teaching learning

Developing a Culture of Thinking at Binus Simprug

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At BINUS SCHOOL Simprug, we have set our goal to develop a culture of thinking. We decided to create a learning environment where thinking is valued, is visible and is actively promoted. At the beginning of this academic year, a workshop was conducted for the teachers to learn more about Visible Thinking Routines. Through this workshop, we shared the core thinking routines, different ways of using them and the benefits of making thinking visible in the classroom.


Visible Thinking Routines (VTRs) have been embedded into the planning of integrated units of inquiry within the Primary Years Programme as every teacher decided to use at least two routines per unit. A conscious effort is being made by us to demonstrate the use of routines in all areas of the curriculum.

We are delighted to share the use of thinking routines in early years and elementary as tools that lead to deeper understanding.

Early Years utilized the “I See” part of I See, I Think, I Wonder and Chalk Talk to tune into the unit of inquiry, Who we are. The students used the routines to explore the concepts of awareness of oneself, families and friendships.

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Grade 1 made use of the See, Think, Wonder thinking routine to begin to inquire into the unit on Where we are in place and time, which focuses on public areas.

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In Grade 2, Think-Puzzle-Explore was used to tune into the Who we are unit of inquiry on body systems.

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Grade 3 started their Sharing the Planet unit of inquiry with “I See, Think, and Wonder”. This unit is related to living things and adaptation.

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Grade 3 students also did Think-Puzzle Explore.

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In Grade 4, the class novel cover was shown to make predictions using the See, Think, Wonder routine.

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The KWL chart was replaced by Think, Puzzle, Explore to begin the inquiry. During the unit of inquiry, How we express ourselves, the thinking routines, “Connect, Extend, Challenge”; “Colour, Symbol, Image” and “I used to think and Now I know”, were used to enhance the students’ understanding about different genres of drama.

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Grade 5 also replaced KWL with Think, Puzzle, Explore. See, Think, Wonder was used as a springboard for their inquiry into different types of forces. The scientific nethod for experiments was done using the 3-2-1 routine.

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Our Bahasa Indonesia teachers used See, Think, Wonder and Chalk Talk to make their students’ thinking visible and more meaningful.

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Through the use of these simple visible thinking routines, we are trying to make our students more aware of their thinking and to think about their thinking.

By: Kavita Mehra, Grade 4 Class Teacher, kmehra@binus.edu

Jenina Refuerzo Enriquez, Grade 3 Class Teacher, jenriquez@binus.edu

Priyanka Patni, Grade 3 Level Head, ppatni@binus.edu




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Collaboration is an important part of teaching and learning in a PYP classroom. The Learner Profile attributes of communicators, open-minded and caring and the Attitudes, cooperation, respect, empathy and tolerance all highlight the need for all those connected to the school to be working in collaboration with one another.

Students working together

When you visit any primary classroom at ACG School Jakarta, you will see collaboration in action. Classrooms are designed with collaboration in mind, from carpet areas to table groups, students are engaging and working together. Whether students are playing in stations designed to inquire into their UOI in Kindergarten or interacting through written words in a chalk talk in Year 6 teachers are always encouraging team work.

We are not only all learners, but everyone in the classroom can be a teacher, by connecting with one another the role of ‘teacher’ extends beyond the adults in the room..



Teachers working together

Working collaboratively is not just an activity reserved for our students. Each week teachers engage in collaborative planning with year level colleagues, specialists’ teachers and the PYP Coordinators. We also engage in collaborative team meetings as a whole staff group weekly.

According to the International Baccalaureate (2015), ‘Research and case studies suggest that by forming a network of resources, support, and guidance, teachers feel more comfortable in their roles, which subsequently has a positive effect on students.’

Through collaboration, teachers are able to share their expertise, foster a community of experience and feel confident to implement innovative approaches to teaching and learning. When ideas are shared, and built upon, we achieve a greater range of learning experiences for our students.


Working with parents

At ACG School Jakarta, teachers work closely with families to ensure that the best outcomes are achieved for the students. This is achieved in numerous ways, including class blogs, parent-teacher-student conferences, student-led conferences and parent information sessions, just to name a few.

