Tag Archives: pyp

PYP Exhibition was a Huge Success!

Earlier this week I blogged a bit about Exhibition. While it was a ton of work for everyone involved, I couldn’t be prouder of the students and teachers who made it all possible! Yesterday, the Grade 5 students presented their Exhibition three times, once to the PYP students, one to the MYP students, and once to their parents. While we were all beat at the end of the night, we had a blast!

We began with an introduction by the Grade 5 teachers, school Director, Head of Secondary School, and me. Then the student groups took turns presenting the main points of their project, including their technology and art components, and their action as a result of the Exhibition. Following the group presentations, the audience was invited to view the display boards to learn more about the students’ research and ask questions. Lastly, visitors left a positive comment about something they loved about the presentations.

Click here to watch a short video of our Exhibition!

Today the students reflected A TON on the whole Exhibition process. They assessed themselves, wrote about challenges they encountered and how they overcame them, and celebrated their successes. Tomorrow we’ve invited all of the mentors and experts to have a pizza party to celebrate the end of the Exhibition! They definitely deserve a party…they’ve worked hard! 🙂

IMG_9269

I just loved reading all the positive things people had to say about the students! They loved reading them, too. The notes helped boost their confidence and made them feel proud! 🙂

Advertisements

Surrounded by PYP…and Loving It!

Holding dual roles at school means that sometimes I wear one hat more than the other. Lately my PYP Coordinator hat has been on more often, as our Exhibition has been fast-approaching (it’s TOMORROW!). Last week and this week, I have been surrounded by PYP– literally. I can’t seem to get away from it, but I sorta love it!

As I mentioned, our Exhibition presentations are tomorrow. Our Grade 5 students, teachers, and mentors have been working their little tails off getting ready for this momentous occasion for the past 6 weeks. Their collaborative, in-depth inquiry has lead them to some really interesting learning experiences and to take action in their local community. Here’s a video of their journey thus far. Today, I attended a field trip to our sister school, ACD, to attend their Exhibition, and then worked with the students on perfecting their presentations and display boards. I think know we are ready!


In addition to the Exhibition, we held a PYP training for all staff this past Saturday and Sunday. Unfortunately I was sick and could not attend all of the training, but the teachers did some amazing thinking and reflection while I was gone!

A documentary made about our school, and how we teach, was just released online today. It shows what it’s like attending and teaching at an international school in Albania, but also what it means to have an IB education. We are a candidate school for all 3 programmes of the IB- PYP, MYP, and DP!

Lastly, today during recess, I was drawn to a group of girls who were playing in the field. I watched them a short while and noticed they were gathering items and piling them up. I decided to investigate. After approaching the group (one in preschool, one in Grade 1, and two in Grade 2), I asked them what they were doing. They explained they were building a nest for the birds. When I questioned them further, they explained that people are cutting down trees, so birds no longer have homes, therefore they built a nest for the birds. They included leaves, flowers, dried twigs, berries, and a long stick. The berries were for food, of course, and the stick was so the bird could locate the nest and have something to sit on. The interesting thing is that they are all learning about Sharing the Planet at this time, although their Central Ideas vary. This group of girls decided, on their own during their free time, to take action to help animals who are losing their homes. If that’s not PYP, I don’t know what is!

It’s moments like this that remind me of why I do what I do and why I believe in it so much!

My Personal Inquiry

Lately I’ve been inquiring into how to lead our annual Programme of Inquiry (POI) review, where we take a look at our units of inquiry, and the POI as a whole, to evaluate their effectiveness and make improvements for next year. At my previous school, I’ve taken part in leading our POI review for the last 3 years, and it’s gone well, but I’ve been wondering about how I can structure it for my current teachers, who are new to PYP. I want it to be meaningful and engaging, rather than something they feel like they have to do because the IB says we have to do it.

In the past week, I’ve been in the tuning in stage of inquiry, actively thinking about how to do it, asking myself questions, and gathering resources. Today, I ended up working late on some other stuff for work. Despite being at work for 12 hours, I was motivated to delve more into my personal inquiry into the POI review. I printed off a few of the articles I had found earlier on the topic (I like reading hard copies when researching), and headed over to The Montrose for some dinner and a change of scenery. I set up shop at my usual table in the back, where I can be alone, spread out, and get work done. Diving right in, I began the process of finding out and sorting out, as I took copious notes from my readings, as well as jotted down things I knew I wanted to include in this year’s review.

