Saturday, February 16, 2013

Tuning in... to another PD opportunity

I feel fortunate to be able to attend some more PD beginning tomorrow. This time it will be an IB workshop here in Hong Kong on the PYP Exhibition:

"The Primary Years Programme (PYP) exhibition represents a significant event in the life of a PYP school and student, synthesiszing the essential elements of the PYP and sharing them with the whole school community. As a culminating experience it is an opportunity for students to exhibit the attributes of the International Baccalaureate (IB) learner profile they have been developing throughout their engagement with the PYP.” (Exhibition guidelines).

The workshop leader has set up a website which includes some readings for the workshop. Exploring the website and spending time with the reading materials was a great opportunity to "tune in" to the topic – and get excited about the workshop. I especially enjoyed reading the following three articles:

 Misconceptions about Curriculum-as-Inquiry Framework (Jann Pataray-Ching and Mary Roberson)
Developing Inquiries (Ann Hickey)

In order not to create another super long post, here just some quotes and thoughts that resulted from reading Pataray-Ching & Roberson’s article.

“The inquiry cycle […] provides a curricular framework that puts the learner at the center of the curriculum and establishes seamless and ongoing connections between learning and inquiry.”

“[…] inquiry-based curriculum is built from learners’ interests and must be personally and socially significant to spur lifelong curiosities, lifelong wandering and wondering.”

“Misconception 1: Inquiry is too complex for young learners. - […] Research shows that children as young as infants and toddlers actively inquire throughout their daily lives and are indeed able to understand complex thought, even prior to school.”

“Misconception 2: Inquiry is just a fancy name for doing research. - […] inquiries involve a series of experiences that extend beyond the simple search for answers in a textbook or encyclopedia, making the traditional view of student research  subset of, rather than another name for, inquiry. A goal of inquiry classrooms, then, is to help learner move beyond perceiving inquiry as looking up information in textbooks and encyclopedias and to adopt a philosophical stance of viewing learning.”

(I think this is the most thought-provoking part of the article for me because what I usually do in the library is focus on just this small part of the inquiry. I put too much focus on information retrieved from books and websites, no including enough other sources of information and experiences. I wonder how I can make that better…)

“Misconception 3: The duration of inquiry studies should be no more than two weeks. - […] Providing children time for inquiry exploration is vital. […] prolonged thought of, and extended interactions with, an inquiry experience encourages interconnection and a deeper sense of knowing.”

“Misconception 4: In an inquiry classroom where learners are responsible for gathering resources and information, the teacher does not need to teach. – […] the inquiry teacher works to establish and organize a climate for inquiry so that students develop the tools to explore their curiosities and become more thoughtful, reflective, and inquisitive individuals.”

(I would have added here that we also provide them with the necessary skills, in my case for example in teaching them how to search for information sources efficiently.)

“Misconception 5: Inquiring through disciplinary perspectives and sign system perspectives is no different than planning integrated units of study. – […] when children inquire through disciplinary and sign system perspectives, their questions drive the curriculum. However, in integrated untis of study, the predetermined infusion of content areas dictates the curriculum, preventing children’s authentic questions from emerging.”

“Misconception 6: An inquiry curriculum is impossible to implement because teachers have so many other subjects to teach. – […] An inquiry curriulum is not intended to be another “teaching idea” added onto the existing curriculum. It is a philosophical framework that guides instruction.”

“Misconception 7: It is worthless to implement an inquiry curriculum because it cannot be graded. – […] inquiry classrooms redefine grading. Evaluation is essential but its primary purpose is to support student reflection and growth so that learners are equally responsible and accountable for their learning. […] When children are responsible for evaluation, they have a greater personal investment in their own learning process and personal growth.”

“Misconception 8: Implementation of an inquiry curriculum does not guarantee that students will score better on standardized tests; therefore, the curriculum is useless. – […] Research indicates that students in whole language classrooms did as well or better on standardized tests compared to students in skills-oriented and phonics-based classrooms […] and that students’ test scores increase in inquiry classrooms.”

“Misconception 9: Students should not inquire about the same topic throughout the school year because students will fail to learn the “common stock of knowledge” that society expects all educated persons share. – […] Inquiry, when used to support children’s ongoing questions, has tremendous potential for lifelong learning. Students learn the values of longevity, persistence, depth of exploration, and continual questioning, qualities that can be applied to learning any concept or topic, qualities that prepare students for the 21st century.”

I also liked how the authors describe the six roles the inquiry teacher takes on in the classroom:
  1. Inquirer
  2. Supporter of learning culture
  3. Listener and observer
  4. Question poser
  5. Organizer
  6. Co-learner 

I guess I picked this article to share a bit more because it somehow addressed one of the questions I have regarding Exhibition: what do you do when students realize when looking for information sources on their topic that there aren’t any or none age-appropriate? Do you steer students towards another topic? So far, I would have said, steer them towards another topic. But after reading this article I am thinking maybe this is just because I think of inquiry too much as traditional research, finding answers in books and webites…

I hope that participating in the workshop will help me to find an answer to this questions and show me in general how I can support students better with Exhibition – and I am sure this is not just during the actual Exhibition period but throughout the PYP.


  1. How exciting for you to be doing this workshop. Look forward to seeing your post on your learnings!
    I will be working with year 6 next year, so need to start relearning about the exhibition!

  2. Steer them towards primary sources... People they can talk to and learn from.
    Great to see you blogging!

    Have you read Kathy Short's article Inquiry as a Stance..?