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. 

Year 6 Camp

Last week our Year 6 students and team embarked on the Y6 camp. Students arrived at school on Thursday morning with a lot of enthusiasm and many, with very full bags! The focus of our camp was on the attitudes of independence, cooperation and enthusiasm, as well as building community through teamwork and collaboration.

Many teachers from different sections of the school led a range of activities that promoted the importance and benefits of working in a team. Activities included:

  • Development of Camp Essential Agreements
  • Tent set-up and dismantle
  • Cooperative games with Mr. Andy
  • Mindfulness activities with Ms. Michelle and Ms. Nicola
  • Team games with Ms. Nicky
  • Art activities with Ms. Hannah
  • Predator and Prey with Mr. Chiltern
  • Morning Yoga with Ms. Molly
  • Capture the Flag with Mr. Ali and Mr. Paul
  • Singing with Ms. Betsy
  • Pool team games with the PE Aquatics Department

Students also had sessions of unstructured time where they chose to engage in activities including reading, chatting, playing tag, playing frisbee, and participating in running races.  

Overall, the camp was a great success! We hope you enjoy the following photos of camp:

Peace Day

On September 22nd LIS celebrated Peace Day. Our Year 6 students participated in a range of activities which included interactive theater, assemblies, spoken word expressions of peace, a peace parade and talking to UN Angola representative Mr. Paolo.

One thing that particularly stuck with the Year 6 students was the conversation with Mr Paulo and the idea that all people should have the right to have a life with dignity. Students were able to make clear connections between what Mr. Paolo shared and their current unit of inquiry (Sharing the Planet). Throughout the conversation they made clear connections to key and related concepts and asked genuine and generative questions.

Upon reflection students understood that broad and open-ended questions (generative) and questions that are important and significant to them (genuine) lead to better inquiries. This is something that we will continue to practice in our “Where We Are In Place and Time” unit as students embark on their own personal inquiries about migration.

Language – Writing within the Unit of Inquiry

During our Sharing the Planet unit, Year 6 students have -and will continue to be- focused on reflective writing and personal narratives. We have spent a significant amount of time identifying what makes a good reflection and have identified some key aspects of good reflective writing that will be used throughout out this year.

Key aspects of reflective writing identified by Year 6 students include:

–  Deep thinking
–  Using Metacognition
–  Identifying strengths/weaknesses
–  Explaining and justifying with examples
–  Setting goals for yourself
–  Asking questions of yourself

In addition to spending time writing reflections we have also begun to explore personal narratives as a genre. We have been using Ralph Fletcher’s personal narrative as mentor texts to inquiry into the characteristics of a personal narrative. In addition to reading these texts “as a writer”, we have also spent some time reading these wonderful pieces “as a reader” and using our metacognitive strategies to think more deeply and make meaning of the text. We have also been thinking carefully about how both reflective thinking and writing, plus personal narratives are connected to our Unit of Inquiry.

Sharing the Planet

As we continue our inquiry into Sharing the Planet, learners have been involved in some very interesting discussions focussed around the key concepts of perspective, responsibility and function, and the related concepts of action, compromise and pattern. Students have connected all six concepts with the big ideas of peace and conflict and developed open-ended questions around these ideas. As we continue our inquiry into Sharing the Planet, learners have been involved in some very interesting discussions focussed around the key concepts of perspective, responsibility and function, and the related concepts of action, compromise and pattern. Students have connected all six concepts with the big ideas of peace and conflict and developed open-ended questions around these ideas.

On Friday 8th September, we connected with Julie Wells, an Australian expert in conflict resolution, via Skype. Students demonstrated great listening skills as they thought carefully about, and participated in the interactive discussion. Julie introduced new ideas about layers or stages of conflict, and talked about some strategies to resolve conflict. Some questions that were raised during the Skype session included:
 – Do you always follow the steps [stages of conflict]?

 – Is there always a way to resolve a conflict?

 – Do the steps go in order or can you skip steps depending on the situation; how does this work? 


This discussion and information furthered our understanding of the Lines of Inquiry:
1. Characteristics of conflict
2. The role perspectives play in conflict
3. Actions that can be taken to address conflict

The learning outcomes the discussion was connected to include the following:
– practice techniques of mediation and negotiation within the class and or school community.
– 
document examples of conflict (local and global) and identify the causes and consequences.

Please ask your child “what stuck with you” or what they thought was the most interesting/important during the Skype connection and why. 

Back to School Night – thank you!

A big thank you for attending our Back to School night on Tuesday (5th September). It was great to have our Year 6 learners attend the evening for the first time, really demonstrating that they have a key role to play in taking responsibility for their learning, and factors that contribute to their learning. After the presentation in the theatre, it was exciting to see students enthusiastically share their learning back in the classrooms, with the evening turning into an impromptu Student Led Conference!

Thinking conceptually through Mathematics

For the past couple of weeks the Year 6 students have been engaged in days of “Inspirational Maths” with Stanford Researcher, Jo Boaler. Some of the investigations students have been grappling with include finding patterns in Pascal’s Triangle, 100’s chart and identifying how shapes grow (as in the example below).

Students used a range of strategies to move their understanding forward, including drawing diagrams, constructing patterns using blocks, recording symbols, and discussing and sharing ideas. Please have a discussion with your child about what they have been doing in mathematics and have them share some of the patterns they have been exploring.

