Documenting our journey as a PYP school within Rocky View Schools

Archive for the category “ULE”

A New Year and New Energy!

Our first month of school is almost behind us! We’ve spent time as a staff revisiting RVS’ 4 year plan, the priorities that we mapped out from the 4YP as well as our School Ed. Plan. Some of the main components to be surfacing for the learning community at Prairie Waters are:

  1. The learning environments that we establish for our students: being more mindful about the layout, spaces and contents of our classrooms
  2. Community involvement and engagement: finding ways to not only connect with the community to “get” from them, but also how we will “give back”
  3. Providing authentic learning experiences for students: Using provocations, questions and experiences to spark thinking curiosity and action in our units of inquiry
  4. Becoming global citizens and increasing our Personal Learning Networks: Utilizing social media platforms to connect and share with other learners around world

Grade teams have been reviewing their grade level Programme of Inquiry. Modifying, re-structuring and discussing how to best integrate curricular concepts within the units of inquiry in ways that make sense and allow for deeper exploration and discovery. There is excitement around the idea of completely changing a unit where there used to be hesitation. There is a stronger desire to be transdisciplinary in our planning when it comes to curriculum integration where there used to be confusion about how to do so. There is more of a disposition of inquiry where it used to be just an add-on on the daily schedule.

Almost 90% of our classrooms have an active class Twitter account where they are sharing photos, student quotes and reaching out to other classes and groups around the world. All of our classrooms have an active class blog where learning is shared and information is communicated (this can be shared either by teachers, or students who are guest posters). All students have their digital portfolios up and running to document their learning journey. We would love for you to give our classrooms a follow on Twitter, check out their class blogs and come visit their classrooms to see how students are at the centre of the classroom design, learning opportunities, action initiatives and overall making Prairie Waters the best place to be!

We hope you come visit us soon!


Happy New Year!

January was a month for Prairie Waters to think about and set some goals in how they were going to challenge themselves or try something new! This was to celebrate the Learner Profile Attribute of being a risk-taker – being courageous and giving something a go, even if you don’t know how. Each month, we have an Attribute Graffiti wall, posted at the front of our school. We encourage our students, staff and parents to contribute to our wall. This month, we had lots of contributions! IMG_2488

We’ve also been working through the IB’s pilot program called Curriculum Connections. It’s very exciting to know that we are working towards enhancing and deepening our understanding of the elements of the IB PYP model, and how we can make our Programme of Inquiry as dynamic and authentic as possible for all of our learners. We are working with another PYP Coordinator who calls Millarville Community School home. She is guiding and supporting us as we work through our Programme of Inquiry review. We are very enthusiastic to see the end results of our year long collaboration with her!

Our learning commons is also starting to come together! We’ve gotten some seating and some shelving starting to come together, as well as projectors hung on the walls, TV’s and Apple TV’s purchased, an iPad cart with devices loaded with creative apps that can connect to any of the projectors or TV’s in the Learning Commons space, a green screen kit, and conversations started as to how we will organize our library collection to make it most user friendly and inviting for our students to begin to use the space in collaborative, creative and more independent ways. Stay tuned as this space continues to evolve and come together over the coming months!

Rolling on through October

While it’s been a hectic couple months here at Prairie Waters, we can’t ignore the fact that there is certainly a different ‘feel’ and ‘pace’ in our school this year compared to last. Saying goodbye to over 300 of our students as they moved to East Lake School, as well as a good handful of staff was quite difficult. Our school seems so much more quiet now, it’s odd! Though with the reduction in numbers, we do now have all of our students back into classrooms, and our learning commons space is now available for us to begin bringing to life as we add furniture, technology and resources in order to make it a collaborative, open, inviting and functional space that our learners can make their own, whenever they need it. We’re very excited for the possibilities that our space holds in store for us.

One of our goals this year at Prairie Waters is to continue to develop our understanding of, and create Universal Learning Environments for our learners. More and more research that we have looked into has indicated that children thrive in an environment when they have had the opportunity to engage in some moderate to intensive aerobic activity. It increases focus, and alters brain function to enable more successful learning time during the school day. We have partnered with our school psychologist, Michelle Deen to trial her SPARK for Learning program with many of our classrooms. We’re also trying to be more cognizant of providing brief ‘brain breaks’ for our learners during their class time.

We are also beginning the process as a staff of reviewing our school Programme of Inquiry. We are looking for alignment of concepts across the grades that will help to scaffold our students’ learning, rather that repeat it. If we have overlap of concepts that are explored in different grades, we will begin to negotiate and brainstorm alternative concepts which connect to curriculum that grade teams can build upon. The process takes time, however it is a valuable exercise for us to regularly go through, in order to have a ‘bigger picture’ understanding of our students’ learning all throughout the school. Our next steps in our Programme of Inquiry review will be to take a critical look at our programme of inquiry document, and use an IB created rubric to assess how well our Units of Inquiry meet the essential elements of the PYP.

Finally, we have a committee that has been formed in order to look deeper at our physical education, health and well being curriculum and begin to conceptualize it. Ultimately, we would like to create a scope and sequence document for our staff to use when implementing and inquiry-based approach to teaching PE, health and well being. Too often, we fall into the trap of topic based PE (focusing on specific sports for a sustained period of time). At Prairie Waters, we would like to focus more on the concepts that are flushed out in the front matter of the curriculum as our base, and then explore those concepts through a variety of sports, games and activities to develop and understanding of the WHY and HOW we play these sports, games and activities successfully. We believe understanding the mechanics behind organized sport and fitness is just as important as being able to participate in the game. Stay tuned for the product of our committee’s hard work later on this year!

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