As teachers, we sure love the skill of problem solving. After all, in a class of 30 students (each with their own daily sundry problems), the more they can figure out their pencil situation, bathroom needs, and minor spats among friends, the more energy we can devote to, well, teaching.
But of course, we all know there’s more to the skill of problem solving than classroom management. There’s empowering students with ownership. There’s equipping them with the ability to face future unknowns. And there’s helping them access solutions that will bring them joy throughout their lives.
Problem-solving is also closely tied to the growth mindset. As Carol Dweck has put it:
“In a growth mindset, people believe that their most basic abilities can be developed through dedication and hard work—brains and talent are just the starting point. This view creates a love of learning and a resilience that is essential for great accomplishment.”
Thus, with the growth mindset, we learn that our efforts are instrumental in helping us to grow, and are resilient when our initial solutions fail.
On that note, these are both resources I have shared with students in the past that have led to wonderful discussions on this topic:
Video of how the Panyee Soccer Club began amid less than ideal circumstances:
The content for this week’s provocation began with me investigating all this viral talk on #FakeNews. The more I researched, the more I came to two conclusions:
1. The need for educators to help students discern accurate sources is not new, though the stakes are getting higher if we don’t succeed.
2. Rather than focusing on the current FakeNews frenzy, it’s more valuable for us to step back and examine the big concepts surrounding the issue.
So yes, this provocation is useful if you’re wanting to talk to your students about Fake News. But more importantly, it’s more useful for helping your students recognize all that online research entails: the good, the bad, the ugly, and why all that matters for them.
This week brings another Where We Are in Place and Time provocation–I promise, these resources are too fantastic to wait (for more PYP units of inquiry provocations, see the archive here).
The first is Dear Photograph, a website to which individuals submit photos of photos held up in the same location after time has passed. Quite apart from being a remarkable way to make change, time, and history more tangible, it is also a beautiful example of reflection. Below are a few favorites; see the site for more!
The big picture framework for the PYP “Where We Are in Place & Time” unit is intended to help students explore:
our orientation in place and time
our personal histories
the discoveries, explorations, and migrations of humankind
This morning, the School of Life Youtube channel shared their video, “Why You Can Change the World.” It also contains why so many people feel they cannot. I find this to be a resource that has great potential to help students consider their personal impact on the world’s progress, along with inquiries into the nature of change, history, and confidence.
The second resource that lends itself to an inquiry into change is this Huffington Post photo series of work done by women around the world. In many instances, the juxtaposition of old world tasks/technology with modern tools or clothing provides ample food for thought for students to consider how/why things are changing throughout the world. The captions also provide invaluable background to guide their thinking. Click the above link or any of the photos for more.
What is history like?
What do you notice about how people change?
Why does work look different for people across the world?
How is the “world being made and remade every instant?”
How are confidence and change related?
This is part of a series of provocations designed to align with the IB Primary Years’ Programme transdisciplinary themes. Click here for more.
An inquiry provocation is meant to help us stretch our thinking beyond what we normally consider. It’s designed to plant the kind of seed that, as it grows, inspires us to continue reconsidering and rethinking the world around us. We learn to ask more thoughtful questions, make connections to existing understandings, and develop consideration and empathy for others.
Thus, this week’s provocation on how people get their food isn’t just about food. It’s about getting us to consider broader concepts (including, but not limited to, PYP units of inquiry such as How the World Works, How We Organize Ourselves, and Who We Are). I would love to hear if/how you use these resources with your class!
#1 of 3: Atlas of Beauty image
Mihaela Noroc is a Romanian photographer who travels the world with the goal to capture beauty in all countries. Below is a recent photo of a woman doing her grocery shopping in Myanmar.
#2 of 3: What I Eat, Around the World in 80 Diets
Photojournalist Peter Menzel documented what individuals around the world eat each day. See here for several of his photos along with the fascinating stories of each person.
#3 of 3: Amazon Go Concept
Amazon has developed a smart store that allows shoppers to grab their groceries and go without standing in line for payment. According to Futurism, “The store is powered by sensors, deep learning artificial intelligence (AI), and computer vision, which allows it to detect which items a customer has selected and even when products are returned to shelves.”
How do people eat differently?
Why do people eat differently?
What do people’s eating habits tell us about their lives?
How is the way people get their food changing over time? Why?
Why is it important for us to consider how people eat differently around the world?
Being more spatially-challenged in general, I always had trouble as a child comprehending concepts like mirror images, rotations, and geometry nets.
Fortunately, as a grew older, I learned that these are all just facets of broader concepts of scale and perspective. I’ve also benefited by recognizing their applications beyond mathematics–from art to city planning to interpersonal relationships.
So this week consists of a provocation to help our young learners begin with the big picture of scale and perspective, hopefully encouraging them to draw their own connections and conclusions.
The first is a fascinating video that lays out the entire history of the earth on a football field.
The second is a photo series by artist Matthew Albanese. He creates stunningly realistic landscapes using forced perspective, using materials from nutmeg to steel wool to fake fog. Head over to his site to view the collection of images, along with the incredible behind-the-scenes images and information on his process.
How do people use scale and perspective to help us see “the big picture?”
How does technology allow us new possibilities to show scale and perspective?
How do scale and perspective change the way we see the world?
What is our responsibility to use perspective in our lives?
How are scale and perspective connected?
How does perspective help us understand other people?
“The aim of all IB programmes is to develop internationally minded people who, recognizing their common humanity and shared guardianship of the planet, help to create a better and more peaceful world.”
While I taught at an IB (International Baccalaureate) we were encouraged to cultivate the 10 traits defined within the Learner Profile (inquirer, knowledgeable, thinker, communicator, principled, open-minded, caring, risk-taker, balanced, reflective).
This week’s provocation (appropriate for upper elementary and older) will look particularly at the open-minded quality. When I think of open-mindedness, cultural perspective readily comes to mind.
The first resource is one I’ve shared with my fifth graders in the past, and has made for some fascinating conversation. Graphic artist Yang Liu’s East Meets West helps students start to consider how our cultural differences influence the way people approach various situations (click link above for more of her images).
The second is the awe-inspiring story of Rais Bhuiyan, a Muslim American who was shot in the aftermath of 9/11, but who worked to save his assailant from death row. I particularly appreciate how this illustrates that whatever our differences, compassion can bring us unity, understanding, and healing.
How is open-mindedness related to cultures?
What is our responsibility for open-mindedness?
How does open-mindedness help with fearfulness (or other negative emotions)?