Wednesday, January 28, 2015

Unravelling the inquiry cycle in a PYP class room

People can make choices to support the sustainability of the Earth’s energy resources.”

Me to students : Does that make sense?

Students to me: (after a while)...not really... 

Their understanding of "energy" during the pre-assessment task also reflected a superficial knowledge of the term. And thus our unit of inquiry started. As I was browsing the net, I came across this picture prompt- a map, which I thought would serve as a great provocation. The annual energy consumption per person. Kids love guessing where countries are, so it was a great way to address some geography at this point.

Annual energy consumption per person

 I had also been reading Craig Dwyer's post which inspired me to change my inquiry cycle and use a simpler one. Wonder (while exploring)- Explore (while wondering)- Create (while reflecting)- Reflect (with subsequent wonderings). I was feeling more at ease now. The map allowed the students to make a lot of inferences based on patterns which slowly started emerging during our class discussions. Here is a visual of their wonderings once they went home and revisited the map on their class blog.


Over the weekend, I requested the students to help out with resources. I had no clue what they would come up with, but it had to be something to do with energy. Now the part where I step aside.



At this point, no knows how we are going to sort all this junk into centers.

 My students suddenly took charge.  The junk would remain where it was.  They would pick what they wanted and work with whom the felt like. Here is what happened next...

Soon I would need to step back in and ask them to share their newfound understandings, thoughts and wonderings. Maybe after another day of uninhibited, joyful exploration. How do you feel the unit should go on from here?

Second day: Notice how the students' creations are becoming more sophisticated.

A day later, posted on our class blog...Student action (Inquiry Phase - Create)

Following our tuning-in activity, we are moving into the guided inquiry phase. A class discussion is in progress.

Task: What do the pictures depict: Kinetic or potential energy?

Here, the students were asked to visit a website (in the form of a QR code) and take notes. However, the next day, they didn't seem to have a clear idea about the different types of energy. I put them into groups and asked them to explain the various types of energy to each other. Suddenly, the whole energy level changed. Watch!


I realised how technology was being used seamlessly by the students. Watch how they are using their ipads, androids and other gadgets.

At this point we stopped and reflected about each source of energy. We then asked as many questions as we could think of in order to clarify our growth in understanding. The sorting out of the questions into various concepts was great fun.

Students working at various centers to understand the different forms of energy: Chemical, Mechanical, thermal, etc. Here are a few shots:

During the short holiday, my students will be researching about renewable sources of energy. My colleague and I have identified a few questions which will help guide them in our absence.

I came across the wonderful website which I think is absolutely brilliant. There are some delightful videos on energy. One particular one took the fancy of my students:


This inspired them to do something for the class too.Their idea is not new of course, yet it provided them with a great opportunity to understand what inquiry in real life meant.
Check out their to-do plan which I have posted on a padlet.

Wait a minute. Why do we need to help our school which is quite well funded? The vision of our school is to create leaders who can give back to our community. What if...

 The students are clearly in charge. Their enthusiasm is so infectious.  Just by nudging them a bit, I feel I'm on the right track as a facilitator.

At this point, I am not sure we can raise the money. It is quite a lot. But the whole point is for the students to find out how to go about solving a problem. 

Sunday, November 30, 2014

Learning environment and inquiry workshop in Hongkong

November. I had the privilege of conducting a workshop at  PIPS, Hong kong.
Here are a few photographs to remind me of the wonderful learning that took place. Caveat:  be prepared for an explosion of colours which may play havoc with your senses.

 Hopes, Fears and Wonders

Chalk Talk 

The participants felt good about sharing their work. 

Some great texture and ideas in the ART room.

Fishing nets in the classroom. Great idea for displays.

A focus area in the classroom. The use of color to inspire students... the green calmed the kids a lot.

Plenty of children's work on display throughout the school.

The Principle, Mary.  Katie, the PYP Coordinator

I love the child-friendly atmosphere.

Teachers creating a before and after the presentation. They analyzed each and every slide so thoroughly. It was fun listening to their conversation. They referred to the 7 principles of design so fluidly in their conversations.

The red classroom, which gave angst to everyone!

The teachers were trying to use their understanding of classroom design and bring about changes... one step at a time.

A cute and enticing focus area: science investigations.

Trying to de-clutter

A transformed art room area.

Playing with the lighting.

Products from Ikea on display to create an ambience.

Loved this idea to make a tree!

Can you see the effect of the lighting. A warm glow pervades the classroom.

Garbage bags hang in the center of the class, creating a display area. Great idea!

Ending with even more questions!

The whole community was eager and bustling to get started.  I feel that the workshop excited and helped teachers realize they were already on the right path. The videos and articles simply helped them consolidate their understanding and give them focus.

I am eager to work on my own classroom!

See below: 7 principles of designs in the classroom.


Monday, November 24, 2014

Creating an atmosphere in the classroom

Students will be creating captions and making labels for each exhibit in order to transform their class into a veritable museum. Some of the old coins you see below actually belong to a student. They found it when the workers were digging up the foundation for their house in Gujerat. They look really old. According to this website, they can range from 150 to 700 years old. Another website with similar coins says they might belong to 80 AD -105 AD!

With intention, I have selected artifacts from the ancient Chinese civilization. Students will analyze the artifacts and slowly start building their own interpretation of ancient China. They will subsequently start referring to secondary resources in order to verify their findings. I hope that they come to the conclusion that history is but someone's interpretation of the past.