Following on from my previous post about #PYPx17@VIS I thought I would ask the students about their thoughts and feelings about exhibition.
Our current (the 5th) unit this year is from the TD theme Who We Are, and while it has been very timely; I keep thinking about the fact that if this unit had been at the beginning of the year would it have changed the tone and learning flow for the year? Not something we can ever know really, but maybe it is simply that the timing was right, which ever way it is the students are really in a good space to begin the journey of the PYPx17 Exhibition. They have developed strategies for resilience, they are aware of the importance of taking time to think, reflect and be aware of themselves and how to get help if they need it.
As the Grade 5 team we are in meetings and planning and thinking; generally getting organised and creating systems for managing 36 independent creative enthusiastic students so they have the support they need but the room to fly at the same time. While all this is happening, I have this wondering playing like the same song over in my mind... I wonder what my students are thinking and feeling?
So... I decided to talk, actually to LISTEN, to the students. What are they thinking? Would they share even a small bit about what they were thinking? Not the day-to-day talk . . . but what they were hoping to learn, understand and feel.
The conversation started small "What are we doing when this unit finishes?'
The general response was a little tentative to start with, students saying they were not 100% sure how they were going to 'stay' focused, 'manage' themselves and not 'waste' time; before long the chorus of voices started to get louder and there was excitement laced through the conversation. Students expressing how 'great' it will be to have their 'turn', they have seen many other students participate in the PYPx and they have lots of ideas. Their parents are talking to them about the things that matter to them, things that interest them. The count down is definitely happening amongst our students.
The final comment that I loved was "I am looking forward to the freedom to choose; choose everything, and having to fix it if I don't like the outcome of my decisions.
The are ready, excited and waiting . . .I can't wait to LISTEN to them.
. . counting down just 5 days to go . . . PYPx17@VIS!!
The excitement is building in Grade 5! We have a week to go before we officially 'start' exhibition, but really this whole year has been about PYPx17, reflecting, discussing, thinking, collaborating, researching and thinking about what is has looked like at our school, could look like and will look like.
I am lucky to work with a group of like minded professionals who all start and end with our students as the centre point of their thinking.
The school has supported us by providing addition collaborative planning opportunities to 'step out-of' our normal day, as a team, and to 'step into' the wonderful space of 'thinking about all things exhibition. We have created a starting point and have been preparing our minds and space for the excitement of the next eight weeks.
We have met with staff; many of whom are keen to step into roles of mentor and connectors. We have had a parent/family information evening that saw families working together to learn about what really mattered to them.
Our students are clearly ready and excited for the exhibition journey to begin, some are worried and some are a little scared but together we will support students to find their passion and to delve into inquiries that are meaningful to them. When they find the spark that ignites energy they will know they have something that really matters to them.
Our mentors this year have a role to support the well being and resilience of the students they work with. The connectors are people who will work with students to develop their thinking, questioning and to extend themselves ... to think like there 'is no box'!!
We pulled down walls and created a large learning space and I can't wait to see what the students do with it. They have ideas, lots of ideas about the type of space they like to work in and I look forward to seeing how our space evolves with the journey of inquiry that is the PYP Exhibition for 2017 at our school.
We have eight days to go and counting . . .
On Sunday, sitting on a plane waiting for an extended period of time to take off, I was causally talking to my mum on Skype (Perth, Australia), a teaching colleague on messenger (Laos) and (@whatedsaid) Edna via direct message on Twitter (Melbourne, Australia). . (Yes, I love technology!) These conversations were all independent of each other, in fact none of these people even know the other, or that I was speaking to them all at once, but I was engaged with all three, planning, discussing and reviewing different things relevant to the purpose of the engagement.
I could say I was multitasking however ever others may say I was re-tasking and therefore not really giving full attention to any one conversation or may be I was just distracted. However once I set the phone to 'plane' mode I started thinking . . .
When our students are doing more that one thing at a time are they being 'efficient' or 'multitasking' or engaging on a shallow level because they are continually 're-tasking' or are they 'easily distracted' and not in the flow?
Is it possible for all three situations to be correct?
So how do we know when our students are actively engaged in the learning 'state of flow' and when they are just 'actively engaged' or 'look like they are on task'?
As our Grade 5 Exhibition looms closer I am thinking that this is a highly relevant question.
We want our students to be engaged, motivated and passionate while they are on their personal inquiry journey; this means that students will be collaborating with other students, with adults and other teachers. They are excited and nervous, they are confident and reluctant. Some have seen the exhibition staging days of previous years, however it is all new - it is their turn!
We have unit frameworks and rubrics and mentors and connectors, we have support teachers and a time line; it is a collaborative journey of inquiry learning, however our expectations have shifted.
They will be responsible for their time management and for their learning. They will be making choices and decisions that will lead their learning in different directions.
My thinking comes back to that fact that we need to provide a learning environment that encourages deep levels of engagement and also gives students freedom to manage their learning.
Regular meetings with students so they can share their 'work flow' plan and teachers can annotate engagements will help to encourage and steer those who need support and will positively reinforce those students who have applied the transdisciplinary skills effectively and are managing to find the balance between 'multitasking', 're-tasking' and 'distraction'.
Now, the more I think about it, the more I think the reality of this struggle is something I am going to discuss in class over the next few weeks with our students, before we start our expedition (@pypchef) into the PYPexhibition so we have time to discuss strategies that students can use to support themselves and others with this when it happens, cause it will happen.
When they 'look' busy or look 'engaged' what are they doing? Do they know?
Teaching in an IBPYP school; interests: student agency, technology integration, growth mindset & the continuous cycle of improvement that is the world of education, learning and being!