It is not my custom to write about concepts in terms of only one nation but recently these concepts have been at the forefront of my thinking and reflection. As I watch the news or read about the issues arising daily around the world, I ponder these things in terms of my home country, the USA. Education is the most important gift we can offer our children. It is through equitable education that we can build a strong united nation. We cannot marginalize people and expect a united future. Our definition of success and prosperity needs to shift. Read the article from NPR and watch the TED Talk by First Minister of Scotland Nicola Sturgeon. Consider the multiple benefits of shifts in mindsets, processes and policymaking...
Schools can perpetuate the systems currently in place, maintaining the status quo or schools can transform a society. We can transform our country through education that promotes international mindedness and values the process of learning over passing exams. We need a country of people who love to learn, who are creative and innovative. We need a unity, peace and contentment. Which path will we choose for our education system?
Later in the same week, I received my weekly update from TED Talks. Over the past two years, the issue of how we measure our success as a nation in terms of a growth economy have bothered me. How can we tackle the sustainability issues if we are constantly told our economy has to grow and produce above and beyond the previous each? How is it possible to not abuse the remaining natural resources if the we feel as nations that sales and material wealth are our priorities? I really believe this approach taken by Scotland, Iceland and New Zealand to form a network of Wellbeing Economy Governments is something the world should carefully consider. While I value the free market economy and the American dream, I also do not see the need for promoting such materialism and waste. If we are truly want to provide a future for our youth then changing our measurement of success is vital.
To measure our economy in terms different parameters is groundbreaking:
In 2018, Scotland, Iceland and New Zealand established the network of Wellbeing Economy Governments to challenge the acceptance of GDP as the ultimate measure of a country's success. In this visionary talk, First Minister of Scotland Nicola Sturgeon explains the far-reaching implications of a "well-being economy" -- which places factors like equal pay, childcare, mental health and access to green space at its heart -- and shows how this new focus could help build resolve to confront global challenges.
This talk was presented at an official TED conference, and was featured by our editors on the home page.
As I began reading through the new IB Primary Years Programme (PYP) publication, Learning and Teaching, I was thrilled to see the transdisciplinary skills had been updated and are now much more relevant to the classroom context than before (2018). The Approaches to Learning includes the same 5 different sets of skill groups,
but have been improved to include sub-skills for 21st century learners. As a professional learning community (PLC), we decided to take a deep dive into these five skill groups and investigate ways to apply them to the classroom. As a team, we divided up them up between us and I took on the self-management skills but focusing on the newly added sub-skills embedded within the category, states of mind.
As the PYP Coordinator, I do not have a classroom of students to work with so I partnered with our grade 4 team to integrate self-management skills into the upcoming unit of inquiry on How we express ourselves. We planned on times in the schedule (twice weekly) when I could come guide an inquiry into the states of mind for about a month. I began preparing for this by researching the States of Mind sub-skills: mindfulness, perseverance, emotional management, self-motivation and resilience. Through my research, I discovered a way to approach these skills conceptually for our grade 4 students by teaching the concept of grit. These videos below inspired me with ideas and the curriculum that Amy Lyon created on Edutopia was helpful.
We used the Frayer Model to slowly begin working towards a common definition of grit. We watched a second video clip about a teenager with grit and I read the story, What do you do with a problem?. We then split into teams and used mind maps to brainstorm what we already knew about resilience, perseverance, emotional management and self-motivation. Our school counselor has already been giving lessons on some of these character traits. Students presented their summaries to help us create a deeper understanding of grit. We were able to describe the characteristics of grit, what it looked like and what it did not look like. We built our Frayer Model over a period of a month, as I came twice a week to continue our lessons.
As a culminating assignment, I asked all grade 4 students to interview a family member who had achieved a goal through perseverance over a long period of time. Once the students had conducted their interviews, we returned to the Frayer Model, checked for more descriptors and wrote a collaborative definition of grit. I then asked all students to honestly and privately, take Angela Duckworth's grit scale assessment and set a SMART goal for the upcoming months to strengthen their ability to show grit.
