‘Oh! Grandmother,’ she said, ‘what big ears you have!’
‘All the better to hear you with, my child,’ was the reply.
‘But, grandmother, what big eyes you have!’ she said.
‘All the better to see you with, my dear.’
‘But, grandmother, what large hands you have!’
‘All the better to hug you with.’
— Little Red Riding Hood.
A few days ago I was a spectator at our PYP 5 & 6 summative assessment presentation, and as it’s customary, witnessing what PYP students can do caused me to wonder and reflect on my personal journey. I applaud how PYP teachers are able to foster in students the confidence that is needed as learners to have the courage to take risks, to apply what they have learned and to make appropriate decisions and choices. I salute everyone in the community who enjoys being part of PYPers’ learning and support them in processes such as cooperation, collaboration, and leading or following as the situation demands. Most importantly, I will always appreciate and celebrate students’ creativity and imagination in their thinking and in their approach to problems and dilemmas. I will always be grateful to anyone who grants me the opportunity to experience how information and experiences are transformed into learning.
As I watched PYP 5&6 presentations for their Where We are in Place and Time unit, which focused on the impact certain events had in shaping the world we had today, I could not help by wonder:
- Was my generation interested in looking at what had shaped us?
- How did we document the part of history we were living?
- How much of what we lived and/or documented is appreciated and utilized by younger generations?
- Does the fact that the internet empowered us to document our past and share information imply that the passion with which we lived and experience happenings cannot be felt or perceived?
- Would the experiences we lived be more intense and impactful if we had devised a way to document them?
- What kind of bridges with the future are learners of the present building as they establish connections between the past and the reality they are living in? How can we, adults, contribute to this and learn in the process?
- Are we transforming information with tactful purpose and precise intention so that it is useful to those who will look at it in the future?
- Do we acknowledge the big opportunities we have to take action where we are in place and time in order to foresee where we could be (in place and time) in the future?
Students’ presentations and pieces of work are successful when they provoke reflections in spectators, evaluators, collaborators, and teachers. In this particular case, I am happy to refer to QAIS PYP 5&6 learners’ presentations as outstanding reflections of their learning process for they were able to:
- Live their learning as a community, showcasing several attributes of the learner profile, each with different layers of depth.
- Utilize a variety of tools and techniques to create videos that showcased the outcomes of their research, their voices, and their interests.
- Look at the school surroundings, their local context, and aspect of global scale in their presentations, hence demonstrating that their awareness of the fact that information that is shared has a point of origin (where it is created), but it belongs to anyone who has access to it, and it is part of our job to make sure this information reaches as many individuals as possible.
- Involve the community in their learning process, thus realizing that everyone around them is a potential tool that can contribute to their learning.
- Help their peers, assuming a variety of roles (actors, camera men, extras, editors, to mention a few), and contributing to others’ success.
- Make an informed choice on the focus they would use to present their big ideas and findings. And most importantly to
- Contribute to the universal repository of information with their view of how they see those events that shaped the world they live in.
I arrived at Mr. Oussoren’s classroom; the door was ajar; teachers and students were getting ready to present their projects; I entered, trying to make as little noise as possible; I did not want to sit- I like to stand when I embrace experiences like this, with arms wide open; I was happy to see how these little giants spoke about big events in the world and how they engaged in their projects with determination and vision; and I saw the strange creatures they were: wearing multiple hats, playing with their voices, using tools as if they were mechanics of learning.
As I wondered, in silence I asked:
‘Oh, students, how powerfully you are sharing your learning!’
‘All the better to inform you with, señor,’ was their silent reply.