Anyone who knows anything about inquiry knows that it leads to motivation. I continued to work for hours, without stopping. Usually when I’m working on something, I get off topic, take breaks, get distracted, etc., but not tonight. I was so energized by the planning and work I was doing, that I couldn’t stop.

After I gathered notes on the POI review, my mind drifted to teacher orientation planning. This is another topic that’s been floating around in my head lately. Like the POI review, I want it to be engaging and purposeful for my teachers. I want them to walk away feeling prepared for the year ahead, motivated to learn more about PYP and inquiry teaching, and equipped with a toolkit of teaching strategies that they can implement in their classrooms. To this end, I began making more and more lists, gathering strategies for orientation and the big ideas I wanted to be sure and include in this year’s orientation. Before I knew it, it was 11:00pm, and even though it was late, I didn’t want to stop working! Obviously I did, because I’d be a zombie tomorrow if I didn’t. I feel good about the work I did today, and am motivated to continue this process in the coming days. After I finish sorting out, I’ll go further and begin planning how I’d like to approach both the POI review and the teacher orientation. Can’t wait to see it all put together, and then in action with the teachers!

A New Adventure

Moving abroad was the single best decision I have ever made. Five years ago, in 2010, I made the decision to live and teach in Shanghai, China, packing up my life and moving literally halfway across the world. It definitely hasn’t always been easy, and I’m not without my scars, but the benefits of this expat life far outweigh any setback I’ve encountered. I have met some amazing people who will forever be in my life. I’ve experienced life in another culture, challenging my beliefs and giving me a broader perspective on life. And I’ve had the opportunity to travel to incredible places I never would have otherwise. I am a different person, a better person, because of my experiences in China, and I will forever hold this place close to my heart. But my time in China is quickly coming to an end. After five years, and three positions at my school, I have decided to try something different.

This fall, I’m off on a new adventure! Beginning in August 2015, I will move to Tirana, Albania! I am really jazzed by this move, as it provides me with opportunities to challenge myself in many ways. As part of the leadership team, I’ll be opening a new school, Albanian College, which will open its doors to students for the first time on September 1st of this year. I’m the Deputy Head of School/PYP Coordinator, a dual position that will split once enrollment increases. In addition to the excitement of opening a brand-new school, I’m looking forward to the challenge of taking the school through the PYP authorization process.

So, you might be asking yourself….where exactly is Albania? I know I did! 🙂 Albania is in Eastern Europe, near Greece and Italy. It’s not officially part of the EU yet, although they are a candidate. Albania is a small country, roughly the size of Maryland, USA.

Albania-map

 

I’ve been doing a lot of research to find out as much as I can about my new country. Here are a few facts I’ve learned. I’m looking forward to learning lots more once I arrive!

  • Size= 28,000 sq. km. or 11,000 sq. miles
  • Total population of Albania is about 3,000,000.
  • Tirana, where I will be, is the capital. Tirana’s population is about 1,000,000. Shanghai is roughly 24,000,000, so it’s going to feel so tiny in comparison! There are about 1 million people living in my neighborhood here! :O
  • Albanian is the official language, and while it’s probably easier to learn than Chinese, it’s a pretty difficult language. English is not widely spoken, so I’ll be taking lessons! I’ve already picked up a few words and phrases.
  • The official currency is Lek. $1 USD= 123 Lek
  • The cost of living is extremely low since Albania is a very poor country.
  • There is only one American chain in the entire country, and it’s not McDonald’s or Starbucks. It’s….Cinnabon! I kinda love this! 🙂
  • Food is a mix of Greek, Turkish, and Italian. Yumm!!
  • The climate is a typical Mediterranean climate. They have heavy annual rainfall. This isn’t my favorite thing, but you can’t win ’em all, right?
  • Apparently they don’t drive well there, but they don’t in China either, so I think I’m ready.
  • They shake their head for yes (‘po’) and nod their head for no (‘jo’). My brain is seriously going to have a hard time with this one. Try it- say “no” while nodding your head. It’s freaking hard!

In addition to finding out random facts about Albania, I’ve been researching pictures…and I must say, Albania is a gorgeous country I cannot wait to explore! Check it out for yourself…

albanian coast

albania bridge

albania-685x317

albania 1

albania 2

tirana albania

 

I’m soooo excited!! 🙂 I suspect I’ll have quite a few visitors in the three years I’ll be living there.