As a result of our investigation into grit and weekly reflections, the grade 4 teachers have shared that their students are increasingly aware of this character trait; they identify with it and give each other feedback and recognition for demonstrating grit during class meetings. This process has empowered them as agents of their learning to take more responsibility for the things they can change in themselves. Motivation appears to be improving in some students. Let's hope we have set them on a path toward attaining success in their lives through the application of grit. It is certainly a characteristic we are considering to add to our Learner Profile as it embodies so much.
Recently, I was invited to facilitate a workshop for a private school in Izmir on concept-based inquiry. The school had recently undergone the self-study process and a revision of its guiding statements. With a newly revised learning and teaching policy based on the new mission and vision, the process of shifting the approaches to teaching had to begin. I was asked to shift their beliefs about learning and teaching from a teacher led classroom to that of a thinking classroom through concept-based inquiry. Sometimes shifting mindsets can be quite a challenge because beliefs are challenged and affected by the need for self-efficacy.
The school follows Cambridge International Curriculum (CIE) and the International Primary Curriculum (IPC). As the course was not solely for primary teachers but including the whole school staff, I had to consider ways to make the content contextual for all ages so every teacher could visualize concept-based inquiry in his or her context and age range. Thus, I chose the run the workshop through concept-based inquiry day and allow the teachers to learn about inquiry by experiencing it. Before I arrived that Saturday, I sent a short survey to pre-assess their understandings so I could be sure to address any misconceptions and try to find ways to answer their questions.
Some of the questions and misconceptions I saw were:
In order to be able to address these questions and misconceptions, I decided to begin the workshop with a jigsaw activity wherein different groups read articles about concept-based inquiry and created a headline with a summary of the content. During the sharing time, I observed discussion, critical thinking and reflection. Using this learning engagement, enabled the staff to begin to shed some light on their areas of concern.
Then we used the Frayer Model to define inquiry-based learning before taking a look at a step deeper to concept-based inquiry.
As a time of application, I asked the teachers to plan one lesson that would be inquiry-based using the lesson planner acronym from Jane Pollack, GANAG. We did this rather than planning an entire unit because the workshop was for just one day. To guide the teachers, I gave them a template that explained this acronym more thoroughly with examples to show how it can be useful and relevant to the concept-based inquiry classroom.
G - goal - with inquiry, we begin with a question or a series of questions
A - access prior knowledge
N - new information
A - application
G - goal review / reflection time
Finally, everyone filled out an exit ticket using the visible thinking tool, I used to think but now I think. This was even more rewarding than the conceptual understandings. It was an amazing day and I was so happy to see all teachers finding relevance to their context - from early years to grade 12. Everyone left the workshop feeling challenged and empowered to try out concept-based inquiry in their classrooms.
How does one develop the ability to think through the lens of interculturalism?
How does one develop appreciation for interculturalism?
What steps can be taken to move toward an attitude of interculturalism?
What makes a person intercultural?
How do I answer the question, "Where are you from?"
These are some of the questions I've pondered over time as I have worked my way through the Council of International School standards or the NEASC Ace Principals or the International Baccalaureate Programme Standards and Practices. There is a common theme that resonates through all three and it is the ability to interact with other cultures, to appreciate diversity and work with others with an open-mind. I look around me at the staff I'm working with and wonder how we will grow together as an intercultural staff. We are all speaking English but we all come from different countries. We can communicate but cannot always communicate. We speak English but we don't speak the same culture. How can we move beyond that to hear and understand each other? My life by nature has led me to become adaptable, flexible and open-minded. Sharing my story, experiences and the steps I've taken to become more and more internationally minded may help guide you in the same direction.
My father was an Air Force test pilot so I grew up moving every three to four years changing schools and neighborhood friends. We never lived on a military base as dad's position allowed for us to live as civilians. For middle school, our family got the amazing assignment of NATO in Brussels, Belgium where I attended Brussels American School. This move was pivotal in my development as I embraced new languages and cultures. I fell in love with traveling and in love with Europe. My brother and I spent time with local people at church and in our neighborhood. We rode our bikes throughout the countryside and thoroughly enjoyed the European lifestyle. We became European. Moving back to the United States in the middle of the school year was traumatic for us both. We experienced extreme culture shock. We had become third culture kids.
