Decluttering pedagogy – creating space to spark curiosity

I'm about three years late reading Marie Kondo's Joy of Tidying Up. The thesis of the book is that if an item doesn't spark joy, then dispose of it. To an international school teacher, living light is a necessity.  Sentimentality goes in the bin along with your unwanted possessions when you are under a strict... Continue Reading →

Make your parent emails more meaningful with @adobespark

In this age of instant communication, the old paper newsletter that often ended up scrunched up at the bottom of the bag is a relic of the past. Each week I send out a 'warm fuzzy' email where parents learn more about what's going on in class as well as important dates coming up.  As... Continue Reading →

The power of kids talking to kids…

Beating at the heart of the Primary Years Programme (PYP) is an impressive vision statement: "The PYP students to become active, caring, lifelong learners who demonstrate respect for themselves and others and have the capacity to participate in the world around them." IBO Our curriculum aims for children to be discussing big global issues and... Continue Reading →

Learning – Who gets to define success?

@sherrattsam threw some serious shade into the conversations around rubrics. I've got a fair number of criticisms of rubrics.  Children who, despite their best efforts, were still at the lowest point of the rubric. Classroom culture can mitigate this. Children who go beyond expanding that still need to be challenged. Rubrics full of language that the children didn't understand (and... Continue Reading →

#internationalwomensday – instead of platitudes take action

A few weeks ago, I helped to prepare a document for my school. The document had lots of photos of children. As part of the final proof, the principal went back and counted up the children appearing to check for gender diversity. It was a small action but something that communicated a bigger idea - equality... Continue Reading →

Classroom eye candy – does it really help with learning?

A few weeks ago, my class made a large wave machine out of jelly babies and skewers as a provocation of a unit of inquiry into energy. We did some maths figuring out how many skewers and jelly babies we would need and how much they cost. We made the Jellybaby machine. One of the kids... Continue Reading →

Viral handshakes and icebergs

  The iceberg is a useful metaphor to explore complexity. I often use it with my students as a way to help them develop a more nuanced understanding of a difficult concept. For instance, spelling and handwriting are at the tip of a writing iceberg. Surface writing errors are easy for adults and children to... Continue Reading →

What is your new year question? #oneword2017

Over the last few years, I've committed myself to the same resolution when the calendar changes to January 1. I will go to bed before 11.This is a simple goal and has a noticeable impact on my well-being. Yet here I am mid-January wide awake and typing away on the computer at 11.30 pm. Holidays lull every... Continue Reading →

The language of inquiry

We're taking time to read a poem. There's some difficult language. "I see 'faux pas,' I am curious what it means.." muses one boy. Several classmates immediately pipe up. "It's French.." "Pas means not, so it's not something..." "I wonder, what is 'faux'?" In the background I ponder the first student's use of language. He... Continue Reading →

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