reflection

Maths More Sense

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Connecting and Communicating with Parents

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Now that I am a parent, I find myself asking my daughters everyday whether there is a letter from school or their teacher, and I feel disappointed when they tell me there’s none. I sometimes feel frustrated getting to know how they do in school only during parent-teacher conferences which happen once every term. I yearn to learn more how their week of learning went, what learning engagements took place in the class, how they studied math by using concrete objects or Science by conducting experiments, or what story or novel they are reading in class. I’ve tried many times to get more than the ‘School went well today” response from my children, but I feel there’s more I should know. As teachers, we always tell the parents of our students that we are partners in their child’s education, but are we living up to this slogan? Do we update our partners (parents) on what’s happening to our “business”(child’s education)?

As teachers, we all know that parents need to know what is happening in school with their children. Even if they don’t ask (which is often a relief for us, to be honest), it is our responsibility to do so. The more we keep parents informed about classroom activities or topics their kids will learn, the more they will feel like they are part of this team. When you constantly communicate and connect with parents, you will find that they are more supportive, positive, open-minded, and understanding.  Oftentimes, misunderstandings happen when there are no ongoing or clear lines of communication between the parents and the teacher, and this is what we want to avoid. Below are some of the ways I communicate with parents:

A. Weekly notes or weekly updates to all parents

I send weekly updates to parents religiously. It’s part of my system already – like a grocery list I have to make each week, a routine that cannot be put aside or disrupted or else my family will be hungry, just as how I picture parents who are hungry for information. On the weekly notes, I inform parents of what had transpired in the class during the week. I sometimes make it humorous, or I often begin with the “positives” before moving on to serious matters, just to set a light mood in the beginning (and make parents want to continue to read!). On my weekly notes, I also try to include practical ways for parents to teach their children math. Aside from that, I also offer suggestions on how parents can help at home with their child’s social or emotional learning. Here are some examples:

Good morning. It is just the second week of school, and I am already learning a lot about your children! One thing’s for sure, I have a bunch of active and talkative kids with inquiring minds! J I also know that this year will be a great one, filled with a wide variety of learning experiences for your child.  As a fourth grade teacher, I stress academic as well as non-academic areas to prepare your child for middle school.  I will do my best to encourage good study habits.  I feel these are necessary skills for success in school.”

We are on our third week of school, and it is encouraging to see my 4C students adjust to the routines, procedures, and culture in my class.

In order to know how our kids are feeling and if there are issues that need to be addressed, I hope you can help me by asking your kids how their day in school had gone so we can address these issues together immediately. Here are questions you could ask your child instead of the usual “So how’s school today?” where you get a usual response of “good, not good or fine”. I’ve tried these with my own children, and I get very good responses.

  1. What was the best thing that happened at school today? (What was the worst thing that happened at school today?)
  2. Tell me something that made you laugh today.
  3. If you could choose, who would you like to sit by in class? (Who would you NOT want to sit by in class? Why?)
  4. If I called your teacher tonight, what would she tell me about you?
  5. How did you help somebody today?
  6. How did somebody help you today?
  7. Tell me one thing that you learned today.”

“I encourage you to be involved in your child’s learning. Being involved in your child’s learning is crucial to retention of information.  I’m saying this because I’ve noticed that many children have forgotten about their past math lessons in grade 3 (e.g. rounding off, factor and multiples, times table, long division, etc.). Please continue giving your children math problems at home.  It does not have to be a written exercise all the time.  You can teach math concepts by guiding them in doing hands-on activities (baking and cooking which require measurements, helping in the grocery and compute the items purchased, talk about elapsed time after attending lessons or doing an activity, asking about distance travelled while driving, etc.)  and other activities using materials that are already at home. When I gave math problems last week and this week, many of the students didn’t answer correctly, thus I will be guiding and training them more.  All word problems are discussed and explained in class one by one. The students must listen very carefully while I’m explaining them, and they are required to do corrections.

TIP: Always end your note positively and encourage parents to communicate with you or give feedback. This will give parents an impression that you are open-minded, thus they will do the same.

