Month: August 2016

The Power of Professional Learning Networks

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We are, by nature social beings who are constantly trying to make sense of the world through our interactions with others. It is therefore no surprise that we learn best when we learn from and with others. As educators, taking an active role within a professional learning network can be beneficial for our professional development. Below are some reasons why networking with fellow teachers in your region or around the world would be beneficial and some suggestions on how to begin.

Professional learning networks are important to educators because:

  • we can share each other’s practices and hear each other’s stories to avoid local blindness
  • we keep up with change, innovation and technology as we use technology to enhance our networks.
  • we have a place to reflect on our practice and improve it. Feedback from others will be helpful for reflection to improve our teaching and learning practices
  • we can build shared understandings of concepts and topics that are being discussed within the network.

To start networking and to maintain your network the following platforms are suggested for you:

  • Blog: The most ideal platform to share current practices, not only for your inner circle but also to wider audiences (unless you prefer to set it up to be private)
  • Twitter: Create a special hashtag for your community conversation which will empower communication or join a conversation on twitter using some popular hashtags e.g. #edchat, #pypchat etc.
  • Facebook: Great for keeping in touch with others since many people have Facebook accounts. Create a Facebook group for social bookmarking and for sharing resources in your network.
  • Google+: Follow famous people, join a community, keep updated on popular topics using the power of Google apps including Google hangout, Youtube, Blogger and Google drive.
  • Flickr/ Instagram/ Pinterest: Great visual galleries for your network use.
  • LinkedIn – professional learning network platform which provides a more formal look and context.

Personally, I’d suggest a blog as a good starting point for a professional learning network. It’s one of the reasons why we started this PYP Dunia Blog…how about you?

Yan Yulius – PYP Coordinator at Sekolah Ciputra


Making the PYP Happen in the Library

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Libraries play a central role in the implementation of programmes at any school. In an IB school, the library promotes and supports the teaching and development of transdisciplinary skills, international-mindedness, the IB learner profile, and PYP attitudes and concepts. It connects with the whole school and community to ensure access to information on global issues and diverse perspectives. In addition, the teacher -librarian collaborates with class teachers to help students acquire the information literacy skills needed as inquirers, lifelong learners and readers.

As a new teacher-librarian, I wanted students and teachers to view the library as a hub of learning. With this in mind at the beginning of this academic year, I collaborated with teachers to host a library orientation with each class from PG B until PYP 6 as part of our way to promote widespread use of the library. The big idea behind this activity was to shift everyone’s mindset about the role of the library in students’ quest for answers to their inquiries.

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Together with class teachers, we developed a variety of learning engagements in the library. The planning and teaching were done collaboratively with teachers at all year levels to ensure the success of this event.  Learning engagements included a library tour, a scavenger hunt, watching a movie about the library, creating signs to display the essential agreements in the library, listening to stories and many more.

By Merry Inggarwati/ PYP teacher librarian at Sekolah Ciputra


The Joy of Learning

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“Red, yellow, and blue are great alone, but when you mix them you create something beautiful. This is how lasting friendships are formed.  Two individuals coming together to create something beautiful -FRIENDSHIP” – Maribel Siems

Our current central idea is about tolerance of different characteristics supports people to interact with others and build friendships. Therefore, we conducted an activity where the students could work together and explore science in an artistic way. It is amazing to witness how one activity can stimulate five trans disciplinary skills.

  1. Social skills

Students learnt how to work together with their friends to create a beautiful artwork: friendship wreath. They placed their hands on one primary color and then held hands with their friends to create new color.

  1. Self-management skills

Students learnt to play safely, not to smear the surroundings and their friends.

  1. Thinking skills

Students thought of different colors they could make using those primary colors. They also

learnt how to make a certain color brighter or darker.

  1. Research skills

Students were curious to find out what color would come if they mixed certain colors.

  1. Communication skills

Students communicated to each other and to their teachers about the result of the color mixing.

 At the end, they might not remember what the lesson was, but I believe they remember the joy they had when they learnt.

Sheila Widya Laksmi

Homeroom Teacher of EY 2 Jupiter – Sekolah Victory Plus

Making Concepts Visible

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For a long time I thought that concept-based learning was an idea that was too vague to implement, until I participated in an IB “Concept based Learning” in-school workshop back in 2013. The workshop itself didn’t answer all of my questions but it brought me to my own conclusions related to my queries about inquiry based learning. Here is some of what I’ve learned. To make an inquiry model work in your classroom you need to focus on concepts rather than outcomes within teaching and learning and in order to engage students you must make these concepts visible in your classroom.

