Tuesday, March 19, 2019

Student in ACTION: Bringing Corn Snakes to South St. Paul

Did you know that residents of South St. Paul, Minnesota were not allowed to keep corn snakes as pets? Recently, one of our third grade students, Soreal, worked to change that. Learn about her story below. But first, some reflections on action in general in the Primary Years Programme of the International Baccalaureate.

Prior to the release of PYP: From principles into practice, little guidance was given to schools on action, an essential element of the PYP.

In Making the PYP Happen, the action cycle (figure 10 shown below) represented the suggested steps students go through as they contemplated what action they could take as a result of learning. Voluntary action, be it grandiose or simple, individual or collaborative, was to be initiated by the student.

In the enhanced PYP, action is still meant to be authentic, meaningful, mindful, responsible and responsive. However, much more guidance is provided to PYP schools around this core element of our international framework. I see three big ideas emerge as I digest the Action section under The Learner.

Action is an integral part of the learning process

  • Action can be taken at any point during an inquiry cycle and is itself a part of learning.

Action can take on many forms

  • In the new digital resource, the PYP outlines five types of action: participation, advocacy, social justice, social entrepreneurship and lifestyle choices. They also provide concrete definitions and examples of each type.

Adults must support action
  • Although action can be initiated by students, the PYP has now provided a framework that guides adults in ways that they can support students taking action. Figure AC03: Supporting Action from PYP: From principles into practice (shown below), shows different ways that adults and students can collaboratively work together to plan, carry out and reflect on meaningful action that is integrated into the learning process.

Now, back to Soreal.

In the fall during the unit of inquiry How We Organize Ourselves, third graders explore the balance of rights and responsibilities that citizens have in a democracy. Students inquire into the function of government and the responsibilities citizens have to identify problems and to work to solve them by communicating with local, state and nationally elected leaders.

The embedded video below shows Soreal in action at our community's city council meeting. We're very proud of students like Soreal who work collaboratively with adults to initiate positive change in our community.

Soreal at the South St. Paul City Council Meeting

Soreal got her corn snake!


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