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.
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