Friday, August 23, 2013

1 Sentence - 2 Images - 3 Words

The students were asked to read a variety of books that were directly/indirectly related to culture. They were asked to choose one sentence, 2 images and 3 words that were related to culture.
When we started putting the words on wordle, they came up with many, many more words; it was amazing to see how deep some of the words were!! (Beneath the Iceberg)

Wordle: What is Culture?

Wednesday, August 21, 2013

Thinking critically about 'culture'

When we analyse the 'What are we going to teach?' (The Written Curriculum) at our schools, we always try to encompass issues that can make the students think - not just think, but think critically. The usual notion is that units that have a heavy science and/or social studies component are the ones that can help us achieve this purpose. Maybe we need to think differently.. 

The current unit for Grade 5 is on traditions and rituals and the central idea is "Traditionals, rtiuals and artefacts of different cultures are expressions of their beliefs and values". When you read the central idea, it probably seems rather simple. One might assume that the students might just research about the different cultures around the world, their rituals and traditions and the reasons behind them. Certainly, this is inclusive during inquiry lessons. However, interestingly, the unit involves a lot of critical thinking as well. The reason being that students (as well as many adults!!) have numerous misconceptions about 'culture'.

The first line of inquiry is 'What constitutes a culture'. To enable students inquire into this, we thought of a few provocations:

  • Is 'culture' same as 'religion'?
  • Does Culture change over time?
  • How is our daily routine connected to our culture?
  • Is one's culture influenced by other factors? (weather/climate, interaction with other cultures, migration/globalization)
  • Should we always believe in whatever our parents believe?
Many such statements were given to the students of Grade 5 during the early stages of the unit. They were asked to arrange these statements on a continuum that range from 'More True than False' to 'More False than True'. 

Honestly, this learning engagement turned out to be more effective than I had imagined. The students began to have highly insightful conversations. Every student placed the statements differently. Since their knowledge and understanding of the term 'culture' was quite sketchy, their assumptions and misconceptions were clearly evident. For example, many students thought that culture is the same is religion. 'How can culture change?' was also a common question. They also wondered how their daily routine was connected to their culture.

Followed by this, the students put up questions on the 'inquiry wall'. At the moment, students are doing a variety of learning engagements (Culture ice-berg, watching movies/videos, conducting research by reading fiction and non-fiction books, interviewing people and referring some good websites) to find answers to their questions.

Once they have a nuanced understanding of the term, students will be asked to go back to their continuum and re-arrange the statements based on their inquiry. Additionally, they will use the thinking routine 'I used to think.. Now I think..' to reflect on the entire process. This will be a formative assessment.

Friday, August 9, 2013

Another Journey Begins!!

Another School year has begun and hence another journey - A journey full of learning, excitement, adventures, challenges and not to mention LOTS OF FUN!!

The students from last year's 'Grade 5' have been promoted to next grade and I now have the pleasure of having 14 new faces in the class! They are also a brilliant bunch who make the class lively and interactive.

For the past 5 years, I have been maintaining blogs for every grade - a different blog every year. However, this year it so happens I am teaching the same grade and the same section that I did in the previous year. I hence will continue to use the same blog for this year as well. Some changes will be made so that the blog is more specific to the current student group. 

I invite all parents, colleagues and peers from across the globe to be a part of this blog by reading and responding to articles. I will not only use this blog to share the teaching and learning in the classroom, but also my experiences and hence analysis of different aspects of the PYP and pedagogy in general. Being a passionate blogger, I look forward to improvise my blogging practices. 

You can also follow me on twitter: @archana2804

See you soon!!! :)