Documenting our journey as a PYP school within Rocky View Schools

Archive for the category “Self Study”

March 20 Professional Learning Day

Welcome to our Professional Learning Day! Today we will be digging deep into our Self Study. But before we can do that, we need to reacquaint ourselves with the Self Study process and our groups. It will be a day full of discussion, collaboration, celebration and looking ahead!

See our outline for the day Here


Part 1 – Warm UP!

Vanity License Plates

Warm Up

Part 2 – Show What You Know Scope & Sequence

As our students progress through the PYP, we are helping them scaffold and construct their knowledge and understanding not only on curricular material, but also on the skills and tools they have available for them to show what they know. Teachers on the PL committee have expressed a desire to create a more formalized Scope & Sequence for Prairie Waters in terms of the ways students can demonstrate their understanding using a variety of tools at developmentally appropriate stages. This will help ensure that by the time they enter Grade 5 and their Exhibition year, they will come fully prepared with an arsenal of tools at their fingertips for how they may share their learning with a broad audience. We will spend some time digging into the ways students can show what they know, and then begin creating a vertical Scope and Sequence; so each grade will know what tools students have had exposure to in the previous years in order to continually build up the students’ toolboxes.

Spend some time looking at the links and images provided below. Discuss with your team the strategies and tools which you think would be useful to integrate and apply to your current units. Jot them down! We will then have a large-group discussion to start building our Scope and Sequence.

72 creative ways for students to show what they know

60 things students can create to demonstrate what they know

Blooms Taxonomy wheel of pedagogy

Show What You Know Infographic

Show What You Know



Part 3 – Classroom Walkabouts

Let’s get up and stretch our legs (and our brains) and visit a couple classrooms!

Part 4 – Getting Reacquainted with Self Study

We’ll spend a few minutes reviewing the Parent Survey we had available at the last three-way conferences – and the resulting action that has come from the responses

Then we’ll shift to looking at our tasks for the day with our Self Study Groups

  • Gather evidence (physical digital evidence, or writing notes on evidence that you deem significant and valuable through your conversations with your group)
  • Write a description on the major achievements you believe we’ve made in the standard that you are focusing on over the past 4 years
  • Identify a final consensus on the level of implementation of the standard you are focusing on
  • Provide evidence of achievement or working towards the current items on our action plan that are related to your standard
  • Are there areas of your standard that you think are important for us to address in our Action plan moving forward over the next 5 years? If so, please write them into the Action Plan document that is in your working folder in Google Drive. Please be picky about this…what are the Major areas for growth? (our action plan needs to be manageable!)

Brain Break!

Get moving with Alanna! Visit the vanity plates and see if you can guess whose is whose!

Group Collaboration Time!

Get together with your group and start delving into your Self Study work using the checklist above.

11:45 – LUNCH TIME!

Enjoy some eats, go check out the vanity plates if you haven’t done so, revisit the Show What You Know Scope & Sequence to make further additions, meet with your team to continue working on completing your planners.

12:45 – Reconvene in the Learning Commons

Viewing of the Induction Video

Part 5 – Open forum for questions or seeking input from other staff on your section of the Standards and Practices

Questions? Not sure about a section of the questionnaire? Need input from others about what to include in your evidence? Now’s the time to get them out there!

Part 6 – Group Collaboration Time!

The remainder of the day is yours to work with your groups to complete your Standards and Practice evaluation. The goal is by our next PL day together, you will have completed your section so we may have a group share out day to ensure we have included everything we want to share with the IB when they come for their visitation days in the fall.




November 14 Professional Learning Day

Before we dig in to Self-Study groups for part of our Professional Learning day, we have a few areas of inquiry that were discussed during our PL Planning Committee meeting. With each grade team having a representative, it was a good time for us to get a ‘pulse check’ from teams on where their needs lay in terms of professional learning. The hope is that by engaging in some of this “pre-learning”, self-study groups will feel better equipped for the work they are doing together.

See our outline for the day HERE

Part 1 of the day – Reflection Time

Spend some time with your grade team working through your reflections from unit one, and ensuring that all areas of the planner are adequately filled out.

