Approaches to Learning – Communication skills

Last week, while a very short one for students, saw Year 6 continue to inquire into presentation types. They followed a process that included consideration of the ‘WHY’ (Why are you doing this, why is it important to share this?), ‘HOW’ (how will you achieve the ‘why’? How will you apply your learning from inquiring into presentation types? How will you make it effective?), and ‘WHAT’ (What is the outcome? What will you present about? What is your presentation type?) of their presentation.

Learners also thought about how they would structure their presentations, what feelings/emotions they wanted to evoke from their audience, how they would use non-verbal communication, and how they would use voice and the environment to increase the effectiveness of their message. Students also used interesting techniques such as use of quotes, questions, personal stories and humor to hook their audience and maintain engagement.

This week, students will be sharing their presentations in small groups and will provide feedback to each other. Students will then have the opportunity to revise their presentations based on relevant feedback.

Year 6 will continue to build on their presentation skills and use them during the upcoming PYP Exhibition.



How We Express Ourselves: Inquiry into Presentation Types

The Year 6 students are currently inquiring into types of presentations in the lead up to the  submission of a recorded presentation on the theme ‘What I perceive to be beautiful and why’. There are a number of presentation options available to them. They may choose to create a podcast, a TED talk, be interviewed, write and present a speech or arrange an audio visual performance. It is somewhat challenging as the children are required to identify something that represents beauty for them and present it in a 3 minute time period. They are further required to record the presentation for the purpose of a peer review. There are numerous technical and creative challenges that they must overcome.

Students have been working in class groups to unpack the above-mentioned presentation types, using the Parts, Purposes, Complexities thinking routine. The use of this thinking routine has revealed many interesting aspects students need to consider when developing and delivering their own presentations.

On Friday morning, we were lucky to have Ms. Nicole, our Secondary Principal, speak with us as an expert guest speaker on presentations and public speaking. Ms. Nicole explained 5 key tips for public speaking and students asked many interesting questions to clarify their understanding. Ms Nicole also used story telling and many examples to connect with the Year 6 students.

Please chat with your child about aspects of what makes an effective presentation, and which presentation type they are choosing to explore further.

‘How We Express Ourselves’ summative assessment

This week all Year 6 students have been engaging in a process of planning and producing a piece of art that expresses their perception of beauty.

The children were given the opportunity to choose between visual and performance art themes. As part of a multi-stage process each student was obliged to reflect on the factors that influence personal reactions to artwork. They generated composition ideas, justified their choices, sought peer feedback and experimented with range of media with the end goal of producing a piece of visual/performance art. An expectation of the process is that Year 6 would choose and focus on specific selected elements of art or music.

We are very thankful for the support of the Year 11 Visual Arts class, as they have been a fantastic source of information with regard to the artistic process as well being able to advise Year 6 on technical issues. Please talk to your child about their artworks but, more importantly, about the process that they undertook to select themes, perfect techniques, justify choices, and connect back to the key and related concepts of the unit of inquiry.


How the World Works: Summative Assessment

Today the Year 6 students wrapped up their How the World Works summative assessment by presenting their summative assessment to several primary classes. The students explained how their innovative solution could help fix of minimize an issue connected to energy. In addition to this, the Year 6 students spent some time reflecting on and developing presentation criteria for the upcoming Exhibition next semester. It was great to see the enthusiasm and creative thinking displayed by students today.

How the world works

This week Year 6 commenced the summative assessment learning task for How the world works. This learning engagement, that will act as the final assessment for this unit will extend over next week. The assessment has been designed as a ‘mini-exhibition’ in order for our learners to experience elements of the upcoming PYP Exhibition (which is the final unit of inquiry). To this end, students are managing their time by developing their own daily schedule including associated goals for each session; use of a process journal in which they record all ideas, meetings minutes, understandings and reflections; and collaboration with various students and teachers. The main task involves the identification of a meaningful problem, issue or opportunity at LIS connected to energy. Students have been asked to then develop an innovative solution to address the chosen issue/problem that includes a relevant technology. Students are also required to investigate the causes and impacts of not only the initial problem/issue, but also the possible impact/s of their innovative solution. Our learners have demonstrated great enthusiasm and independence during this extended learning engagement so far.

Please chat to your child about their process and ideas in connection with this task.


Field trip to ITA S.A

Last week Year 6 participated in a field trip to ITA S.A. We were kindly shown around the facility by Mr. Rolf Mendelshon who answered a variety a wide range of questions that our learners had generated before the visit. Many of the questions related to our ‘How the World Works’ unit of inquiry with particular interest in connection with how ITA meets their energy needs.

We learned that most of ITA’s energy requirements are satisfied by the mains electricity from the grid and that much of this comes from renewable hydro-electric sources (Form). Year 6 questioned the need for generators and battery banks as secondary and tertiary energy sources (Causation). We also examined the role that solar energy plays to their energy needs (Technological Advances) and how it currently has a surprisingly limited scope in Angola (Impact). It was very interesting to analyse an organization from the perspective of its energy needs and allowed the children to consider energy usage in our school environment.

Many thanks to all at ITA and particularly Ana dos Santos for facilitating a very worthwhile learning engagement.  

How the World Works – Provocations

This week Year 6 engaged in a number of different learning tasks designed to provoke thinking, wondering and curiosity. These learning experiences were instrumental in starting our new unit of inquiry under the transdisciplinary theme of How the world works.

