Tag Archives: International Baccalaureate

Week 1 – Term 3: Victoria, Australia – Recount Genre / Writing (5&6 Year Olds)

I’ve received a number of emails requesting writing samples from the beginning of this term. Using a recount exemplar ( PM Writing ) to scaffold my student’s writing development is enabling these young writers to develop text control while composing. My students have been extending their writing to include sequence and detail. The writing samples displayed in this post are examples of independent unassisted writing.

Journals are a record of each student’s personal history. They understand that when they read their writing back in years to come they will want to remember as many details as possible about the things they did or achieved.

This also relates to our current inquiry into personal histories. We plan our inquiries using the format of the International Baccalaureate – Primary Years Programme.

Where we are in place and time

An inquiry into orientation in place and time, personal histories, homes and journeys, the discoveries, explorations, and migrations of humankind, the
relationships between and the interconnectedness of individuals and civilizations from local and global perspectives.

Central Idea:

Personal Histories Reflect Traditions & Culture

Key Concepts:

How do we know? Reflect on culture by examining the personal histories of self and others.

Exploring the changes in people’s lives due to changes in time and place

Celebrate and accept cultural differences, via the sharing of personal histories

What lines of inquiry will define the scope of the inquiry into the central idea?

Exploring personal histories enriches our intercultural understanding.

  • Personal histories are recorded in different ways, depending on time on place.
  • Personal histories allow us to reflect on and celebrate, who we are and where we have come from

What teacher questions/provocations will drive these inquiries? 

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

How have personal histories been recorded in different times and places?

How do personal histories reflect different cultures and traditions?

Cheers Nina

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Inquiry: Toy Story – Making & Doing: Our puppets and toys!

Hand Puppets

A Climbing Spider

Clowns: How cute are these?

Cheers Nina


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Prep – 1st Semester Student Reflection: Setting goals for Semester 2!

In two days my Prep children will have completed their first semester of formal schooling. Today we had Three Way Conferences where the children come to school with their parents for a fifteen minute interview. After showing their Portfolio which contains assessment pieces, special work
and writing samples the children shared their Semester Reflection.

I always enjoy seeing the parent’s faces when they view their child’s first writing sample and then their latest piece of writing. The learning growth evident is amazing. Early next term the children and I will use their Semester Reflection to set learning and personal goals.

Cheers Nina

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International Baccalaureate – Primary Years Program: Our Inquiry – Toy Story!

In one more week, our Victorian Preps will have completed their first semester of formal education in Australia. It’s amazing to see how grown up they are already, the wonderful attitude they have to school and their love of learning. On Tuesday, our current inquiry culminates in a Toy Expo. The Preps assemble in the hall, display the toy they have created, their design brief and explain their toy to expo visitors. The expo is open to the whole school community and is very exciting for our students. The Prep children ask for a gold coin donation for visiting their Toy Expo with money raised being given to a local charity to provide toys, school books etc. to children in need.

International Baccalaureate: Primary Years Programme Inquiry 4 2011
Transdisciplinary Theme: How the World Works

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

Key Concepts: Function & Change

Related concepts: Transformation & Communication

Lines of Inquiry:

Toys are made of a variety of materials

Toys move in different ways

Technology has changed toys over time

Teacher Questions:

How do toys move?

What are toys made of?

How has technology changed toys?

Cheers Nina


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Week 7 – First Year of Formal Education in Australia: 5 Year Olds – PrepD Student Led Interactive Writing.

I can’t believe how quickly our first term in Victoria, Australia is travelling. The Preps have had Wednesdays off for the first 6 weeks, a four day week for week 7 due to a  public holiday, and will now attend everyday. The children have completed an assessment interview on one of the Wednesdays, which works well. With the initial assessment completed, I have documented where each student is on our learning continuum, planned teaching and learning needs for the grade, for individuals, and identified groups of students with similar learning needs. 

PrepD Student Led Interactive Writing is planned each week, and this is when I’m looking for the transfer of teaching and learning into their writing. Listening to the children ‘talk their learning’ while they construct their sentence gives a wonderful insight into their thinking. I’m looking for the strategies being used, their ‘thinking aloud’ and how well the taught strategies are supporting them. Listening, observing and questioning allows me to plan the ‘where to from here’.

Our Language Experience sentence for this learning experience is: We always do our work. My focus was on listening to their conversations, and observing their use of strategies.



Whilst roving and observing my students, I paid particular attention to how they attacked ‘always’. These children are beginning writers, and their attemps are excellent. Their independent writing is also developing well.

Cheers Nina


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Day 12 of formal education for my Prep students (4 & 5 Year olds) – Independent Writing – Recount / Journal – Amazing!

I’ve written this post for the teachers new to Prep who have asked me  for support, and I’m always happy to do this. I always stress that I’m still a learner as well. I learn from others, professional reading and my students.  It’s day 12 of formal education for my Australian Prep students, and I’m amazed by their ‘have a go’ attutude. They are certainly displaying the IB – PYP Learner Profile – Risk Taker. Today I was amazed by their use of strategies, looking around the room, sounding long, saying short, prompting each other, referring to the alphabet tool cards and ‘thinking aloud’.

Today I modelled my own journal, using taught strategies, and ‘thinking aloud’. I asked my students for help, played ‘Hangman’ (without the picture) for some words to identify a missing letter / sounds, and referred to our tool cards.  I used spacers, and talked about capital letters. Our next inquiry will be: What is a capital letter? After writing my journal, I removed it. I want my students to write independently. To introduce the ‘concepts of print’, I constantly refer to the PM Emergent Writing Exemplar Big Books.

 Day 12 Journal Samples:





I’m using the PM Emergent Writng Exemplar Big Books to introduce initial concepts, but I’ll move on to PM Writing Book 1 later in the year & PM Writing 1+ for extension.