Parent information session engage parents in collaborative learning opportunities, aimed at educating parents about the PYP, using the approaches to learning students are engaged in everyday. Through these education session, we develop parents’ understanding of what happens in the classroom through hands on experience.


Being a 21st century learner is all about collaboration a skill that is embedded into the philosophy of our school.

References: Collaborative teaching transforms the classroom http://blogs.ibo.org/blog/2015/07/30/collaborative-teaching-transforms-the-classroom/

Wayne Martin

Co- PYP Coordinator

ACG School Jakarta



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“Well begun is half-done”- Aristotle.

As the beginning of our first unit for the very first term, “Who We Are” it was time to know each other & also have an interesting prior knowledge to take the first step to drive into the IB inquiry path. Keeping in mind one of the lines of inquiry for the current unit, “Different types of multiple Intelligences”. I designed an activity through which we all should get acquainted with each other in the class as well as to understand how different we are from each other in the terms of multiple intelligences.

The students were given old magazines & newspapers from which they had to cut the nouns/adjectives which described them the best & then stick it on the outline of self portrait drawn by them(It also involved their drawing skills.)This was also a good way of integrating English & UOI under one theme.

Later they reflected on their work by discussing their pictures in the class. This helped them to comprehend that each one of us is smart in our own way & we all possess different intelligences. It was a very interesting activity as they all were completely engrossed & engaged in depicting their best.




Ms. Smita Benuskar

Homeroom Teacher Grade 5


First Day of School

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The first day of school is absolutely one of the most important days of the year. It’s the day the teachers set the tone for their classroom for the entire year. What teachers do on the first day of school will determine their success or failure for the rest of the school year. They will either win or lose their class on the first day of school.

Our first day at school activities in Sekolah Victory Plus was amazing. It was marked by a lot of excitement from parents, teachers and students. Most kids looked happy and really waited the moment to come back to school after their long vacation.Some felt nervous or a little scared because of all the new things: new teachers, new friends, and maybe even a new school. Luckily, these “new” worries only stick around for a little while.

Here are several things we did on our first day of a school:


Set and created the display of our class agreement

By: Irma Mustafa

Homeroom Teacher

Sekolah Victory Plus

Bekasi, Indonesia

Teaching Through Games

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Let’s play games!

Teachers use lots of ways in conducting their lessons. One of them is through games. The advantages of using games for students include:

  1. Competition factor: Generate positive competition among peers to achieve stated objectives of the games
  2. Discipline factor: Allow students to be able to follow series of instructions or rules.
  3. Unity factor: Teach students about teamwork, sense of belonging and unselfishness. Games also encourage the students to play for teams instead of their own personal accomplishment.
  4. Confidence factor: Games enhance students’ confidence and communication skills.

Here are some games that I have used for teaching students mathematical concepts.

Game 1: “Throw the Ball”


  1. Place 4 trays in line. Put some division facts in each tray. The closest tray consists of the most difficult questions. The easiest questions are in the furthest tray.
  2. Students make a line and give them a ball (I used ping pong balls) and asked them to shoot the ball into the tray. Yes, most of them tried to shoot the ball in the furthest tray, which has the easiest questions.
  3. If the ball is out, students will line up again from the back.

4. Once the ball got into the tray, ask students to get a piece of paper and answer the questions by themselves.

5. If they can’t answer in a given time, students will then line up from the back.

6. Finish this game until all the questions have been answered.

Game 2: “Solving Word Problems”


  1. Prepare papers with question. Label each paper 1, 2, 3 and so on.
  2. Divide class into groups.
  3. Each group stands in front of a piece of paper.
  4. Let students answer the questions on post-it notes. Tell them to put the answers at the back of the paper.

