The Soul of the Personal Project

I have been interested in transitions for a long time. I am fond of the mental and cognitive transformation that all of us undergo when we move form one plateau to another. Some of these transitions are like the metamorphosis cocoons go through as they become butterflies; or like the skin snakes leave behind. Regardless of where we end up, we never start from zero: we have the history we built with our journeys behind us, supporting our development.

As I stated in my post ‘Another Brick on the Bridge’, the Personal Project (PP) as a culmination task in the MYP is a transformational exercise that can become students’ contribution to the context on which they decided to base their project. Moreover, as I think on the impact reflection and engagement have in the whole community, this time I wanted to look at the pieces of luggage students fill as they walk their personal project journeys; as they make decisions; take turns they might not have thought of; as they design and employ tools to organize and analyze the evolution of their project; and as they are transformed by their findings.

I am not sure about the extent to which personal project supervisors refer to the process journal while discussing PP development with students. Why is this fundamental piece of the puzzle not given the respect it deserves considering it is the one item where most of the efforts are deposited; when it is the capsule that guards students’ experiences: their achievements; their disappointments; and the resilience strategies they considered to bounce back and re-focus their efforts. The process journal is the beating heart of the PP, and it seems it is many times only regarded as an accessory, which clearly makes me wonder: ‘isn’t process our focus and not the final product?’

img_4990Thus, I figured that this new ATL in the PP odyssey should focus on the Process Journal, the necessary skills to build a successful and meaningful one, as well as to use it as THE tool that will help students reflect on their journey and evaluate the learning they thought they could attain against the learning they experienced and co-constructed. Moreover, considering my experience as a PP supervisor, I have found that engaging in the challenges students are facing, discussing the developments they are witnessing, participating in their journey, and addressing specific processes and competencies when providing guidance, is what truly makes a difference and enables supervisor and students to bond and generate dialogue.

Screen Shot 2015-11-17 at 4.06.15 PMThe PP criteria are a clear reflection of the ATL categories, and if we look at the path everyone has to walk to produce the final product they have in mind, it is clear that the roads towards PP completion is full of ATL temptations. For this reason, the workshop I prepared for students focused on the process journal and aimed at helping students see how the PP criteria were somehow indicating the steps they had to take; the way they had to look at things; the way they had to document their actions; the considerations they had to keep in mind; the estimations they mad to make; the occasions when they had to act as a designer; as well as the decisions they would have to take- which many times will cause them to take a few steps back.

The workshop could not possibly have moved on without students asking: ‘But what does an ATL-packed process journal look like?’ So, to help them visualize how strong ATL looked like when represented in a process journal, so I showed excerpts of a process journal that provided examples on how one student successfully used a variety of ATL skills to document the construction of her PP. See below.

The following are some ideas we discussed as we looked at the process journal samples:

  • The value of creating a timeline
  • How the tools used, and the methods used to analyze data were documented aided in reflection.
  • How the process journal helped keep track of decisions, changes and iterations.
  • How the process journal serves as a tool for having dialogue with the personal process supervisor.
  • How the report is basically a summary of the process journal.

And, as a conclusion, almost as unison, students stated: ‘so basically, the process journal is the most important piece of the PP?’ While it’s difficult say yes, it is difficult to deny that it is the soul.

To download the workbook I used for this workshop, click here.

You might be interested in the history behind this post:

In my post ‘Change Ahead’ I discussed the transition from PYP to MYP and shared an experience in which such stage of the process was addressed by looking at the nature of Approaches to Learning (ATL).

Posted in Teaching in India, ATL, Resources, Strategies, IB MYP | Tagged , , , , , | 1 Comment

Inquiry Instruments and where to find them

There are many reasons to appreciate and respect inquiry-based learning environments: because we are no longer living in the dark ages; because we are surrounded by information that we need to digest and evaluate; because there are great opportunities to transform ideas with the skills we have; because we cannot not be a part of the change that perspires everyday. The structures of learning are like the walls of the maze in the Glade, in Maze Runner: they change daily; they are affected by intellectual, social, and emotional weather conditions; and they take the shape and form of our dreams and fears. Conventional learning structures are “so my grandpa’s time”, one of my nephews would say.

