PYP and CfE- similar or not so much?

International Baccalaureate Reflective Activity 4

International Baccalaureate (IB) Primary Years Programme (PYP) and the Curriculum for Excellence (CfE) both have similarities within their approaches.

A similarity which is prominent within both PYP and CfE is the education of the whole child. Within CfE this can be seen throughout the four capacities;

  • Successful learners
  • Effective contributors
  • responsible citizens
  • confident individuals.

Within these capacities many aspects of social, emotional and academical development can be seen such as; the development of respect for others (including other cultures also) and the learner, enthusiasm and motivation for learning and self-resilience.

PYP also supports the education of the whole child which is highlighted in their six transdisciplinary themes;

  • Who we are
  • Where we are in place and time
  • How we express ourselves
  • How the world works
  • How we organize ourselves
  • Sharing the planet

PYP has used the transdisciplinary subjects heavily when developing these themes as there is ample opportunity for cross-curricular learning to take place. Cross-curricular learning can also be seen in CfE through interdisciplinary learning. As mentioned by practitioners using PYP, showing students connections of subjects and how they fit into the world is crucial as the world is not split into categories and overlapping occurs at every turn, and so It is crucial to embed this idea into students from early stages. This resonates with my approach to learning as I believe social and emotional development is just as important as academical development as this provides students with the skills they need for society today and helps develop young people into well-rounded individuals.

PYP focuses a lot of learning about the world, cultures and how IB fits into that world. this is extremely relevant to IB as the curriculum is planned to be taught across the globe in many different continents and countries and so it is important for every person within that community to respect others within it. CfE does touch on other cultures and the world around us, however, not to the extent IB does as CfE does not consistently link as IB does especially to other cultures.

However, overall there are more similarities between PYP and CfE than there are differences which is positive as they focus on many different aspects of the child and includes the child at the centre of all learning and development.

Progressive trends within IB and CfE

International Baccalaureate Reflective Activity 3

There can be many links made between the progressive trends of the International Baccalaureate (IB) to the teaching and learning within Curriculum for Excellence (CfE).

Child-centred learning and student choice are progressive learning trends which I have seen being practiced within the teaching and learning of CfE. Whilst on placement, teaching and learning was a collaborative experience between the teacher and the student instead of only teacher-lead learning. This was done through discussion which links to inquiry-based learning, where the students can develop skills such as problem solving and collaborative skills. I also observed student choice through a lot of reflection and feedback from the students, about what they enjoyed learning about or what they found more difficult. Moving forward, the teacher and school can take these into account when curriculum planning, which will in turn increase engagement levels throughout students and classrooms.

Education of the whole child is a focus of CfE and is highlighted through the four capacities and SHANARRI documents. Successful learners, Confident individuals Responsible citizens and Effective contributors are the four capacities of CfE, each capacity reflects on the whole child’s education and not just academic learning and development, but social, emotional and physical learning and development also. SHANARRI highlights the importance of the health and wellbeing of children and provides practitioners across Scotland to identify children who need extra support and how to help children receive that support. Practitioners are provided with materials such as the SHANARRI ‘Wellbeing wheel’ and ‘My world triangle’ to help them support children’s social and emotional development.

Transdisciplinary learning can be seen in CfE through Interdisciplinary learning, both involve learning content relevant to two or more disciplinaries. This could involve overlapping of mathematics and science to develop problem solving skills, or expressive arts and health and wellbeing to create a wellbeing plate. This is highly effective to student’s learning as it shows the links not only between disciplinaries but also the links to the real world which shows the students the relevance of their learning.

IB vs. CfE

International Baccalaureate Reflective Activity 2

The Curriculum for Excellence (CfE) four capacities and the International Baccalaureate (IB) learner profile attributes both have similarities and differences between them but strive towards a similar goal; to help develop well-rounded individuals.

A distinctive similarity both the CfE capacities and the IB learner attributes have is focusing on the child and linking every aspect back to developing independent individuals and not just good students. I think this should resonate to education around the world, because we as teachers need to support not only children’s academical development, but also help them develop socially and emotionally, to help them become individuals who can go out into today’s society well equipped.