  • use the Planner Support Document provided to read about what types of things to include in each section of the planner
  • Access the Sample Planners on the IB website to see some exemplars of how other teachers fill out the reflection sections (as well as other sections of the planner)

Part 2 of the day – Assessment

During breakfast, we asked you to Tune In to the concept of Assessment. Using the Chalk Talk thinking routine – share your ideas about assessment, make connections to other staff’s ideas about assessment, and record any questions that begin to percolate as you read through the contributions to the chalk talk board.screen-shot-2016-11-09-at-12-39-17-pm

Finding Out

Arrange yourselves into groups of 4 (branch out! Sit with someone on staff you don’t normally have the opportunity to work with). Take some time to read through Making the PYP Happen – pages 44-55 and Prairie Waters’ Assessment Policy 

Sorting Out

Using the Sentence-Phrase-Word thinking routine, from each of the documents, record a sentence that was meaningful to you; a phrase that moved or provoked you; and a word that captures your attention or strikes you as powerful. Once your group is finished, engage in discussion about what you wrote down. Reflect by identifying the common themes that are emerging across your group, what implications can be drawn, and were there important aspects that were not captured that are still worthwhile?

**Don’t forget to Tweet to our #pwepl hashtag as you work through this stage!**

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Finding Out

Remain in your groups of 4. Using the Damian Cooper article: Eight Big Ideas to Support Learning for All Students  each of you will choose 2 of the big ideas to read about. Be ready to share your thoughts and reflections with your group from those big ideas. Think about:

  • How does this reading connect to and support what you read in the Assessed Curriculum section of Making the PYP Happen?
  • Does our Assessment Policy still adequately reflect practice here at PWE? Or are there changes/modifications to be made?

Sorting Out

Use the Micro Lab Protocol thinking routine as a group to engage in a conversation about what you read, and your thinking around the ideas presented by the reading and your group members.

**Don’t forget to Tweet to our #pwepl hashtag as you work through this stage!**


Going Further

Get up and stretch those legs! In the Learning Commons, you will find 5 different blog posts printed for you to choose from.

*** Thank you to Taryn BondClegg (@makingoodhumans), Elena Vizurraga (@EVizurraga) and Adam Pierce (@PierceAdamJ) for writing your blogs to share with the world!)

Select one that you are interested in reading, and form a group of 5 – try to make sure that each person in your group is reading a different blog post.

As you read your blog post, use the Connect-Extend-Challenge thinking routine to sort through your thoughts.

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After you have read your blog posts and jotted down your thinking, take some time in your groups to share the key ideas from your blog and some of your ideas from you connect-extend-challenge.

**Don’t forget to Tweet to our #pwepl hashtag as you work through this stage!**

Reflecting/Making Conclusions

As a whole group, let’s spend some time sharing our reflections and thoughts from our inquiry. Did you have any revelations? Ideas? Wonderings that are still sticking with you that you want to ask the whole group? Thoughts on our Assessment Policy? Does it need changing? Do you have current practices that you think are rock solid or innovative that you want to share with others?

Take some time to return to our Chalk Talk from the beginning, do you have new ideas, connections or questions to add?


You’ve been taking action the whole way through this inquiry process; shifting your thinking, adding new ideas, generating new wonderings…but as your exit slip, we invite you to take a moment to add a comment to this blog on the actions you plan to take for yourself. Using the prompts, through the lens of Assessment:

  • So What? – what is your understanding of the significance of Assessment?
  • Now What? – What do you hope to do going forward? Read/follow PYP Bloggers? Engage in a Twitter Chat? A new assessment practice you want to try? Considerations for how assessments will be used/documented in your UoI’s? Something else?

Part 3 of the day – Class Walkabouts

Let’s get moving. Mrs. Chapman, Mr. Pella and Ms. Mrak will walk us through their classrooms today

Part 4 of the day – Self Study Group Work

Before we part ways for the day, we will take a few moments to share where each group is at, and the process you are going through in order to achieve your goals.

The remainder of the afternoon is yours to gather evidence, engage in conversation, work on the action plan and make decisions on how to fill in your section of the self-study questionnaire.

Self Study Year Has Begun

With September winding to a close (1 month down already?!) we are thinking ahead to our year here at Prairie Waters as we engage in our Self Study process. In our first PL days of the year, we spent some time re-acquainting ourselves to the various documents we will rely on throughout the course of the year:

IB Standards and Practices

Self Study Questionnaire

Guide to Programme Evaluation

We also spent some time reviewing the IB report from their previous authorization visit and our current action plan to make note of objectives we have made progress on, as well as adding new items to our plan moving forward, based on our review during our Self Study. This enables us to collaboratively build our action plan, so everyone is on the same page with regard to where we are at in implementation of the programme and where we desire to go moving forward.screen-shot-2016-09-26-at-11-47-04-am

Moving along in our Self Study timeline, we spent some time at our last staff meeting doing some classroom walkabouts. This was an opportunity for staff to get into classrooms they may not otherwise see very often, ask questions about room setup or practices, and just get a glimpse at how PYP is living in each room in the school. This will help when thinking about evidence of how we are addressing the specific IB Standards and Practices when it comes to teaching and learning.

