Agency begins with a culture of ‘yes’

During the Christmas holiday, one of my students emailed me asking if she could organise a Skype between the class and her godmother in France. We had just finished reading Alan Gratz's phenomenal Refugee, as a class read aloud. The class had previously Skyped one of my contacts who works for Amnesty International, and now... Continue Reading →

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Rethinking student councils

When schools are asked how they include students in decision making, they often point to student council as an example of students having voice and choice in the running of a school. This mirrors what happens out in the 'real world' we vote for representatives and then entrust them to lead and make decisions on... Continue Reading →

Saying no to Classroom Eye Candy – Planning for Agency from Day One

No matter how many years I've spent in education, I never sleep well the night before the first day with a new class. I fret about mispronouncing names, how amazing other teacher's learning spaces look in comparison to my own and wonder if I have enough activities planned to keep the kids 'occupied' until the... Continue Reading →

Learning to sit outside the Literacy Circle

It's been nearly two months since the learners in my class asked me to sit outside the literacy circle. Each week one of the children acts as the main facilitator for the group. The child drafts questions to discuss the novel Out of My Mind and makes a seating chart based on the data from the... Continue Reading →

Learner agency – be sure you’re asking the right questions

Agency. It's the word right at the centre of the new enhanced PYP. Like many schools, our teaching team is starting to reflect on what this means for how we plan learning engagements. A few weeks ago, I was sitting in a planning meeting focused on what the teachers would be doing to support learner agency... Continue Reading →

Student-led conferences – a lesson in trust

Over the years, student-led conferences have become increasingly popular in schools. Instead of the parents and teachers talking about the child while the child sits at home, the child is there not only to hear the conversation but, in theory, lead it. https://twitter.com/traintheteacher/status/950898620743663616 Yet how often do the children get a choice in: The artifacts... Continue Reading →

Video provocations – use small screens to develop conceptual thinking

Video is a powerful medium for provocation. Images, words, music can help us visualize powerful concepts and support storytelling that explores big ideas. Traditionally, teachers gather the children into one group and all watch the video together. Yet during this process how much precious learning time is wasted: Organising the children to sit down in... Continue Reading →

The tour guide on the side – inquiry outside the classroom

Field trips. Barking at the children to not touch, wander off, fidget and listen attentively all while in the public eye. It's stressful. Does it need to be? Inquiry learning is something teachers plan for in the safety of the school environment. However, once we take children on field trips, it's easy to slip back into... 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 →

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