This clip isn’t new, but it’s a favourite of mine.  It seemed a good choice if the subject is change!

I asked my colleagues at school how they feel they have changed as teachers and learners in the past year. This wordle shows their responses:

The fact that the biggest word is THINKING means that it was the most frequently used word, which I think is great! It tells you something about what we value as teachers and learners.  I like the fact that the words ‘teaching’ and ‘work’ are nowhere to be seen.  It shows how far we moved in our reflection and in our practice.

Most of the respondents were part of  a voluntary group of  teachers who come to school an hour early once a week to learn together. Our ‘thinking group’ meets fortnightly to discuss readings, share ideas and reflect on our teaching.  This is my in-school PLN, a group of committed teachers who have, over the past few years, become a true ‘community of learners,’ creating a culture of thinking and inquiry which has spread through the school, across disciplines, staff and students. The ‘technology group’ (many of the same people), meets on the alternate week to experiment with web 2.o tools and share how to use them in the classroom. This week I listened to Konrad Glogowski talking about ‘learning with‘  rather than ‘learning from‘ at the K-12 online conference and was struck by how much more meaningful this kind of PD can be than the traditional type.

Here are a few examples of the teachers’ responses to how they have changed:

‘I have learnt that together my students and I can explore topics and issues through the use of thinking routines and graphic organizers. We celebrate the fact that we are able to learn from each other in this way and see things from different perspectives and value our different views.’

I feel this year that I have become more exposed to technology  but I still feel that I need to implement more of what I have learned. I have also made an effort to focus on the children’s thinking and making connections with their previous knowledge through the regular use of thinking routines.’

I am beginning to shift from being a teacher to a facilitator.  Relinquishing control is challenging but the benefits are worthwhile. I have learned that listening to children’s thinking gives incredible insight into their understanding…’

‘Growing questions and thinking with the use of thinking routines and technology… is something I have learned and used a lot this year.’

PS. I asked the same question on Twitter (‘ How have you changed as a teacher/ learner in the past year?’), and the responses were somewhat different.  Most of them related to technology, to what teachers have got out of Twitter, to the benefits of an online PLN… but that’s another story…  🙂

PYP Key Concept: Change. Series of posts through the lens of key concepts of PYP.

On curiosity…

“I’ve noticed that people who read a lot of blogs and a lot of books also tend to be intellectually curious, thirsty for knowledge, quicker to adopt new ideas and more likely to do important work.

I wonder which comes first, the curiosity or the success?” (Seth Godin on Seth’s blog)

I’ve been thinking about it!  What do you think?

I have tried, unsuccessfully, to embed a video I liked of him talking about curiosity (made by Nic Askew). You can see it here.

He says that for 15 years of school, you are required to not be curious.  That’s not the case in our school…

This cartoon shows a reflection written by Rachel, in 5D.

Here is a collection student wonderings gathered from teachers in K-6 recently...

‘Can ants swim?’ (kinder)

‘If you are touching someone, and you can’t see them, how do you know who they are?’ (prep)

‘Why can’t wealthy governments join together and stop child labour, barely livable conditions and unfair rules?’ (year 5)

‘How can religion affect a country’s system of governance ?’ (year 6)

‘What makes the wind blow to move things? (prep)

‘Why cant people use happiness as a weapon for good?’ (year 1)

‘What would happen to the water cycle if the sun went out?’ (year 4)

‘What causes Africa to be poor and Australia wealthy?’ (year 5)

‘Why can’t you speak under water?’ (prep)

‘If we plant the seed it will grow into a peanut tree. If we water it, it will grow normal peanuts but if you water it with swimming pool water will it grow salty nuts?’ (kinder)

‘I wonder if God prays back to us’ (year 2)

As PYP teachers (or any teachers!) we want our students to be thinkers and inquirers. We strive to encourage authentic inquiry learning.  We encourage our students to be intellectually curious.  Are we?

You are the result of yourself…

I have to admit I hadn’t heard of Chilean poet and writer, Pablo Neruda, till I read this quote on a blog yesterday:

“You are the result of yourself.”

It really made me think… all sorts of things.  About myself, my family, my colleagues, my students, disadvantaged people, privileged people, famous people, criminals…

I wondered what kids would make of it.  Here are some responses from 12 year-olds, some of whom didn’t write their names. Thank you 6B for your awesome thinking!

The decisions and choices you make reflect the deep inner person you are. (Jessie)

The only competition is yourself. (Ellie)

I think it’s saying, try your hardest.. that is good enough.

Your mind is controlled by you, so you choose your future (Aria)

If  you want something, you have to work for it. (Benji)

You are you who you are. Don’t try and be someone who you are not. (Ruby)

It’s up to you to decide what you are in life.

