Tag Archives: International Baccalaureate

Partner Interactive Writing – We all have personal histories. Our excursion to the Immigration Museum Melbourne…

My Preps as part of our inquiry into personal history visited the Immigration Museum in Melbourne. The Immigration Museum has excellent programs designed for all age groups. The children learnt about Cook who travelled to Australia in a boat from Vietnam. They learnt about refugees and the hardships they faced. Understanding what a refugee is seems a big concept for 5 and 6 year old children; however, I’m always surprised by the level of understanding they have.

The children love Student Led Interactive Writing and for this activity I selected Partner Interactive Writing. Working in pairs the children could be heard rehearsing their text, using tool cards (alphabet and THRASS cards) to support spelling, manipulating spacers when required to ensure spaces between words, re-reading – correcting and discussing what they had learnt.

One of our school staff has applied to become an Australian citizen. The staff member spoke to the children about what she has had to do to become a citizen. The children were able to explain the difference between applying to be a citizen in Australia and being a refugee. The children completed our inquiry last week.

Cheers Nina

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Comprehension: A 4 Part Diorama – Three Little Pigs or Little Red Riding Hood

One of our Prep classrooms was working on comprehension dioramas and I knew I had to make these with my students. The children have been engaged in narratives and are loving this task. Young children need to be able to demonstrate their understanding in a variety of ways and having opportunities to create is important. Writing a narrative is our genre focus along with comprehension.

The narrative has a beginning, middle, end, problem and resolution. Using a fairy tale works well beacause the children are familiar with the story and this is important. They were read two stories and were able to choose which story they liked best.

The first task was to complete a story map. The map is used by students to guide their diorama. The children will use their diorama to retell the fairy tale to a peer and then to the grade. Identifying the problem and resolution will help my students format and write their own simple narratives.

Cheers Nina


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International Baccalaureate IB-PYP Teaching Perspective to 5&6 Year Olds…

The following post was written by Belinda who is completing her final year of university. Belinda writes her own blog  called BDORIOTEACHING.

Our inquiry central idea is: Personal histories reflect traditions and culture. They key concepts are change, perspective and reflection. Over the past two days children have been bringing in items that show their ‘personal history’. Items such as baby clothes, photos, medals etc. have come in so far. Today I was able to share some of my personal history with the students, and they really enjoyed seeing the photos of me at their age.

To explore perspective, we began with a discussion. The aim of the discussion was to expose students to the fact that people have different points of views, opinions and perspectives.

I showed the students the front cover of the book My Place, by Nadia Wheatley and we spoke about how people thought the book would be about different things depending on their perspective.

I had them break off into groups and discuss their thoughts and then come back and report to the class.

After our whole class discussion I opened the book to a page where a school boy is walking down a path way, but it is unclear exactly what he is doing (for those who are not familiar with the book, it has no words).

I asked “Where might he be going?” and received different responses from each child. Every child’s answer was plausible, as they were taking cues from the picture.

‘He is going to meet the girl at the gate, he is going to school, he is going to the shed, he is going to ride that horse’ etc.


Today I expanded on this discussion by re-capping our conversation from yesterday and showing that same picture. Tying in with our narrative focus, I then asked the students to write a story about the boy walking down the path. I stressed that they could write anything they liked, as long as it was their thoughts or perspective of the picture. I was really impressed by the quality of work.

Post by Belinda Dorio

Cheers Nina

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International Baccalaureate IB – PYP: Inquiry – Toy Story / Toy Expo / Toy Expo Recount (Partner Writing) 5&6 Year Olds

For visitors who have been reading my recent posts on our  inquiry Toy Story I’ve included photos of the Prep Toy Expo 2012. Once again this was a wonderful experience for our Prep students. The expo gives our students the opportunity to talk, explain and display their design brief and model. The whole school supports this event with parents and community members attending. It also provides a common experience for my students to write about.

Partner writing is collaborative, involves student talk and talking together about a piece of writing  assists my students to create a logical sequential structured piece of writing. The saying ‘two heads is better than one’ is certainly true. As I roam I can hear  children verbalising their experiences and jointly constructing a written text. This age group need support to think a piece of writing through and verbalising their ideas first is ideal. I’m often heard saying, ‘tell me more’.

Cheers Nina

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Hand over the control! PrepD Student Led Interactive Writing: June 2012 – (5&6 Year Olds)

PrepD Student Led Interactive Writing sessions enable me to roam, listen to conversations and question my student’s understanding of concepts and skills. I’m able to question individuals and groups about the strategies they are using to compose their text. Their feedback is enlightening and I’m always surprised by how well they articulate what they are doing, the strategies they are using and their collective knowledge of punctuation and composition is evident. I’m always looking for the transfer of explicit teaching foci.

Recently my students took their parents on a Student Led Tour of their learning and we decided to write about the tour.

I’ve written about this strategy numerous times in my blog. To read more simply type PrepD Student Led Interactive Writing in the search box. I firmly believe this strategy scaffolds, supports and accelerates my student’s writing.

