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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.

 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 di…

Spontaneity in the classroom

"The ability to work with, understand, and use data has become an essential life skill and requirement for an ever-expanding range of jobs and careers.  Data is everywhere around us.  Ninety percent of the world’s data has been created in the last two years." (Marr, 2018)
Many of my unplanned lessons (happy deviations) have been far more powerful than my planned ones. This post is not touting the idea of ignoring planning. It is just a recognition and celebration of unplanned inquiry and its potential and power.I would like to share a completely unplanned lesson with you. This happened almost a year ago and unfortunately, I do not have pictures and graphs to garnish my words.

Here goes...The vice principal of our school walked into class one day looking very grave. She was clearly upset about something. It turned out that someone in the boys washroom was not following the rules. He was peeing on the floor. As a school, we were all supposed to keep a log of students visiting th…

We need answers to get answers

"We need answers to get answers," a student reflected, as he shared his 3-2-1 after out lesson on measurement. I was thrilled. He often blurts out replies that are not connected with anything in particular.

If was a very powerful lesson I picked up from G. Fletchy's website. The students were engaged and everyone participated with enthusiasm.

I wanted the students to understand the following:

We can :

use different tools to measure things. connect certain measurements with our body parts to make good estimates or get an idea of "howmuchness" of measurement units. (10 cm spans the the outer edge of my right eye to the outer edge of my left eye.)chunk objects - visually break up an objects into parts.

Lesson starter:

A 3-Act lesson with this picture:

Question: What is the difference in height of the children?

What do you notice? What questions do you have?

Then I showed the next picture for 5 seconds.


Nurturing kids' natural ability to question

One day, a student and his dad arrived in class with a little package. It turned out to be an empty nest they had found in their garden. My students eagerly gathered around it to see it up close.

"What if the mummy bird is still looking for it?" one worried boy asked. They all looked at me but I shrugged and kept inspecting the nest.

I was thinking about the lesson ahead and decided to shelf it. Long division could wait. The Grade 3s were learning about natural structures and this was a perfect chance to let inquiry flow.

 I Step Back,   They Move Forward.

We then used SEE THINK WONDER, an often used, yet simple and powerful tool to organize our thoughts.

By now, my Grade 3s are readily able to identify HOT and LOT questions  (higher/lower order thinking).
Their sheets filled up with their wondering. I noticed there were quite a few

What if...
I wonder why...

As each group read out their questions, we slightly tweaked the Why Do You Say That routine to Why Do You Ask T…

Reclaiming the power

I start anew.

Another continent. Hence the pause in my posts as I have been adjusting to a new culture.

I have started work in a school with a distinct culture of its own. As a teacher, my aim is to make my students enjoy learning, and in the process, become confident thinkers and self-directed learners. If I spend my time contemplating how things are done differently and worry about how they should be done, then a lot of energy and time is wasted. It is not fair to the school nor to the students. This time could be better deployed. Blend in with your surrounding community and once you have found your footing,  do what you do best. And in the process, if the school likes what you do, they will embrace it.

As an individual, I enjoy reflecting on my actions. I  think things through (um, often) and try to engage in conversations with others in order to clarify my thoughts. I carefully choose my PLN. I choose not to engage with people who are set in their opinions. What a waste of time! …

Requiem for an educator

There comes a time when teachers may feel like giving up what they do, and take up scorpion petting.  I did. Until I received an email...

Dear Ms. Naini,

I hope you've had an amazing two years. It's me, Abigail Tadamala (from your Grade 5K class) I know that I haven't emailed you in a long time, and I apologise profusely; I have so many questions to ask you like, how's Japan? How are your students? How is your school? How are you? You might not know this, but you are a living legend in the Aga Khan, even in Grade 8. 
I left school in Grade 5, and then I came back in Grade 7. This is my second year back, and no teacher has been as amazing as you! Not a single day goes without you being mentioned. Like just the other day, we were talking about your AMAZING brownies. 
You might be wondering why I decided to write to you after two years; and the reason is that you are one of the most important people in my life. I'm leaving again, this time to Michigan in America, and…

Stretching a strategy

Students were given 6 hexagons to work with.

They had to connect them in a way that made most sense  to them. Nothing new here. We've done this activity many times before but there were three additions to the task which I hoped would make them think
They were allowed to look for case studies and evidence to support their connections.

1) I added one hexagon that didn't quite seem to fit in with the rest. Another one was there to promote cognitive dissonance- a feeling of discomfort which may stop them from making certain connections. (They may not find it easy to digest the fact that some people eat apes.)

2) Next, I asked them to make a generalization about diseases based on the connections they made. What was a recurring pattern that could prompt them to come up with a big idea.

3) And finally, which one hexagon would they remove and what could they replace it with. They of course had to give reasons. We kept asking "So what?" to help them build their re…

Dying to Live

“They gave Pandora a box. Prometheus begged her not to open it. She opened it. Every evil to which human flesh is heir came out of it.

The last thing to come out of the box was hope. It flew away.”
― Kurt Vonnegut

Central Idea : Access to medical care around the world varies and can influence how diseases are spread.
Focus Key Concepts: 



Reflection Provocation We started the unit off by playing the board game PANDEMIC

Central Idea: Access to medical care around the world varies and can influence how diseases are spread. 

We just started off the unit on diseases. We thought of a title we could give the unit that was slightly more inspiring than"Diseases" and came up with "Dying to Live!" just for fun. It seems quite apt one considering there is a continuous battle between our determined yet frustrated scientists and the pathogens that mock them by constantly evolving. In the meantime, we poor people are suffering. Our students hope to put a stop to this pe…