I remember receiving a box of laminated cut-outs to display in my classroom which were intended to help remind us about our goals as teachers and learners using the International Baccalaureate (IB) PYP Programme — specifically, the 5 Essential Elements of the PYP.
Use of these cutouts went about as well as my feeble attempts to use Key Concepts questions (read that story here — fortunately, it does have happy ending).
In retrospect, I realize that my mind was in such a frenzy trying to “get it together” as a new teacher, I never had the quiet time necessary to sit and process in its entirety this more subtle approach to teaching and learning.
As I’ve continued to reflect on my experiences at a PYP school, and on inquiry in general, I’ve come to better glimpse how and why all five of these elements truly are essential. This week’s provocation is intended as an investigation on where they come into play for learners. (I will also plan on designing additional provocations based on individual essential elements in the future!)
Resource #1: The Potter, video by Josh Burton
Resource #2: Soar by Alyce Tzue via The CGBros
What is the connection between a growth mindset and these essential elements?
Why are concepts, skills, knowledge, attitudes, and action necessary for learning? What would happen if one element was missing?
Real learning — the kind that students carry with them and treasure in the longterm — is a vulnerable process. If we are to help our students get to a place where they are truly willing to put themselves out there, take risks, make mistakes, and try again, we need to take an active role in cultivating a classroom of trust.
It’s with that in mind that I share this week’s provocation on friendship.
Resource #1: Gymnastics student’s repeated efforts, via harleykyan
Resource #2: “Invisible Boy” by Trudy Ludwig and Patrice Barton
As an avid organizer myself, I completely understand the human need to categorize, calculate, and classify. But as a teacher (ie, a laborer among messy human beings), I also completely understand when “the human need to calculate runs into messy reality.” When we act like everything can be neatly sorted and identified — even the content within our curricula — we do our students a major disservice.
Because the truth is, every field still has its frontiers, its disputed claims, its square-pegs-&-round-holes. Inquiring into this concept can help our students think more deeply and with more nuance as they navigate the sometimes rough seas of human wisdom.
With as much wonder as a new city provides, you can bet that an inquiry into the concept of cities would lead into a rich discussion about culture, change, growth, community, and more. Check out these resources for a broad concept-based provocation to stir up your students’ thinking!
I am a huge sucker for time-lapse. It’s a mesmerizing phenomenon that by speeding up time, we get to feel like we’re slowing down. This is especially enjoyable when it comes to nature, which is why two of the four resources in this week’s inquiry include time-lapse videos.
The concept connections here include pattern, design, geometry, seasons, etc. Time lapse also lend themselves well to the PYP Transdiciplinary unit of “Where We Are in Place & Time.” But the exciting part about provocations is that we have no idea in which direction this might spark our students’ curiosity.
Color. Seems like one of the more straight-forward aspects of our world, but lately, I’ve come across several resources to make me wonder. And since that’s what these provocation posts are all about — inviting wonder — I thought it would be fitting to dedicate a post to color.
At first glance, you might think an inquiry into color would only have applications in art, but it is much more rooted in the social and physical sciences than I would have guessed! So take a look and see what might inspire your students to dig into the deeper concepts for their next unit!
Resource #1: The Black Book of Colors by Menena Cottin & Rosana Faria
How do you explain color to someone who can’t see? A fascinating picture book of raised images to represent the different colors!
Resource #2: “Kids Describe Color to a Blind Person” by WatchCut Video
Speaking of color and blindness, check this video out of kid attempting to explain it to a man who is blind!
Resource #3: Colorscope series from CNN
The Kid Should See This has compiled all the videos into one page here.
Resource #4: The World’s Deadliest Colors by TedEd
How does color work in our society?
How have the perspectives on color changed over time?
What are reasons humans care about color?
How has human fascination with color impacted our world over time?
How is color related to perspective?
What is the relationship between color and human health?
This week’s provocation that, at face value, may seem a little more abstract, but that has a wide range of applications. You might be beginning a unit about inventors, or perhaps one on algebra, or maybe even some creative writing. Whatever the case, there is power in beginning a unit in a way that is a little less obvious, and a little more mysterious. The intrigue not only helps to hook our students’ interest, but it provokes deeper questions. This in turn leads them to broader concepts that tend to carry more relevance, meaning, and universality (at least, more than the compartmentalized memorize-and-forget content they might otherwise prioritize).
So with this introduction, I share two resources on thinking outside the box!
#1: “It’s Different From What you Expected” Video series by Daihei Shibata