Our next writing session will be PrepD Student Led Interactive Writing. This is the strategy which I believe best supports young writers, and is perfect for older students.  There is no doubt in my mind that collaborative writing, where children use their collective knowledege to support each other makes a significant difference to student learning outcomes.

Cheers Nina

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The Reading Wall – Language Experience & Our new sentence!

This quick post was written in response to an email I received asking for a little more information.


The ‘Everyday Reading Wall’.

Today we started a new ‘Language Experience’ little book.  Having just completed our first book, it was time to start our ‘Everyday Reading Wall’. The reading wall is created from the previous class made sentences and read everyday. Reading  games are played using the vocabulary. As we write more sentences, and  create more little books, our ‘Reading Wall’ grows. 

What is a sentence?

Today’s question for the children was: What is a sentence?  I want my students to use their inquiring minds, so each day we have  questions to answer. The children are exposed to writing, and books everywhere in the classroom.  They looked at books, displays, and shared their ideas with each other.  Looking carefully at sentences ‘around them’, they came up with the following ideas which were shared with the grade.

A sentence says something.

A sentence is made of words.

There are gaps between words.

A sentence  can be read.

A sentence ends with a fullstop dot.

Our New Sentence

Today the children came up with a new sentence for our sentence strip board. Once we have four sentences, a new ‘Language Experience’ book will be made, and sent home to read. Using the children’s collective knowledge they collaborated as a grade to write the following sentence. We copied school’ from the reading wall. It was great to see the children referring to ‘words around the room’ for support.

The children sounded and stretched words long, and said them short. They ‘listened to their own voice as they sounded’, looked at the alphabet tool cards, and shared their ‘thinking aloud’. These are strategies I model everyday. What a wonderful attempt they made at writing the word learn. Once again writing spacers were used to create the gaps between words. These are magnetic spots for the whiteboard.

 Finally the children were given the sentence to trace. Having taught how to write an ‘a’ and ‘o’, I was interested to see how they formed these letters. I use the dotted Victorian script for this activity.

Hope this helps.

Cheers Nina


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International Baccalaureate Organization Primary Years Programme Asia-Pacific In-school Workshop: Assessment in the PYP.

Teachers in Victoria, Australia use the first three days of the school year for Professional Development. My school completed the International Baccalaureate Organization Primary Years Programme Asia-Pacific In-school Workshop: Assessment in the PYP. Our presenters were David and Bec.

‘Assessment is integral to all teaching and learning. It is central to the PYP goal of thoughtfully and effectively guiding students through the five essential elements of learning, the acquisition of knowledge, the understanding of concepts, the mastering of skills, the development of attitudes and the decision to take action’ (MTPYP, 2007)

The two days were engaging due to a mix of thinking activities, videos and discussion. Discussions centred on the ‘principles of assessment’, assessment for learning, assessment as learning and assessment of learning.

Our professional development also included ‘the impact of sharing learning intentions’ with students, ‘the impact of process success criteria’ and ‘assessing for improvement’. We also spent time discussing and building our understanding of authentic assessment, and the ‘Backwards by Design Process’

And finally we spent time understanding reflective thinking, purposeful rubric development and the various types of conferences.

I’ve included this video shown to us: Take a look and have a laugh! It’s about curriculum.

I’d like to take this opportunity to thank David and Bec for a fabulous two days. 

Cheers Nina


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PrepD Student Led Interactive Writing / Inquiry: Examples of my student’s (5 & 6 Year Olds) collaborative writing & the teaching strategy that I promote!

The key is students working collaboratively, sharing their learning, prompting each other and using the skills and language generally used by teachers. Each student is engaged in the activity, with each student committed to contributing with the support of their peers if needed. Groups can be structured to support children or to extend groups of children. The teacher can run a teacher led group at the same time, which I do regularly. Each child is identified by a color, and all are given the opportunity to lead a group. Teaching leadership skills concurrently is essential. The children are given poster sized sheets to write on and textas.

I use Student Led Interactive Writing to assess and plan my weekly writing foci. It’s interesting to note that my student’s independent writing improves rapidly. I’m looking for the transfer of my teaching into my student’s independent and Interactive Writing. Modelled Writing and Shared Writing are also planned into a weekly program from week one. However, I keep coming back to this teaching strategy because I believe this strategy not only accelerates writing development, but also provides support for less confident young writers.

Interactive Writing is normally a small group; teacher led writing strategy. My desire is to make teaching and learning in my classroom ‘student led’, has ‘morphed’ this teaching strategy from teacher controlled to student controlled. My role is to watch for the transfer of learning, and listen to my student’s conversations which highlight their learning.

Interactive Writing is the strategy I use when we are writing about a shared experience. This week we went to our local beach to explore rock pools.

Inquiry: Sharing the Planet

Central Idea: Living things have needs in order to survive and grow.

Leaner Profile: Knowledgeable, Caring

Key Concepts: Form, Connection

Attitudes: Appreciation, Respect

In this inquiry we explore our local environment. As our school is a very short walk from the beach, we take the children to the beach to explore life in a coastal environment. Each year we organize Ben, known as Ben 10, from the Dolphin Research Institute Education Unit to lead our learning. Ben’s enthusiasm and knowledge is inspiring. He is a Prep hero! The Dolphin Research Institute Education Unit is supporting Inquiry Units across our school this term.


I’ve provided photos of my students Interactive Writing recount about our excursion. There are some great teaching points for the whole grade, and for individual students clearly identified. Because each child writes in their own color this makes identifying individual teaching points clear. I’ve also included a copy of the Writing Checklist (criteria) used by students to revisit and edit their writing. The checklist really guides the children through this process.

Cheers Nina


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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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