One strategy that I use is to create a concept chart. On the chart I put the concept of the day (micro concept) and the key question.  This becomes the focus for my lessons rather than a single objective.

“Tune in the learner into a concept, not a topic”. Kath Murdoch

This is one of my favorite quotes which inspires me to ensure that I start every lesson, by introducing the concept and saying, “Today we’re going to learn about this concept…”  I usually show them the concept on the chart and then I continue by stating the key question.  “So by the end of today we’re able to answer this question….”sc 1

By using this routine, students are more focused on the targeted concept to understand and to explore during the lesson. By making it visible, we can always refer to it anytime. Since it’s only one word, it’s easier for everyone to stick to this idea.  Of course, in order for students to do this, they must be familiar with the key concept in relation to this related/micro concept.

A follow-up strategy is to list all the related concepts under the key concepts, again for the purpose of always referring back to it and showing that we’ve learnt about it.

By using this simple strategy to make the concept more explicit and visible in the classroom, I think the teaching learning in my classroom is improving. We’re no longer trapped within routines focused on knowledge and skills. Instead the exploration of concepts becomes wider and students’ understandings are becoming deeper.

I’m currently teaching Visual Arts and this approach is still relevant in my art lessons. I hope it’s useful for you too.

Yan Yulius – PYP Coordinator at Sekolah Ciputra Surabaya.

Our Tuning In Activity – Where We Are In Place and Time

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To help students connect to the unit: Human migration is a response to challenges, risks and opportunities, we started with students’ prior knowledge and experiences. This is what we called “tuning in” stage. The aim of tuning in is to get students thinking about what the unit is about.

What did the students do at the “tuning in” stage in this unit? This is what they did; they were asked to move to other classes. They had to gather with different teachers and students from other classes. In the new class, students studied with their new friends and different homeroom teachers.

The next day, students were given a chance to choose which class and activity they want to join. After they had finished with the activity, they came back to their own classroom and shared their feelings when they were forced to move to other classes and when they chose where they wanted to be.

Finally to get students to tune in is to reflect. Some guided questions were given to help students shared their feelings and experiences. Below are the questions:


  • How did you feel when you were forced to move?
  • Why did you think it happened?
  • What  were the changes?
  • What did you do to adapt to the situation?
  • How did you feel when you have a freedom to choose where you want to be?


Most of the students said that they were shocked, confused, and sad when they had to move to other classrooms. But when they were given freedom to choose where they wanted to be, they were so excited. They also were able to come up with ‘migration’ in our class discussion. Bravo kiddos!

Students did a reflection about the tuning in activity.

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Irma Mustafa

Homeroom Teacher of Grade 5 Barito



ICT Integration into Inquiry in Year 3

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This article highlights year 3 students inquiry into migration and exploration through inquiry led personal central ideas and action through ICT integration. 

“When you’re curious, you find lots of interesting things to do.”- Walt Disney

‘How the World Works’ is the trans-disciplinary theme that motivated Global Jaya School’s Year 3 students exploration into the world around them. 

Students began by creating their personal, central ideas that drove their inquiry into a topic of their choice.  They achieved this through using the Tubric model, which guides learners to form student inquiry questions.  

Students integrated ICT by creating personal WIX websites that illustrated their line of inquiry. 

Here is an example of a student’s work. (use this as a sample for the blog site of what year 3 students did to show their learning)
Anna  R. Cottrell Year 3 teacher  Global Jaya School

Connecting and Cultivating Relationships with Students

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By: Corita T. Silapan, Grade 5 Class Teacher and Level Head, BINUS SCHOOL, Simprug

During my first year of teaching primary children, I was very strict.  As a new teacher in an exclusive school for boys, all immensely rich and spoiled brats where some come to school in a helicopter and with at least two bodyguards because they are sons of the president, senators or congressmen, I was warned by some of the senior teachers. I lived by the principle “First impressions last”, and my understanding was students need to get that impression that I am very strict on the very first day of school. By that I have to make sure that they get my message: “You have to be quiet every single day. You can only talk if I ask a question.” My classroom was like a military camp – every single noise made during individual activity was dealt with seriously.  My lessons were straight to the point, meaning, there were no segue, purely business.