Respect is an underlying theme with both the IB attributes and the CfE capacities. Self-respect is an attribute received in both, displaying how this builds confidence and allows pupils to communicate well. Respect for others is also highlighted, which also links to respecting cultures which can be seen in both. CfE details under the ‘Responsible Citizens’ capacity, the importance of understanding Scotland’s place in the world. This in turn, would require knowledge about Scottish culture, but also how we fit with other cultures of the world. However, this is especially relevant to the IB attributes, which is detailed under the ‘Open- minded’ attribute. This is due to there being many different countries and cultures coming together to learn and so, there needs to be a mutual respect and understanding between all.

Regarding learning, in both the four capacities and the attributes, it can be seen that nurturing curiosity and enthusiasm towards learning is an unmistakable goal for both curriculums.  I think this great both IB and CfE strive towards this as, this is what will drive students and will allow them to take authority of their own learning in school, but also out with and into the future.

Whilst there are many similarities between both curriculums, one difference is how the values are divided with CfE having 4 capacities and the IB learner profile attributes being divided into 10 headings. Each of these have their strengths as I find the 10 headings of IB provides a more specific approach and is very clear. However, with CfE I think it is good there are 4 capacities as within each capacity there is great detail and there is a breakdown of what they are aiming to enable and how they will know they’ve helped young people achieve that.

 

In my experience I think the IB attribute of ‘Principled’ resonates with my own education and working with children in schools today in particular. This is because in my own school and schools I’ve worked in they endeavour to instil honesty and responsibility in every pupil, as it links with many other qualities which contribute to a well-rounded individual such as respect and fairness. Going forward in my teaching practice I will take the CfE capacities and the values they strive to uphold but also, I will aspire to involve the 10 IB attributes within my practice. This is because I believe both contribute a great deal towards creating an emotionally and academically developed individual who is ready for the world.

An Introduction to IB

International baccalaureate Reflective Activity 1

How would you summarise the main aims of an IB education?

The main aims of an IB education is to develop an intercultural understanding and respect within their pupils; which can be further explored in the 10 aims in the IB learner profile:

 Inquirers- We nurture our curiosity, developing skills for inquiry and research. We know how to learn independently and with others. We learn with enthusiasm and sustain our love of learning throughout life.

Knowledgeable- We develop and use conceptual understanding, exploring knowledge across a range of disciplines. We engage with issues and ideas that have local and global significance.

Thinkers- We use critical and creative thinking skills to analyse and take responsible action on complex problems. We exercise initiative in making reasoned, ethical decisions.

Communicators- We express ourselves confidently and creatively in more than one language and in many ways. We collaborate effectively, listening carefully to the perspectives of other individuals and groups.

Principled- We act with integrity and honesty, with a strong sense of fairness and justice, and with respect for the dignity and rights of people everywhere. We take responsibility for our actions and their consequences.

Open-minded- We critically appreciate our own cultures and personal histories, as well as the values and traditions of others. We seek and evaluate a range of points of view, and we are willing to grow from the experience.

Caring- We show empathy, compassion and respect. We have a commitment to service, and we act to make a positive difference in the lives of others and in the world around us.

Risk-takers- We approach uncertainty with forethought and determination; we work independently and cooperatively to explore new ideas and innovative strategies. We are resourceful and resilient in the face of challenges and change.

Balanced- We understand the importance of balancing different aspects of our lives—intellectual, physical, and emotional—to achieve well-being for ourselves and others. We recognize our interdependence with other people and with the world in which we live.

Reflective- We thoughtfully consider the world and our own ideas and experience. We work to understand our strengths and weaknesses in order to support our learning and personal development.

Here we can see a range of aims to make well rounded pupils who can achieve a vast and varying education. However an underpinning aim of IB I think is to learn about different cultures and how people can work together to create amazing things to better the world we live in. This is supported by having the IB curriculum taught across the world in 97 different counties showing the interest of being intercultural.

Have you experienced any aspect of the IB aims when working in school or in your own education?

One aspect of the IB aims I have seen in schools and in my own education is the principled aim. This is because a big part of positive behaviour management is the pupils recognising wrong from right and taking responsibility if they do something which strays from the school ethos. I have also seen the knowledgeable aim when working in schools as pupils are introduced to many different curricular areas where they use their interchangeable skills and understanding to explore each area.

