Archive - 2017

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What Our Students Gain from Engaging in Activities of Social Importance
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The Power of Learning Stories
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Environment and Spaces

What Our Students Gain from Engaging in Activities of Social Importance

Insights from Our Students in Grades 4 & 5 

Over the past few months, MY International School has partnered with The Bangkok School for the Blind to create a special and unique learning experience for students from both schools to partake in.

Our Grades 4 & 5 students have since taken the lead in this partnership, collaborating with their teachers who organized fun experiences with their new friends. These activities often involve games or art and craft activities where meaningful interactions take place and profound relationships are fostered.

Through their once a month interactions, our students have found themselves in a position of reflection, spurring moments of wonder as they look back at their own actions, learning to put themselves in the position of another in order to better respond to a situation and in realizing their inherent potential to exhibit traits of the IB Learner Profile to address needs in meaningful ways.

Here are some of their reflections:

1. “One of my proudest moments was that I was told by someone that I was very caring towards them.” – JJ

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2. “It was more fun than the last time they came to visit us – maybe because we know each other better now. I felt like I was being principled because I believe in helping people and that sure was the right thing to do – to be kind to others.” – Mola

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3. “I felt great helping the blind students. I was a caring learner because I did my best to guide them in our clay model project. It was difficult for them because they cannot see and they have to use their hands and sense of touch to work on their clay model project.” –Tann

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Being caring and principled learners were elements mentioned most in their takeaways.

According to the IB Learner Profile, being a caring learner means to “show empathy, compassion and respect towards the needs and feelings of others”, where students have “a personal commitment to service, and act to make a positive difference to the lives of others and to the environment” (IBO, 2010).

Being a principled learner means that “they act with integrity and honesty, with a strong sense of fairness, justice and respect for the dignity of the individual, groups and communities” (IBO, 2010).

In many ways, they exhibited more than just these qualities – they were also thinkers, inquirers, risk-takers and reflective individuals as they engaged in this process.  Through activities of social impact, these traits are reinforced with other very important traits – being caring and principled. Channeling these attributes can contribute towards the cultivation of individuals that respond with “empathy, compassion and respect”, with “integrity and honesty, with a strong sense of fairness and respect for the dignity of the individual, groups and communities” to vital needs in their own community (IBO, 2010).

As more of our children are raised with these elements in mind, we foster a community of  learners who care, learners with a strong moral and social conscience that see themselves as protagonists in their society, looking beyond the needs of themselves.

For more information on the IB Learner Profile, visit http://www.ibo.org/globalassets/publications/recognition/learnerprofile-en.pdf

 

The Power of Learning Stories

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“Picture a spiral going round and round. Or a long mobile, spinning slowly in the breeze. Action research is far from a linear, lockstep, formulaic process.”

This quote from Powerful Designs for Professional Learning (p. 63) describes the inquiry process and learning journey of Action Research groups at Magic Years International School. Action Research groups were formed for the first time at Magic Years last academic year 2015-16. The first set of Action Research groups centered their work around five areas of practice: Arts, Technology, Design Thinking, Assessment, and Learning Stories.

This article describes the journey of one of those Action Research groups attempting to form a better understanding of “learning stories”, which are considered to develop “better observation skills, critical thinking, and self-reflection in teachers” (Carter, p. 40). In addition to sparking teacher excitement and curiosity, learning stories prompt teachers “to become more reflective, to consider other perspectives and what else they need to learn to be responsive to the children” (Carter, p. 41).

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A number of educators also underscore the importance of learning stories in helping to build strong relationships between teachers and families. Judi Pack states that when teachers write learning stories, they become “better observers of children and develop their storytelling voice to joyfully share with the entire community” (Pack, p. 3). Learning stories also serve as an important reminder to teachers about the image of the child as “the story is always a positive one about children’s strengths, good ideas, and dispositions for learning” (Pack, p.1)

Teachers at Magic Years made a number of connections to the research highlighted above as they attempted to understand the true power of learning stories. Through a series of biweekly meetings, the teachers used an active inquiry process to familiarize themselves with “learning stories” and how it could be applied to their own professional settings.

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The group began their dialogue with a simple question: “What is a learning story?”

Some teachers had limited experience writing learning stories. Others with experience shared learning stories previously displayed in their classrooms. The next step was to research learning stories within the school and from other sources. Teachers shared learning stories that inspired them and discovered practical steps to construct their own.

For the next session, teachers were asked to bring photographs of children from their own class. While viewing the photographs, teachers shared ideas about how simple learning stories could be generated from these visuals based on the discussions from within the group.

Using photographs the teachers then chose a learning story to document. They began writing the story and then worked together to provide feedback on what was done well and what could be improved. After reviewing the stories, the teachers worked on producing creative displays.

Reflecting on this process of inquiring into learning stories, the teachers felt it was constructive to work in collaborative groups. One of the teachers remarked, “I didn’t have previous experience about learning stories, so I was surprised by all the information a learning story could offer.” She went on to share that she now has the tools “to better explain what we are observing, how the children become engaged in the activity, and what connections are made with the IB PYP Unit of Inquiry.”

Another teacher was excited at the possibility of connecting learning stories with literacy and the library. She commented that “learning stories would benefit the library area by providing evidence of current literacy learning both within and outside the library walls.”

The Action Research group proved to be a powerful means of inquiry into “learning stories”, a powerful approach for assessment and relationship-building.

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References

  1. Carter, Margie. “Using ‘Learning Stories’ to strengthen teachers’ relationships with children.” Exchange Nov. & dec. 2010: 40-43. Print.
  2. Easton, Lois Brown. Powerful designs for professional learning. Oxford, OH: National Staff Development Council, 2008. Print.
  3. Pack, Judi. “Learning Stories.” Teaching Young Children Dec. & jan. 2016: 1-4. Print.

 

Environment and Spaces

The aim of the PYP is to nurture lifelong learners who seek to find information about the world around them. It is through the learner profile that we focus on developing young inquirers, and through careful preparation of learning environments and spaces that we facilitate for this inquiry to happen.

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