Please do not hesitate to email me if you have any questions or concerns. Again, I am more than happy to receive feedback from you. That way, I can improve my teaching practices.”

“Because you are an integral part of your child’s education, I feel home-school communication is of vital importance.  I welcome your comments so please feel free to email me. I will also try to contact you as a result of both positive and negative behaviors.”

B. Individual mails

When a child misbehaves, comes to school late or does not submit homework on time, or if a child is absent to school, I will immediately inform and ask parents through email. In the same way, when I see a child struggling with any lesson, I will send word to their parents about it so both of us can help the child. I realized a lot of things after doing this.  One was that students sometimes get confused because a different strategy is being taught at home (let’s say for math, I teach models and some parents teach algebra). I also received responses that helped me understand more why the child is different that day (e.g. sick relative, fight with sibling in the morning, didn’t sleep well at night, etc.). You might ask, “Why don’t the parents inform us about these things?” There could be a lot of reasons, but by being the first to inform or ask, parents will think that you care about their children. This caring and concerned attitude will help you gain their trust.

TIP: Inform parents of positive things too! Send updates or news whenever you see an improvement on the child following your previous email. Thank the parents for their support and help.

C. Anecdotal notes

Anecdotal notes are like short stories that I use to record a significant incident that I have observed. They are usually relatively short and may contain descriptions of behaviours and direct quotes. I am sometimes surprised when the kids say something out of the blue. Slips-of-the-tongue are also something worth recording. They are lines the children say consciously or unconsciously. According to the psychologist Sigmund Freud, slips-of-the-tongue reveal the thoughts and desires of the unconscious mind. I send anecdotal notes to parents whenever I feel there is a need to. By doing so, parents get to know their children better. If there is something serious that needs to be addressed, parents and teachers can work together and plan activities and interventions. Imagine a child saying, “I hate my sister. She always gets whatever she wants.” Will you take this for granted? It could be a call for help. Maybe the child is misbehaving because he/she is jealous of his/her sister, and the parents might not be aware of this.  Below are some examples of anecdotal notes I have written and sent to parents:

“During one of our independent math activities, I notice (child’s name) talking to herself and looking frustrated. I asked her, “What is the problem, (child’s name)?” She replied, “The word problem! Then I have to do ICAS, CLC, and another lesson!  Then I’ll go home late and will do my work again!” (August 16) I hope (child’s name) will have the time to relax and be given the opportunity to do something she really likes like art. “I feel happy doing art,” she said. (August 16)”

“(child’s name) is a cheerful and active boy. He is making new friends and learning to adapt to the routines.  However, due to his talkativeness, he sometimes does not pay attention, and I have to repeat instructions for him. He knows he needs to improve his focus when he said, “I’ll try not to chat too much and focus more.” (Aug. 10). He also said, “This week I will need to improve myself by listening more and not talking too much.” (Aug. 24)”

“I was sitting with (child’s name) in the bus during our field trip and I asked her, “How do you feel being in 4C?” She quickly replied, “Everything is fine, Ms. Corita. My best friend is not in 4C, but it’s okay, I’ll make new friends.” I commended her for her positive attitude. I asked if has any concerns in any subjects, and she replied, “I really think I need to improve in Math.  My mom is helping me.” One time in class when we were doing word problems, (child’s name) said, “Why do we have to do word problems? It’s too hard!””

 TIP: Be positive and objective, and use descriptive language. For example, instead of saying, “John is a follower because he always says he’ll do whatever the leader tells him to do”, you can say, “John once told me that he will do whatever the leader tells him to do. This shows that he is an easygoing child and will do just about anything the other kids suggest.”

There are many other ways to communicate with parents. Other teachers would give a phone call or even communicate through social media (e.g. Facebook, Instagram, WhatsApp), although I strongly discourage you from doing so. Why? We need to draw a line between our personal and professional lives. Face to face communication is still the best, but with the fast-paced world we’re living in, parents are too busy and might not have the liberty to meet you as often as you want. By trying my suggestions above, you are showing the parents that you are more than willing to help and support their children. Moreover, when parents respond and start to exchange ideas or opinions with you, you are making them more confident about the value of their school involvement. With this, they develop a sense of appreciation for the important role they play in their child’s education. Partners? Definitely!