 

From exploring and learning about the IB curriculum and its main aims and values I can see the main forefront of the curriculum is the students. This covers the learning each student undertakes is of a high standard and there is great curricular area range, but also the IB curriculum ensures that their students are well rounded individuals not on academically but also socially and emotionally. The learner profile supports this as each aim within the profile helps further the students development, academically, emotionally, socially and also makes them a strong independent individual. I believe teaching pupils outside of traditional curriculum knowledge is crucial in teaching today as we as teachers need to help prepare children to be best equipt to deal with today’s world and society we live in and by teaching them how to use different skills from a range of areas we are helping them navigate the world. Another main aspect of the IB curriculum is the actual learning, where they are introduced and exposed to many different curricular areas which link and overlap. This is great as it further aids the pupils in developing their sense of identity and what they enjoy and also best equips them for the world.

Reflection on Semester 1

 

Semester 1 was new and exciting for us all as a cohort, and many of us were surprised when we had a significantly smaller number of timetabled classes than other courses. Although sometimes I got bored, looking back I think this was really beneficial for me as it allowed me to get involved with co-curricular activities such as hockey and allowed me to settle in and socialize with this brand-new group of people I was surrounded by.

However, I would say the most challenging part of semester 1 was the essays and assignments which were due towards the end of the year.

I took sustainable development and the environment as my elective and I enjoyed it, however the report deadline was very close to the Values module essay. This forced me to be organised and start my report in plenty of time. My sustainable development report was my first piece of university writing I had ever done; which I found challenging as I had never tackled referencing before, which I was slightly concerned about. I was also concerned about this with my values essay which came shortly after my report, in which I struggled with the referencing. However, the most challenging part of the values essay for myself, was just navigating my way through my first Education essay and combining the right amount of reading and creativeness (and keeping it within the word count!), to create a coherent essay which answered the question being asked. I actually really enjoyed the process of writing my values essay and I am proud of the grade I received in the end.

Overall, the aspect which I struggled with the most in semester 1 would have to be working through December. This is because, I’m from Glasgow and moved to Dundee to come to University, which I have absolutely loved, however, Christmas is my favorite time of year which I usually spend with my family. I found not being home and partaking in the usual festivities really difficult and found myself quite homesick especially whilst completing the working together module assessments as all of my flat mates were back at home and the university became very quiet. However, it made the reward of seeing my family at Christmas even greater and the fact I very happy with my overall grade.

Upon reflection, I am very happy and proud of how I tackled my first few pieces of university work as it is so different to school; where you are spoon-fed and given an abundance of information. This shows me I am capable of handling the workload, and the key to being able to do this is time management and organization. I will take this learning experience forward with me into semester 2 when these two aspects will become even more apparent with essays to be completed on top of placement and the professional practice file.

For me I am beginning to see the importance of reflection particularly from the start of semester two as I have been posting reflections of my learning experiences on my blog and it is making me more aware of where I am as a learner, and where I am in terms of becoming a teacher and what areas I might need to put a bit more work and focus into; such as mathematics. I am going to continue with my blog posts to continue my ongoing reflection and to better my learning and practice.

Tackling Mathematics

 

What is the definition of maths? It could be the literal definition which is , ” The study of numbers, shapes and space ” (Cambridge dictionaries, 2019). However, every person will have a different definition and experience of maths, for myself, words that I associate with maths would be; anxiety, inadequate, slow and scary. It might be obvious, but i have not had an easy experience when it comes to maths.

Language and art based subjects have always come more naturally to me and I always gravitated towards them more.  My favourite part of topics was the creative side of making posters about the sun and an Anderson shelter model; as for me it brought the learning to life and really helped me as I am a visual learner. This also ran into reading which i enjoyed anyway but  the visual aids in books such as Bif and Chip really helped me stay focused.

On the other hand, ever since primary 2 my teachers and parents has noticed  took a slow approach to maths, and I struggled to keep up with my classmates. I was isolated into a support group with 4 others from primary 3 onwards, I found myself overcome with relief; as I was finally in an ability group that went at my pace and I was not stressing about my peers thinking I was incapable or stupid. In particular, I remember the support for learning teacher, Mrs Trainer,  created this supportive and safe environment where mistakes could be made without judgement, and this was the first time I truly saw the impact of a teacher who cares and who is passionate, as towards the end of primary school, dare I say it, I enjoyed maths; even if only a little bit.

