Wednesday, January 30, 2013

IB field trip

I didn't go to school today.  No, I didn't sleep in.  I wasn't sick.  I went on a field trip with my cooperating teacher, a second grade teacher, the IB coordinator, and the principal.  It was so fun, enlightening, and inspiring.  If you didn't read my last post, I'll remind you what IB stands for...

IB stands for International Baccalaureate and it's a "recognized leader in the field of international education, encouraging students across the world to become active, compassionate, and lifelong learners who understand that other people, with their differences, can also be right." (

In the past three days, I have already learned so much about IB and it's PYP (Primary Years Programme).  The curriculum is set up as six transdisciplinary themes per years:

  • Who we are
  • Where we are in place and time
  • How we express ourselves
  • How the world works
  • How we organize ourselves
  • Sharing the planet

There are also eight key concepts and questions that students explore and re-explore throughout the different units and subject areas.  They are as follows:

  • Form - What is it like?
  • Function - How does it work?
  • Causation - Why it it like it is?
  • Change - How is it changing?
  • Connection - How is it connected to other things?
  • Perspective - What are the points of view?
  • Responsibility - What is our responsibility?
  • Reflection - How do we know?
The last important things that I've gotten out of the last three days are the ten Learner Profile characteristics:

  • Inquirers: Students develop their natural curiosity.
  • Knowledgeable: Students explore concepts, ideas, and issues that have both a local and global significance.
  • Thinkers: Students think critically to engage themselves in figuring out complex problems.
  • Communicators: Students express themselves and information through a variety of modes of communication
  • Principled: Students act honestly and with a strong sense of fairness, justice, and respect for the dignity of the individual, groups, and communities.
  • Open-minded: Students appreciate their own cultures and personal histories and are open to the perspectives, values, and traditions of other individuals and communities
  • Caring: Students show respect and compassion towards the needs of others.
  • Risk-takers: Students approach unfamiliar situations with courage, as well as defend their beliefs.
  • Balanced: Students understand the importance of intellectual, physical, and emotional balance to achieve personal well-being.
  • Reflective: Students give consideration to their own learning and experience
As you can see that's a lot to memorize, but I'm working on it!  After the field trip today, I've decided that it's going to be interesting trying to create lesson plans while keeping these concepts in mind.  One thing though, in my opinion, is that these things (especially the Learner Profile characteristics) are things you, as a teacher, parent, mentor, guardian, etc., should be teaching children anyway.  Honestly, all of these concepts are or should be in most schools, they are just not identified under the title of IB.  My colleagues (wow, colleagues....that's such a grown up word) pointed out today that the thing that's so great about IB is that you do have the framework to help create and follow curriculum, but if you work at a school, I encourage you to at least make sure you're teaching your students the essential characteristics that are needed in life, like respect.

Anyway, enough about IB, kind of, let's talk about my field trip.  We went to another IB school south of downtown Chicago to see how they run their program.  It honestly was amazing.  The school we visited not only is IB, but it practices environmental sustainability.  They have a garden where they grow some of their own foods for the cafeteria and, even when it's not school grown, there food is organic (the kids eat SO healthy)...they have chickens, every classroom has a compost container, they recycle, the students take off their shoes at the front door and put on slippers to decrease the allergens that are brought into the classroom due to students' allergies.

It was really neat to see another IB school, especially since I'm just learning about it.  It helped me understand it even more.  Also, as a student teacher, it was really interesting to see a different aspect to a school.  I was in meetings and debriefings all day listening to what my current principal and fellow colleagues wanted to start implementing at their own school.  It was a completely different perspective ( of the key concepts :)).  I really have enjoyed the past few days and I think this experience is really going to make me think about teaching different.  Hey, who knows, maybe I'll end up working in an IB school after graduation.

Other than being challenged by trying to figure out how I'm going to plan lessons, the most challenging thing for me is learning how to communicate (a learner profile trait :P) to K-5th graders.  It's really different talking and helping younger students.  How are you supposed to solve a problem between two young students, like if one student calls another one fat?  Let me tell you dealing with those issues will probably be the most difficult for me, but I've really been observing my cooperating teacher and trying to get the language down.  I'll become more comfortable with it as time goes on.  As for now, I'm still learning all the time.  Until next time, adios.

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