Over the next 16 years, I continued to move around the country every few years with my parents and then my husband and our new family. I have lived in seven different US States on both coasts and in the center of the country. In 2003, we made the decision to relocate to Cancun, Mexico. I wanted my own kids to have the opportunity to live outside the USA as I knew it would be good for them and make them more open to culture. We did not seek out expats to be our friends or to socialize with. Most of our social interactions were with Mexican people. While living there my 2 kids attended a bilingual school where they became balanced bilinguals. Our kids play We attended church with Mexicans. Our best friends were Mexican and we became family. We all learned Spanish, Mexican traditions, customs and culture. I listened to the Mexican perspective on global events and began to understand Mexico. My family became Mexican.
Mexico is a part of me. I lived there in that one city for 11 years when I had never lived anywhere that long before. I now feel like I have three identities. I can identify myself as an American, a European, or a Mexican. I was born in Alabama but never really lived there. I have no strong attachment to a particular city in the USA because of frequent moves though I love my country and my family who live there. I always have a feeling that I need to get back to Europe and live there again as an adult since those years were so special to me. After so many years in Cancun, I get very homesick for Mexico at times.
When I left Mexico as a newly single woman, I landed in Iraq, my fourth country to call home. There I was extremely blessed to meet my current husband a couple weeks after arriving, an Iraqi Australian man, who became my connection to the local Kurdish culture. With him, I was able to experience Iraq through the lens of the Kurds. We traveled around the countryside visiting different towns and historic sites. He would share stories about the Kurds, Persians and Arabs. I was fascinated. For the first time I was learning ancient history through the lens of people in the Middle East. I was learning about current events through the perspective of the Kurds and Arabs I was able to interact with. Through museum visits, exploring the countryside and conversations with locals, I developed a completely different understanding of the Middle East lifestyle, politics and history.
Now that I am living in Turkey, I've tried to learn some of the language during the year and a half that I've been here. I have some Turkish friends and one who is very dear to me who help me understand the culture here. My husband and I have explored the city, finding our favorite Turkish food restaurants. We have traveled all over Turkey. I began to take traditional Turkish marbling classes known as Ebru art. I will be moving again in 6 months. If I were to stay here longer, I would continue to make a greater effort to build community with locals and immerse myself more in the Turkish culture by connecting with Turkish friends and learning the language.
From my experience becoming an intercultural person involves putting many of the IB learner profile attributes into action with intention. It means cultivating risk-taking by moving away from your comfort zone and making friends with people who don't speak your language or culture, eat your food or listen to your music. It means being open-minded; to appreciate new cultural experiences without judgement as a caring person. It means looking at world travel as a chance to discover history through the lens of perspective respectfully and to consider the different ways the story has been told over the years. It means being a caring communicator, listening for understanding and considering the other viewpoints. As a lifelong learner, one lives as an inquirer, investigating cultures, perspectives, ideas and customs. Get out there and inquire intentionally, get to know others and appreciate the vast differences with grace.
Have I arrived? Am I a perfect example of interculturalism? Some days I do great and other days I fail miserably. It is a choice every day to choose to react to the circumstances with a better, more effective mindset. I hope that every day it becomes more natural for me and that I do not become resistant to change. It is a daily journey that I intend to walk out to the best of my ability alongside my faith, family, and friends.
I recently enrolled in a leadership course with Maxine Driscoll and Think Strategic to continue developing my own understandings about leadership and how to approach the changes needed in education today for learners in the 21st century. I haven't made it past module 1 as the reading list is long and rigorous. Currently, I'm making may way through Five Minds for the Future by Howard Gardner. This book addresses the need for schools to develop the cognitive abilities in our students for the needs of the future.
The minds he addresses are: disciplinary, synthesizing, creating, respectful and ethical minds.