Transitioning from Primary to Secondary is never easy for any child, as there was an aspect for every pupil which they had not experienced before. This could be from new subjects that had not been explored in primary school, or being surrounded by new people and a new environment. The transition from primary school maths to secondary was a big jump for me, with the content, but also with the lack of support my school provided for people like me who struggled with maths. The more assessment and attainment tests were introduced; the more pressure and anxiety from when I was younger was introduced back. However,  I was lucky enough to be able to get the support that helped me so much through primary school back. This helped me so much and I created a lasting bond with my maths tutor and we still keep in touch to this day. She created a safe environment for mistakes and learning , much like Mrs Trainer, Yet, without the collaboration of my school I still really struggled.

A huge part of my negative view on maths derives from my teachers in secondary school.  I strongly believe that a teacher, and the relationship you have with them has a direct impact on whether you enjoy that said subject, which was the case for me with my maths teachers. The mathematics department was a place of discomfort for myself and every year, I found myself dreading to see whatever teacher I had for parents evening.  Especially, during my National 5 qualification from S3-S4, my teacher had a nature of not explaining/ helping any further after the topic had been introduced and he also did not believe in me or many others in my class and repeatedly belittle us by making our questions and queries seem stupid. A real turning point for me was when my dad had arranged a meeting with my maths teacher, and came away with the advise that my teacher strongly advises I do not sit the exam. This made me feel like a complete lost cause; as the department did not want a fail reflecting badly on them and it was evident they did not believe in or truly care about me. At first, I was discouraged, however as I reflected on the advise, all it made me want to do was pass my National 5 maths exam, which I knew was not going to be easy. I was lucky enough to have my dad and my tutor who worked so hard with me, doing mocks and going through the content over and over and in the end, I was one of the only people in my teachers class to pass.  For me this is one of my greatest achievements still to this date, and it also showed me a valuable lesson which I know will have shaped not only the way I will teach maths, but my approach to teaching overall; it showed me to never give up on a child no matter how long it takes for them to understand a concept, as they might not have the same support out-with school as I luckily did. I even re-sat National 5 maths; so I could attend the University of Dundee which I am currently enrolled at, by bumping up my grade from a C to an A, which reinforces that by going over topics and content until they are understood is so important, as that is how I got an A at the end of it all.

 

Although, at the time I thought my journey with maths was over; I realise now it will never be over as it is in everyday life but also, now I will be faced with the challenge teaching mathematics to children in Scotland. However, as I have struggled so much first hand, I feel I will be equipt with not only the knowledge, but the empathy and understanding to teach maths and support the children, no matter their ability. To overcome my anxieties about teaching maths I will resort back to the strategies used during my National 5 maths journey, but also combine this with help from my lecturers and further reading and materials to best deliver the level of maths education children deserve.

Why I want to be a teacher

Like many other teachers to be, i was inspired by my own experiences in school with my teachers. After struggling with mathematics for years and having teachers who just did not support me, it made me appreciate when i finally was taught by a teacher who took many different approaches and put in the time to make things click in my head. My maths teacher and a few other educators helped me see the impact a good teacher can have on an individuals life, as i got into university from my maths grade. However, i also learned from the bad experiences and how not to be and approach things in the classroom; such as not putting in the extra time with pupils and just doing the extra leg work to really bring out the best in their work.

Above was my personal experience with teachers and the education system, but I have also seen the impact on others. I particularly saw the significance of extra help when volunteering at a homework club in Springburn, Glasgow. Many of the children that came went to multiple homework clubs each week which helped them complete the task of doing work, which proved difficult for them, but also it allowed them to see that it was ‘cool’ to do work and these older teenagers were people to look up to. The little girl I was helping had positive comments in her jotter from her teacher each week and these would equip her with confidence and that she could do the work. Doing this homework club and other work experience reassured me that I wanted to be a teacher and make that difference for younger people, as our future is most indefinetley in their hands.