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.

Friday, November 21, 2014

Handing over reins to my students

We have just started our unit on Ancient Civilisations. My students had been complaining about their summative task for the last unit. They were experts on the human body systems and we had a "Hot Seat" session where they were asked a few questions. They found it boring after a while. Frankly, so did I.

And so I decided to relinquish control of the IB planner to least stages 3 and 4. I have never tried this before. I will be working on the " reflection stage" with them later on.

What can I say! The past two days have been exciting, eventful, noisy and very, very fruitful.
As they looked at the central idea and the lines of inquiry, the whole class brainstormed tuning-in activities in groups. As they spoke, I updated my planner (stage 4 - learning engagements) This is what they came up with:

  • Play "Chinese Whispers" to see how messages from the past can change as they filter down to us.
  • Watch” Night at the Museum”
  • Interview grandparents about the past
  • Watch pictures /artefacts brought by them  and discuss. (Maybe use visible thinking tools such as See think Wonder or 10 X 2)
  • Make a cave and cave paintings somewhere in the classroom.
  • Write on leaves and sand as the early human "writers" did (during a mental maths session
  • Games played in the olden days.( I asked them how they knew the games were played in the past; they said they were, like stories, handed down from generation to generation). Will discuss this further of course.
  • KWL charts
  • Wonder wall ...after they have poured over the unit related books from the library
  • Bus stop Activity ( They asked me to come up with pictures and prompts)

I was impressed by the list.

I don't know where the unit will take us. However, as a modern educator in today's changing world, I feel I owe it to them. 

I am really excited to see what they come up during the Finding Out stage of our inquiry. I will be looking forward to finding out what they do about assessing themselves. They will need to design their own checklists, rubrics and continuums.

As a facilitator , I will be keeping a hawk's eye and tweaking things wherever necessary.

Stay tuned!

Designing our learning environment

Friday, October 3, 2014

Media message from one of my students

This was a summative task. The class rubric helped this child create a powerful message.

The moment I usually look forward to!

Thursday, September 18, 2014

Being "Creative" with the PYP Attitudes

We had great fun doing this! I asked the students to think of ways they could convey the meaning of each attitude using their hands only. We are still thinking of how to show a few (empathy, commitment, etc.) but here are a few of them. Take a guess!







This one is too literal...So we need to come up with something else!








Tuesday, September 16, 2014

Using social media to promote world peace

My students have been closely monitoring the Israel-Palestine conflict. They decided to use their knowledge of social media and Yang Liu's style of communication to propagate the idea of peace based on similarities between Jews and Muslims. Here's what they came up with. (Notice how they use colour to distinguish the two religions).

Jews and Muslims pray in the same manner.

They both believe in angels.

This one could be a little hard to guess. But that's the whole point. Keeps you thinking!
(Answer: Men and women are required to pray separately.)

In both cultures, they avoid eating pig.
:) Reminds me of Minchin's song:

Women are required to wear veils in the prayer hall.

Wednesday, August 20, 2014

Use of symbols in an inquiry lesson

Every year when school starts, I have observed how quickly some classes put up the learner profile attributes, attitudes and concepts on the classroom walls.  Up they go, pat pat pat, on the wall followed by a relieved tick against their "things to do" list. Then the "real" learning begins. 

As a tuning-in activity for our unit of inquiry on media, I thought of introducing Yang Liu's representations of two cultures.  Liu's use of media to stereotype cultures will naturally generate dichotomy of thought and emotions among many. I felt it was the perfect provocation which would pave the way for deeper, conceptual learning.  The use of symbols would create enough intrigue among the students in order to generate curiosity and hopefully, higher order thinking skills.

The students loved the lesson. Every slide of Yang Liu's "East Meets West" stirred hearts. We spoke of perspective and bias, racism and the unfairness of over-simplifying communities. They realised the power of symbols, (in this case, dots, lines and simple geometric shapes) to convey messages so powerful as to entice exciting discussions about issues related to everyday life.

After immersing ourselves in Liu's work, I wanted to see how far the students could use their learning to construct meaning and create learner profile representations using symbols and simple colours.

Introducing the work of Liu. Mystery element.

Take a look at what the students came up with. 

As I walked around watching them brainstorm and draft their ideas,  it was encouraging to hear them use words such as "stereotype: and "bias" amongst themselves.

Path of person not clearly visible, but a powerful representation of Courage.

Draft visible in this shot

Snipping, measuring

Motivation, engagement

I was quite surprised with this one. Yang Liu's representation of the "Boss" is so similar!!! I had not shown them this slide.

Absolutely great way to show this LP attribute!

The group changed their background after the mess "the black crayon" made. They resolved the problem on their own. A more presentable final work.

I thought the lesson was very transdisciplinary in nature. Students had to think about colour, patterns and symmetry. They used various skills which involved listening, speaking, sharing resources, editing, and collaborating. One of those exciting lessons which inspired me to blog.