Inquiry into Attitudes: Cooperation

This is part of a series of inquiry-based provocations for essential elements of the PYP and the Learner Profile. For more, click here.

As with many other character traits, cooperation is one we clearly value, but how well do our students understand it? For them, is it just the absence of fighting? Or is it something more? This week’s provocation is meant to help students investigate it further for themselves.

Resource #1: What Is Sustainable Development? by World’s Largest Lesson (I plan to begin SDGs provocations after I finish the PYP ones!)

#2: Head Up by Film Bilder

#3: This Too Shall Pass Rube Goldberg Machine by OK Go

#4: Simon Senek on Intensity vs Consistency by The RSA

Resource #5: Flora & the Peacocks by Molly Idle

Resource #6: Officer Buckle & Gloria by Peggy Rathmann

Provocation Questions:

  • How does cooperation work?
  • In what ways must we depend on each other in order to cooperate?
  • Why is cooperation sometimes hard? How do we overcome obstacles?
  • How do cooperation and sustainability connect?
  • What is our responsibility to cooperate with one another as families? As communities? As a planet?
  • How is creativity enhanced when we can cooperate?
  • How is productivity enhanced when we cooperate?
  • How is cooperation connected to relationships? To vulnerability & trust?

featured image: DeathToTheStockPhoto

Inquiry Into Owning My Learning

When we have lofty visions of students taking the wheel at their own learning, it can be devastating when they seem to reject that agency. It’s understandable why this happens; after all, most have years of training that only teachers make the important decisions regarding their learning, & it’s difficult to reverse that dependency.

However, I believe there are still layers to that rejection that can be valuable for us to try and recognize. Often, it may be that they need to develop more skills (see the self-management skills provocation). Maybe they need to better see themselves as inquirers. Or, perhaps, they simply need to have their sights elevated in general as to why personal ownership over learning is so important. That’s where this week’s provocation comes in. As always, I would love to hear how this goes with your students in the comments below!

Resource #1: Cogs by AIME Mentoring

Resource #2: The Power to Create by Matthew Taylor & The RSA

Resource #3: What Adults Can Learn From Kids, TED Talk by Adora Svitak

Resource #4: Most Likely to Succeed film trailer 

Resource #5: True Colors personality quiz

Yes, a personality quiz. But I promise it’s not one of those “which celebrity is your soul-mate” kinds of quizzes — it’s generally based on Don Lowry’s work to help people understand themselves a little better, and might help students recognize their existing strengths to take the wheel at their learning.

Resource #6: Adam Kotsko’s tweet

Provocation Questions:

  • What does it mean to own our own learning?
  • Why does your voice in your own learning matter?
  • How does our ability to own our own learning change over time?
  • How does an uncertain & ever-changing future make ownership over learning so important?
  • What is the connection between creativity and ownership over learning?
  • What are the points of view on kids owning their learning?
  • What kinds of responsibilities come with ownership over learning?
  • What are some of the challenges we face when we start depending less on the teacher and more on ourselves to drive our learning?
  • How might I (as the teacher) better help you access the tools you need to own your learning?

featured image: DeathToTheStockPhoto

Inquiry Into Learner Profiles: Balanced

This is part of a series of inquiry-based provocations for essential elements of the PYP and the Learner Profile. For more, click here.

When we’re asked what makes us feel successful as parents, I’ve noticed that our answers often involve our kids’ choices. But as I reflect, I can’t help but wonder if that is a perilous decision. After all, what if we do everything “right” and our kids still don’t “turn out” as we expected? Or worse still, what if our kids ultimately define success differently than we do? Might we then condemn ourselves to a life of stress and perceived failure?

Because we only truly have control over ourselves, hinging our sense of success within may prove more beneficial. And teaching our children to do so will in turn help them to take more ownership over the course of their lives.

To me, this is all tightly woven with being balanced. My days feel most scattered when I have neglected important roles, and they feel most successful when I have managed to give each the attention necessary. This week’s provocation is intended to help students consider what it means to find balance in their own lives, and to recognize what a lack of balance looks like.

Resource #1: Labeled food plate (story here)

Resource #2: Mobile by Verena Fels

A humorous and more direct connection to “balance.” I like how it addresses how we sometimes take ourselves too seriously in seeking balance.

Resource #3: Nuggets by Filmbilder

This video gets into the heavier topic of how drugs cause dependence. However, its representation can be expanded to anything that causes us to have extreme dependence, causing a lack of balance and self-control in our lives.

