We've shuffled the order of our Units of Inquiry this year to accommodate for a change in Exhibition theme, so the transdisciplinary theme of Who We Are is up first. This is one of my favourite units of inquiry in Grade 7 because of the abundance of opportunities for learners to apply their acquired knowledge to real-life contexts. (For unit details, click here)
We have not one, but TWO! provocations for Who We Are, and both get the learners super jazzed to dive into this inquiry. Provocation one is a field trip downtown to look at food trucks. We take the Seabus over to downtown Vancouver and walk up to the Vancouver Art Gallery, where food trucks populate most street corners. Students have 3 tasks:
Provocation two helps learners begin to unpack our Central Idea, "Personal and cultural values influence consumption choices". Each student is asked to contribute to our community breakfast by bringing a shareable food item. The item can be a traditional breakfast food from their culture of origin, or something they enjoy eating for personal reasons. Students are encourage to be open-minded and risk-takers by trying new foods! At the end of the feast, students are invited to share why they brought the item they brought, and the stories that emerge are insightful glimpses into the factors that influence what we eat. Each year this provocation gets larger and more fascinating as the array of food contributed expands, and other adults in the building pop in to experience our multicultural feast. The sense of community it strengthens makes it one of the highlights of the year.
Continuing with the development of student agency, we spent the early part of week 2 creating our classroom Essential Agreements. Each year when we do this, I am more and more impressed with the students' ability to create meaningful agreements with less and less teacher instruction. Many of my current group of students are in their sixth year at an IB school, so they have acquired a relatively strong base of knowledge of PYP language and pedagogy. They're familiar with the processes, collaborate well, and our open and forthcoming with their ideas.
Some of our preliminary work had been done on the second day of school, and the evidence still hung on the walls. Students had already responded with sticky notes to the following three prompts, and we had discussed, at length, whether our classroom design from day 1 met our needs.
From there I put it back on them, challenging them to create a statement for each value beginning with the phrase, "we agree to..." They flipped over the placemats and got to work, collaboratively crafting statements for each value. Again we shared back to the larger group, edited their statements to incorporate all voices in the room, and ta-da! This group of learners is AMAZING!!!
Developing student agency is both a Queen Mary school goal, and a professional goal of mine, for the 2018-2019 school year. As per the Enhanced PYP, students with agency:
At first, they looked shocked, and a flurry of questions and concerns were shared. How could they design the space without teacher instruction? Where should they begin? It might be chaotic? What if they couldn't agree on a design? This was exactly what i had hoped for, so I challenged them to solve their own questions. One student suggested making a "plan" on the whiteboard, by drawing different birds-eye view designs for the furniture, then voting as a group on the one that best me their needs. We began with the carpet, a brand new 8x12 foot grey rug. After a few options, we settled on the north west corner, then built the seating in the space remaining. Students then decided to divide themselves into 3 small crews for set up: one for the carpet area, one for seating, one for accessory furniture. They got to work and after a session of noisy collaboration, communication, and negotiation, our classroom was ready for us to use.
Looking around, I think we were all amazed by how well our hard work had paid off. We had 3 large collaborative work spaces which each seat 8, as well as a smaller group of desks that seats 3, for those who want/need to be in a smaller group or work with a partner. We had storage tubs at the front of the room, community school supplies on the back bookshelves, and the "cozy corner" complete with couch, carpet, pillows, and a window nook.
As we kick off the 2018/2019 school year this week, I want to give a big welcome to our grade 7 students in Division 1. We have an exciting school year ahead, packed with opportunities for inquiry, collaboration, cooperation, and challenge!
My teaching schedule for this year is Monday-Thursday mornings (8:40am-12:10pm) and all day Fridays. My teaching partner will be in the classroom Monday-Thursday afternoons. Our library block is Thursdays 1:00-1:30pm and we have PE twice per week in the afternoons (exact gym schedule not determined yet).
Please read our grade 7 parent welcome letter for more information, and feel free to email me anytime should you have questions or comments about your child's learning. I look forward to working with your child this year!
Last week all of the Grade 7s hiked from MEC up to the Lynn Canyon Suspension bridge. It was a glorious 8.5km hike, mostly uphill, through some beautiful forest and riverbank terrain.
The hike is an annual event, and part of our How We Express Ourselves Unit of Inquiry, in which we're inquiring into role of the natural world in facilitating discovery and self-expression. The students used their acquired knowledge of elements of photography to capture moments on the hike that they found inspiring and/or beautiful. A few pics are below.