As I read the chapter on the the disciplined mind, I saw the direct correlation to the work of Erickson and Lanning with concept-based curriculum and instruction as well as the framework of the Primary Years' Program. Howard Gardner defines the disciplined mind as: "the mastery of major schools of thought, including science, mathematics, and history, and of at least one professional craft." He addresses the issues that arise when our students lack a disciplined mind as they are unable to think conceptually, or apply the knowledge in more than one scenario. They may memorize facts about a particular discipline but are unable to demonstrate deep understandings as their teachers have not enabled them to have sufficient experience with the discipline from a variety of entry points, have not enabled them to make connections to concepts or enabled them to demonstrate understandings in a variety of settings or using a scenario that is entirely new to the students (formative as well as summative). I like how Howard Gardner referred to his theory of multiple intelligences in this context. If you approach a discipline with his theory in mind then there will be a variety of entry points and ways to learn about the discipline that enable students to experience it differently and develop understandings. Students don't need to just memorize the facts in mathematics, history or science. They need to understand how things work, generalize about process and apply theory to new scenarios.
Concept-based curriculum and instruction addresses the disciplined mind as the teachers plans for conceptual understandings before beginning the unit, scaffold the thinking through questioning and facilitates inquiry that connects to concepts. Tools are provided for organizing knowledge in order to facilitate connections to concepts so that students are able to generalize and make transdisciplinary connections.
Our education system depends heavily on standards/outcomes to identify the knowledge our students must learn and know. But simply filling our students with knowledge without facilitating rich discussions through conceptual questions and tools for recording and organizing information will not suffice. It has to be intentional, both thoughtfully and deliberately planned. Do not assume your students will move beyond the facts independently. Understandings are constructed through a variety of experiences working with the knowledge and considering different contexts. It really is essential for educators to continue to learn new ways to prepare for and facilitate concept-based inquiry for the development of deep conceptual understandings.
Howard Gardner offers 5 tips for improving your teaching:
Upon a visit to Reggio Emilia, Italy
When I first learned about Reggio Emilia’s approach to learning, I was forming my research questions for my final Action Research project to conclude an M.Ed. at George Mason University. I was interested in finding a variety of ways to capture the conceptual understandings of my students who had not developed sufficient English language ability to express themselves, as they would have liked. My professor recommended that I check out the work of Loris Malaguzzi and The Hundred Languages of the Child. The deeper I delved into the resources I found about the municipality of Reggio Emilia and its approach to learning, the more I wanted to be a participant in an International Study Group. This April, I was able to attend along with one of our ECC teachers and what an inspiring experience it was for us both.
Values and Beliefs
We saw the positive impacts of the goals set by the community of Reggio Emilia back in the late 1940’s at the close of World War II; goals to build a community that created new identities and new rights for women and children. This was based on a series of choices; cultural, ethical and political in nature. These goals were intended to foster community participation and innovation in education to make the child a priority in order to build a positive, respectful community for the present and future. A new life, a new way, new values and a new community by committing to the commons, values for the common good.
As the school I’m working at is currently walking through a combined CIS/NEASC self-study, our staff is in in the process of re-evaluating our mission, vision, beliefs about learning and teaching and the roles we play as leaders and teachers. We are searching for the impacts of our endeavors, reflectively searching for evidence and pondering actions we might take. Have we achieved our mission? Are we on the road to achieving our vision? These are big questions and require a lot of thought.
This experience at Reggio Emilia enabled to me to see concretely what it looks like when a school system and the community work together to achieve their goals out of a common vision and commitment . The people of Reggio Emilia that I encountered were caring, respectful and helpful. They have a multitude of programs to reach children (0-12th), the elderly and for interaction between all age groups. Their annual municipality budget sets aside 13% for the early years programs. This community reaches out and welcomes visitors, immigrants (17%) and anyone who engages with their community.
