Thursday, April 17, 2014

Thinking about the PYP Attitudes

In a Primary Years Program, we strive to provide our students with a well-rounded education; one that meets students' cognitive, intellectual, social, and physical needs. Whereas we work hard to promote the learning of essential knowledge and skills, we know we can’t leave the construction of conceptual understandings up to chance. Nor can we just assume that students will take independent, responsible action in response to their learning, without our guidance.

In the same way, we must provide explicit learning opportunities for students to develop particular attitudes. This does not mean that teachers are responsible for directly instructing their students on the specific dispositions that are known as the PYP Attitudes. Rather, PYP educators must set up learning engagements where students can meaningfully construct an understanding of the attitudes through the inquiry process.

Image taken from Time Space Education Blog. The attitudes - appreciation, commitment, confidence, cooperation, creativity, curiosity, empathy, enthusiasm, independence, integrity, respect, tolerance - are shown here as "roots" of the tree.
Recently, as second grade students were inquiring into how people influence the world in positive ways, they watched a film about Ruby Bridges, an African-American student in 1960 who was the first black child to attend an all-white elementary school in the South (New Orleans).

After, the classroom teacher seized the opportunity to investigate how the students were thinking about the central idea (people influence the world in positive ways) as well as to check for the students' understanding of the PYP Attitudes. The teacher posed the following two questions:

The students had been learning about, demonstrating, discussing, thinking about, and working with the PYP Attitudes all school year. To support their reflection on the attitudes demonstrated in the movie, the students used the front side of the school's PYP Essential Elements Mat.

Front side of the Essential Elements Mat

Back side of the Essential Elements Mat

In the examples below, it is evident that these 7 and 8 year-old students have an insightful understanding of the PYP Attitudes. Because the teacher gave the students very board prompts to think about the attitudes in the film, students were able to chose uniquely different ways of making their thinking visible. Some chose to reflect in a paragraph, whereas other students used bubbles or tables.

After reading about how 2nd graders made their thinking visible about the PYP Attitudes, how could you or have you had your students think about and reflect on the PYP Attitudes?

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