Students applied and developed their self-management, thinking, social and communication skills as they divided allocated time to engage in two tasks in small groups across the Year 6 cohort. The tasks were structured around the related concepts for the unit: innovation, impact, technological advances. One task involved the use of a visual prompt in the form of a Venn Diagram. Students made observations, made connections, and created questions and wonderings about this visual. The other task involved students discussing and determining their position, from strongly agree to strongly disagree about a series of statements connected to the related concepts. These learning engagements promoted much meaningful discussion and questioning. This allowed teachers to identify prior knowledge including misconceptions. Such data will be used for the planning of new learning engagements.

On Thursday this week, Year 6 were given a task and set of written guidelines. The main task was to find the answer to a question connected to inventions without using any technology. They could use the whole campus and were very excited to be communicating with various staff members and students across the school. During the debriefing session, students identified challenges such as lack of resources, and use of time-management and communication skills. They identified many strong links with the Learner Profile and attitudes, including Independence, Commitment and Enthusiasm. They also noticed connections with the importance of the approaches to learning (skills). We will continue unpacking this key provocation next week.

Please chat with your child about the provocation learning engagements this week. You may wish to ask the following:

 – Which task prompted the most thinking for you?
 – How did you feel when you were given written instructions for the task on Thursday and why?
 – What did you enjoy the most about this week’s provocations and why?

Maths within the Unit of Inquiry

Data handling:

For the past couple of weeks, the Year 6 students have been learning about data handling and how to collect, organize, represent and interpret data (CORI). We initiated our investigation on data handling by looking at various graphs connected to migration though some of the key concepts.

We looked closely at the graphs’ form (what is it like?), function (how does it work?); causation (why is it the way it is?) and change (how is it changing?). We also tried to figure out what questions might have been asked in order to collect the data that the graph was representing. We used a Venn diagram to then compare and contrast two/three different types of graphs (pie, bar, line).

After our initial investigation we set off to create our own graphs. We collected data about refugee migrant populations and organized it into a table. We then tried to represent this data by sketching it in our math journals. While doing this some of us noticed that because the range of our data was so wide the intervals on our graphs would be really large and some of our data would become irrelevant. To tackle this problem, we revisited some of the examples that we had already looked at early in the unit.  Some of us were able to come up with some creative solutions to represent the discrepancy in data but we are all still working towards consolidating our understanding in relationship between intervals and how we choose to collect our data.

We are currently learning how to transfer that data to a spreadsheet and use Google sheets to generate a graph. Our first attempt at this was quite successful as we figured out how to use the program. Our next steps will be to get feedback so that we can revise and edit our first draft. Once our graphs are complete we will spend some time drawing conclusions and interpreting the information that we have represented.


Personal Inquiry – migration

For the past several weeks the year 6 students have been engaged in personal inquiries in connection to our Where We Are in Place and Time unit about migration. They have chosen category of migration to explore (early migration, modern migration, refugee migration) and have developed questions to help gain understanding of our lines of inquiry and related concepts.

Some of the guiding questions that students have been using to explore their migration category have been:

  • What is early/modern/refugee migration?
  • What are the reasons people migrate?
  • What are the impacts of migration on the individual, relationships and/or communities?
  • What challenges, risks and opportunities are connected to that category of migration?

While exploring the resources on our Where We Are in Place and Time padlet students have been independently using thinking routines to frame their thinking and help them dig deeper. These thinking routines include:

  •  See, Think, Wonder
  •  Think,Puzzle, Explore
  •  Connect, Extend, Challenge

After each research session students have  also reflected on what they achieved during that learning block and what ATLs (skills) they developed as a result.

We would like to encourage you to have a conversation with your child regarding the process they undertook when conducting a personal inquiries as they are a major learning engagement in preparation for our PYP Exhibition. Below are some questions to facilitate that discussion:

  • What did you find out regarding migration so far?
  • How are the related concepts of risk, challenge and opportunity connected to migration?
  • Can you show me how you use a thinking routine in class (see thinking routine names above)
  • What ATL do you think you developed the most during your personal inquiry? Why do you think that?

Approaches to Learning (ATL)

As part of the Primary Years Programme, learners use and develop ‘Approaches to Learning’ (ATL) or skills to support their learning.

“In order to conduct purposeful inquiry and in order to be well prepared for lifelong learning, students need to master a whole range of skills beyond those normally referred to as basic. These include skills, relevant to all the subject areas and also transcending them, needed to support fully the complexities of the lives of the students.”   – Making the PYP Happen, page 21.

This week we unpacked the ATL by engaging in a sorting learning engagement. Students carefully read and categorized sets of skills, and justified their response. We identified strategies in order to categorize the skills and had thoughtful collaborative discussions as part of the process. We noted that many of the skills are connected, for example, aspects of communication skills are also part of developing positive social skills.

“Within their learning throughout the programme, students acquire and apply a set of transdisciplinary skills: social skills, communication skills, thinking skills, research skills and self-management skills. These skills are valuable, not only in the units but also for any teaching and learning that goes on within the classroom, and in life outside the school”.    –   Making the PYP Happen, page 21.  

Students will be developing a goal based on self-management skills or social skills in the week following the October break.

Please chat with your child about which skills they feel they are successfully applying and those they find challenging and want to focus on further.