How we express ourselves
In our grade 1 “How we express ourselves” unit of inquiry, we explored the central idea, “Storytelling represents different cultures and sparks the imagination to improve one’s creativity”.
To provide an opportunity for our grade 1 students to express themselves, students came up with a performance of the famous story, “Peter Pan”. We, teachers, chose “Peter Pan” because we wanted the students to always remember not to grow up too quickly and always dare to dream.
Auditions were held and every one of them gave their best. Roles were picked and practices started immediately. The students had to practice every day. We knew they were tired but yet never once did they complain. The students took pride in their roles and worked hard to memorise their lines.
The shy children were able to develop their self-esteem and confidence. In all our practices, the children were encouraged to listen to their friends while they were performing and share their ideas and thoughts.
We also encouraged the children to act out a range of emotions and this enabled them to understand different feelings and show empathy to others.
During practices, the children had a chance to improvise and do pretend play. They also came up with solutions to some disagreements in roles and responded imaginatively. For the finale of the show, the children had to sing together and that required cooperation.
Doing this unit of inquiry gave us teachers also an opportunity to collaborate with other specialist teachers. We had our visual art colleague helping us with the props. Our music teacher taught the students various songs. Our grade 1 students also learnt different movements from their dance teacher.
Our students really gave out their best in performing the “Peter Pan” show. And guess what? All of the students performed professionally. As their teachers, we felt goose bumps while watching them performing.
By its very nature, drama has the ability to create strong friendships between children as they laugh, learn and grow together. We are proud of all our students as they gave their best in expressing themselves through their “Peter Pan” play. We hope that there will be more opportunities for them to express themselves.
Grade 1 students involved in the “Peter Pan”
Roch Hazel Olivia and Ferida Sari Hasaputri
Grade 1 Teachers
BINUS SCHOOL Simprug
In our transdisciplinary theme, “How We Express Ourselves” with the central idea “A variety of signs and symbols facilitates communication,” the grade 3 students learned that communication takes place in many shapes and forms.
Sign language was one of the specialized communication systems that the grade 3 students learned. The students were able to know that sign language is being used by deaf and mute people, and it helps them as well as their teachers to communicate effectively and efficiently. They also learned that sign language is a natural and beautiful language that can be shared in ways that foster understanding and respect, acts as a bridge between two people who speak different languages, and gives them a sense of empowerment because they are being able to communicate which then leads them to being happier. The most important thing that the students realized was learning sign language gives them a chance to empathize and show appreciation to others, particularly the deaf and mute people.
On February 13, 2017, excited voices echoed through the 5th floor foyer. They were the voices of the students from Sekolah Santi Rama, a school in South Jakarta for the deaf and mute. The students smiled from ear to ear and couldn’t contain their excitement when they entered the grade 3 foyer. Upon entering one of the grade 3 classrooms, most of them said “Wow!” and they were pointing at the computers. Their eyes were wide open, wandering around the classroom.
While doing the socialization, BINUS SCHOOL Simprug students found out that some of their visitors have cochlear implants and hearing aids while others can hardly hear at all. They also learned how their teachers manage to accommodate all of their students by alternating between the use of sign language and oral speech when giving instructions.
After the socialization, an activity on teaching sign language followed wherein the BINUS SCHOOL Simprug students learned some words in sign language to the delight of the children from Sekolah Santi Rama. Then, they were divided into groups: two Santi Rama students and three BINUS SCHOOL Simprug students per group. The students introduced themselves to each other. They pointed out where they live and their birthdays. The students also shared their hobbies using sign language. Afterwards, the children from Sekolah Santi Rama performed the song, “Twinkle-Twinkle Little Star” in sign language along with body language and gestures. The students from Sekolah Santi Rama also did a Balinese dance. They danced gracefully as if they were able to hear clearly the rhythm of the music. They also performed a skit about bullying. The students from Sekolah Santi Rami put up amazing performances!
At the end of the visit, students had lunch provided by the grade 3 parents. They were also given gifts consisting of school bags and stationeries. The children accepted the gifts graciously and said they wanted to visit the school again.
When they left, our grade 3 students shared some of the challenges they experienced. “When they shared jokes and laughed, we were not able to understand them,” said Ryan Khullar, one of our grade 3 students. “When they asked us using sign language, we could not understand because their hands move too fast. We were not able to reply back. They might think that we were being rude,” shared Merry, another grade 3 student. “Today’s visit really touched my heart. We are thankful because we can hear,” grade 3 student Caroline Lee remarked.
This interactive visit was an eye opener for our students, who realized that they have the same interests as people with disabilities. The visit also boosted the self-esteem of the children from Sekolah Santi Rama.