Resource #4: Yelp: With Apologies to Allen Ginsberg’s “Howl” by Tiffany Slain & Let it Ripple Studio

The “looking for an info fix” here might add an interesting element to this discussion. I am a huge proponent for teaching kids the potential for good within tech use (rather than just teaching them not to do bad things); however, even with the most positive perspectives, might the result still be negative if balance is not part of the conversation?

Resource #5: Cinder Edna by Ellen Jackson & Kevin O’Malley

If you’ve missed this spunky twist on an old tale, it’s worth checking out! Adds a great element of what it means to be well-rounded.

Resource #6: Moon, by Alison Oliver

My 8 year-old was very clearly able to see that Moon’s to-do list was seriously out-of-balance. Investigate with your students what else our to-do lists should include to live balanced lives.

Provocation Questions: 

  • What does it mean to live a balanced life for you?
  • What does it mean to have balance in your family?
  • How does balance impact our quality of life?
  • How does balance impact our societies?
  • What are the consequences of a lack of balance?
  • What role do humor and flexibility play in seeking balance?
  • What changes might I make to achieve greater balance in my life?

featured image: DeathToTheStockPhoto

Inquiry Into Learner Profile & Skills: Thinker

This is part of a series of inquiry-based provocations for essential elements of the PYP and the Learner Profile. For more, click here.

Giving students an opportunity to inquire into what it means to be a thinker is valuable at any point throughout the year; when starting a new unit, when working on how to display thinking, when refreshing the concept of metacognition. For the PYP, this can be used for both the Learner Profile attribute of Thinker, as well as the Learning Skill of thinking.

Resource #1: Obvious to you. Amazing to others by Derek Sivers

Resource #2: Nature by Numbers by Cristóbal Vila (This is math-based, of course, but I love the broader applications to thinking here — how did Fibonacci’s thinking originally unfold?)

#3: How to Figure Out Any Day of the Week for Any Date Ever by It’s OK to be Smart via TheKidShouldSeeThis (great example to see how we can be great thinkers, too).

Resource #4: reDesign Skills (these are teacher activities designed to promote thinking skills, but especially for older students, I wonder what would happen if you allowed them to take the lead on one of these for their classmates?)

reDesign thinking skills

Resource #5: What Do You Do With A _____ picture books by Kobi Yamada

Provocation Questions:

  • What is the connection between thinking and organization? What is the connection between thinking and courage?
  • What is metacognition?
  • What kinds of mindsets help us as thinkers? What kinds of mindsets hurt us as thinkers?
  • How people change as thinkers over time?
  • How does being an active thinker impact our lives? How does it impact our communities?

featured image: DeathToTheStockPhoto

Inquiry into Skills: Self-Management

This is part of a series of inquiry-based provocations for essential elements of the PYP and the Learner Profile. For more, click here.

We constantly talk about providing our students with skills that allow them to think, act, and choose for themselves. In the PYP, such skills include gross/fine motor skills, organization, time management, safety, healthy lifestyle, codes of behavior, and informed choices.

It’s important to regularly provide our students opportunities to discuss & cultivate those skills. This week’s provocation is designed to get the conversation going.

Resource #1: 3 Ways to Start, by New Age Creators

Resource #2: What Matters to You by Jorge R. Canedo E.

Resource #3: Why Incompetent People Think They’re Amazing by TED-ED

Resource #4: Arat Hosseini’s Instagram account run by his father (I especially loved the Arat’s father’s comment in the second video). 

My son, my hero @arat.gym _____ Father and son #fatherandson

A post shared by Arat Hosseini (@arat.gym) on

✌🏻 👨‍👦 🏅 🏆 @arat.gym I told Arat that’s enough but he wanted to continue. There are times that I get a video from him, but I don’t post it because he looks tired and unhappy , but after we were done with this exercise he told me: dad please post this video , when I grow up I want to see how hard I pushed myself and practiced for being a champion Translated by @asa_kh🌸 💯 💯 🆗 🌎 🌍 🌏 من به آرات گفتم بسه ديگه اما اون خودش ادامه داد. وقتي چهره آرات در فيلمهايي كه ازش ميگيرم به اين حالت است يعني خسته و ناراحت كننده من هيچ وقت فيلمش را نميگذارم اما آخر اين تمرين آرات از من خواست، او گفت: بابا حتما اين فيلمو در پيجم قرار بده تا وقتي بزرگ شدم ببينم چقدر تلاش ميكردم تا روزي قهرمان بشوم. 💯 👌 🌍🌎🌏🆗✌🏻 #sixpack #myson #myhero #hero #baby #kids @arat.gym