In this world that I am describing there is no room for punishment; there is no room for zeros; there is no room to negotiate the power and value of thinking and learning. Embracing dialogue when facing a challenge is an article of this world’s constitution, as is reminding ourselves of our duties and responsibilities when collaborating. Promoting a growth mindset instead of highlighting ‘can’t do’s’ and opting for acknowledging what we have not attained yet in order to take action is hence a magical instrument.

Upon unwrapping our statement of inquiry (SoI) in our MYP 2 class, a colleague and I (we teach the same grade) realized that students were not engaging with the understandings that we had listed and agreed on evaluating and possibly refuting. We had worked on the language skills, but felt students were not reacting to the provocations considered. Therefore, we needed to redirect the course of our learning.

We regrouped, rethought our exploration, and decided to have our two groups explore the SoI differently, to walk different paths and then meet at some point in order to share how our choice allowed us to experience learning differently. When we reconvened, all of us, teachers and students, were standing before uncertainty, but we were hoping to find what we wished for when we met again.

Needless to say, we stumbled and fell; we got up, restarted and considered different strategies several times: we wanted wild, unpolished, provoking, disruptive, engaging ideas to emerge from our diversion from the original path. Thus, we invited students not to think of zeros or can’ts, but to look at what we had not learned yet, as this would help us define our priorities in our quest to develop a new understanding through our unit.

dog2527sview3Thus, we came up with the “Not Yetometer”: our scale to evaluate our progress, without negative remarks, only with reminders that prompted us to think of what needed to be done in order to attain what we wanted. As a result, I realized that scaffolding needed to be more diverse, with mutating qualities that allowed for differentiation, and that triggered students’ needs to express what they thought.

Students started planning their own blueprints and then they Screen Shot 2015-11-16 at 11.11.48 AMtook the best of each in order to design a better one; they made individual reports and then combine their ideas, hence finding connections and observing the relationship between concepts; they started using elements of the resources they had studied before. Students knew they were soon to meet the other part of the gang and then show what they had found, so there was some pressure.

As it happens in good books, when paths meet new questions arise, IMG_1349alliances are formed and decisions are made. Yet, the questions my colleague and I observed were focused and showed curiosity (as they were addressing ideas they had not fully explored before); students were speaking with a strong sense of audience, establishing connections with their peers (as they knew they were saying something that mattered to them); and I was just proud of everyone. Those students whose voices I had not heard in weeks now wore colors that made them sound different.


One goal, two explorations became the motto of the re-launching of the unit I am describing. It sounded like a statement from the Matrix, it felt like providence, and it proved to be a wise choice. This experience allowed me to see that the paths of inquiry are not straight- they are winding and intertwined; they are messy; they react to emotions and happenstance. Likewise, looking back at everything we, as a team, experienced, I can see how taking the challenge to do something unusual allowed us to find inquiry instruments and gave us the opportunity to use them.

Inquiry instruments are like magical creatures: they are hidden from the common eye, and we need patience and determination to find them. Yet, once we’ve found them, and because of what we have undergone, we will be surrounded by scenarios where we can use them purposefully and meaningfully.

FullSizeRenderAs students presented their findings and I saw how their questions felt so natural, I also realized that, while we were indeed addressing and putting our statement of inquiry to the test, ideas were divergent and moving in directions that we didn’t think would happen. There I was, thinking that the outcomes of inquiry could be contained… I was experiencing transformation and how learning was being unleashed, as the great Edna Sackson would say.

Thank you Edna, for putting words together that helped me reflect on this recently walked journey.

Student’s reflection to symbolise our journey:

Posted in ATL, Collaboration, Curriculum, IB MYP, Inquiry | Tagged , , , , , , , | 2 Comments

Why can Language Acquisition be every MYP subject’s best friend?

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Considering that every subject possesses a language of its own, and the fact that we cannot do anything without language, it seems to me that the role of Language Acquisition in MYP goes beyond “the foreignness” of its nature. As the subject in which understanding and communication in a foreign language is built from scratch, and considering that meticulous scaffolding is needed in order to help students to witness how the architecture of their language is evolving, language acquisition has a lot to offer to all MYP subjects.

