Month: February 2018

A Start to Student Agency – A Personal Reflection

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The PYP enhancements are continuing to roll out these next few months, all of which have helped me stop and think about my students, my classroom, and my school. But one change in particular has had me reflect and question my role as a teacher; that change is the inclusion of the new PYP Learner model, and how our students will grow through their sense of agency.

In the new document “The Learner in the Enhanced PYP,” the IB defines agency as a power to take responsible action, through voice, choice, and ownership. But what is agency? Agency is not something we give students. And it’s not something we as teachers plan for third period on a Thursday, or the last week of a Unit of Inquiry. It’s an innate characteristic that students already have, and we as educators recognize, celebrate, and honor. Awakening agency is recognizing students as leaders in their own learning processes. According to the IB, “agency is present when students partner with teachers and members of the learning community to take charge of what, where, why, with whom and when they learn.”


Okay, but what does that actually look like? How do we as educators actually honor student agency? How can we change our practice to support students and empower their sense of individual voice, choice, and ownership? To start, I began taking a risk in my classroom, and handed over the reins to my students.

Our current Unit of Inquiry fits under the transdisciplinary theme of How the World Works, with the following central idea: life on Earth is dependent on Earth’s position in the solar system. After a trip to a local museum and a little bit of research, students showed interest in the Moon and space travel. Normally, at this point in planning an inquiry, I would use the key concepts, lines of inquiry, and student questions to plan learning engagements. But trying to honor their sense of agency, I did something a little different. I gave the concepts and lines of inquiry to the students, and let them plan our week.

I gave students teacher resource books, and showed them Teachers Pay Teachers. I showed them different tools we have at school. I even let them plan a shopping list (with the understanding that they stick to a strict budget). The only expectations were that they had to choose activities that answered their research questions and helped them deepen their understanding of form, connection, and function through the LOI Earth’s relative position in the solar system. And off they went.

Now, I know what you’re thinking. Katie, are you insane?! These students are too young! How do you know they get the “right” knowledge, build the “right” skills, etc.? Well, these were the questions I was thinking about… But guess what? They took their time, and chose several activities that were better than my original thoughts. They critically compared different engagements, discussing which would help them better understand the CI. One student found a coloring activity, and said “this looks fun and cute, but I don’t think we will learn much from it.” And she chose something else. After they planned and led their chosen engagements, students reflected on their evidence of success. Here are some examples:

“I chose this activity, because we can make your own asteroids, and E’s question was why does the Moon have so many holes?”
“We could eat Oreos and answer K’s question on why the Moon disappears!”
“I want to know how asteroids, comets, and meteors are different. And this app helps me see them! So now I know.”
“I used to think the ISS would be like an airplane, but now I see there is no gravity and things have to be built differently.”

I know that this is only a step in honoring student agency, and no, not every activity went as well the ones listed above. And if I’m being honest, the health food advocate in me is still a little upset that I bought Oreos for my students! But instilling this sense of responsible action is worth a few bumps in the road. It’s worth the uneasy feeling that I’m completely letting go. It’s worth throwing my whole planning process up in the air, and trying something new – even if it completely fails. Why? Well, it’s not because the IB says we “have to” now. It’s because by co-constructing our investigations, we are naturally personalizing education, and cultivating independence, trust, and a love of learning.

So I encourage you all to take a deep breath and try. Give your students a chance to plan a week, a day, or even an afternoon. Give them the outcomes, and see what they come up with. And if it blows up in your face, try again. If education is about bettering our students, then they should have the right to be a part of the planning and decision-making. As PYP educator Taryn Bond states, “who better to know what learning is personally relevant than the students themselves?”

by Katie Stone

Grade 3 Teacher

Bandung Independent School


Sources: International Baccalaureate Organization, 2017. “The Learner in the Enhanced PYP.”


Unit of Inquiry on Jobs

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Our Unit of Inquiry 4, which is under the transdisciplinary theme “How We Organize Ourselves” talks about the kinds of jobs. Our central idea is about people needing specific qualities to participate in the world of work for the functioning of the society.

As a PYP educator, I wanted to prepare my students for careers they will love and thrive in. This study is a challenge, since my grade level partner and I wanted to have something different. Dressing up, show and tell, the use of related videos are the most common ways to explore this unit, but since we are handling Grade 3 students, we opted to let the kids experience the reality in the world of work by building a small community in our classroom like at Kidzania.

We started by letting the students apply for the job post we prepared for them. We also made the application form, which we have related with our Line of Inquiry 2 “Skills, knowledge and personal qualities people need to be successful in their work”.