 

By: Ms. Corita T. Silapan

Grade 4 Homeroom Teacher

BINUS SCHOOL Simprug

ctorregoza@binus.edu

 

 

 

 

 

 

Developing Skills Seriously “A caption of learning”

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We have been talking about approaches to learning practice or what we usually know as skills. But how many of us, as teachers or parents, develop these skills seriously? We know there are sets of skills such as social skills, communication skills, thinking skills, research skills and self-management skills and these skills are valuable, not only in the units of inquiry, but also for any teaching and learning that goes on within the classroom, and in life outside of school.

Some important questions about skills have surfaced, like “What do these skills look like in your school?”, “How are they included in teaching and learning?”,  “How are they assessed?” and more. Practically speaking then, how can we make ATLs come alive? ATL skills can be learned, taught, and improved with practice and developed incrementally. They provide a solid foundation for learning independently and with others. ATL skills help students prepare for, and demonstrate, learning through meaningful assessment. They provide a common language that students and teachers can use to reflect on and articulate on, the process of learning.

Year 5 students had a STEAM Project called Teddy Bear Chair Challenge. This challenge teaches students how to make a chair out of paper and tape, strong enough to hold a stuffed animal. Everyone was divided into groups of 3 or 4. First, they gathered the supplies, which were masking tape and 5 sheets of paper. Then they started to build a chair that they thought would be the best and most stable design.

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When they had finally built the chair, they put the stuffed animal onto the chair.

When the chair did not hold the stuffed animal, they needed to find better methods to enable the chair to hold the stuffed animal and they had a second round to discuss and redesign or modify their chair.

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In this learning, students learned to think of ways and methods to achieve the challenge. They learned to make decisions, starting from choosing the stuffed animal’s size, to organizing how to utilize the materials, to designing what the chair will look like. They learned to communicate by building ideas, listening to each other, and working together as a team. A lot of conversations and thinking happened, such as, “What if we make it this way..?”, “We should design it like this because…”, “We’d better make it like this so that…”, and on…and on…

When it came to the end, they completed the reflection sheet. Each of them was encouraged to have a different focus of skills, either those that they had shown during the challenge or those they would like to develop in future learning.

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From their reflection, we can see how the students built their understanding and learned from their own learning process.

They learned that they can also learn from their mistakes. They realized that they needed to share ideas, listen to other group members, make plans and think creatively when things did not work as planned. Those reflections of skills came from their own learning experience and those are authentic evidence of skills they have developed. The beauty of learning and teaching is when we learn also to give trust and give an opportunity to our students to explore their own way of learning and thinking and reflect from it. Now, are we ready to develop skills seriously?

References:

Teddy Bear Chair Challenge – STEAM Projects: https://sites.google.com/site/acessteamprojects/student-created/teddy-bear-chair-challenge

PYP Learning and Teaching : https://resources.ibo.org/pyp/works/pyp_11162-51465?root=1.6.2.4.9&c=585e5870&lang=en#id-ffd0c8fc-e4a7-4805-845f-6b60bd8d2152

 

 

A caption of learning shared by Meilianny Jap – Tunas Muda (Kedoya) PYPC (yap.meilianny@tunasmuda.sch.id)

 

 

 

 

 

Conflict Around Us and How To Be Friend With Conflict

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This article is about my experience as a Year 2 teacher in Sekolah Cikal Cilandak. It is about the Unit of Inquiry : Conflict and How to solve the conflict. Pre-assessment has an important role in Unit of Inquiry because we can see students pre-knowledge about the discussing concept. Teacher provoked the student with conflict to by asking them to draw about their holiday, just with a pencil, eraser and piece of paper for each group that consisting of 4 students in five minutes. However, what happened was not really expected by teachers. It was because only one group of students had a conflict. They were asked for some more pencils and I heard one student said her friend borrowed her eraser. After that, in group discussion, we talked about what just happened, how they feel and who they thought would get turn and they made Y chart about this activity.

