The following are four interview questions and answers based on the core values of the PYP. The goal of this was to show my understanding of international mindedness, the PYP curriculum model and its associated elements, address how learners construct meaning, express the practices and principles of inquiry, and identify the roles of reflection and collaboration.
What would I see walking into your PYP classroom?
Walking into my classroom you would see students actively engaged in inquiry. You will notice the students asking provoking questions to not only myself, but also the other students. Each participant will be absorbed in his or her learning activity, which may be different than the next, but all connect to the same experience. The learning will be being produced through experiences, activities, tasks, games, creating, etc. Discoveries are being celebrated and recorded. Students may be working independently, in small groups, or in larger (whole class) groups at any point in time. Each student knows what he or she is doing and why.
On the walls of my classroom you would find information and questions displayed about our current unit. In addition you would see various forms of reflection and discovery evidence related to the questions and lines of inquiry. These provocations would be open ended and globally minded, questions that revolve around large concepts but are broken down for student understanding. Student work fills up most of the display space. The classroom itself has predominately open availability with students accessing their own supplies as needed. Materials are varied and visible.
What is your role as the teacher?
My role as a teacher is more of the facilitator of the classroom. Yes, of course I directly teach content sometimes, but this is more in the manner of modeling behaviors and skills. Most often I guide students in furthering their investigations with the goal of students having independent control over their learning. I introduce provocations that invite questioning, learning experiences, and eventually taking action. I help students develop conclusions and move towards understanding of concepts. I encourage discussions and curiosity through an open dialog and offer suggestions and redirections when needed. I guide students through the learning process by gathering data on what they know and what they have learned so far to better inform their learning experiences and my teaching.
What is your process of planning in your teaching?
The planning process of teaching is not a solitary task; collaboration is imperative. I meet with other members of the school community (team teachers, other grade level teachers, specialists, support staff, and admin) regularly to explore our plans for the learning experiences, assessments, and student’s levels of past, current, and future units. Often I have informal sessions with teachers of my same grade level. We also share planners that can be accessed at any time so we regularly see the result of our own planning combined with others. In addition this is where we share our written reflections so we can continuously work to improve our student’s learning experiences. Planning is not just a beginning, middle, end task, it is a continuous circle that is constantly being informed by students, data from assessments, other community members, and more.
How does International Mindedness influence your classroom?
International Mindedness is one of the core values in my teaching. The plans, activities, and skills I teach within my classroom are based off of international mindedness, which is apparent through the focus of the Learner Profile. These are attributes that are seen in internationally minded people: Thinkers, Reflective, Inquirers, Balanced, Knowledgeable, Caring, Principled, Risk-takers, Open-minded, Communicators. Through modeling, fostering, and by teaching these attributes we as educators can help mold globally respectful, critically thinking, open minded individuals. To do this I am sure to invite an open dialog about different cultures and perspectives, we study and discus important and sensitive issues with tolerance and respect. We also bring this into the activities of the classroom by having opportunities for mother tongue experiences as well as organic developments of language learning. One of the most important parts of International Mindedness is to promote action that is why in my classroom we are continuously striving to develop modes of action where we can not only think and plan solutions but also see them through. By continuing to readdress similar themes throughout their years, students can see similar ideas through different points of view and develop skills and attitudes that will support them through their learning journeys. Finally, in my classroom we not only tolerate but we celebrate differences.
I’ve been intrigued by PYP since I first heard about it a few years ago, and what I had gathered about the programmee suggested that it would fit well with my teaching philosophy. I now discover that this is truly the case because both of them are routed in inquiry based learning. My approach to teaching art is based on Teaching for Artistic Behavior, a methodology that recognizes the student as the artist, the classroom as their studio, and the teacher as the facilitator. Rather than teaching students how to make art, I teach them how to be artists. I use the artists’ habits of mind (attached) as a guide to invite the students to begin thinking and acting like artists while developing technical and creative skills. In my classroom I am but one of the many sources of information, students use their devices frequently to tap the wide knowledgebase of online tutorials and inspirational images, they also often reference each other’s skills as one student emerges as a master of a material or technique. Students move fluidly between working independently, in pairs, or in small groups depending on their interests that class period.