Sharing your space can be quite intimidating and uncomfortable. Teachers are their harshest critics. So having an entire staff walk into your room and listen to you speak about why you have done things the way you have, or are trying new things that you aren’t sure are going to be successful requires you to be very courageous. Part of our staff essential agreement to start the year was that we establish a safe environment where there are no feelings of judgement, and have a common understanding that everyone is coming into our staff learning opportunities with an open-mind and good intentions. We are here to support each other, and learn from each other, not compete or  judge.

We’re looking forward to our next PL day together so we can carry on with our collaborative work on making the PYP the best it can be at PWE!

Diving In to Self Study

On our last school-based Professional Learning day of the year, staff at Prairie Waters began to dive in to the Self Study process. This is a brand new experience for all of us at PWE, because this is our very first evaluation visit after becoming authorized as an IB World School offering the Primary Years Programme!

As an IB World School, we are guided by a set of Standards and Practices that are intended to assist us in the planning, implementation, development and evaluation of the programme. These standards and practices are what drive our action plan as a school between evaluation visits. During an evaluation visit year (Autumn of 2017 for us), a group of IB site visitors spend 2 days touring our school, visiting classrooms, interviewing staff, students, parents, division staff and community members in order to get a sense of the implementation of the programme at our school from all stakeholders. The year prior to our evaluation visit (the 2016-2017 school year), our school engages in the process of Self Study. This is an opportunity for all staff members, as well as students and parents to reflect on our practices as a PYP school, gather evidence that we are meeting the Standards and Practices, and generate next steps to include in our action plan in order to demonstrate to the IB that we are continuing to evolve and improve as an IB World School.

As this is our first experience with the Self Study process, we decided as a staff to begin the process a little earlier. So for the past month, we have taken some time to tune in to the beginning stages of the Self Study process. Our May PL day was the day we REALLY started to dive in 🙂

Our day started with a Twitter provocation, to get a sense of where staff were at in their understanding of what Self Study is, why it’s important, and questions that may be bubbling to the surface as we start our journey.


We’ve created our own hashtag on Twitter, #pwepl to house all of our reflections, questions, contributions during the Self Study process

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From our Twitter provocation, after we had some time to read all of the tweets on our hashtag, we used the Sentence-Phrase-Word thinking routine to capture the essence of what Self Study is to each of us

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After tuning in to Self Study, we moved on to finding out our initial thoughts on implementation of the IB Standards and Practices. Using our co-created descriptors for level of implementation, staff completed the Self Study questionnaire based on their own, individual assessment of how the programme is evolving at our school. IMG_5257

After completing the survey, and gaining a better understanding of the Standards and Practices which we will be evaluated on, staff completed the initial steps of the 3-2-1 Bridge thinking routine. At the end of our Self Study process in a year, we will return to this sheet of paper, and staff will complete the other half of the bridge to see how their thinking and understanding has changed along the way.Screen Shot 2016-05-18 at 10.29.52 AMScreen Shot 2016-05-30 at 11.44.15 AM

After a wellness break (and some snacks and coffee!) we re-gathered, and broke into small groups to Sort Out the data collected from our staff survey. Staff split up according to the standards and focused on the data from their specific standard. Their analysis was centered on noticings, surprises, yahoo’s!, and hmmm’s. Using the #pwepl hashtag, groups shared out their analysis of their standard.

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We then started Going Further in our thinking about Self Study. Using the Connect-Extend-Challenge thinking routine, staff posted sticky notes under each heading to further their investigation into the idea of Self Study

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After some discussion time, we wrapped up the day by Making Conclusions. Based on our learning and engagement with the Self Study process throughout the day, staff made their selections of their top 2 interests for the standards they would like to dig into next year when we start gathering evidence for the standards and practices to complete our Self Study. After I have some time to look through the selections, I will develop a balanced team for each standard and our groups will be able to begin taking Action in their assessment of each standard that our school has been working on implementing over the past 4 years, since our Authorization.

Overall, the day was highly successful! Our brains hurt from all the heavy thinking and reflecting, but we all understand the value behind the process and are excited to get going! Let the deep dive begin!


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