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After Pre-Assessment, we move to Tuning-In Activity. This stage, we continued discuss about the conflict that is a quite abstract unit topic. It took a little times for them to understand about what conflict is. We did this activity as follow :

  • We watched videos about conflict and how to solve it.
  • After watching the video, teacher asked a question “What conflict happened among them?” and student said “ The two head monsters are talking all the time and the man can not understand”.
  • Next, teacher asked “What is the solution?” and they answer “ Take turn”. It means that student were getting to know this unit.
  • We also invited Cikal School Counselor as the guest speaker for this topic.
  • For the opening activity, the student were provided with some newspaper and only two clear tapes. They were asked to make a tower in groups consisting of five students with only limited resources and giving only five minutes to finish the task. Suddenly one student shouted “hey, we need more tape” and guest speaker answer “that’s all you got”.

The result was no one success finishing the tower on time. And after that, student discussed what they feel and if they find a conflict. Their answer was ” Not successful, it’s so hard, we did it wrong”. The counselor explained about what conflict is, the type of conflict and how to solve. In Cikal, we solved the conflict with i-message. So they could  express their feeling directly to the person that they had conflict with. Afterwards, student practiced in pairs and make I-message. They were given sample problems and discussed about how to make i-message. They were able to do it and they shared it among the groups. The post activity, students took picture together and appraised to the guest speaker.

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For the reflection, student wrote down what information that they got from the guest speaker. In the post-it paper, they wrote “Give i-message” and some of them wrote “type of conflict”.

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We also asked the student to make journal to any conflict every day, since this unit is integrated with Bahasa Indonesia, they wrote the journal in Bahasa Indonesia. At first, student got difficulties to write a journal, especially about conflict, but after teacher gave some examples, finally student can write their own conflict. They remember any conflict that happened in their home with mom or dad or even with brother and sisters. Teacher kept remaining the student that conflict could happen between themselves. For example “Today, I feel so sleepy and I don’t want to go to school”. The solution of this conflict can be “You can continue sleeping in the car and wake up if arrive at school”.

Those things make the student capable to find out about types of conflict that happened in public area. By being given home project, parents need to involve doing the task. For example, student went to a restaurant or mall and they observed the place and found any possible conflict and its solution that they can think. Surprisingly the student were able to find the conflict and they knew how to solve them. What they achieved makes me proud as a teacher.

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To conclude the conflict and how they can show their responsibility in their community. Student will show their evidence by poster. First step before making the poster, they need to make a plan  what the content is, how they design it and its message. Student is able to make their own design such us “ Stop Pushing” and “ Please Line Up “. After they finish making the Poster, the student will give campaign using the poster to lower level. Student was doing great and can express their opinion and being a risk taker as they able to talk in front of other student.

 

Maylani – Year 2 Teacher (Sekolah Cikal Cilandak)

Y5 PYP EXHIBITION: DON’T BE SCARED, YOU ARE CARED

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PYP exhibition, as we know is the culmination learning process during the primary program before going to the next level, Middle Year Program. It is like a salad which contains mixed vegetables which represent the feeling during its process, such as excited, happy, tired, bored, satisfied, nervous, and relieved.

In this 2018, Sekolah Cikal Surabaya has the second Y5 PYP Exhibition with the current UOI “Sharing the Planet” with the central idea of “Children worldwide encounter a range of challenges, ranges, and opportunities”. From this central idea, students of Y5 are divided into five groups and each of them came up with five smaller topics which are juvenile delinquency, child marriage, learning disabilities, game addiction, and child trafficking. In order to help the groups, there two mentors for each group that will help them during the process.

It is long processes which last for around 8 weeks starting from January to March. All the processes are referred to the IB inquiry cycles, tuning in, finding out, sorting out, going further, making conclusion, and taking action. This long learning journey involves not only the students but also mentors, teachers, parents, and communities within and outside the schools. Students also apply their transdisciplinary skills.