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MYP is not a stand-alone program; there is an inherent interconnectedness among all subjects that can be maximized through Interdisciplinary Unit planners. Yet, while learners (teachers included) will always be cognitively capable to engage with a subject, there will be times when their language development will not allow them to share what they know and how they can transform information. We must, therefore, look for opportunities to support our students’ language progress both cognitively and developmentally.

At present I am part of a school in which several students need EAL support in order to cope with the information and learning in the rest of the subjects. Thus, I have become interested in observing which aspects, processes or tools in my subject can be of further support to other subject groups when trying to engage learners with the stimuli or resources we provide them.

As a result of this observation process, I have noticed that the way students are encouraged to respond to criteria A and b questions, strand 2, can have impactful uses in other subjects if teachers want students to refer to a resource they are using.  You can download the resource I shared with teachers below.

Addressing texts conventions

Likewise I have noticed that strand 1 questions in criteria A and B tasks involve a variety of factual question structures, and that we can use a variety of sentence starters to encourage students to answer this type of questions or to employ when they are trying to include factual information in a text. You can download the resource I shared with teachers below.

Factual sentence starters for information texts

When we talk about subjects supporting subjects and teachers being aware of how learning is taking place in the community, I believe it is a good idea to capitalize on the efforts being made in other subjects, for we can easily benefit from the skills students are developing in each of them.

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Every time that I reflect on how I can enrich the learning processes in my subject, I end up realizing that I need to be unfaithful to my subject and hang out with other subjects in order to receive positive influence. One of the ATL skills is transfer, and I am pretty sure it will never take place if we encapsulate learning within the walls of our subject.

Posted in Collaboration, Curriculum, IB MYP, Spanish By Concept, Strategies, Teaching | Tagged , , , | 2 Comments

The Linguistic Universe in Global Context, Key and Related Contexts

Warning! This is a very long post!

This is the second entry in the series of blog posts that I am writing about my book Spanish by Concept, published by Hodder Education. In my first post on the book, I explained some of its main features. In this entry I will focus on a certain aspects of conceptual teaching with the book. Likewise, I will share how I approached the design on conceptual contexts as well as how I structured the linguistic framework for each chapter considering key concepts, related concepts, global contexts, as well as well as grammar and vocabulary. Since this is a book to learn Spanish, all examples will be in Spanish.

Exploring the Key Concept


Spanish by Concept, Unit 12 title and conceptual components

In the IB MYP, 4 Key Concepts have been assigned to Language Acquisition as s subject group: communication, culture, creativity, and connections, a.k.a. the 4C’s. It is important to remember that all concepts in MYP transcend the disciplines or subject groups to which they were assigned, and serve as the elements that allow us to establish connection with other areas of knowledge. Concepts are abstract and applicable over many times and circumstances; contexts are specific, varied and highly situational. Concepts are powerful ideas that have universal application, but the meaning of concepts can change as people experience and interpret them in different contexts. Contexts offer the possibility of new perspectives, additional information, counter-examples and refinements of understanding. (From principles into practice, pag. 17)

For this reason, it is a good idea to carefully pay attention the key concept identified for each unit in order to observe how it allows to conduct grammatical explorations, understanding that all structures can be approached considering form, meaning and use. Thus, if we take unit 6 as an example (¿Qué tan fuerte es el poder del cambio?), we can see that the key concept is connections and, due to the fact that this chapter addresses different elements related to change, we can see how structures such as the past and present (and possibly future) tenses framework will be useful.

Unit 4 (¿Cuál es la relación entre los modales, las reglas y las prohibiciones?), on the other hand, addresses a variety of aspects about manners and civil life and responsibilities and has culture as a key concept. This unit allows us to work with different forms of the present tense as well as el condicional form. The key concept, in conjunction with the main theme in this unit, provides us with the opportunity to look at verbs such as poder, deber, tener in a structure that can emulate the way modals in English (can, should, could, must) are used. This practice can encourage students to construct meaningful ideas in which they can also explore aspects such as formality, tone and function, as shown in a previous post of mine on an EFL strategies to teach foreign languages.

The processes implied in the related concepts

“Related concepts are grounded in specific subjects and disciplines. Related concepts are useful for exploring key concepts in greater detail. Related concepts may arise from the subject matter of a subject, from processes” (Developing MYP Units).