A post shared by Arat Hosseini (@arat.gym) on


Resource #5: Forever or A Day by Sarah Jacoby

Provocation Questions:

  • What does it mean to self-manage one’s self?
  • How does self-management impact an individual’s life?
  • What helps a person manage themselves?
  • What obstacles sometimes stand in the way of self-management?
  • How does self-management relate to growth mindset?
  • How does knowing our purpose help us develop self-management skills?
  • How are balance & self-care connected to self-management?

featured image: DeathToTheStockPhoto

An Inquiry Into Symbiosis + “Friends Stick Together” Review

I still recall my surprise as a kid to discover how unlikely animals cultivate symbiotic relationships. Particularly the crocodile and the Egyptian plover bird (for the longest time, I had no idea Tomie de Paola’s “Bill & Pete” was based on science)!

As fascinating as these studies are of working relationships in the animal kingdom, I think their value goes beyond observational science. An inquiry into symbiosis is a great way to get kids thinking about concepts like collaboration, relationships, and problem-solving.

That was one of the reasons I was so excited about receiving “Friends Stick Together” by Hannah E. Harrison from Penguin Young Readers, along with the invitation to participate in its book tour. It finally gave me the push to share the following resources to help students inquire into symbiosis.

Resource #1: “Friends Stick Together” by Hannah E. Harrison

Beginning with a definition that introduces the way symbiosis isn’t necessarily as clean as we might think, Friends Stick Together sets the tone that it takes time to learn to work well with those around us.

I especially loved the zany Levi the tickbird (his “epic” air guitar solos were my favorite). His over-the-top behavior, especially when contrasted with prim Rubert the Rhino, definitely reminded me of one of my childhood favorites, Tacky the Penguin.

I feel like it’s easy for these kinds of books on friendship to get overly didactic, but I feel like Harrison struck a good balance, thanks in large part to her humor. Be sure to check it out when it comes out

Resource #2: “The Wolf, The Duck, & the Mouse” by Mac Barnett & Jon Klassen

Ok, so this one is total make-believe symbiosis. But it’s still a fun way to get kids thinking about how we can rely on and help one another.

Resource #3: How Wolves Change Rivers by Sustainable Human

This resource is much more direct to the science of symbiosis; it’s a great launching point to discuss the complexity of relationships.

Resource #4: Symbiose by Rosalie Benevello, via The Kid Should See This

This beautiful stop motion is sure to spark a lot of conversation about the relationships between humans and nature.

Provocation Questions:

  • What does it mean to have a symbiotic relationship?
  • How does symbiosis impact our world? Our communities? Our schools?
  • How does symbiosis in nature compare with symbiosis in humans?
  • How is technology impacting symbiosis?
  • What is our relationship to foster symbiotic relationships?
  • What are the different perspectives on what it means to have a symbiotic relationship?
  • How do our actions impact people around us?

featured image: DeathToTheStockPhoto

Inquiry Into Learner Profiles: Communicator

This is part of a series of inquiry-based provocations for essential elements of the PYP and the Learner Profile. For more, click here.

It’s funny, really, how we sometimes altogether remove our own voice from our communication. We water it down in the attempt to look like everyone else. We apologize needlessly. We shy away from owning our strengths and what makes us unique. So if you use this provocation into what it means to be a communicator, I challenge you to bring voice front and center into the conversation with your students!

Resource #1: Obvious to you. Amazing to others. by Derek Sivers

Resource #2: Ballet Rotoscope

Resource #3: Citius, Altius, Fortius by Felix Deimann (similar to above, but equally thought-provoking!)

Resource #4: Barcode Band by W88N

Resource #5: The Big Bed by Bunmi Laditan (lots of fun, but pay attention to the way this savvy girl makes her case)

Provocation Questions:

  • What is the role of voice in being a communicator? Why is your unique voice important as you communicate?
  • What does it mean to be a communicator? What are the different ways in which we communicate?
  • What is the role of communication in our society? How does it impact your family? Community? World?
  • What is our responsibility to be communicators? What is our responsibility to own our voices as communicators?
  • What is difficult about being a communicator? How do we overcome?
  • How is perspective important as we communicate? What is the role of listening?

featured image: DeathToTheStockPhoto