a new year, a new perspective

A new year, new goals and a new perspective go hand in hand.

What better time to take a closer look one of the key concepts, perspective.

The key concepts are an essential element to the PYP curriculum framework. There are a total of eight key concepts (perspective, connection, form, function, causation, change, responsibility, reflection) and transcend each subject area, giving students an opportunity to explore concepts throughout the day no matter what standard or subject they are learning. Collectively, they drive classroom inquiry, learning experiences and individual or classroom research projects. Most simply put, they lie at the heart of the PYP curriculum. Each unit (remember there are a total of six) focuses on only three of these concepts, allowing the teacher and students to focus their inquiry in further depth by using them as a guide for questioning and inquiry. The key concepts provide an avenue for the exploration of big ideas and give learners an opportunity to break down their misconceptions, resulting in deeper meaning. Conceptual understanding may also be illustrated as such…

In the fifth grade, students are currently exploring their How We Organize Ourselves unit, focusing on the central idea, Systems of government organize societies. Within this unit, the classes primarily concentrate on the fifth grades social studies standards (TEKS). The key concepts of the unit are function, perspective and responsibility (see the descriptors below):functionperspectiveresponsibility

Before the holiday break, Ms. Schuster shared with me a particular learning experience that beautifully illustrates the perspective key concept. She writes,

“As part of our learning about the American Revolution, our class created a mock debate between 3 famous loyalists (Thomas Hutchinson, Jonathan Boucher and Lord Dunmore) and 3 famous patriots (Benjamin Franklin, Mercy Otis Warren, and Samuel Adams).  Students within small groups each chose their own role, and everyone played a part in the process of creating a stimulating debate and deciding for themselves which argument was stronger.”

Loyalists vs. Patriots Debate.jpgLoyalists vs. Patriots Debate2.jpgLoyalists vs. Patriots Debate3.jpg

We can probably all recall a time when we tried to put ourselves in someone else shoes. It required a different, deeper thinking to be able to really understand how someone else might feel/act/be. Taking on the different perspectives of people during the American Revolution provided a unique learning experience for her students. The learning became “alive” as students interacted with the material and were asked to take their learning to a deeper level. The students had to defend their reasoning, using evidence and critical thinking.

So what did the students think about it experience?

“… it was cool”.

“…liked being the architects of the debate”.

So how can you support the concept based learning happening in the classroom at home? Explore concepts through a multitude of real-life experiences! It engages the natural curiosity of the child and provides an opportunity to verbalize with language. Try using some of the following question prompts with your child,

Responsibility –How is that going to help others? How do we all get electricity? Who is responsible for our safety? Why should we wear seat belts in cars? Who makes sure that we all have enough to eat? What role does a bee play in what we eat? Who can help us do that? Why do we need museum curators/artists/nurses/shopkeepers?

Reflection – How do you feel now? How did you find that out? Did it get easier after you practiced? What would help you to do that better? Why do you think that is tricky for you to do? What do you think? Why do you like/hate that? What did you find out? What would you do differently next time?

Connection – How are these things connected? How are these the same/different? How can we group (sort) these things? How can you keep in touch with (friend)? What links us all together? Can you work out a way to take turns/share? How do you decide what is best? How do we sort out these leaves/bugs/buttons? What are these things made of? Is that bigger or smaller/ more expensive/cheaper…?



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