By Martha Carolina
Grade 3 Team Teacher
BINUS SCHOOL Simprug
Four years of teaching the PYP curriculum and attending an IB Exhibition workshop was not enough preparation for what was in store during the PYP Exhibition. The greatest challenge was leaving the students to their own inquiry with only minimal supervision. Not to mention that, in the beginning, personalities clashed within groups. I was almost sure our first exhibition would be a complete disaster.
However one thing I have learned in 12 years of teaching is that there is something new going on each day. Surprises are right around the corner. As the inquiry got underway, the students became more and more engaged in their learning and would often share new discoveries with one another and with their teachers.
For our first year, the theme was HOW WE EXPRESS OURSELVES and the central idea was “Self-expression bridges cultural diversity and celebrates individuality.” Teachers anticipated that students would come up with singing, dancing and theater arts as their topics. But like I said, there is something new to learn every day. We were pleasantly surprised by the topics the students came up with. They ranged from cooking and pottery to sports and social media. This wide spectrum provided such a big pool of information that made inquiry so much richer and more interesting for the students.
Our grade 5 students were out all over Jakarta. They were out interviewing experts and celebrities. They were learning how to cook, paint, make batik and do pottery. They became actively involved in sports as well as playing traditional Indonesian games with their friends and creating computer games. Some groups came up with campaigns on how to use social media responsibly. Another group came up with the slogan “love yourself” to remind people to be themselves.
As I watched this exhibition unfold and as I witnessed my students step out of their comfort zones, I am reminded of my favorite Chinese proverb, “The flower that blooms in adversity is rarest and most beautiful of all”. Indeed, it was a difficult time. Some of them would fall ill along the way. Buckets of tears were shed. Yet many of them blossomed quite magnificently and unexpectedly. As Exhibition Day approached, I was confident that these grade 5 students would be able to share the journey of their inquiry to anyone who cared to listen. I am even more confident that this is only the beginning of the many obstacles they will encounter and ultimately conquer.
Ms. Pat Manning
Homeroom Teacher Grade 5
Mentari School Jakarta
In the unit of inquiry, ‘How we express ourselves’, the Central Idea for the fifth graders was “Celebrations and traditions reflect the beliefs and values of cultures”.
Through this theme, the students discovered the festivities and traditions that occur in Indonesia. Various traditions were found by the children. They revealed that there are a lot of different traditions in Indonesia. Even on a single island, the community may have different celebrations and traditions, highlighting the phrase “Unity in Diversity” within the world’s largest archipelago, Indonesia.
From these celebrations and traditions they found out more about the various forms of traditional food, dance, music, musical instruments, homes, and much more. In addition to this, they looked for the values that are reflected in these existing traditions. Sometimes they were surprised and shocked to see the variety of traditions.
Students used devices, books, magazines and information from parents as sources for learning.
After searching the richness of celebrations and traditions in Indonesia, students also practiced singing, dancing, reading poetry and role-play, which led to a variety of performances. They not only learnt about Indonesia’s heritage, but also had a lot of fun. The whole school community (students, teachers and parents) were invited to witness their joyous learning. With this “Ragam Budaya” (Unity in Diversity) activity, students displayed appreciation for their unique Indonesian culture.
Bahasa Indonesia Teacher, Grade 5
Mentari School, Jakarta
There are multiple ways you can integrate art into your unit of inquiry. You can incorporate it as an expression of human creativity and imagination, or as a form of communication. The latter is the method used in my school’s Program of Inquiry in our ‘How We Express Ourselves’ unit in Year 4.
After categorizing artworks into 1D, 2D, 3D, and 4D dimensional formats, the students saw that art is deeply woven into human life. They saw, for instance, 2D art as accompanying illustrations in every chapter in their school books and 3D creations in their own classroom – items that they usually sit and write on without giving much thought to them. Although that was already a fun eye-opening phase of their UOI, what followed was even more exciting. The students came to a realization that art is a form of communication that transcends cultural and language barriers. One excellent example is the art of illustration or pictures. Trying, with shaky results, to decipher written public signs in foreign languages, they immediately realized that the internationally used text-less picture signs in public places such as airports are a brilliant use of art that is also very effective to convey messages to people from different cultures who speak different languages. As my classroom is currently a home to children of five different nationalities, they discovered that art was also a way to help them understand each other better.
The next excitement was when the students found other purposes of art such as to preserve a civilization’s history, a cultural identity, a standard for beauty, and a medium for product marketing. It was a truly wonderful learning experience for both the students and myself.
At the end of the Unit of Inquiry, I found that integrated art is a superb tool to develop the students’ Communicator and Open-minded profiles. The possibilities for classroom activities where students have to strategize ways of communicating ideas, feelings, or even instructions are limitless and students always come out of every activity with more understanding, with the occasional admiration, of each other and of different cultures.
Meidiana, Year 4 teacher, Jakarta Multicultural School (firstname.lastname@example.org)