Wednesday, March 26, 2014

PYP Attitudes- Promoting Students' Positive Thoughts & Feelings

Do you believe in the power of positive thinking? How do you encourage your students to approach learning (and life) with an attitude that will help they grow and be successful? If you're interested in empowering your students by teaching them about positive attitudes, keep reading!
As I've mentioned before, my school follows the Primary Years Programme (PYP) curriculum framework. The goal of the written curriculum, what we want the students to learn, is to balance 5 essential elements:
Source: occ.ibo.org
In this post, I'm focusing on Attitudes. In other words, what do we want students to feel, value and demonstrate? We all know there's more to learning than knowledge, concepts and skills, so how do we develop the "whole child" and address social and emotional needs? By providing students with the PYP Attitudes, we're giving them a base from which to begin to develop their own values and sense of character.

There are PYP attitudes include:
  1. Appreciation
  2. Commitment
  3. Confidence
  4. Cooperation
  5. Creativity
  6. Curiosity
  7. Empathy
  8. Enthusiasm
  9. Independence
  10. Integrity
  11. Respect
  12. Tolerance
Most of the Attitudes can be connected to and seen as support for the Learner Profile. I like to think of the Leaner Profile as the "who" I want my students to become, and the Attitudes as the "how" they'll achieve it. For example, if I show curiosity, enthusiasm and commitment in learning activities, I'm likely becoming "knowledgeable" and a proficient "inquirer" (Learner Profile Traits). One's disposition, or attitude, towards any situation has a huge impact on the outcome, so why not teach students to be self-reflective of how they're feeling and thinking while learning?

In order to help my students develop an understanding of the PYP Attitudes, I created a set of posters and cards for a classroom display that we use as an interactive way. Much like teaching students "Strategies that Work" for reading comprehension, I must first model and explicitly explain these attitudes. Since the goal is the same, to get my students to think metacognitively, I must somehow make that thinking visible or concrete for them.

Like the Learner Profile Traits, I like to introduce an attitude through a picture book as students are often able to relate to the story's characters. Even though I display all the cards on the wall at once, I take my time introducing each attitude over the course of the school year. Our units of inquiry each have a couple of focal Learner Profile traits and Attitudes so I definitely make sure we highlight them during the course of the unit.
This set was made to coordinate with my Learner Profile posters. It includes 8.5 x 11 sized posters as well as a set of space-saving mini-posters. It also comes with a cute decorative bunting if you'd like to highlight the Attitudes apart from the Learner Profile! Click on the picture to check it out on TpT.

I wrote my own definitions of each attribute based on the IB's definitions. In the spirit of a community of learners, they are written in "we" language instead of "I". I tried to write more kid-friendly definitions without watering them down too much. I was mindful to keep what I believed to be the essence of what the IB intended. Instead of seeing "long" definitions as a problem, I chose to see them as a way to deepen students' understandings. Part of really knowing each attribute involves dissecting its meaning. I want my students to think more deeply, so we consider all the components of the definition.

I use these posters in an interactive way by having students post their photo by the attitude they think they demonstrated on a given day or in a certain situation. I emphasize that this may at school OR at home to reinforce that the fact that our attitude's are always showing! We reflect during class discussions, morning meeting or closing circle, almost any time. We do it frequently, but it's not set in stone as part of our weekly schedule. As the school year goes on, these reflections happen more naturally with students coming up to me telling me which attitude (or trait) they thought they were demonstrating.

Here's a recent example. This little friend brought in something that she made with her little sister at home; "I was showing cooperation," she said. She was patient with her sister by letting her gather the supplies and help with coloring. You might not be able to tell from the photo what exactly she's holding.... well, this student and her sister were playing make believe with a toy ambulance and thought up a story in which a mom would take her baby to the hospital,... of course! So, she took a paper doll she had made at school and then crafted a paper "baby", and then they strapped it the the roof of the ambulance with a piece of thread. Yes, thread - precious! As she shared with the class, I added that I thought it took some "creativity" to make those paper dolls- it seems as though creative play is disappearing from our kids' lives, at least to me; I was so happy to see this "project" from home!
As you can (kind of) see from the picture, I have the Learner Profile traits hung in the center of the wall at kid-height (for easy access) and the Attitudes displayed on both sides. I chose to break them up with a pop of color, laminated pieces of blue paper- so fancy! Ha! It does the job and my kids love thinking an sharing how they are growing as learners and people.

Even if you do not teach at an IB school, using the PYP Attitudes is an excellent way to promote positive social skills and character development in your students.

How do you promote positive attitudes in your classroom?
Signature photo ScreenShot2013-04-26at54143PM.png

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