Here’s a video of Tirana, where I will live. Check it out!

 

Personal Leadership Statement

As I stated in my previous post, our summative assessment task at this weekend’s workshop was to write our own personal leadership statements. Through discussions with our group, thought-provoking videos about effective leadership, personal surveys that determined our strengths, personality type, and leadership style, and thoughtful reflections, we each wrote our own “statement” on leadership. I say “statement” because mine turned out to be a bit unconventional. My leadership statement evolved into a poem. While I may revise it later into a more conventional statement, here’s a look at my first draft. I’d really love your feedback!

Leader Am I 

Authentic,
what you see is what you get.
I may not have all the answers,
and I can promise you
I will make mistakes;
but I’ll never stop
learning,
reflecting,
growing.
Committed to nurturing
a community of learners
who care about and support
one another.
Streams of ideas flowing,
some developed, others discarded.
Plans formed,
action taken.
Flexible and responsive
when obstacles come my way.
Dependable,
dedicated,
and true to my word.
Invested in the people
that make up the fabric
of my school.
Striving to inspire,
empower,
and develop
the strengths of my team.
Driven by a belief
in a cause
greater than myself.

Pedagogical Leadership Workshop Reflection

This weekend I attended a IB PYP workshop in Hong Kong entitled “Pedagogical Leadership in the Early Years.” Our workshop leader, Anne-Marie Evans, was phenomenal! Her thoughtful preparedness, learning engagements that were actually engaging, and pacing made this such an enjoyable learning experience for me! The workshop attendees were also great, and I was able to make connections and learn so much from all of them!

Currently, I’m sitting in the Pizza Express at the HK Airport waiting for my flight back to Shanghai, and I’m bursting with energy and excitement about all I learned and everything I want to do with my new knowledge when I get back to school. My reflections and action following this workshop will take place over the next few weeks and months, but here are a few of my major take-aways:

  • I learned some new technology ideas I can’t wait to share with my staff! Hopefully they will work in the mainland. 🙂 A few of the sites were TodaysMeet.com, an online “Twitter-like” discussion in real time; Padlet.com, a site similar to Wall Wisher, but even better and easier to use; Cousera.org, a FREE site that offers online university courses to students worldwide. To learn more about Coursera, watch this TED Talk by Daphne Koller.
  • Leadership vs. Management- This was the heart of the workshop. The mix of collaborative discussions within our group, personal surveys to identify our strengths, personality style, and leadership style, and reflection after reflection resulted in the creation of our own personal Leadership Statement, the summative assessment of the entire workshop. I’ll post my Leadership Statement in another blog entry. I’d love your feedback!
  • Group vs. Team- How often do you work together as a group, but not really as a team? I never really thought about these words being different, but during this workshop, we explored what it really meant to work as a team through several learning engagements (“Lost at Sea,” “Marshmallow Challenge,” etc.) and the truly meaningful piece for me was the reflection on each engagement. We had to reflect on how we worked together, which was made easier because each time we had a scribe to record our actions. This is the piece that I don’t do well enough with my staff. I find that I’ll lead them in engagements or show an interesting video, but then the reflection piece falls flat, and it ends up with me sharing my own thoughts with them more often than not. I would like to work on this, and thanks to Anne-Marie, I’m armed with some new strategies!
  • WHY-HOW-WHAT- We watched a moving TED Talk by Simon Sinek who shared how inspired leaders lead from the inside-out. He shared a visual of 3 concentric circles with WHY at the center, followed by HOW, and ending with WHAT. This resonated with me because as Sinek said, “People don’t buy what you do, they buy why you do it.” Wow…this was so eye-opening for me, and really sparked a desire to find out not what kind of leader I was, but get down to why I am a leader.
  • The Importance of Play- Did you know that play is essential to forming your brain? Did you also know that play doesn’t stop when you’re a young child? As someone who doesn’t have a strong Early Childhood background, this discussion was so informative. We watched this amazing video all about the science behind play, a TED Talk by Stuart Brown called “Play is More Than Fun”. I learned that play is vital for problem solving, and those who are play-deprived are actually at a disadvantage compared to their peers. I was surprised to hear that the opposite of play is depression! I cannot wait to re-watch the video and unpack it even more.

As you can tell, we had a lot of learning packed into our three days together! I am excited to dig in and expound upon what I learned, and begin to share this learning with my staff!