Cheers Nina


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2011 – Me, Australian teacher, the constructivist, learner, seeker of answers and maker of questions – One year on….

And there goes another year! I’ve had many emails and best wishes from colleagues locally, across Australia and globally. The end of the school year in Australia is frantic with not enough hours in the day to get everything done. Hence, my lack of posts….

I hope everyone who reads my blog has had a wonderful year and put a ‘feather in the back of a colleague so they can fly’…. and have been ‘courageous’. (Anthony Semann)

I find it interesting that so many people read this post each year and look forward to my reflections of ‘my year that was’. 2011 has been my year of challenge, watching my son navigate his final year of school, and for a constructivist and IB educator, I question the purpose of these final years. Jenny Luca wrote an excellent post airing her thoughts. Well written Jenny! And just so you all know I have ‘dibs’ on 2012, it’s my year, but I’m happy to share!

As a constructivist I can look back, learn from, move forward, improve, and re-learn. Experiences (good and not so good) are gifts and should be treated as such. Experience and constructive feedback is important for educators, for people and for the children we teach. Admitting you don’t always have the answers and exploring to find answers is part of education and life. Being a learner is important to me, as it allows for foibles and that’s important.

The world lost a ‘new age philosopher’ this year in Steve Jobs. I’ve read much about his life and have selected the following quote…. Reflection, personal and professional growth is important!

I’ve adopted Steve’s attitude to life, professional and personal as my mantra for 2012.

‘You can’t connect the dots looking forward; you can only connect them looking backward. So you have to trust that the dots will somehow connect in your future. You have to trust in something — your gut, destiny, life, karma, whatever. This approach has never let me down, and it has made all the difference in my life.’  Steve Jobs 2005

With the support of my school, my Teacher Professional Leave (TPL) partner and I have continued to research ‘best practice’. Being able to spread our allocated professional development days over what will be three years has meant our professional development has been relevant to what we now know, and what we need to learn. When you start a project such as ours ‘you don’t know what you don’t know’. Research and discussion has led us to be knowledgeable about what we don’t know. And that’s a great place to be…. we’re still in the learner’s seat.

The Instructional Rounds ning is active and has continued to grow. This space has now 291 members from across the globe. Collaboration and connections are being made throughout the world within the ning.  Education has no borders, wherever we are on the planet, educators are working to engage and provide students with the life and learning skills to navigate this century.

This year I completed the Leadership for Community Engagement Program as a member of the region pilot group. An opportunity to learn from, and listen to leaders in a small forum from different fields was something built into the program which many of us wouldn’t normally have exposure to. These leaders talked about building the capacity of others, being open to new ideas and courageous when undertaking change. The accompanying project completed has led to a new model for one aspect of community education in my school. I’m providing links within this post, if you’d like to read about the project.

Continuing to refine and develop new or improve existing teaching strategies has continued in 2011, with excellent results. Recognising education is about relationships, whether it’s with students, parents or peers and intrinsic for effective constructive feedback. An exploration of educational feedback will be a priority for 2012.

My Blog: Writing my blog is cathartic and my space to reflect, share,  connect and learn from others. This post is an opportunity for me to thank my colleagues for sharing here or on the web in one of the growing forms of on-line connectors.

Yearly Stats not reported by WordPress:


Instructional Rounds SMR Pilot – 843 views

Instructional Rounds Part 1 – 1302 views

Instructional Rounds Part 2 – 527 views


Central Peninsula Instructional Rounds Evaluation – 535 views

Preparing Staff for Instructional Rounds – 3210 views

Finally, thank you for your comments, emails and support in 2011. I wish everyone a well-managed and successful 2012 – ‘Stay hungry. Stay Foolish’.

‘Remembering that I’ll be dead soon is the most important tool I’ve ever encountered to help me make the big choices in life. Because almost everything — all external expectations, all pride, all fear of embarrassment or failure — these things just fall away in the face of death, leaving only what is truly important. Remembering that you are going to die is the best way I know to avoid the trap of thinking you have something to lose. You are already naked. There is no reason not to follow your heart. … Stay hungry. Stay foolish.’  Steve Jobs 2005

Cheers Nina

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International Baccalaureate Learner Profile – Caring and …. 5/6 Year Olds

The International Baccalaureate Learner Profile

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

Learner Profile: CARING

They show sensitivity towards the needs and feelings of others. They have a sense of personal commitment to action and service.

Last week my students brainstormed in groups what being caring  means to them and the actions associated with being a caring person. This is a totally independent activity with no input by the teacher.


The children have written individually about the ways they are caring at home and at school. They’ve also written letters to Santa asking for presents for themselves and others.

Cheers Nina


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If you could pack your ‘culture’ into a suitcase to add to another culture, what would you pack?

The Prep children made a little suitcase and have packed items of their culture and family traditions into it. What would you take from your culture to add to the culture of a different country? This group of children participated in ‘the little red suitcase’ activity at the Immigration Museum in Melbourne and this activity followed on beautifully. This is also a special something parents will be able to keep.

The children have put family photos, their birth certificate, family history and traditions and other items of personal choice to take with them on their journey.