The physical space is a challenge in my classroom. I only teach grade 5 of the primary school (the rest of my classes are secondary) so the art classroom is primarily occupied by the teacher of grades pre-k to 4. Although I have a great relationship with the other teacher, I am not able to set the room up to my ideal since it is not my space. I have been able to put out a selection of materials. It is imperative to me and my teaching for the students to have access to and responsibility over a variety materials. Currently I have three centers open, drawing, collage, and painting. Each of these holds the respective materials for the art form and were introduced to the students so they know how to use and care for them.
The two greatest areas where I feel I am continually developing are assessment practices and classroom management. I believe that classroom management is an always developing practice that will continue to change and adjust based on the students and their rapidly changing needs (and personalities). Assessment wise, I have gained some new insight and inspiration about assessment practices from this course and hope to have those influence my current practices.
The article that we read, Identifying Inquiry in the k-5 classroom, was spot on for me. Almost every point it made I could directly relate to. It is helpful to have the vocabulary and educational speak to articulate the wonderful things that you already know are happening in your classroom. In summary, I believe in the teacher as the facilitator of the learning environment, students as the main drivers of their own inquiry learning, and everyone in the classroom actively engaged in independent investigations both as teachers and learners.
A fellow teacher and I worked together to complete the tasks for this activity which focused on collaborative planning.
First we had to rate how well our school has been doing with collaborative planning in the PYP using the Standards guidelines. Our school does have scheduled regular collaborative planning sessions for each Unit of Inquiry, however as a primarily secondary specialist teacher I have not attended the two that I should have because of time conflicts with secondary obligations. In addition I cannot attend the regular grade level collaboration meetings because I am teaching at that time. I do meet every other week with the PYP coordinator and the other primary teacher which has been valuable for getting the PYP information that I have missed otherwise.
For these reasons it was important for me to work with a 5th grade teacher on this rating task since she is more connected with the primary school than I am. These are the ratings we gave each standard.
In addition we discussed what our school was doing well with the collaborative planning and reflection process, where our future vision for it is, and the positive and negative forces working for and against us. We've compiled them into this bone diagram:
We believe that the top needs of the school in related to collaborative planning and reflection is time - both before and during the school year. In addition the continual building on teacher task loads cause a negative force, to counterbalance this we recommend prioritizing the school needs and releasing that which no longer serve us.
For this activity we were asked to further revise the UOI that we have been working on for the past few weeks, my chosen UOI was How We Express Ourselves for Grade 5.
This was challenging because the actual unit is not something I teach as a specialist, rather I am integrated into the unit. As I went through the activities that were in the unit I did not want to replace them all because I felt that some may be valuable to teach other skills besides those that are based in the arts. I ended up combining my ideas with the current planner in what I hope is a more well rounded unit. The current unit seems heavy on discussion and written reflection, which although is important, seems a disservice to the creating aspect of the arts which are the core of this unit. Hopefully it is more well rounded now. I feel that more adjusting would need to happen in discussion and collaboration with the generalist teachers to truly make an outstanding unit.
In this activity I have developed a performance assessment based on the GRASP model for the grade 5 PYP UOI: How We Express Ourselves.
Goal: Your task is to curate an exhibition for The Pera Museum that reflects at least ten different artworks from different artists that connect under a single theme of a specific idea, emotion, or social issue.
Role: You are the curator of The Pera Museum. As the curator you are in charge of discovering new artists, sharing past artists, as well as developing interesting and cohesive exhibitions.
Audience: Your clients are the owners of the museum and your target audience is the people of Istanbul. All these people have different lifestyles and interests. Your job is to connect these viewers through the art.
Situation: The challenge involves having one specific theme with artwork from modern artists as well as artwork from history (at least 10 pieces total). You should be able to explain each of your selections in a presentation.
Product/Performance/Purpose: You will need to develop a cohesive theme based on either an idea, emotion, or social issue. You will present your exhibition to the owners of the museum (your classmates) who you will need to explain why you chose the theme and artwork included.
