In the International Baccalaureate (IB) Primary Years Programme (PYP), it is expected that students construct understanding of life's timeless, abstract, universal, and transferable ideas. Developing an understanding of these big ideas must lead students to thoughtful, appropriate, and responsible action.
This action must be initiated by the student and needn't be grandiose. As teachers, we have the responsibility to enable students to choose their action carefully, to facilitate this action, and to encourage them to reflect on the action they undertake, (Making the PYP Happen, p. 26). These three steps - Choose-Act-Reflect - make up the PYP Action Cycle.
Recently in kindergarten, students were constructing understanding of the idea that some choices are based on understanding weather. To better understand observing, recording, and predicting weather, the kindergartners watched a video called Weather Starts: The Sun, Heat, Air, Wind on Discovery Education. The class also read The Windy Day by Melvin and Gilda Berger.
Then, students wrote down what they learned in a vocabulary booklet called "My Weather Words".
Here's one student's thinking:
"Wind can blow trash in water and an animal will pick it up."
Upon seeing this student's thinking, the teacher thought this would be a good time to discuss the PYP Action Cycle. She used the Hover Cam to project the student's thinking and also displayed the 3-step Action Cycle (Reflect-Choose-Act) so that they could discuss the cycle together.
The teacher said that the student was very excited to see her writing up on the SMARTboard. They talked about how the student reflected or thought about what happens to the animals with trash flying around. They even said the trash didn’t need to just go in the water, it could be in the woods or a park, to negatively impact the animals.
After reflecting, the students brainstormed what they could choose to do to help fix the problem upon which they were reflecting:
- Throw paper (trash) in the garbage.
- If you find trash on the ground, pick it up, and find a trash can to put it in.
- Go to the woods or a park to pick up trash.
- If you see an animal eat a pencil and choke (or eat trash in general), call a vet.
- Pick up the trash. We talked about if trash is in the parking lot that the students need to ask permission from parents to pick it up.
- Get bags, pick up trash, and put it in the bags.
- They thought we could pick up trash around the school and playground.
- They could pick up trash in the lunchroom and the classroom.
- They want to go outside and pick up trash.The teacher the students that next week they could go outside and pick up the trash around the school
In the PYP, this is also considered action because it was student-initiated, thoughtful, and is in reaction to learning that was done in school.
After reading about how one kindergarten teacher used the Action Cycle with her students, how could you or have you enabled students to choose action, facilitated this action, and encouraged students to reflect on the action they undertake?