Purely business.  That was my relationship with my students was like. No personal conversations. No sharing of experiences. No storytelling. No connections.  I admit I was quite satisfied because I was not getting tired from teaching. Noise gives me migraines. I knew there was something missing, but I did not dwell much on the thought. When the school year ended, I celebrated. I thought I was successful as a primary teacher. The following school year opened, and most students were visiting their former teachers. No one came to my class. That hit me hard. I thought I must have misinterpreted the senior teachers’ warning. True enough, I did.

Fast forward. Like any other stories, I’m sure you can surmise what happened next. There was total transformation. Through the years, I have developed a stronger personal connection with my students and vice versa. I read books and articles on fostering positive student-teacher relationship.  I learned to praise students; be sensitive to their individual differences; include them in decision –making; give them support and constructive guidance; listen to their stories of fear, anxiety and happiness; and share my own personal stories with them. It is always noisy during class discussions, but I call it “positive noise.” It still gives me migraines, but I always have paracetamol or mefenamic acid on hand.

I want to share the most successful learning engagements I’ve done so far in terms of “getting personal” and being more connected with my students. Most of them are related to our units of inquiry:

Grade 1, Who We Are:

We were learning about family traditions, and I made a book titled “When I Was A Little Girl”. It contained information about our family activities when I was young. I also included some of our real family pictures depicting the activity. The grammar focus for this unit was past tense form of verbs, and I was able to link it to the unit.  For every page of my book, there was one sentence about an activity I did with my family when I was young. For example, “When I was a little girl, I went to the beach a lot”, “When I was a little girl, my father taught me how to play chess”, “When I was a little girl, I slept every afternoon because my parents said it would make me tall.” While I was telling the story, the children giggled and whispered to each other. They couldn’t believe seeing photos of me while I was young. I gave the children their chance to share their family practices among each other, and I was glad to witness the learning engagement that transpired- children all happy and excited.

Grade 2, Where We Are In Place and Timebinus 1

The focus of this unit were choices and decisions involved in a journey, changes experienced because of a journey, and impacts of journey on individual. I made a slide presentation of my journey to Indonesia, the first country I’ve ever traveled to. My slide presentation had the background song “Journey” by Lea Salonga and the students were surprised to know that the singer of Mulan’s theme song is from my country, Philippines. I shared with them why I made that choice (later on they learned that one of the reasons is “economic”) and the changes I experienced such as cooking and doing laundry on my own, learning to speak Bahasa Indonesia, living in an apartment for the first time, and having to adjust to the Indonesian culture. The students were shocked to know that it was my first time to ride an airplane! After the discussion, many of them approached me and asked me to tell them more stories about my journey. They asked how I like living in Indonesia. I reckon they were happy to hear the positive things I said about their country.

Grade 4, Who We Arebinus 2

Last Christmas with my father (Showed this photo to my students)

I am not sure whether my deceased father would be pleased or vexed with me for always using him as an example in this lesson. This unit is about body systems and impacts of choices of lifestyles. I would share a personal story to my students of how my father used to be a chain smoker who loved to eat just meat all the time. At the age of 57, he was diagnosed with colon cancer. Two years after, he succumbed to the disease. I think telling the children a real story of the suffering of someone close to me was more convincing and had a more impact on their decision to live a healthy life. There was a lengthy discussion after this as children recounted how their family members also suffered from diseases.

There are other ways of teachers sharing more of themselves and connecting with the children. For example, sharing with the students how your weekend went and asking them how they spent theirs will set a positive mood for the week. The experiences need not be always positive. The students need to know that in real life, there are always desirable and undesirable events. Another example is filling in this activity sheet on the first day of school and sharing your responses with the children (e.g. favourite food, book and childhood memory, an accomplishment I am proud of, person I look up to, etc.). Starting with it will also help shy students open up.  binus 3


It’s been 13 years after that alarming realization, and I have changed a whole lot as a teacher. I still live by the principle “First impressions last” but in a totally different approach – not a commander but a friend, a counselor, a guardian, a mother, and a storyteller to the children. I still celebrate success every end of the school year, and I feel these successes are more genuine.