Making connections…

This week we had a great visit to the  United World College of S.E Asia in Singapore.  The connection was made through Twitter with @kbeasly, who was out at a conference,  but arranged for the  wonderful @librarianedge to show us around.  One of the best things about the PYP is that you can go to a school anywhere in the world, talk the same language and make instant connections.

Back to my unplanned series on thinking routines! (more about that soon). Today’s routine  is Connect, Extend,  Challenge.  It provides a framework for students to make connections between new learning and what they already know.  It encourages them to consider how their thinking has been extended and to ask further questions or engage with new challenges.


There were so many connections to be made.  First of all,  the familiar language and thinking behind the PYP.  Essential agreements, central ideas, learner profiles… all on the classroom walls.  Some of the teachers there have done the Project Zero online course, so another connection was to note the visible thinking everywhere, including the use of the thinking routines.  Luke talked about the coming PYP exhibition and we have our first exhibition this year too.  Katie talked about the way she resources the units of inquiry.  We discussed the difficulties in making units truly trans-disciplinary, and how to ensure meaningful connections across the specialist subject areas.

And lots lots more…

But best of all was the actual connection I have now made with Katie herself, which we intend to continue in the future!


Some new ideas which extending my thinking…  I really like the way they have incorporated service into the school.  Action is an important aspect of the PYP and by twinning each class with a class at a less advantaged school, or an orphanage, or a home for the elderly, they have made this service more meaningful than just a fundraising exercise.

Luke shared lots of interesting ideas and expertise for scaffolding students learning in preparation for the exhibition.  We saw in both his class and Mario’s, how the students have gradually learned to create their own central ideas and the journals they will use to track the process of their learning on the way to the exhibition stage.

Hamish’s room is visually gorgeous, because he is an artist, but I love the way he has combined his wonderful artwork with visible thinking.  Each of the scales on the colourful dragon the wall,  represents student thinking  during a unit and when the scales come down to be replaced by new thinking, he hangs them from a loop on a hook to be added to later, for a record of student thinking.

And lots, lots more…


One challenge will be to try and convey some of what we saw to our teachers back home.  We would love to arrange some sort of exchange, if such a thing is possible… to have Katie visit our school and our librarian visit theirs.  It would be great to establish a connection between our students.  There are some units we have in common and we could set up an online collaboration of sorts, but the challenge will be to get all teachers on board, if they are not yet comfortable with technology.  Another challenge, which we discussed with Katie, is how to incorporate ‘service’ in a meaningful way without our more privileged students feeling a sense of superiority in their lives, assisting those less fortunate than themselves.

And lots, lots more…

Unplanned series of posts based on Project Zero Thinking Routines #5


2 thoughts on “Making connections…

  1. I wish that teachers everywhere had the opportunity to do this, getting together and seeing how other teachers teach and run their classrooms is important. It helps us to think outside the box and look at the teaching/learning process differently.


    1. I too have totally revised the way I think about the best ways of enriching our teachers and I agree.. one powerful way is to get our teachers into other classrooms… classrooms where thinking and imagination and originality are motivators.
      I loved our visit to United world College… and really wanted to spend much, much, more time there!

      I used to think it was only about visiting our peers in our school but now I think we need to get our teachers into other countries and cultures.
      Anyone out there want to think about this with me for 2011???
      Let’s get a new model of professional learning for 2011


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