One strong value of the Reggio Emilia educational project was to make visible the educational contexts and children’s learning inside the schools and outside in the community. Learning is visible wherever one looks in the early childhood centers and schools. The materials and partially constructed projects left accessible in the ateliers, piazzas and classrooms show the thinking and understandings that are forming. The learning panels published and posted on the walls demonstrate the pedagogy (why), the process (how) and the conceptual understandings (what) the students have developed as a result of the progezzione (project). Publications are produced annually about the projects completed and gifted to parents. Projects are shared with the community in a variety of creative ways.
Parents are welcomed into the schools to demonstrate the value of participation. They are encouraged to come into the piazza, casually drop their children and chat with teachers about life to pass along important information or ask questions. The face-to-face interactions are highly valued and emails are avoided. Parents elect leaders to work alongside the teachers to promote learning and participation within the community. They can suggest field trips and assist with projects while in process and in the publication or presentation of projects to the community.
We had the opportunity to learn about two very important projects: the rights of the child and the hospital through the lens of the child. Both projects involved the community and resulted in action that impacted the community positively. Why? The community used the children’s ideas to publish and display these rights in all the schools as well as to make them available to the public through buttons and postcards. At the hospital, the children decided to gift their thoughts to make the hospital more welcoming. These thoughts were organized and artistically displayed by the Reggio Emilia atelieristas. Now patients in the hospital can get some respite from their fears by reading the thoughts of the children, thoughts that provoke smiles.
Learner and Teacher Agency
The PYP is releasing enhancements to update their framework and align it to the current research on learning and teaching. There is a new focus on agency and the learner’s voice, choice and ownership. I’ve been pondering this as I wondered what it looked like in action as well as what shifts our staff would have to make to say we both value and empower agency.
The teachers of Reggio Emilia value the child to the extent that is agency in action; it is embedded in their practice. They listen to the voice and ideas of the child, documenting the learning process and thoughts through pictures and anecdotal notes. The documentation guides the decisions about learning. It is visible in the centers on clipboards, binders and portfolios.
Teachers are knowledgeable about childhood development; stages of development and take research seriously but do not allow that knowledge to limit their ability to personalize the education for their students. They do not categorize their students into developmental boxes. It does not become a barrier. They honor and respect the child and the fact that each child is unique. All decisions appear to stem from their values and beliefs about the child. They allow their students to develop strategies for finding knowledge and support them throughout the process within their zone of proximal development. They allow their students to spiral back to what they know naturally as they attempt to spring to a new level of development.
Teacher agency is visible through the professional development time they use to collaboratively discuss their experiences each week about the learning that is happening. They work together to overcome difficulties, challenges and find the best way to respond to the ideas and thoughts of the children as they thoughtfully steer the projects through provocations, discussions, reflections and time for experimenting. They work together to consider ways to re-launch a project that may have stalled slightly and continue extending the project to build new understandings. This belief statement resounded with me deeply, “I learn with you and you learn with me.” It is an atmosphere that does not value hierarchy but rather cooperation and collaborative reflective practice.
Creativity, Motivation and Curiosity
In this environment, creativity abounds. The walls and displays are student made. Beauty is everywhere. It is fostered and the children’s innate need to make things beautiful is honored. I never saw any child bored or acting out. The environment was relaxed, not tied to a rigid schedule, but allowing children the freedom and time to explore their curiosity. Children actively engage in projects for extended periods of time. The content is relevant and is founded in questions the children have so their interest is peeked. They investigate answers through concrete experiences with materials, field trips and experiments. Technology is a tool that is used when they find themselves unable to solve problems without it. The environment is rich with materials and places to explore the answers to their questions.
They foster creativity by pursuing creativity themselves. At Reggio Emilia, collegiality is the key to sustaining creativity. The teachers read about it, surround themselves with creative materials, attend museums and art exhibits. They discuss ideas together and allow ideas to flow uninhibited. The children are their allies in creativity and are prompted to join in the discussion.
Tips from Reggio Emilia:
Dreams and Goals
Now that I have had this experience, I am pondering ways to share my experience with my colleagues; an experience that left me profoundly impacted. I consider the ways we as a team can change the way we see our roles to minimize the hierarchy and increase the amount of collaboration for the benefit of all stakeholders. I’m excited about the shifts in the PYP and can now visualize learner agency (students and teachers). Together we can explore more deeply what that means for our students, parents and to each of us personally. We can reimagine learning and work to increase participation of all – our students, our parents, our teachers, our support staff and our leadership team.