In a few words, in Language Acquisition, Related Concepts are the linguistic processes implied in the way we employ the language. Not only do they imply a linguistic function, but they also give us an idea of the possibilities we can consider when generating learning experiences for they (RC) will be the processes that will occur while communication is happening.

Spanish by Concept is a book for phases 3-5; therefore, I will offer a few insights on grammar or language functions that can be addressed through these phases’ related concepts.

Argument: language and structures of disagreement, debate or persuasion.

Spanish by Concept Unit 2, examples of Global Context and related concept-specific tasks.

Spanish by Concept Unit 2, examples of Global Context and related concept-specific tasks.

Audience: language and structures used to define specific readers, listeners, the views; aspects of formality; academic language. This RC is relevant to distinguish the difference between strand 4 in criterion C and strand 3 in criterion D.
Bias- language and structures that imply a conscious distortion or exaggeration; language and structures used to express prejudice. This related concept is particularly relevant in criteria A and B, as we ask students to evaluate and assess ideas expressed in texts.
Context- language and structures used to denote aspects of social, historical, cultural and workplace settings in which language is used. Examples could be, the language used at home in different cultures; the use of ‘’ and ‘usted’, among others. This RC is relevant to distinguish the difference between strand 4 in criterion C and strand 3 in criterion D.
Conventions- refers to the language that writers use, along with other features, in order to achieve particular artistic ends. Examples of this RC can be the way newspaper headlines are written in Spanish; the choices of adjectives used in specific descriptions; the frequent uses of certain grammar tenses, their exceptions and the meaning change that occurs when employed incorrectly.
Empathy- language and structures that can be employed to express understanding, an emotional identification with a person or situation. Structures such as subjuntivo pretérito (si yo fuera, si yo tuviera…) can be employed to express empathy. Some constructions / expression that can be mentioned are: ponte en el lugar de…, piensa / imagina que eres…, etc.
Function– language and structures that we use depending on the purpose and/or use of communication. For example, the use of ‘se impersonal’ in formal documents; the specific uses of passive voice in Spanish, in contrast to its use in English.
Idiom– language and structures that refer to a manner of speaking whose meaning differs from the meaning of its individual components. This RC allows us to look at the way Spanish is used in different countries; at the use/meaning certain words have in different contexts in different countries. This video might illustrate the RC.
Inference is the information in a text that goes beyond what is first understood or apparent to identify what may be thought, expressed or considered correct. It is the layer of text that is often referred to as “between the lines”. When we ask students to infer, we ask them to express their ideas using verbs such as: suponer, creer, sospechar, presumir, etc.
Meaning refers to what is communicated, by intention or by implication, using any range of human expression. This RC includes “layers of meaning”, nuance, denotation, connotation, inference, subtext. This RC is one of the broadest, and one that we address when we look at words in contexts, when we ask students to use specific words in a specific context to convey a meaning; when we combine grammar structures in order to generate different sequences of actions.
Message is communication in writing, speech, verbal or non-verbal language. The message can also be an underlying theme or idea. See meaning.
Point of view refers to an attitude or perception that is communicated in text. This RC comes to life when we ask students to express their opinion, to discuss beliefs, to compare judgments, to come up with a verdict, to contrast attitudes, etc.
Purpose, as RC, can be defined as the language and structures used in order to to entertain, to recount, to socialize, to inquire, to inform, to persuade, to explain, to instruct. A lot of the suggested vocabulary items in the book were chosen considering this RC. When working with literary works, this concept could also engage students in exploration of meaning, thesis/argument, gender, bias, persuasive techniques, function, critical stance, and message.
Structure refers to the organization, pattern and elements of text, in any format. This RC is evident when we ask students to produce specific texts for specific audiences.
Stylistic choice: A creator makes choices about what they are going to describe and how to describe it in order to create effect. Different kinds of texts and interactions will require different vocabulary, vocabulary used to serve as symbols, sensorial impressions, as well as a certain structure.
Theme refers to a dominant subject, thread or idea that is conveyed through a text form. We make room for this RC when we ask students to express ideas or inquire into a certain exploration.
Voice is the characteristic speech and thought patterns of a narrator; a persona, which conveys his or her attitude, personality, and character. We make room for this RC when we ask students to adopt a specific role in a conversation or text production, and then voicing ideas from that perspective.
Word choice has to do with the writer’s selection of words as determined by a number of factors, including meaning (both denotative and connotative), specificity, level of diction, and tone.
(Information on related concepts adapted from Language Acquisition Guide, pag 111.)

