For those of you who have not watched this video, it’s definitely worth a watch! Though released in 2014, it was only recently that I saw it for the first time. This guy is me. At any given time, my browser has about 20 tabs open. As I write this post, this is what it currently looks like:
I know it’s terrible, but I can’t control it, it just happens. As I worked through this week’s content, I was reminded of this video. I am able to trace my thought process, through the tabs I opened. So lucky you. I am now going to take you through that process!
Approaches to Learning
As I read through of Andrew Churches’ Bloom’s Digital Taxonomy, I was reminded of the IB’s Approaches to Learning (AtLs). Many of the thinking skills Churches described and the key verbs he uses that are associated with these skills, exist within the AtL framework. Which I guess makes sense! Good thinking is good thinking!
So this sent me on a bit of a hunt…I wanted to find out more about these skills. In the Enhanced PYP, the PYP has identified that the goal of this skill-based framework is to “support student agency and the development of cognitive and metacognitive skills…so that students view learning as something that they do for themselves…rather than an [event that] happens to them in reaction to teaching.” Within this framework, they have also embedded digital literacy skills – which I love! In the same way that Churches updated Bloom’s Taxonomy to incorporate technological advances, the IB was doing the same thing!
Okay, but this week’s post was meant to relate to “learning theories into practice.” Are these AtLs an example of this? In the case of my role as a PYP educator, yes, they are! So my mind continued to wander…a PYP educator…what does that even mean? How does this make me different than any other non-PYP educator? The PYP is a transdisciplinary program, so I am a transdisciplinary educator?
And that led me to the next phase of tab opening…
A transdisciplinary approach
When on the job hunt four years ago, my husband and I were hoping to make the move to an IB school. We had done some research into the essential elements, and while we understood that the PYP used a transdisciplinary approach to teaching and learning, we didn’t really understand what that meant. Transdisciplinary?! Was that even a word? After some more digging, I had settled on the realization that I would not really be able to understand it until I was living it.
Four years later, and I am still learning. After arriving at ISD, I began to feel overwhelmed with the amount of vocabulary and elements that went along with the PYP framework. I felt like the more I learned, the less and less I knew. (Check out this great TEDEd video on the Dunning-Kruger effect to explain this phenomenon!)
So to refresh myself, I looked to the PYP’s updated document, Learning and Teaching (2018), in which transdisciplinary learning is defined as learning that “transgresses subjects. It begins and ends with a problem, an issue or a theme.” Right. And it also emphasizes a concept-driven approach to teaching and learning.
In a concept driven approach, learning focuses on the understanding of a concept or “big idea”. Instead of using specific content to drive a unit, a conceptual framework (the lenses we use) drive the learning.
The 7 key concepts (which you can see in the graphic to the right) help to structure this approach and form a starting point for student-driven inquiries.
In my experience, they provide a great framework in helping students to access the central idea. This allows learning to happen that is not linked to a specific topic or content area, but relating to the bigger idea/conceptual understanding. They also help students (and teachers) in developing their lines of inquiry and structuring learning.
My role as a PYP Educator – theory into practice
So what? On this tab-filled personal inquiry, I have realized that there is so much theory embedded in my daily practice as a PYP educator. Theories that I was unaware of, and theories that I now want to dig more deeply into and learn more about. In reflecting on my practice, I have come to realize that a lot of what I do has come about because I have learned from others in my team and PLN and have seen the benefits for my students. It has been refreshing to see that there are theories to back this up!