These investigations are aligned to our mathematics outcomes for pattern & function :

Phase 3

Transferring meaning into symbols

  • Describe  the rule for a pattern in a variety of ways
  • Represent rules for patterns using words, symbols and tables
  • Identify a sequence of operations relating one set of numbers to another
Phase 3

Applying with understanding

  • Select appropriate methods for representing patterns using words or symbols
  • Use number patterns to make predictions and solve problems
  • Use the properties and relationships of the four operations to solve problems
Phase 4

Constructing Meaning

  • Understand that patterns can be generalized by a rule

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Developing our questioning skills and thinking conceptually

Being curious and asking deep questions is key to meaningful and inspiring learning. This week, we made progress in developing our questioning skills. A particularly powerful way to develop questioning skills is using the Philosophy for Children (P4C) approach. Under the P4C framework, students are encouraged to develop questioning skills, express and justify ideas, think conceptually, reflect on their own thinking and consider different perspectives. Over time, this approach builds a shared community of inquiry.

Using P4C, we viewed the picture book “The Rabbits” by John Mardsen and Shaun Tan. We recorded our ideas including key and related concepts connected to the text with the ‘thinking circles’ tool. We also posed questions and wonderings. Initial questions raised were related directly to the characters and precise events in the text. As we began to think more deeply and conceptually, we moved our thinking forward to create many deep questions. Students were also able to make clear links with our unit Lines of Inquiry. We sorted our questions using the Inquiry Question Quadrant in order to identify which questions we would like to pursue further. This resulted in a fascinating class discussion around the student generated and selected question “Why is conflict more powerful than peace”.

Please ask your child about the thinking tools we have been using to help frame and record our ideas.

 

Building a community of learners in Year 6

Year 6 began the first couple of days of the 2017 – 2018 academic year by beginning to build a positive and supportive community of learners. While many students know each other very well from previous years at Luanda International School, we are lucky to have some new learners to the school. It remains important to develop relationships in our community to ensure we all feel connected and a part of our dynamic learning culture.

Developing our Essential Agreements

This week we have spent some time thinking and talking about how we want our class ‘to be’ to ensure we have fun, feel safe in our environment, and enjoy our learning. Creating a class agreement, or Essential Agreement, is not about making a list of rules to ensure compliance, but rather, it is about developing a series of statements that support learning. One of the most important aspects of an Essential Agreement is that students feel a strong sense of ownership towards it.

We completed a series of learning engagements, including thinking about what a learner “looks like”, “feels like” and “sound like”; watched a couple of inspirational video clips (which you can view here , here and here) and identified key ideas and messages from these; and thought about what helps our learning versus what hinders our learning. Next week we will be connecting all these ideas to develop our class Essential Agreements.

Please ask your child about the purpose of an Essential Agreement and why they are so important.

 

Unit of Inquiry

We have commenced our first unit of inquiry for the 2017- 2018 academic year. We are inquiring under the Transdisciplinary Theme of Sharing the Planet. The unit framework details and overview can be found here.

As our initial provocation, designed to prompt thinking, emotions and wondering, the Year 6 classes combined to play ‘a game’ on the field… with no direction, expectations or rules.

Following the game we invested some time to reflecting on actions, reactions, responses, and emotions. After much thought and discussion, we identified a series of concepts and key words that could be used to describe the conditions associated with the game. We will be using these student generated concepts and key words to frame future learning engagements as we tune-in to the unit over the coming week.

Please ask your child about their role during the game on the field, how they felt and why.

Welcome to Year 6!

Welcome to Year 6 and the start of the 2017/2018 academic year! We hope you have had a great holiday. We look forward to getting to know your children and facilitate their learning through what will be an exciting and challenging journey.

We are dedicated to working as a collaborative team; ensuring students across the three classes have consistency in their learning program. Throughout the year we welcome your participation in special events and invite you to share your knowledge and experiences to support the students in their learning.

Eugene Comer (Year 6.1 Teacher, Building 4, Room 21)

My name is Eugene Comer, and I will be teaching 6.3 this year. This is my second year in Angola and prior to this placement I taught at International School Manila, in the Philippines. I am from Ireland and have previously spent a number of years working in the Irish school system. I am very much looking forward to working with your child this year.

Ju Garcia (Year 6.2 Teacher, Building 4, Room 22)

This is my sixth year of teaching at Luanda International School. Prior to working here I worked in North Carolina, USA and Sao Paulo, Brazil. I am looking forward to a great year.

Amelia O’Brien (Year 6.3 Teacher, Building 4, Room 23)

This is my second year at Luanda International School and I am excited to return! I am Australian and prior to being here in Angola, I lived and worked in Lao P.D.R, South-East Asia, where I taught both Year 5 and Year 6 at Vientiane International School. I look forward to a great year of learning and to working with you to support your child’s learning journey.

Odete Matias (Year 6 Teaching Assistant)

I have been working at LIS for the past three years in Year 6. I was born and raised in South Africa. I enjoy working with children and I love adventures and challenges. I am an optimistic person! I am looking forward to working with your children.

 

This year our main means of communication to parents about learning in Year 6 will be through our class blog. On this blog we will be sharing information about the students’ learning engagements, the curriculum, lots of pictures of the goings on in the class and some recommendations about how you as parents can assist your child’s learning. You will find our class blogs at the following addresses:

6.1: (http://blogs.lisluanda.com/6point1)

6.2: (http://blogs.lisluanda.com/6point2)

6.3: (http://blogs.lisluanda.com/6point3)

So that you can stay in touch with all the learning going on in our class, we recommend that you check the blog regularly. We also recommend that you subscribe to our blog so that you receive a weekly email that will include links to all of the newest postings. We hope that you enjoy seeing many of the exciting things we will be getting up to this year and take the time to discuss the blog posts with your child.

We look forward to meeting you on September 1st for the Parent-Teacher Connection Meetings, however please do not hesitate to visit our classes prior to that day.

If you wish to email your child’s teacher, please see the relevant contact details as below:

Amelia O’Brien: aobrien@lisluanda.com
Ju Garcia: jgarcia@lisluand.com
Eugene Comer: ecomer@lisluanda.com

Image source: Welcome by Nathan