Nonetheless, while it is easy to see how each related concept suggest specific structures and/or functions, it is important to remember that the learning scenario needs to be meticulously crafted in order to create room for these processes to come to life. In the tasks in the book, we encourage you to look at the elements of the task: (GRASPS: goal, role, audience, situation, purpose, standards) in order to see how the RC selected for the chapters were represented in the tasks.

Navigating the Global Context

If we could say that the Key Concept is a soccer player, and that everything he or she is

Spanish by Concept, Unit 12 Suggested Vocabulary and Grammar items

Spanish by Concept, Unit 12 Suggested Vocabulary and Grammar items

able to do on the field are the Related Concepts, then the Global Context would be the filed on which s/he would play. In other words s/he would still be him/her and would be able to do the same things all the time, but in different scenarios.

As a subject that is skill based, it is important to remember that in Language Acquisition we can use information and content form any subject in order to generate learning experiences.

Global Contexts, therefore, represent opportunities for students to receive language input and experience language output with specific characteristic features, understanding the culture that lies behind the grammar. GC allows teachers to enrich the learning contexts and add layers to the experience for it is not the same to play soccer in Singapore and Canada during the winter. Soccer players need to adapt to specific conditions and employ their best resources in order to succeed, and so must students: in each GC, language has different nuances, language can be used for different purposes and in different formats. Some GC lend themselves to more specific linguistic explorations, while others welcome transfer.

For example, Personal and Cultural Expression provides opportunities to explore vocabulary and structures related to different forms cultural expression; artistic appreciation; the opinions art and cultural trends generate; influences, influencers, connections with one’s personal life; vocabulary related to the senses, to human emotions, different disciplines, etc. This means that should this GC be selected, teacher should procure contexts/situations in which that type of language and structures is employed.

This GC can be identified in unit two, and some examples of the language that can be explored can be:

  1. Presente simple de indicativo
  2. Conjunciones copulativas (y, e, ni, que)
  3. Conjunciones adversativas (pero, mas, aunque, sin embargo)
  4. Conjunciones de modo (según)
  5. Conjunciones comparativas (más….. que, menos….. que, tan…. como)

Let us not forget that another approach towards contextualizing Global Contexts in our curriculum is by engaging our community in our exploration, in order to see how similar or different the scenarios are in comparison to a more global situation. You might want to read this example.

Thus the exploration of Global Contexts that once decides to carry out will determine in big part the language that will be used, while the Related Concepts will determine the processes that will take place, and the Key Concept will be the rope that ties everything together.

After reading this post, you might be interested in reading about the role of the IB Learner profile while designing lessons. You might also be interested in an exercise through which I piloted some of the learning experiences for this chapter.

In the next entry I will share my views on how to unpack the statement of inquiry, and will establish connections with specific aspects of the language as well.

Posted in ATL, Curriculum, IB MYP, Inquiry, Spanish By Concept | Tagged , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Authors, Conventions, Transitions, Purpose and Message

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One of the most interesting and complex criteria in IB MYP Language Acquisition is criterion A, which is the evolution of the old fashioned listening activities in MFL textbooks. This criterion incorporation into the MYP Language Acquisition framework is fully justified as spoken+visual texts are one of the main sources whereby we interact with information nowadays.

Criterion A assesses the purpose(s) for and situation(s) in which the stimulus (generally a video) has been created . For example, the social and cultural features and factors of the text; where and why it is viewed and interpreted; the factors that influence the understanding and interpretation of the visual + spoken; as well as the message that the stimulus communicates.

Designing a task for this criterion is a challenge. Teachers need to locate or generate a stimulus that fits students’ phase, and which allows students to operate and interact with the text both cognitively and developmentally, in terms of language. Added to that, for strand 2, teachers have to generate questions that help students understand the elements that add meaning or offer a perspective on the topic. Needless to say, this particular strand  represents a challenge for students if learning is not scaffolded.