Cheers Nina

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Steve Jobs 1955 – 2011: The ‘Concept Based Curriculum’ – Ken Robinson & Steve Jobs – Differentiated Teaching: Originally posted January 2010….

I wrote this post in January 2010 after an IBO workshop – The ‘Concept Based’ Curriculum. I remember carefully selecting Steve Jobs’ 2005 Stanford Commencement address to share, and support my educational philosophy. As teachers, and humans we need to reflect on our purpose, our goals and the footprint we leave behind. Steve Jobs’ footprint is amazing. The world lost an innovator, educator and ‘good bloke’ yesterday. Steve Jobs 1955 – 2011

“you can’t connect the dots looking forwards, you can only count them looking backwards. So you have to trust that the dots will somehow connect in your future” Steve Jobs 2005

Original Post: January 2010

I’ve just spent three days at the IBO Asia-Pacific Workshop and completed the workshop – ‘The Written Curriculum’. It wasn’t what I was expecting, but on reflection it was far better than what I thought I’d be learning. The notion of the ‘teacher proof’ curriculum was introduced to me and now I understand why this is not the curriculum I want in our schools. I also now understand what a ‘concept based’ curriculum is. These two notions seem small, but in reality they’re huge.

It has enabled me to understand the difference between teaching a topic versus a concept.  So what’s the difference?

A concept is,

broad and abstract



share common attributes – represented by different examples

The concept based curriculum enables students to build knowledge and inquire. The ‘dots will connect’ as in Steve Jobs’ speech included in my earlier post and this post. I can see the connections between what Ken Robinson and Steve Jobs are saying. What do you think?

I’d like to thank our presenters, Scott and Nicole for reintroducing me to Sir Ken Robinson. We watched and discussed Ken Robinson’s interview on the 7.30 Report -ABC. You’ll have to go to the ABC site to watch the interview, but I have included two presentations by Ken Robinson below.

‘stay hungry, stay foolish’ Steve Jobs 2005

Post Script: I’ve listened to Steve Jobs’ address today and what have I learnt? Reflect to ‘connect the dots’, reflect to learn, leave a footprint you will be proud of, reflect to set goals,  except your past, learn from life’s experiences, but most importantly move forward to achieve your dreams.

‘Remembering that I’ll be dead soon is the most important tool I’ve ever encountered to help me make the big choices in life. Because almost everything — all external expectations, all pride, all fear of embarrassment or failure — these things just fall away in the face of death, leaving only what is truly important. Remembering that you are going to die is the best way I know to avoid the trap of thinking you have something to lose. You are already naked. There is no reason not to follow your heart. … Stay hungry. Stay foolish.’ Steve Jobs 2005

Cheers Nina

Nina’s Arena supports: The Fresh Air Fund


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International Baccalaureate – Primary Years Program: Personal Histories Reflect Tradition & Culture. A visit from Murrundindi – Aboriginal Elder

Last week my students were visited by an Aboriginal Elder to support our inquiry: Central Idea – Personal Histories Reflect Traditions and Culture. Murrundindi is an Aboriginal Elder of the Wurundjeri Aboriginal People, Yarra Yarra Tribe, of Victoria. He has visited our school many times and is an inspiring Australian.

Our teacher questions/provocations driving this inquiry are:

How does our exploration of personal histories enrich our understanding of different cultures?

How have personal histories been recorded in times and places?

How do personal histories reflect different cultures and traditions?

“My work is to follow in the footsteps of my ancestors by sharing the culture and history of the Yarra Yarra people through traditional dancing, dreamtime stories, music, artifacts, photographs and through our language as spoken in the Dreamtime.”

“The Wurundjeri, also known as the Yarra Yarra tribe, was one of the three tribes that shared the Upper Yarra and Healesville areas. As Melbourne’s traditional custodians of the land and of local Aboriginal culture, the Wurundjeri roamed throughout an area from Healesville to Lake Eildon, towards Westernport Bay and as far as Wonthaggi. Their Nurrungetta, or king, Bebejern was one of the seven tribal leaders who signed the 1835 Treaty with John Batman, which resulted in the establishment of Melbourne.

Murrundindi is directly descended from these two great Wurundjeri leaders via his mother, Gumbri, who has taught him to esteem and honour his Aboriginal heritage. However, the early years of Murrundindi’s life saw him suffer deeply from the  taunts and comments and he had to work hard to overcome the devastation of this earlier discrimination. In his words: “From these childhood experiences I resolved to work towards creating harmony. The children of today are our future. If I can make them understand that we are all brothers and sisters then hopefully one day no child will have to suffer with or experience racism.

His teachings are simple; respect ourselves and respect each other. He says, “We must learn to live and understand ourselves as well as acknowledge and accept each other’s differences. We are all from one race, we just have different coloured skin. We must also respect our Mother Earth who gives us life. If we do not respect her, we will soon not have a home to live in, food to eat, air to breathe or water to drink.” Murrundindi and his People.

Thank you Murrundindi for sharing your personal history with us.

Cheers Nina

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