Standards and Criteria for Success: A successful result will have a digital gallery of at least 10 images of artwork. This can be create on Padlet, Google Slides, Google Sites, or another digital tool. The artwork must each be from a different artist, some of who are still alive (modern) and some of which are not (old masters). Each artwork must be cited with the name of the artist, the name of the artwork, and the date it was created. Most importantly the artwork must all match a specific theme chosen by you (and set as the title of the exhibition) that expresses an idea, feeling, or personal meaning which you will explain in your presentation.
Extension: Create a piece of art in any medium that fits into the exhibition you have curated showing a unique/original idea while connecting with your theme.
For more information about GRASP look at this document adapted from The Understanding By Design Workbook.
For this activity we were asked to make a mind map of all of our knowledge relating to assessment, then after reading about assessment in PYP we were asked to change or adjust our mind map to reflect our new learning. Although I still like my first mind map, I made a new one that follows the PYP assessment vision. One of the main parts that I did not consider in my first attempt at the mind map was who assessment is for, teachers, students, admin, other teachers, parents, and the school community. Often assessment feels teacher and student heavy. In addition the PYP assessment seems to be observation focused which makes sense for the primary years. As a predominantly secondary teacher I am curious as to how this changes through the MYP and DP programs, my thoughts are that it becomes more student record/reflection based. All in all I feel that I had the same idea of assessment as outlined in the PYP reading but with different connections and formatting.
Assessment as feedback
Assessment strategies and instruments
Approach to assessment
What teachers should be looking for
Types of Assessment
For this activity I will be reviewing the unit How We Express Ourselves for ages 10-11 based on the information from the planner of MEFIS.
• Is the central idea clearly stated?
People express ideas, emotions and reflect social issues through the arts.
The central idea is very direct and concrete while still being open ended and conceptual. It leaves room for broad interpretation while being narrowed enough to funnel the next sections.
• Have appropriate connections been made between the central idea and the transdisciplinary theme?
This central idea is very strongly linked with the transdisciplinary theme. I think a positive aspect of the central idea is how it stays open to all arts as a possibility rather than singling out a specific art form (say the visual arts) which connects with the TD theme in the way that expression has limitless forms.
• Do the teacher questions and provocations reflect the purpose?
The teacher questions do a great job and drawing out more lines of thinking by inviting curiosity into the central idea. I think the addition of the last question is very important as it is a more specific subject in the central idea and needs to be addressed somewhat differently than the more broad terms of ideas and emotions.
• Are the teacher questions clear, open-ended and precise?
The teacher questions are all of the above, clear, open-ended, and precise. They direct the learning yet leave a wide berth for interpretation.
• Are the lines of inquiry appropriate to the development level and interests of the students?
I feel that the line of inquiry “art forms” is vague. The other two seem to have a more clear foundation but the general phrase “art forms” is two broad I believe. Could this be reformed into something like Various Forms of Art, or The Variety of Art Forms, or similar? I believe I understand the what it is getting at but I’m not completely sure.
• Is there a direct link between the concept-based questions and the activities?
I am assuming here that the question being asked is referring to the teacher questions and the tasks.
- Students choose a personally meaningful art piece and will represent this subject through a variety of art forms.
- Students will analyze a piece of art (song, dance, painting, sculpture, etc.) of their own choosing and show their understanding of the artist's purpose. Students will describe the piece of art in English and their mother tongue.
The first task is confusing for me. The students are choosing a piece of art and making a personal connection to it? Following, they are “representing” this subject through a variety of art forms. What is the subject here? The meaning that they connect to the piece with? By representing what is intended? Are the students creating a piece of art? Are they reflecting on the meaning by explaining or are they responding to it? I don’t quite know what this first task is asking the students to do or what an end result would be. I can guess but it would be better to clarify this task.
The second task does a much better job at connecting to the teacher questions as well as the central idea. The task is specific while still being open-ended. I think using just this task would be sufficient enough for the unit as it will take a variety of steps to achieve this task.
• Does the inquiry provide opportunities for:
– exploring significant knowledge
– understanding key concepts and related concepts
– acquiring and applying relevant skills
– developing responsible attitudes
– reflection and taking action?