For this reason, after looking at different ways of getting students to appreciate the ideas that are communicated; what subtitles or transitions tell us about the message or author’s intention; the reason why creators purposefully show specific elements; and the feelings or impressions that authors want readers/viewers to feel,  I realised that a good approach is to have them interview a realisateur. Yet, since this could not be possible every new year, I decided to purposefully create the following resources so that students became aware of how authors handle and shape information in order to transform it into message.

With the help of our librarian and our film teacher at QAIS, I produced the following audios as a step to scaffold students’ engagement with criterion A tasks, specifically with the descriptors of strand 2.

Listen and use.

Posted in ATL, Curriculum, IB MYP, Resources, Spanish By Concept | Tagged , , , , , , | 1 Comment

An underestimated organ , an undervalued language

We commonly hear that kinesthetic learners need to move, touch and experience in order to learn, but I wonder if we ever think about how we are all potential kinesthetic learners due to our skin: our biggest organ, and one of the connections to the information registered in every tangible thing in our world.

Through touch we learn about pressure, friction, vibration, temperature, texture, consistency, and pain. Similar to our heart and our brain, our skin cannot be unplugged. We can close our eyes and imagine what someone who cannot see; we can cover our ears and try to imagine what it feels like to be deaf, but there is nothing we can do about our sense of touch. Its omnipresence is such that it’s impossible to stop one of our senses to imagine what life would be like without touch.

Touch is a language on its own; a secret weapon in our many relationships in our world. In his article, The World at our Fingertips, Derek Cabrera (2010) explains how in science experiments touch is as important as vision for learning and retaining information. Likewise, Dr. Rigaud explained to me how, in the Montessori framework, tactile activities such as playing with blocks help children improve everything from their mathematics abilities to their thinking skills. Thus, as I reflect on the experience I witnessed these past days in PYP2 science, PYP3 social studies and PYP1 arts class, it is clear to me how we can easily go through our lives being knowledge architects: building intellectual edifices through physical experiences.

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I enjoyed witnessing how Mr. Bradley Murray, our PYP2 teacher, engaged his students in feeling the relationship between objects (weight, proximity, location) in order to understand the science behind levers. It was clear how when he asked students to use their bodies in the learning process, not only were they able to understand the role each item played and the effect each had on the other, but they were also able to explain to their classmates. I noticed that touch can have a big effect, even if it seems silly or unconnected to the learning goal at hand. As a language teacher, witnessing this helped me create extra layers in the session I was about to have with one PYP2 student who needs language support. As I saw the connection our pupil made, it was evident to me how we understand language in a richer, fuller way if we can connect it to the actions we perform.

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Ms. Szyman’s PYP3 classroom is in front of mine, so I inevitably have the opportunity to experience the learning that happens there. She is currently working on past civilizations and her students are busy doing research about sarcophagus, their design and the message they convey. I noticed that one of her students was tearing her vocabulary sheet apart, and I asked her why she was doing that. Needless to day, her answer was brilliant: ‘So I can do stuff with it.’ I stayed next to her and saw how she was using each vocabulary item both as checkpoints of her progress, and to label aspects of her work. Clearly, abstract concepts became easier to understand after she had transformed vocabulary into physical objects—in this case, pieces of paper she could hold, feel and manipulate.

Upon becoming a ‘touch experience’ hunter, I arrived in the arts classroom where PYP1 students were working on making simple machines, and I noticed how manipulating materials and establishing dialogue while doing so really engaged our students, helping them bring to the world what was happening in their heads. I noticed how in this particular kind of engagements we need to ask them about the way they are reading the world with their sense of touch; after all, they are the sources of input that help us make sense of the world.

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I remember what my drama teacher taught me about understanding space. I remember how he said that we have to learn to look at objects and spaces as if we were to establish a lifelong relationship with them for, this way, our brain will process what the object/space looks like, and will remember what it feels like to touch and navigate it as a new geography that our body understands. Knowing how strong this connection is, I wonder if one day computers examining data coming only from the part of our brain that processes touch will be able predict which object we are actually looking at.