5. Ask students to move clockwise to the next paper.

6. Stop until all the groups are back to their first paper.

7. Discuss the answers together.

Game 3: “Group Yourselves Equally”


  1. The students stand in a circle.

2. Give the question, “Group yourselves into 2”, “Group yourselves into 3”, and so on.

3. Ask students to count how many groups they made.

4. Write down the number with the equal answers. Examples include 9 (18 ÷ 2) and 6 (18 ÷ 3).

5. Discuss why some students were not in groups. It means the number cannot be divided equally. Examples are 18 ÷ 4 and 18 ÷ 5.

6. Discuss and review what numbers are really equal if you divide for 18.


I found that the students really enjoyed these games. The students actively participated and cooperated well during the activities. Using games in teaching creates an exciting learning atmosphere for the students and the teachers as well.

By: Debby Selvianita

Grade 1 Co-Teacher




Yahmad, S. B. H. Motivating students with games.

Constructivist Learning Approach

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Constructivism is the term used when we build upon our prior knowledge using real world experiences. In schools, we use a constructivist approach to preparing students to solve problems and construct or refine new understandings (Budi Usodo, 2016).

Types of Constructivism


  • Psychological Constructivism


Personal psychological cognitive constructivism is often referred to as Piaget cognitive constuctivism. According to Piaget, cognitive structure of a person is due to the process of assimilation and accommodation. Assimilation is the process of getting new experiences and information and immediately connected with the mental structure that is already owned by someone. Accommodation is the process of re-structuring of the mental structure as a result of new experiences and information. (Budi Usodo, 2016)
So according to Piaget, learning is not only receiving information and experience, but also re-structuring the new information and experiences.

Learning principles using Piaget’s constructivist theory are:


  • Meaning as internally constructed


In the process of constructing knowledge, information  is individually interpreted by learners in their own learning experiences.


  • Learning and teaching as negotiated construction of meaning


Construction of meaning is a negotiation process between individual learners with their experiences through an interaction in the learning process. Thus learners construct their knowledge based on their own individual past experiences.


  • Teaching is not just transferring knowledge from teachers to their learners, but is also an activity that allows learners to construct their own meaning and knowledge.



  • Teaching means a partnership with learners in constructing  meaning, looking for clarity, being critical and creating justifications.



  • Knowledge is structured and stored uniquely by each individual student.



  • When students link their past knowledge with new information (gained through their experiences), they develop their understanding of larger related concepts.


For example, in the mental structure of 4th graders, they have had knowledge of odd and even numbers. The students were given some numbers from 1 to 30. Then the students wrote factors of each number and perceived what patterns emerged.  Students understood  that most of the numbers (2, 3, 5, 7, 11, 13, 17 and 19) only had two factors, and these were all odd numbers (except the number 2). Students were able to integrate this new understanding into their own cognitive structure and assimilation happened. New information about prime numbers caused some cognitive restructuring (accommodation) to take place because the number 2 did not fit the expected odd number pattern.



  • Social Constructivism


Vygotsky believed that learning occurs when students handle tasks that they haven’t learned before, but these tasks are still within range of their abilities (zone of proximal development). This zone of proximal development is the area between the actual developmental level that a child is actually at developmentally and and the level of potential that the child can achieve.

Learning principles as the implications of Vygotsky socio-cultural constructivist theory are:

  1. Social interaction is important, better knowledge is constructed by involving other people.
  2. Human development occurs through cultural tools (language, symbols) that is transmitted from person to person.
  3. The zone of proximal development is the difference between what can be done alone (actual ability) and what can be done with the help from adults (potential capabilities).

For example, 4th grade students constructed their knowledge about what economic activity was. Teachers facilitated an activity to identify economic and  non-economic activities. Students worked in groups, cut images from old magazines and newspapers, identified each image as economic activity or non-economic activity and continued by classifying the images. When the students identified and classified the pictures, each image selection involved social interactions between students and also with the teachers. Each group discussed and constructed their understanding about what economic and non-economic activity was. The students shared their ideas. Teachers guided the students to construct their definitions of economic activity and non-economic activity. The similar activities were also applied when the students, facilitated by the teachers, constructed their knowledge about the differences between goods and services; and also the difference between needs and wants.