In the tuning in stage, students activate their prior knowledge about what challenges that children all over the world have. Students created a mind map to list down the issues children have to deal with. In order to enlarge students’ knowledge on the issues, the teacher also showed a number of videos related to the topics discussed, such as street children in Jakarta, the different access of education between two Indonesian kids in Jakarta and Papua, child marriage and its dangers, child trafficking, children sexual abuse, child labor, UNICEF, bullying, and other issues. After watching the videos, students gave their opinion toward what happened in the video to the children. In order to deepen students’ knowledge on the issues, students observe some pictures and wrote their statement, opinion, feeling, and any ideas they have regarding to the pictures provided.

 

Figure 1 Students are doing tuning in on the issues of children’s rights and challenges

After the process of tuning in, students go to the next step which is finding out the information related to the topic chosen. Each group has concerned on one issue they want to study deeper, students with the facilitation of mentors started to find out and conduct a number of research to answer their inquiry. Doing the literature review through searching from the Internet, reading newspaper, book, and magazine. From this activity, students apply their research, ICT, and literacy skill. Students learn how to find the reliable information, avoid the hoax that is widely spreaded in the Internet, and develop their plagiarism awareness as they are required to paraphrase the information they got instead of copy-paste.

 

Figure 2 Mentoring process during PYP Exhibition preparation

 

Figure 3 Students are doing research and promoting ICT skill on the related topic

Not only doing the literature review from a number of sources, the process of finding out the information is also conducted through the field research in which students directly observe and see through doing a field trip, inviting guest speakers to be interviewed. This is expected that students promote their social skill as students have to meet and interact with new people outside their circle. Students have experienced a lot of activities outside and inside the classroom, go to UPTD Kampung Anak Negeri-a government office which concern on the protection of street children in Surabaya, go to UNICEF, PPA Polrestabes Surabaya, Lembaga Perlindungan Anak, and Sekolah Cita Hati Bunda (a special school for children with special needs) invite Save Street Children Surabaya as the social organization concerning on the street children in Surabaya and many other cities in Indonesia, invite the obsgyn to know the danger of child marriage from the medical point of view, invite the dyslexic expert from Dyslexia Parents support group. Some groups also distribute questionnaire enrich their data.

 

Figure 4 Students are doing field trip to collect the data

After having all the data, students do sorting out in order to sort which data can answer which lines of inquiry.  The results of sorting out process are in the form of various products, pictorial graphs, poster, comic strips, animation, games, and many others. Students learn how to explore their creativity in creating a number of products to be displayed.

 

Figure 5 Students present their final product

In addition, this is continued by the going further process by doing research on the new inquiry that students have after having long processes of inquiry. In this process, students strengthen their finding in the previous research by doing more research on the related topics, such as distributing questionnaire, interview society, or find the relevant sources that support them find more info and answer their inquiry.

After that, students make conclusion as well as taking action. What students can do as their action. It is various based on students’ initiative, doing campaign via self-made animation, campaign through poster, sticker, bookmark, games, drama, hip-hop dance, and student-made song entitled Don’t be Scared You are Cared with the lyric as follow:

All children in the world

Have rights don’t be scared

As you have right to be cared

We all have hope show your smile to the world

 

We have the action so please listen

Children need protection

We have the action so please listen

Children need protection

So we will be shining bright

 

Rights for everyone

Education number one

Be nice and no lies

No more kids’ cries

Love and care so kids will rise

 

We have the action so please listen

Children need protection

We have the action so please listen

Children need protection

So we will be shining bright

Don’t be scared

Don’t be scared

Don’t be scared

You are cared

 

After the long processes, the PYP Exhibition presentation is held on 14-16 March 2018. Parents, teachers, students, and other IB schools are invited to come. In this moment, students show their understanding, communication, and social skills in presenting their learning journeys. I am really proud of them when they can confidently present to the adult and answer their questions very well in comprehensive ways. Being prouder is when the students of Y5 can present the materials to the younger kids, making some adjustment on the language usage, body language to take care of their younger friends.