I will be cooking tonight, and as I wash my hands I feel that I will be thinking about the stories, secrets, and learning I am washing away in the process.

Posted in Inquiry, IB PYP, Reflection | Tagged , , , , , | 1 Comment

The Learner Profile as a Map

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The learner profile and its attributes are ideals and realities; they are noun and verbs; they are seed and promise. Many times, the learner profile is underestimated as, some say, it romanticizes the learning process. Nonetheless, as a former video game lover, as a thriller lover, and an avid reader, I prefer to look at it as a map.

In a video game, each level demands players to operate with a certain mindset, to employ specific approaches to winning, to devise a variety of strategies in order to survive and succeed. Thus, as described in the examples in my post entitled Gamified Readings, each of the attributes of the learner profile can be regarded as toolbox with specific tools that can allow us to overcome situations and surpass challenges. From beginning to end, a video game is a map whose paths are navigated by players who wear different masks, and hats and armors, and such is the path of learning as well.

Those of us with a passion for traveling might rely on the maps in the lonely planet, googlemaps, or the exquisiteness in the instincts of the maps in our hearts’ wit. From planning a trip, to living the experiences in it, and bringing it to a conclusion, traveling requires us to play a variety of roles, to speak with different voices and to be open to differences circumstances, depending on where we are in our journey; in other words, to show different attributes.

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Sea of Knowledge, courtesy of Sean Oussoren

Life is filled with cycles, and it is also filled with maps. Our journeys, always full of expectation, realities, and surprises, will require us to be able to find connections between different points; to trace trajectories between one destination and another; to look at experiences through different lenses in order to capture the best movements; to be open to different tastes and ways of seeing life; and to become designers of information when the time to talk about of experiences arrives.

Aren’t we, therefore, displaying different aspects of the learning profile at all times in all these games and trips? There is nothing romantic about the learner profile. Instead, it is rather a generous reminder of how we need to act in life to be forever learners and to be permanently happy.

I like to use the learner profile attributes as terms that spark attitude and ways of doing, thinking and asking- I don’t want students to recite why they acted as inquirers or effective communicators, but to experience what it’s like to think, speak and act as such. As a class we have even gone as far as brainstorming on a list of questions that we can ask when we are inquiring as any of the attributes of the learning profile, and we use them as examples of what and how we can ask questions. We have used attributes of the learner profile to design our rubrics, making sure that the descriptors we include reflect degrees of challenge and depth that we would need to fulfill in order to evaluate to what extent we are representing the attribute we chose to focus on.

As a teacher the learner profile has always helped me to select and curate resources, for certain stimuli will trigger the use of specific attributes and will encourage learners to wear the hats and choose the tools and weapons they must in order to be the learner and doer that is required. Moreover, considering my constant desire to act and feel like a learning designer, I like the challenge the learner profile sets on me as I try to balance my approaches to teaching: many times I am forced to inquire deeper into the kind of tools I must provide students; some other times I have to reflect on what is not working in my class in order to devise improved solutions; and most importantly I am  always reminded of the need to stay informed, as no bigger challenge do teachers of the present have but to stay relevant for students and engaged with the times they are living in.

Learning is not a journey that is traveled over a one-way road; it’s rather a multilateral, winding, cyclic, and multilayered odyssey that causes us to use of senses and experiences to appreciate and reconstruct the information the world. With our eyes we see the path we have to walk and then we devise ways to

If we reflect on our journey, we will identify moments when we have been knowledgeable; when we have been outstanding communicators. The learner profile offers us an opportunity to map our skills and experiences, to see how our strengths are categorized, to become aware of tools we have created, used, improved and are, possibly, imagining now.

Take a deep breath for a moment. Reflect on your teaching-learning journey, and think about concrete processes you underwent and/or tools you employed as you represented one or many attributes of the learner profile, turn it in to an instrument that can introduce in your classes to enhance the learning experience, and then you will see how this simple practice will take you to point B, and so on. Doesn’t this happen when we travel?

The map below is one of the many maps of the attributes of the Learner Profile in me…. This is one of many maps, because experiences are also differentiated.

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Posted in IB DP, IB MYP, IB PYP, Learner Profile, Planning, Reflection, Teaching | Tagged , , , , , , , , , | 2 Comments