If we are passionate teachers we want to share our passion with passionate learners. It’s not always so easy to achieve.
Working at an IBO school is a definite plus to help motivate kids to finding their passions. However, every unit of inquiry that is covered is not of interest to everyone. Even though there is scope for personal inquiries , I think that for some children, especially in year 6 , they are really starting to think about what they want to learn about, not always what the teacher wants. This was made really clear to me by my student’s during their Exhibition Unit last term.
It was during our Exhibition that they got to find their passion in the Transdisiplanary theme of “Sharing the Planet” . I witnessed a rise in motivation and independent learners emerging. How could I carry this level of excitement over into the following term?
The answer became clear to me while visiting Sam Sheratt’s classroom at NIST in Thailand.
As part of a their How We Organise Oursevelves unit, I observed the kids at NIST preparing for an Organisation Challenge and a quest to work on a Personal Passion. The kids were preparing to set themselves up to organise an event for others, some were around their passions. Oh what a buzz there was in the classroom. These self motivated learners were begging their teacher for time to organise their challenges and do their Passion Projects.
The challenges and passions included construction of arcade games (the kids had seen “Kane’s Arcade” on You Tube and were inspired by this), cooking dinner or baking cakes for family and friends, writing a book, writing a script for a play, creating a virtual school using Mind Craft etc. Sam has plans to develop this further with some kids in their upcoming exhibition.
The other motivating factor was that they would be going to camp soon and one of the goals was to provide what is needed for an underprivileged school that the teachers had connected with. It was the kids decision to do this. So I witnessed large cardboard boxes which were made into arcade games being hauled down the stairs at playtime where a fee was charged to play and the money carefully stored away to help underprivileged children with their education. I saw crazy hair day being organised. For an organisation challenge some girls were making smoothies. I saw tennis tournaments and swimming races being organised. I saw reading, writing, maths, public speaking, different text types types for different purposes, collaboration……..and the list goes on. All done in an authentic way.
The kids were clear on what they had to achieve. There was a graphic organiser on the Smart board with a cycle showing the words “Choose, Reflect, Act” (from PYP). As the goal in the classroom was to become independent learners the kids understood that this cycle was never ending. So the words “What must I do I’m finished” did not escape from one child’s mouth.
Kids were encouraged to think about which transdisiplanary theme/s their passion fitted into. They had to think about what the connections were to the theme and why it connected. Some of them were already thinking about skills and attitudes. Such authentically seamless learning around the PYP.
I wished a could have stayed to see how these continued to develop.
I’m hoping to follow this model next term. Next year I know that I need to begin my year with helping kids to find their passion and work towards becoming independent learners……exciting times.