy, kind, encourage
Thinking Health-stay safe, care for others, have fun
Body Health-sometimes food, walk, exercise, sport, slip-slop-slap, wash & brush teeth
In the various groupings outlined students brainstormed key words and phrases to be pasted on our life size bodies. Our bodies will be added to throughout the year.

Hand over the responsibility and watch them grow!

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Cheers Nina


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IB-PYP: How the World Works – 6,7&8 year olds in an Australian Primary School

Our Inquiry into…

How the World Works

Central Idea: All living things go through a process of change.
Concepts: cycles, transformations, offspring
Communication Skills: speaking, reading, presenting
Self- Management Skills: organisation, safety
Thinking Skills: acquisition of knowledge, comprehension
Social Skills: co-operation
Attitudes: curiosity, enthusiasm
Learner Profile Attributes: knowledgeable, inquirers

As part of our inquiry into living things and change we visited the Melbourne Zoo for our provocation. The children looked at various animals, their external features and offspring. The conversations centred on unpacking the central idea and their writing displayed the connections they are making to the central idea and themselves.

The children were very curious about the external features of various animals. They selected a photo of an animal they had observed at the zoo and drew it, carefully making their picture as authentic as they could. Added to this was a writing activity where they wrote dot points about their animal using vocabulary they had learnt.

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Just beautiful!

Cheers Nina

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IB-PYP Risk-taker: Using a mentor book & Independent Writing- Archie’s Haircut by Lindy Smith: 6/7&8 year old writers respond to a quote from the text.

The name mentor book was introduced recently to me and although I’ve always used fiction and non-fiction books to hook students in and support teaching and learning, I’m now strategic with my approach to their planned use. Last week I was thinking about a text to reinforce the IB Learner Profile Risk-takers. One literacy focus for writing was verbs and for reading it is writer’s purpose and message.

Risk-takers: Definition

They approach unfamiliar situations and uncertainty with courage and forethought, and have the independence of spirit to explore new roles, ideas and strategies. They are brave and articulate in defending their beliefs. IB-PYP

Last weekend I stumbled across an author selling her picture story books. I’m keen to support writers who have the courage to self-publish. The book is Archie’s Haircut by Lindy Smith and is part of a growing series of Archie the Black Alpaca stories. When I read the text I knew the story would be perfect to support discussion around risk-taking when learning. The vocabulary supported a focus on verbs and the author’s message is articulated clearly within the text.

My students were read the story and asked to think about the author’s message. After a oral Think, Pair and Share students were asked to respond to the following quote and describe the author’s message.

Even if you don’t succeed you will learn a lot when you try.

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Student A:

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Student B:

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Student C:

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Student D:

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Student E:

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Student F:

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Student G:

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Student H:

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Student I:

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This is a random selection of writing from my grade. The bigger lined books are used by 6/7 year olds and the smaller lines by my 7/8 year old students. My students are responsible for the editing of their writing and their Have A Go spelling books are supporting this well.

Cheers Nina

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Toy Story: Stage 2- Final Preparations for Toy Expo 2012

Today my students checked their Toy Design Briefs to make sure they had completed their color swatch, displayed their material samples and recorded their equipment and join materials. They continued to paint their toys and tomorrow they will add the final touches to their toy in preparation for the Toy Expo on Thursday. The whole school and our student’s families visit the expo. The students are asked questions about their toys by expo visitors as they proudly display their toy and talk about their design. A gold coin donation is requested with the Preps donating monies raised to a worthy children’s cause.

Cheers Nina

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Toy Story: IB – PYP How the world works… 5&6 Year Olds design & make a toy.

Transdisciplinary Theme: HOW THE WORLD WORKS

Central Idea: Toys have changed over time due to technology.

Key Concepts: Function & Change

Related Concepts: Communication & Transformation

Lines of Inquiry:

Toys are made of a variety of materials

Toys move in different ways

Technology has changed toys over time
My students are loving their inquiry into toys. They are in the process of designing their own toy and have started creating their toy after commencing their design brief. My Preps have designed their toy, inquired into various ways of joining their chosen materials, selected their materials and completed the first stage of making their toy prototype.

Cheers Nina


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