The Concept of Grit
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.
As an international educator, I work with colleagues in my local and global network regularly to implement inquiry through concept-based approaches to learning and teaching. It is a journey of discovery, learning and growing our own understandings about the ways children learn.
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