Here are the job posts available for the first 3 days:

  • Banker
  • Bagger
  • Cashier
  • Waitress/Waiter
  • Cook
  • Teller
  • Security Guard


It was fun and engaging since the kids really thought hard of which job they want and which is suitable for them. Each child has undergone an interview session with the teachers and was asked to explain as to why he or she chose the work.

Salaries were discussed as part of our Math Integration. We have included deductions and bonuses so the students will really work hard once they get the position.


PHOTO: How much did I earn today? Did I get bonus for today?

It is interesting to see that our students came up with a lot of inquiry questions that helped us drive our class inquiry. The questions asked include people’s salary like “Why some work are hard but people get lesser salary?” “Why some work require diploma and some do not?” “Why do we need to work?”

As we moved through the week, the list of work grew in number. Here are the additional jobs that we have explored and they made use of it as part of the role-play.

  • Flight attendant
  • Captain of the ship
  • Ticket seller
  • Doctor
  • Nurse
  • Disc Jockey
  • Teacher
  • Pharmacist
  • Hotel receptionist

Reflection is also an integral part of our role-playing. I personally let the kids reflect about their experience in doing their work. This part also helped the kids understand the hardships that workers go through. It’s funny to hear some of their reflections. Here are some examples that I interpreted from the video reflection they made:

“I realised that it’s hard to be a stock clerk since you need to organize things repeatedly after the costumers bought goods from our store.”

“You need to be patient when you are a cashier since people queue and they buy a lot of things.”

“The work of a security guard is quite scary since he needs to defend the bank from bad people like the robbers.”

These reflections made us realise that work is a serious thing to do. During this activity, my students have shown great responsibility. In the end, everybody realised that jobs require innovation, creativity, and the ability to look at a task and not only see the outcome, but also imagine different ways to achieve them. Also, they realised that not all people are working for money. Some of the people work to become famous, some are for their spiritual beliefs, and some are for their family or for passion.

This activity also helped our kiddos when they finally visited Kidzania Singapore last February 1, 2018.


tuning in global indo

By Marilou De Leon

Grade 3 Homeroom Teacher

Sekolah Global Indo-Asia

STEM Integration into the Unit of Inquiry

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In our current Unit of Inquiry, our classroom is exploring the transdisciplinary theme of How the World Works where we are focusing on the central idea of how Energy may be converted, transformed and used to support human progress.

When we dissected and discussed about the possibilities of the things that we will be exploring more throughout the Unit of Inquiry, we found out that we will explore things that are more related to Science and Math. Then, we met STEM.

STEM is an approach of learning focusing more on Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics. Both Science and Mathematics are a part of the PYP curriculum framework, and these subjects are going to be our subject focus for this Unit. Technology and Engineering can be seen as the applications of knowledge that we are going to do throughout this Unit.

Tuning In

In the classroom, we started off by exploring about the different forms of energy sources. We had discussions about the different energy sources, the advantages and disadvantages of each energy source. This is where we apply the knowledge and understanding of Science.

tuning in global indo.png

Going Further

As we explored more about each energy source, we observed about the process of energy distribution process from the power plant. During this stage, we discussed and brainstormed about how each power plant can have different shapes and how the shapes are related to the energy source. We agreed that a reliable power plant should have a strong construction, in order to distribute the energy from the power plant.

We challenged ourselves to create a strong construction building, which can hold a thick book in our classroom, using Popsicle sticks and tapes. This is where we apply the understanding of Mathematics related to 2D and 3D shapes, as well as the knowledge application of Engineering.

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Taking Action

Upon understanding the process of the energy distribution, the transformation and creating model from 2D to 3D shapes, and building strong construction, we are ready to create our own city and think of the possible power plant to put in our own city.

We have used the application of Tinkercad to create a 3D model of our city along with the energy power plant. This is the time where we apply our knowledge and skills of Technology.

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During the process of exploring and understanding this Unit, we have found out that in using STEM integration into our Unit of Inquiry, we have experienced more learning and application of more skills in the learning engagements. We have not only used our research skills, but we also used communication and social skill in working together – as a team in creating a sustainable city with a sustainable energy source.

Written by:

Marina Tri Hastuti

Grade 5 Homeroom teacher

Sekolah Global Indo-Asia

Fun with Lights

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Light, for most children, this word means sun and lamp. In my Kindergarten 2 class, children have also presented the same meaning about light, which is under the transdisciplinary theme ‘How the World Works’. In the beginning, when we set the classroom as dark as possible, students entered the room scared but excited. Then, we asked them to put on their shoes and tidy up the toys, etc. As a result, they found it difficult to execute those jobs because they could not see. After a while, we turned on the lights and started the discussion about the situation that they have just experienced.

