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IB is a framework that enables teachers to navigate through  the realm of concepts. It also allows students to imagine , recall , create  meaning and form a solid understanding of the world that they live in. However, concepts are difficult to teach; as teachers, do we always have to explicitly teach concepts? In what ways can we introduce a specific one to them?

I am a PYP teacher. At this time being,  I teach in the Early years. Too often, I can see Early Year teachers’ confuzzled faces about how and when they should introduce and dig deep into concepts.

I stumbled upon children’s books way, way back. As a newbie teacher, I fell in love to the endless possibilities of reading and learning using books not just as jump starters but a medium for me to smoothly walk my way through areas of learning and/or concepts ;such as growth and change, peace, conflict, interdependence, migration, etc. that seem too unreachable for children.

I started out with books that we have at home. I consider them my treasure, and from that small collection, it has grown and is continually growing. I have the new and the old collection. Modern and the not so modern books. But every time I get to read each one of them to children, a new idea pops up, thus, continuous learning not just for the students but for me as a teacher too.

Below is a list of time-tested books that as teachers , I feel and think should be part of our collection.

1.    Butter Battle Book By Dr. Seuss – concepts: conflict and peace

It is an anti-war story; specifically, a parable about arms races in general, mutually assured destruction and nuclear weapons in particular. ( wikipedia)

2.    Love You Forever By Robert Munsch– concepts: growth and change

Love you forever is a canadian picture book written by robert munsch and published in 1986. It tells the story of the evolving relationship between a boy and his mother. (wikipedia)

3.    The Great Kapok Tree By Lynne Cherry – concepts: interdependence, biodiversity, conservation

The great kapok tree is a story about conservation and about interdependence .

4.    A Chair For My Mother -concepts:relationships, interdependence

This is a story about a child, a  mother, and a grandmother who saves every dime to but a comfortable armchair after a fire destroyed everything.

5.    The Lorax By Dr. Seuss– concepts: conservation, environment

This book talks about the environment , the lorax  and how one selfish act made by the once-ler  caused environmental destruction.

6.    From Far Away By Robert Munsch – concepts:migration and conflict

This is a true story about a girl who left war-torn lebanon and migrated to canada. It is a story of a girl’s struggle in a foreign land and how the people around her and an author, helped her go through it.

7.    A Bad Case Of Stripes By David Shannon – concepts: influence, individuality, and understanding

This is a book about a girl’s struggle to be herself. She loves lima beans but her friends don’t so she felt ashamed, different and pretended that she dislikes it too. One day she wakes up to discover thick, solid-colored stripes on her school, the other children tease her and call out colors and patterns which cause the colors on her skin to transform accordingly.

8.    It Takes A Village By Jane Cowen – Fletcher – concepts: culture, relationships

It takes a village is about an older sister asked to take care of her little brother. But while she was busy doing other tasks, the people around the market kept  their watchful eyes on her little brother.

9.    Amazing Grace Series By Mary Hoffman – concepts: relationships, understanding, perspective

A series of books that tell about the life of a girl, grace ,on how she got through the different challenges in her life and how her family helped her along the way.

10. The Sneetches – concept: societies (discrimination)

This book discusses discrimination between races and cultures. It shows  dr. Seuss’s opposition to antisemitism.

The list could go on and on. And to answer the question I posted above, yes, we do have to at one point introduce the vocabulary to children. But we do not have to always do the explaining. If we introduce and embed concepts through stories, inquiries, and well-planned activities, then children will figure it all out  and eventually get the deeper meaning of what we want them to understand.

Hazel Ann Barbasa

Sekolah Bogor Raya


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