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Teaching methods in constructivist approach

The learning method that can be applied using constructivism learning is inquiry method. Learning using inquiry method is an essential way for students to construct their own meaning and gained new knowledge.

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Firdausi Nuzula, Associate PYP Coordinator and Grade 4  Homeroom Teacher

Sekolah Buin Batu, Sumbawa Barat, NTB


The Big Ideas on Learning Centres

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You might be interested to know …the response of a child who is asked by his or her parents:


How might our kids respond?




This can be outrageously unfair especially considering the effort teachers have to make to plan and implement learning engagements with their students in every learning discipline. As an automatic response of parents, they tend to ask the teachers for the reasons why their children respond this way.

As teachers commit themselves to always taking parents’ inquiries as critical feedback on their teaching, they take the responsibility to further improve on their craft and most likely the questions in their  heads now would be:

  • Why can’t children explicitly explain to their parents the things they do in class?
  • How can I help my kids, from the class tasks, make meaning more relevant from their own perspective?

Inspired by reading the Book of Robyn and Jeni Wilson on “How to succeed with Learning Centres”, it is important that learning centres be planned and structured so student progress and participation is closely monitored by the teacher.

What is a learning centre?

  • A classroom that has been set up for learning centres is one in which a number of different activities are being done simultaneously by individual or small groups.
  • There is no one ‘right’ way to set up and run learning centres.
  • There is not a ‘fixed’ recipe for classroom organization.
  • The variations can be extensive and decisions about grouping and organization are best made by the classroom teacher – who knows the students and what is manageable within the constraints of specific classroom and school curriculum requirements.
  • Teachers can follow models that might suit a purpose within one classroom.

Learning centres:

  • Are not a total program;
  • Can be used in many ways in any subject area within an integrated curriculum topic;
  • Can be adapted for different levels and teaching styles;
  • Facilitate independent work but are far more than a free choice of activity for students;
  • Are driven by the purpose of the tasks and the context;
  • Can be teacher and/or student designed, selected and assessed.

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The Role of the Student

  • Students are positioned at the centre of the learning;
  • Students take a very active role in the learning process and is not a passive recipient of information;
  • Students are more likely to be working with other classmates on tasks away from the direct instruction of the teacher;
  • Students need to take responsibility for their own learning needs;
  • They need to be able to access other students or resources to solve problems and complete their work;
  • Learning centres are based on the Constructivist Theory of Learning in which students use their skills to link new information to existing knowledge.

What do learning centres look like?

Learning centres look like different in different classrooms. These have been organised into four categories to help differentiate between and to assist in selection:

  • Independent Contract Work
  • Teachers have developed and negotiated a set of possible activities that could be done by students.
  • In conjunction with the teacher, the student identifies the tasks they will complete along with an agreed timeline.
  • A classroom operating on such system would look like a class full of independent workers
  • The teacher would be operating on a one-to-one basis
  • It may be appropriate for students to be given options to complete some tasks with a partner or small group
  • Alternatively, they may be required to complete their own work and consult with others.

Samples of Independent Contract Work

Sample #1


Sample #2

Rotational Tasks

  • This type of learning centre requires a set of tasks that will be undertaken by all members of the class on a rotational basis.
  • A specific time is set aside for groups to complete each task.
  • The rotation can occur in quick succession on one day – for example, each group completing four 15-minute tasks in a span of an hour.

Sample of Rotational Tasks


Multiple Choice tasks

  • Offering a number of prepared activities at one time where a number of different tasks may have been prepared and set up in different parts of the room.
  • Students can choose which tasks they will complete, knowing that they may not be able to complete them all.
  • Different tasks may be designed to cater for particular learning style preferences, for example, tasks that require musical skills or creative construction.
  • It is important for the teacher to monitor individuals and ensure that all modes are developed over time.
  • Encourage students to select from a full range of activities, rather than just those their strongest skills as preference.

