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Archive for Grade 3

March 21, 2014

Databases in the Primary School- Lessons Learned


Our ICL team (Sue Anderson, Doris Clingman and myself) teach in our scheduled classes and “just in time” teaching the value of students and teachers in using our online databases. One of our goals is to make our PS Library website with its many databases the go to place for our student researchers as they purse their inquiry.

We start our Kindergarten students with BrainPop Jr and BrainPop videos in Spanish and French. We introduce PebbleGo in Grade 1 followed by Britannica. Spanish and French databases come into play next as well as the incredible Britannica ImageQuest. ImageQuest is so important as it provides an excellent alternative to sending students searching on the Web as the provided ImageQuest images are rights cleared covering a wide variety of topics.

Sue is currently supporting a Grade 3 unit of study on economics by introducing more sophisticated databases using them to have students learn about supply and demand. She teaches ICL skills of information literacy and analysis by having the students go into the provided databases to gather information on supply and demand. She gives students the handout inserted below as they do their exploration.

Sue shared important insight with me yesterday regarding another goal in teaching databases. She stressed how important it is for the students to move beyond basic literacy in using them. As part of our ICL curriculum, we push for students to become fluent in how they analyze information, media, visuals and technology. A part of this fluency is becoming so comfortable that one is willing to persevere and stay on task in doing a database search when the information is not so easy to find.

Sue explained that the last thing we want is for students to have limited experience with databases so that they do not become adept in using them. With limited use and skill development they are more apt to quickly drop a database search when faced with an obstacle and jump into a search engine. In other words, the faculty and parents have to be all in when teaching and supporting the use of databases in school and at home so that they truly become a part of our students’ personal learning systems.

How “all in” is your school’s community in supporting your students to become skilled and dedicated database users?


Database lesson


August 12, 2013

Units of Inquiry (PYP)


I wrote in the Spring that I would be starting a new job at Washington International School (WIS) in the District of Columbia. The move would offer me new learning opportunities and a return to working with international students and educators. It would also offer new topics for what I share in this blog and at the Edtech Co-Op podcast. So here is some of my learning as things get rolling at WIS.

The Primary Years Programme of the International Baccalaureate (IB) is totally new to me as I only have experience with the high school diploma curriculum. After spending so many years in elementary schools working to develop curriculum, I feel like I found the holy grail with the PYP as I spent much of my summer reading about the programme. I now get to see the PYP in action and am looking forward to sharing my learning as the year progresses.

So if you are already a PYP teacher, I will be presenting probably much of what you already know. But hopefully the Washington International School take on the PYP might offer you some new ideas. I definitely will be recording podcasts with our teachers as they not only teach the PYP but they teach it in several languages as WIS is a full immersion, dual language school. I am told that not all PYP schools teach the full curriculum in the second language as well as in the local language.

If you are new to the PYP and are looking for a fully developed curriculum built around interdisciplinary units focusing on inquiry, learning goals based upon big ideas/concepts in UbD developed units, transdiscipline skills, global awareness and many habits of mind, then get ready to learn with me.

Now take a look at the photo at the top of the post. It is display that can be found right when you walk into the school as well as in the hallways and in the teacher lounge. It lists all the units of inquiry by grade level. One could not ask for a more direct and validating reminder to students, parents and staff members of what we are teaching here at the primary school.

Here are a couple close ups for Grade 3 and 5 start of the year units of study.



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