For our very first PYP unit in 5th grade this year I wanted to provide students with a foundation of generating ideas that could be referenced back throughout the year. In this unit we focused on Where Do Artists Get Ideas? and explored a range of activities leading to the development of unique, original ideas for their own artwork.
Curriculum (PYP Talk)
Our very first class we spent time making a whole class mind map/web showing where ideas come from. Each table discussed it with themselves first and then shared their ideas while I wrote them on the board. This gave us a great jumping off point.
Then we played one of my favorite idea generating games: Quantity of Quality. The idea is to generate as many ideas as possible without worrying about if they are "good or bad." Each table got a few art books, while flipping through them students stopped at images they found interesting and then translated that image into a short phrase, ie man eating fruit, colorful mountains, mom and baby in tall field. The phrase was written on a small paper and placed in a pile in the center of the table. After about 15 minutes I collected all the papers - or idea cards as we called them - in a paper bag. Each student then drew two cards out of the bag and created an artwork in response.
For homework I asked the students to bring in three pictures:
1. An artwork that inspires you
2. A quote that inspires you
3. A photo of something that is your favorite.
With the photos that students brought in for homework, we arranged them onto a bulletin board in class as our class Inspiration Board. I love that this is 100% student generated and that it fills the room with so much inspiration.
On day two I played them this quick video as a refresher from what we discussed last week. Video by fellow Art teacher, YouTube channel: Panthers Palette
Inspiration Around the Room
The purpose of the Around the Room activities, originally developed by Cynthia Gaub, is to provide students with short exploration of media as an introduction to skills and techniques. I thought this would be a perfect set up to use as a short exploration into various sources of inspiration. I created six different "centers," each with a title and a prompt/task for students to complete. They had access to the basic drawing materials. I asked them to label each page with "Artists get inspiration from . . . " I gave them 25 minutes to complete each center and they did marvelously! Here is the break down for each center:
Prompt: Choose an object out of the box. Look at it carefully. Try to draw it as realistically as you can.
*Supply center with a box of still-life objects.
Prompt: Choose a card from the pile and create an artwork that expresses that emotion using only lines, shapes, and colors.
*Supply center with pastels and THESE EMOTIONAL PRINTABLE FLASH CARDS
Prompt: What if your life was a book or a movie? What event would be on the cover or the advertisement poster? Create a book cover or movie poster for your life.
Prompt: Choose a news article that interests you. Create an artwork in response that that article.
*I printed off 10 very short, easy to read, current news articles from Time for Kids. You can find your own or use these
Place your pen on your paper. Close your eyes and scribble for 3 seconds. Open your eyes and think of something you could turn that scribble in to. Create something new from the scribble.
Find an artwork that inspires you, create a new artwork of what it makes you think of (don’t copy it).
* Supply center with a handful of art books
My post-center plan for when the students finish all the activities is to have them choose one of their artworks they made and bring it into a WOW - or finished piece. If finished in time (we will take a few weeks to work on them) the students will present them to the community at their end of unit share day.
Teacher Take Away
I am blown away with the engagement the students are showing during these centers and the artwork that is resulting from these activities. Their creativity is booming! I'm glad we are taking our time to work through them. Some students have been finishing around 20 minutes so I may shorten the time a bit. Overall I am very happy with how this unit is shaping up and am excited to use this as a launching point for the rest of the year.
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
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.
Considering the three parts of the curriculum:
My understanding deepens as I see these questions and connect them with the PYP format of curriculum as I have seen these quite a bit around the school including in our unit plan templates. I don’t think I have enough information about these parts to create a visual representation connecting two of them.
I struggled some to understand the 8 key concepts: form, function, causation, change, connection, perspective, responsibility, and reflection. It helped when I connected it with something that I am familiar with and work with in my classes so I took the basic theme of paint to try and interoperate the 8 key concepts. When I was reading through the key questions and definitions of the concepts I placed paint within the context of them and it greatly helped me to understand and relate to them. For example: What is paint like? (how can we describe it’s qualities?), How does paint work? (what do we need to use it?).
The list of skills we teach was quite overwhelming. Although I know that we teach multiple skills at the same time and so many of them in just one day seeing them all together seems less possible than what we actually manage to achieve.
For now I have an idea of the values and reasons behind the PYP curriculum but I will need more information and examples of the written as well as the taught curriculum to fully understand how it works in action.
Here are my notes from reading the written curriculum section of Making the PYP Happen:
The Written Curriculum
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