I wish to experience that value and idea of professional development….”I grow with you and you grow with me.” and I look forward to exploring ways to make my beliefs about the child visible to our community alongside my colleagues.
Once you begin working with students to identify their conceptual understandings, it becomes somethings that drives you as an educator. It is so much fun working with students to draw out and write generalizations or statements of understandings as they move through the inquiry cycle. In the thinking classroom, we facilitate the thinking through a variety of strategies. One of these is through the use of concept maps. Concepts maps can be created by the students independently, in teams or as a whole class. They can be drawn or constructed with cards to move around. They can be plain, use images or be color coded. There are so many ways to construct them. Students can organize them to make sense out of their learning and draw lines to connect concepts that have more than one connection. Many classes will stop at the concept map. You can take it to the next level by asking students to write generalizations using their concept map as a guide. Concept maps make the learning process more visible especially after having investigated their questions through experiential learning.
This month I was working with a Grade 2 teacher to model this strategy. Grade 2 was investigating How We Organize Ourselves. Our central idea was: People create organizations to solve problems and support each other. We were in the Sorting Out stage of the inquiry cycle and the homeroom teacher and I were interested in checking our students' understandings to date. I took all the concepts the students had discovered in the unit of inquiry thus far (it was about the fourth week) and created cards for sorting and color coded them.
I asked the students to sit in a circle on the floor and we worked together to organize the concepts. As I placed the concepts on the floor in front of them, I asked students to identify where they believed it should go. They were asked to explain their thinking and justify its place in that particular order. All students were engaged in the thinking and trying to decide the best fit for the concepts.
Once we had the concepts in place, I moved to the white board to guide the class to write a generalization together. I asked them to tell me what they understand about organizations now. I wrote 'Organizations' on the board. Then I told them to look at the map and think how we can use the concepts to explain what we know about organizations now. I reminded them of the no, no words: is, are, have and pronouns. I asked them to think deeply about strong verbs. There were moments when it was very quiet as students stared at the board, then the concept map and thought about strong verbs.
The first phrase we produced together was: Organizations use teamwork and collaboration strategies...
so I added the word 'to' and asked them to continue thinking about our understandings. Wait time was so important here. I gave them time to think and then we were able to add:
... to solve a mission for changes in the world.
Our generalization after several weeks of investigation was far stronger than the central idea our teachers generated for the unit as you can see below:
Teacher generated: People create organizations to solve problems and support each other.
Student generated: Organizations use teamwork and collaboration strategies to solve a mission for changes in the world.
Next time I try this, there are some things I will do to extend this.
- Yarn strips could be used to make connections from one concept to another when they can fit in more than one place.
- Each column could have its own statement of understanding
- Students can reorganize the concepts at the conclusion of the unit to see if they had different ideas or reasons for placement.
Writing generalizations are great for formative assessment especially if you keep a space on the walls in the room for class understandings that is accessible to all. As the class moves from one line of inquiry to the next, writing generalizations together or independently help students to organize their minds and track their learning. For younger students, that may mean modeling and joint construction such as I did with grade 2 until they are able to create their own concept maps. I encourage you to give it a try and begin teaching inductively. Guide your students to discover the understandings through concrete experiences and it will be far more powerful than unpacking the central idea.
Throughout the year, our students will be bringing home report cards and various projects. There is a wide variety of parental responses to the work that students show them. You may choose to reward your child with compliments on intelligence, or buy a treat as an indulgence. You may express disappointment or even get angry. Is there a better way? How can we speak to children about their learning constructively at home?
· How can you, as parents, respond to these assessments?
· How can you help your child develop a growth mindset based on your feedback and that of his/her teacher?