Sample of Multiple Choice Tasks


Point System Tasks

  • This type of learning the student aims to complete activities worth a specified value.
  • The target value maybe determined by the teacher and/or student.
  • The teacher gives each task a value, for example, points score or star rating according to its complexity and time requirement.
  • They can cover a range of subject areas, they could be completed at various times during the day as negotiated by the teacher.
  • It is important to provide a selection of tasks in terms of content and complexity.
  • The tasks can be completed independently or cooperatively.


Samples of Point System Tasks

1.pngSample # 1

1.pngSample # 2

Various elements of each can be combined. For example, multiple choice activities can be used with a point system.

The Role of the Teacher

  • The role of a teacher within learning centres is not a fixed one, but it is central to effective learning.
  • The teacher cannot simply set the groups to work and then leave students to it.
  • The teacher is fundamental in planning, implementing and evaluating learning centres.
  • Like students, teachers will be active participants in the classrooms where learning centres operate.
  • Different types of learning centres call for different teaching skills and strategies.

The Teacher, as the Planner

  • The teacher needs to prepare for effective learning experiences. They need to cater for a range of learning styles, various levels of ability, effective use of available resources and different degrees of learner independence.
  • The teacher must align the activities offered in learning centres with the desired key understandings and outcomes of the curriculum, keeping in mind the specific needs of the students.
  • By systematically planning a range of learning centre activities, the teacher makes clear and comprehensive curriculum decisions.
  • This generates a natural flow and connectedness of learning.
  • One way to ensure that activities are meaningful, appropriate and closely linked to the major classroom objective is to plan using a proforma.

1.pngSample Planning Sheet for Teachers

The Teacher as the Teacher

  • This means that a teacher should work with groups or individuals to ask carefully considered questions so that students can develop their own understandings.
  • Learning centre tasks need to be designed so that students can be actively involved in constructing their own learning under the guidance of the teacher.
  • It may be that one of the groups is assigned as the ‘teaching group.’ This group works intensively with the teacher on the task. It is important that the rest of the class understands that the teacher is generally not available for them during this time. Some teachers like to have a sign places table indicating that they are unavailable. The other groups will be completing tasks that rely on independence.

The Teacher, as the Supervisor

  • As with any classroom activity, it is essential that the teacher monitors the activities of all students. If working intensively with one group, it is necessary for the teacher to be able to see all groups in order to monitor behaviour.
  • The teacher takes a leading role in the teaching group, and uses this opportunity to teach new work or monitor understandings and keep assessment records for the students in that group.
  • The teacher can be at the side of the group where a clear view of all groups is possible over the teaching group.

The Teachers, as the Assessor

  • The use of learning centres is an effective way to make on-going assessment more manageable.
  • By using one student group as the group for which assessment will be the focus, the teacher can monitor learning in a detailed and highly individual way.
  • Several strategies for assessing students and keeping effective records are detailed in our assessment policy.1.png

The Teacher, as the Reflector

  • The important role of the teacher is to lead class discussion in reflecting on the activities that have been carried out.
  • This debriefing gives the teacher invaluable feedback. During a share time, the teacher can obtain information about the value, length, degree of difficulty, etc. of each task and also provide advanced information to students who have not yet completed the tasks in the other learning centres.

The Teacher, as the Negotiator

  • Negotiation is involved in the implementation of learning centres. It is important that students feel they have been consulted about the content and management of at least some tasks.
  • Ultimately, teachers have the most responsibility for classroom arrangements and, therefore, negotiation will vary depending on the situations.

Common Characteristics of Learning Centres

  • Students work on independent or semi-independent tasks
  • Students may work individually but are usually in small groups
  • Some form of choice and/or negotiation is usually involved
  • Discovery learning is a component
  • Teachers are able to work intensively with at least one group of students

Benefits of Learning Centres

In a nutshell, they improve student learning, which is after all, the core purpose of everything we do in our classrooms.

  • Learning centres provide activity choices.
  • They provide a social setting within which learning can occur.
  • Learning centres encourage independence.
  • Learning centres motivate students and lead to real engagement.

By Ms. Edina Araneta-Sarenas, Primary Principal (primary.principal@sgiaedu.org)

Sekolah Global Indo-Asia, Batam