I think it means I must take action for what I believe in. (Jessie. H)

I think it means however you choose to live your life, you will get the results back. (Melanie)

The effort you put in affects the outcome that you carry around.

It means whatever you do, you can succeed in life, if you think you can.

If you try something, the result is you. You can make something happen.

If you do something wrong or right, you are responsible for the outcome or consequences. (Justin)

It’s about responsibility and thinking carefully before you do something. (Joel)

What ever you do is a reflection on you. (Talia)

What you do is what you become.. think carefully before you do! (Natalie)

You control your own actions. If you do something you must know that it might kick you in the butt later! (A.R)

Your past will come back to you in your future. (Ruby)

P.S. I only found the whole poem afterwards.

Thinking about learning… continued

In my previous post, I mentioned Angela Maiers’ reflective questions for learners.  She says ‘the difference between a successful learner and a learner who struggles does not lie in a score or percentile, but within the habits and attitudes — Habitudes— each learner possesses.’
It’s interesting to note how my students replied to those reflective questions!  Here is a sample of their responses to some of the questions:

What is the most important thing you do to grow yourself as a learner?

study, practice, try and take in as much as I can, ask, be a listener, be committed, want to know more, focus on and see what’s round me, think creatively, try my best, concentrate…

What do successful learners do that make them successful?

think , try their best,  listen to other people, keep their eyes open, take risks, learn from their own and others’ mistakes, listen to other people’s opinions, keep their minds open to the future, take in as much as they can…

What hinders your success as a learner?

distraction, fear of failing, lack of time, emotional problems, silence, lack of understanding, lack of concentration…

What do successful learners do when they do not know the subject well?

ask questions, look things up, think harder, be curious, stick with it, practice, research, try different learning techniques to improve…

How does your attitude affect you as a learner?

(see toondoo)


Thoughtful answers, don’t you think? All the more so, seeing as they are 11 years old!

Thinking about learning…

In my exploration of the website Learning about Learning,  mentioned in my previous post, I came across this video clip (just one of many worthwhile clips!) on meta-cognition by Dylan Williams.  He says most teachers try to cause learning without the students’ help‘”whereas ” the most successful teachers are those who have found ways of harnessing students’ own insights into their own learning… students as young as 5-6 years old have trememdous insights into their own learning processes”.

Vodpod videos no longer available.
In  a recent blog post,  Angela Maiers talked about the habits and attitudes of a successful learner.  She presents a list of questions for reflecting on learning.

Here are a few of them…

  • What is the most important thing you do to grow yourself as a learner?
  • What do successful learners do that make them successful?
  • What hinders your success as a learner?
  • What do you do to get over that obstacle?
  • What do successful learners do when they do not know the subject well?
  • How does your attitude affect you as a learner?

Would you ask your students to consider these?

Take a few minutes to think… How would you respond to them, as a learner yourself?

A community of learners…

Great session this morning!  We are really lucky to have such a wonderful team of teachers, willing to come early to discuss teaching practice, exchange ideas,  provide support, learn together…

As a PYP school, we are constantly striving to encourage true inquiry.  We are constantly trying to improve the way we question, the way we respond to questions, the way we encourage our students to question.  We are constantly aiming to get our students to think more deeply,  trialing thinking routines to engender thinking,  thinking about thinking itself!  We are excited when we feel that there is real, meaningful inquiry happening in our school.

This is NOT us!!

Vodpod videos no longer available.

At the last session of our ‘Thinking group’, we looked at the shift from a 20th century classroom model to that of the21st century and focused on the shift from ‘Learners working in isolation – classroom within 4 walls’ to ‘Learners working collaboratively with classmates and others around the world – the global classroom’ (see posts here, here and here on the virtual visitor from India, for an example of such a global classroom!).

In today’s session, we focused on the shift from ‘Teacher is judge.  No one else sees student work.‘ to ‘Self, peer and other assessments.  Public audience, authentic assessments.‘ Discussion centered around techniques for self and peer assessment and everyone shared ideas.

It wasn’t till we moved into the ‘public audience’ aspect that things started to buzz! There are hundreds of  web 2.0 tools available for expressing learning and publishing it on the internet to an authentic audience.  We talked about Voicethread and Toon Doo.  We looked at blogging and considered the possibility of a class blog.

Jocelyn shared her class wiki and described how the students had chosen a variety of web 2.0 tools to express the findings of their inquiries and embedded these into the class wiki. Then, using a given thinking routine, other students responded on the discussion page.

And this is not us… any more!!


We are only just beginning our exploration, but suddenly everyone was talking at once, challenged by the potential obstacles but enthusiastic about the possibilities!  One of the most exciting aspects is the willingness of teachers to take a step back and let their students take the lead.  We are all learners…

There was a real sense that we are a community of inquirers!