I believe the unit has ample opportunities for all of the above. The area that could be improved upon is taking action. Although I may be misinterpreting taking action, as when I think of the phrase I consider it making movements to advocate for or defend an opinion, but when I truly break down the phrase it could mean a whole lot more than that. For instance if the student is moved by a work of art they see and then they create a work of art inspired by that one that would be a form of taking action. I would be interested to investigate this phrase and how the PYP uses it more deeply.
• Do the lines of inquiry and learning experiences promote international-mindedness?
I believe that the lines of inquiry and learning experience could certainly promote international-mindedness but I think it would be up to the teacher to make sure it happens. The topic invites a broad discussion but it would be the teacher providing resources that hold international-minded values, history, and experiences that would truly establish the action within the unit. For example if the teacher only shared realistic paintings from the European renaissance , it would greatly limit the student’s experience within this unit.
• Do the learning experiences reflect a variety of appropriate teaching and learning strategies?
This is just part of the list of key learning events. It is exhaustive and a plethora of different activities.
• Does the availability and range of resources support inquiry for all students?
This is difficult to say without seeing each and every resource but as there are a great number of activities, each with supported resources, I believe it is safe to come to the conclusion that there is availability for all students.
• Will the students be actively engaged, and challenged?
Although there is a significant number of opportunities for discussion and reflection, plus some specific engagement activities (field trip, poetry slam, etc) I think more connection with the act of art making could be made.
• Is there room for student-initiated inquiry?
There is a lot of opportunities for personal reflection and developing personal opinions which naturally lead into inquiry. More effort could be made to foster connections and ideas from resources.
• Does the summative assessment link to the central idea?
Students will pick their own favorite piece of art and will describe it using the vocabulary and expressions learned.
I am not sure if this is the only assessment for this unit. If so I believe it is too light as a sole assessment. I notice some other documents in the attachment section of the unit that are more thorough in the concepts and their connection to the central idea. I believe this section needs to be evaluated more closely and rewritten to more clearly define what the summative assessment will be.
• Do the assessment strategies and tools allow for individual differences?
The assessment above offers only a small degree of variation for individual students. See the note above.
• Are the criteria for success in this inquiry clearly identified for both students and teachers?
Each student chooses an art piece and explains the inspiration, the artists intent and purpose of the art
What evidence will we look for?
- Present their piece of art and clearly state what the artist was trying accomplish by this work
- Find the inspiration for the work of art based on the knowledge they have found about the artist, the time period and the situation in the artists' country
What are the possible ways of assessing student learning in the context of the lines of inquiry?
I believe this is a very weak assessment for this unit that is designed with beautiful opportunities for students to investigate the broad forms of art. More appropriate would be a project based assessment that allowed students to express their learning through a variety of forms and showcase the power of the arts.
• Does the assessment allow the teacher to give feedback to the students and parents?
Yes but only regarding the student’s writing ability and understanding of a single artwork/artist rather than the broad questions that are posed in the “teacher questions” section.
Throughout this activity I struggled with the language and terms. I feel that the PYP has very specific vocabulary associated with it but it is not repeated consistently enough. For example question four in this review asked about the “teacher questions” but in my schools planner these were listed under the “essential questions” section and were also labeled as “teacher provocations.” Then in question six it refers to the “concept-based questions.” This change in terminology is making it extremely challenge to get a foundation of knowledge of this programmee. In addition there are different phrases like tasks, activities, learning events, and learning experiences and I am unclear if these are all referring to the same things or these are all different.
How We Express Ourselves
An inquiry into the ways in which we discover and express ideas, feelings, nature, culture, beliefs and values; the ways in which we reflect on, extend and enjoy our creativity; our appreciation of the aesthetic.