The discussion has shown their prior knowledge that lights come from sun and lamps. Next, we explored the sources of light and they realized that it is not only the sun and lamps that could give lights. We also extended the discussion about natural and man-made sources of lights. Finally, students came up with their own words that from man-made sources of lights, we could turn on and turn off the light.

We also integrated this understanding with Math, under the Measurement strand, where students have measured the size of their own shadow. In pairs, they worked together for this task. After a few hours, students did their shadow size measurement again to compare their findings. They used the term shorter and longer to explain the results. The students also created their abstract shadow drawings using plants and leaves, as part of their Art learning experiences.

The children had fun in this Unit of Inquiry. They even read the book “The Black Rabbit,” which is a story about shadows. The students made the cover for this story. They applied their artistic sense and skills in making the cover using playdough, coloured paints and other materials that come from their ideas such as straws, colourful rice, stones, etc.  In the end, students have learnt the use of lights that aside from seeing, it can also be for entertaining – like for shadow puppet and light dancing.


By Dian Anggraini

K2 Homeroom Teacher

Sekolah Global Indo-Asia


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The field trip this time hosted by Godong Ijo presented some of the programs that encouraged students to observe and capture the knowledge shared during the day. At the beginning of the program, Godong Ijo presented a short movie on saving water, throwing thrash into the bin, reducing air pollution, and recycling. Through this short movie, they were brought to an idea on how they can help our planet. Next, the students were taken to a place where they made a few projects. They decorated a pot made of coconut fibers with some coleslaw sees and grinded coconut fibers to plant them in. Another one was a bamboo pencil box decorated with some seeds according to their creativity. Guided by Godong Ijo, the students also had a chance to plant the ashoka plant in a pot which they were able to take home. As part of the interdependence between plants and animals, the students were taken to a turtle and ostrich’s cage where they could get some of the plants (morning glory) and feed them, with assistance from the Godong Ijo staff. Then the tour guide took them to a place a where they could see many kinds of trees planted at Godong Ijo, and the benefits of these plants to other living things. At the end of the tour, the students were introduced to the vertical garden.

After the Field Trip, Year 2 students who engaged in it are more likely take part in similar behaviors outside of school. They are showing enthusiasm in experiencing growing and caring for their own plants in the school yard. Some of the students even came up with their actions on how plants affect the environment by creating dioramas and presenting them to their classmates.

Mandarin Integration

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Reception students have been learning to examine the use of body language and facial expressions to express basic feelings. They also learned the Mandarin phrases for expressing basic feelings.

During one of the learning engagements, students were asked to observe various pictures of facial expressions and hand signals. Each student then chose 5 and matched them with the appropriate Mandarin phrase to describe the feelings being expressed. Students demonstrated that they are thinkers and communicators during this activity.

Year 1

Year 1 students have been exploring how and why pinyin is formed a certain way. They learned Mandarin terms for various animals and discovered how to write it properly in pinyin.

For the summative assessment, each student chose 2 of their favorite animals and wrote the Mandarin terms in pinyin.  Students had a lot of fun finger-painting the terms. Students showed independence and creativity during this activity.

by Ibu Bonita

IB Learner Profile in Literature

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Since the beginning of the school year, year 4 (4A & 4B) has been attempting to find a new way to truly learn all the IB Learner Profile. I wanted the learner profile attributes not to be just words, but to be connected to real thoughts and emotions.  To achieve this goal I chose a book that embodied all these ideas, Wonder by R.J Palacio. I had the opportunity to read this book to a previous class and was blown away by the quality of its storytelling. What makes this book so genuinely remarkable is it’s ability to create empathy for what all the characters are experiencing throughout the story. The main character Auggie Pullman already or grew to be a perfect example of all ten learner profile attributes in action. The book also gave us the chance to know why secondary characters acted the way they did.  All the characters were fully actualized with their strengths and weaknesses. They made good choices and bad, but in the end, they were able to reflect on why they sometimes showed cruelty rather than kindness.


“When given the choice between being right or being kind, choose kind.”

As the year progressed, we were excited to learn that the movie version of Wonder was coming to Indonesia soon. With the kind support of Year 4’s parents, we all went to see the movie together. It was magical seeing the characters we loved to come to life on the big screen. In the end, most Year 4’s thought the book was better, but still truly enjoy the movie adaptation.


We are presently reading the book sequel Auggie & Me. Again we are getting an opportunity to experience Auggie Pullman through the eyes of other, Julian, Christopher and finally Charlotte.  We will continue to read this book through the rest of the school year. Ideally, students will continue to enjoy and learn the valuable lessons that these extraordinary books teach us. The IB Learner Profile have a good friend in Auggie Pullman

by Pak Robert