Feedback can shape a child’s beliefs about him/herself. If the feedback is egocentric (feeding the ego with compliments), it can produce unrealistic ideas about self. Or it can decrease motivation or resilience to yield a child who looks for the easy way out more often than not (Mindset Works, 2017). For instance, praising your child for being such a smart kid rather than for working hard and putting in a lot of effort.
On the other hand, if teachers and parents focus on feedback that is non-egocentric, both motivation and resilience increase. This kind of feedback focuses on skills, effort, perseverance, goal setting and accepting challenges through which your child will develop a growth mindset. This kind of person accepts challenges, does not give up easily and is highly motivated.
A fixed mindset person can be defined as…
“In a fixed mindset, people believe their basic qualities, like their intelligence or talent, are simply fixed traits. They spend their time documenting their intelligence or talent instead of developing them. They also believe that talent alone creates success—without effort. They're wrong (Dweck, 2010).”
While a growth mindset person is defined as…
“In a growth mindset, people believe that their most basic abilities can be developed through dedication and hard work – brains and talent are just the starting point. This view creates a love of learning and a resilience that is essential for great accomplishment. Virtually all great people have had these qualities (Dweck, 2010).”
Over the last couple years, I’ve been consciously trying to develop my own skills for giving better feedback, even to my own young adult son and daughter. I look for ways to support them so I can challenge them to continue to grow as human beings rather than just feeding them with compliments. If you’re interested in learning more, you can continue to read some of these sites referenced below or download the book by Carol Dweck on your Kindle reader, Mindset.
For examples of ways to give feedback, click here.
Praise effort, not intelligence
Dweck, C. (2010). What is mindset? Retrieved from https://mindsetonline.com/whatisit/about/
Mindset Works (2017). Dr. Dweck’s discovery of fixed and growth mindsets have shaped our understanding of learning. Retrieved from https://www.mindsetworks.com/science/
What is Picture Word Inductive Model?
The Picture Word Inductive Model (PWIM) created by Emily Calhoun is an excellent model of teaching for developing understandings about language and analyzing how it works inductively. The teacher selects a picture that is relevant to the unit of inquiry from which to develop a visual dictionary (relevant word list). These words are then used for word study and small groups about letter sounds, word structure and classification. Words can be sorted by beginning, middle and ending sounds. Students can also use the words to classify them by nouns, verbs, and adjectives. They can practice ordering a phrase and then co-construct sentences as a station during the Daily 5 CAFE. Finally, a class story can be drafted, edited and published to model the writing process.
What are its benefits?
Throughout my career as a homeroom teacher with language learners, I have relied heavily on the Picture Word Inductive Model (PWIM) of teaching beginning reading and writing to my grade 1 and 2 students both in Mexico and in Iraq (Calhoun, 1999). As an inductive approach, students inquire into the way language works from concrete, relevant examples rather than beginning with an abstract word list taken out of context. It uses visual scaffolding for comprehensible input (Echeviarría, Vogt & Short, 2017). The more I explored using this approach, the more I appreciated it as a tool for both modeling writing and joint construction in pairs or as a whole class. Students can explore the concepts of sound, structure and classification through inductive word study. They can explore sentence structure using the words from their visual dictionary. They can use their creativity to write a story about the picture.
My students enthusiastically engaged in word study with each other. I observed them using the vocabulary we learned through the picture of study and their writing abilities improved as the year progressed since we did so much together. They had multiple opportunities to be exposed to the narrative writing process through joint construction before I asked them to try on their own.
How does it work?
Below is an excerpt from the book to help you get started. I have found my own way to implement this model of teaching and explored ways to expand on the premise of PWIM. I have created a variety of tools to use with this approach during centers. These word sort boards are available here: Click here for word sort boards.
Calhoun, E. (1999). Teaching beginning reading and writing with the picture word inductive model. Alexandria, VA: ASCD.
Echevarría, J., Vogt, M. and Short, D. (2017). Making content comprehensible for English language learners: the SIOP method, 5th ed. Boston, MA: Pearson.
As an international educator, I work with colleagues in my local and global network regularly to implement concept-based inquiry. It is a journey of discovery, learning and growing our own understandings about the ways children learn.
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