3-4 Through play we express our feelings and ideas and come to new understandings. (Function, Connection, Perspective)
4-5 Stories can engage their audience and communicate meaning. (Form, Connection, Perspective)
5-6 Celebrations and traditions are expressions of shared beliefs and values. (Form, Connection, Perspective)
6-7 Images communicate ideas and information. (Function, Connection, Perspective)
7-8 Through the arts people use different forms of expression to convey their uniqueness as human beings. (Function, Perspective, Reflection)
8-9 People can create or manipulate messages to target specific audiences. (Function, Perspective, Reflection)
9-10 Throughout history, people have interacted with each other and communicated using arts. (Change, Connection, Perspective)
10-11 Creating and responding to art develops understanding of ourselves and the world around us. (Function, Perspective, Reflection)
11-12 A person’s behaviour and how they choose to present themselves project aspects of their identity. (Change, Perspective, Reflection)
I chose to investigate this vertical unit of How We Express Ourselves because while reading the other posts in the last activity I found another central idea of the same transdiciplinary theme that sounded very similar to the one I covered. I was curious if this was the case in the rest of the levels. I have found that this was in fact not the case. Most of the central ideas are varied and connect well with the age group targeted. There are three central ideas that are similar, ages 7-8, 9-10, and 10-11. All three of these involve the purpose and meaning of art and investigate why art is made in different cultures and history. Perhaps it is I that needs more clarification on the differences between these three but I feel like more distinction could be helpful.
In addition I noticed that the following key concepts were used in the following amount of levels:
It seems like there could be a more even distribution of the key concepts. Could there by a unit that focuses on how people use art to promote action/activism/change that would focus on the key concepts of causation, change, and responsibility for example. Perhaps by merging one or two of the central ideas I mentioned above that seemingly overlap and developing one or two new central ideas the expand the definition of expression would make this transdiciplinary theme more deep.
How can we ensure a coherent learning experience for our students?
For this activity I chose a unit that closely relates to my subject with the thoughts of making meaningful connections with a familiar lesson. However, I found this just as difficult if not more so because I had to see this unit from the generalist teacher point of view rather than my own as the art teacher. The lines of inquiry were not as I would have written from an art teacher perspective, they seemed chunky and distant from my view of the central idea. Upon further investigating this unit through answering the prompt questions it came together better for me. I used the Making the PYP Happen to clearly define the three key concepts (pages 18-20) and it helped me pull the unit together. Below are my reflections.
Grade 5 (age 10-11)
Transdiciplary Theme: How We Express Ourselves
Central Idea: Creating and responding to art develops understanding of ourselves and the world around us
Key Concepts: Function, Perspective, Reflection
Related Concepts: Creativity, Perception, Bias/interpretation
Lines of Inquiry:
How well does the central idea reflect the concepts identified?
Function – The basis for this idea is investigating how creating and responding to art fits into our society. This invites questions like: What is art? Why do people make art? Why do societies preserve art? The concept brings us to the very core of the function of art in our world – both personally and beyond.
Perspective – Art is a global phenomenon that spans all cultures and societies. By focusing on this concept of perspective it allows students to broaden their opinions by investigating other perspectives, interpretations, understandings, and points of view. Through the central idea we are asked to seek understanding from the world around us as well as ourselves into this concept of art.
Reflection – The students are asked to personally reflect on the art making process before, during, and after by inquiring into what they are making and why they are making it. Extending this to a global scale allows students to stretch their interpretation beyond their scope and reflect on the world around them.
How well does the central idea reflect an aspect of the transdisciplinary theme identified?
Art is the ideal method of expression so this central idea perfectly aligns with the overarching transdiciplinary theme. Beyond that, the central idea asks the student to consider not only how they express themselves through art but also how others use art to show expression. Connecting students to their own internal understanding as well as the larger global perspective.
How well does the unit provide opportunity to explore multiple subject-related concepts and knowledge?
I chose to focus on this unit because it is arts heavy. Although multiple subjects could certainly be involved I think having a unit specifically related to art is important to show its value in societies. Through art we explore all other subjects, themes, and concepts. So although the students may not discuss this unit during their math making, (for example) it does not mean that the artwork created or reflected on is not math related (perspective, form, geometry, etc).
Which subjects do you think are most relevant to exploring the central idea?
This is an ideal unit to bring together the visual arts, theater, dance, and music subjects. In addition history will play a significant role in this unit. Writing as an artistic medium could also be incorporated fluidly.
The writings and happenings of What's Going On In The Art Room, written by Ms. Alisa Blundon in Istanbul, Turkey
Guiding Students to Independence through the Artistic Thinking Process
Class Art Kits | Student Responsibility of Supples
Inspiration Around the Room
Draw Around the Room