In this process, I am as their teacher learn a lot from them. A lot of mentors also say that they need to learn more on the topic, they are like doing thesis again. Tired yes, but the satisfaction when we can be part their success is priceless.

 

Written by: Ika Fitriani – Y5 Homeroom Teacher – Sekolah Cikal Surabaya

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.”

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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?”
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“We could eat Oreos and answer K’s question on why the Moon disappears!”
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“I want to know how asteroids, comets, and meteors are different. And this app helps me see them! So now I know.”
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“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.”

Solving Problems The United Nations Ways

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Another school year is about to end.  As an IB teacher, it is a necessary to look back on the school year that was and reflect on the best, as well as the most challenging practices that you and your kids went through.  It may not always seem like it, yet I believe that the most challenging tasks make the most effective learning experiences.  I am honoured to have been given this privilege of sharing a glimpse of one of my most rewarding and productive performance tasks in Year 5 this year.  

Unit 5 embraces the transdisciplinary theme, “Sharing the planet,” with the central idea: People can establish practices in order to sustain and maintain the Earth’s resources and with the following lines of inquiry: (a) the limited nature of the Earth’s resources, (b) personal choices that can help to sustain the environment, (c) reusing and recycling different materials, and (d) reducing waste.  Planning and preparations are the most taxing part of teaching in an IB school.  PYP planning and preparation have this trick of making you begin thinking of an end in your mind.  Yes, from the scope and sequence, I had to plan for a summative assessment involving knowledge, skills and attitudes that I would like my students to learn and achieve, which should also be anchored to the writing genre of that unit.  And since it is not only for my personal stand- alone planning, it has demanded a collaborative effort among the other teachers in the team.  As a result, ICT, Maths and UoI have been been supporting our English performance task assessment.

Persuasive writing is not very popular among students.  For one, they are required to present them orally, after writing it. Having these particular students 2 years in a row gave me the opportunity to get to know them well and see what more they can do to let them push themselves beyond their limits.  I know it will be a big challenge, but it is going to be worth it.

I still remember the day when I first broke the news to them that they are going to engage themselves in a MUNA simulation as their Unit 5’s performance task.  Blank faces. Clueless stares. Unending reactions of ha? I can still vividly remember the expressions from the faces of every student in my class that day. The reaction didn’t change even after I explained what it was about.  Reactions only changed  days after we started planning and preparing for it.   

MUNA simulation is a simulation of the United Nations Assembly in solving various world problems. Since the unit is about sustaining an maintaining Earth’s resources, I assigned everyone in a group and every group to a country.  Their task was to research for at least 3 of their country’s natural resources problems.  From those 3, they had to come up with just 1.  And from that, as a group, they had to think about possible and effective solutions to solve it. And then, they will have to present this in a simulation of a United Nations Forum, following the rules and procedures of the United Nations assembly in solving world issues.  In addition to that, during the simulation, they had to convince the delegates from other countries to support their resolutions.  So, they had to answer the questions that would be thrown to them, and be able to defend their position when being questioned.  From that day on, a shift in the way they dealt with the task had changed. And the rest was history.

On the day of the MUNA simulation, everyone looked so professional. They got the feeling of being a real UN delegate. They were wearing formal attire, and holding folders of everything that they had researched and discussed about during the process.  The rules and procedures were followed religiously.  Everyone got the chance to deliver a speech.  Every group got the chance to shine, by being prepared with their questions and their answers for other countries’ clarification and motions. Everything was mostly based on researched facts and collaborative decision. The exchange of thoughts and ideas was spontaneous and professionally handled by every delegate.  

This activity only proves that you can not underestimate children.  You may think that they are still very young to deal with global issues. But if you equip them with meaningful knowledge and the right skills, and prepared them accordingly, they can do wonders.  And oh, yes, there were some glitches along the way.  There were groups who would blame each other and think that they wouldn’t be able to make it, collaboration concerns, personal differences issues.  But we should remember that everything about it, including the glitches and crashes, were parts of the learning experience.  And yes, most of the time, they are the most valuable ones.  

Here are some examples of the students reflection:

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