Unpacking the IPC: Getting To The Nitty-Gritty
The previous two articles took you through the initial development of an IPC learning cycle within the unit, ‘Living Together.’ Now that we have harvested our students understanding of what it means to live together, it is time for students to delve deeper. However this time, they do so within specific subjects, and this case, they were: Society, History, Geography, Arts and International Mindedness. These are the stages of Subject Research Activities, and Subject Recording Activities.
Students Ask The Questions
According to the IPC, “research activities are experiential, exploratory, collaborative activities applying group working skills. Others are designed to develop individual inquiry and resilience. All tasks are open-ended to encourage children to ask their own questions related to the theme.”
One of our individual activities was to interview a parent about their job, and how the job contributed to the community, and to society as a whole. Another team exercise was when students went out into the local Houshayu community – the post office, bakery, convenience store, subway station and more – and asked people they met about their jobs, and their roles. While the first exercise fell within the subject area of Society, the second activity fell within Geography.
We guide the students with the questions, but allow them to explore and ask what they want. For instance, in a History research exercise involving the Keystone community, we encouraged students to reflect on questions such as, what do you think about Keystone? Why was the school built in Houshayu? This enables them to be creative. Students have also been taught about some of the concepts, and have already been informed of the learning goals in the Big Picture stage. So they are ready to ask the questions. We then invited Dennis Guo, Keystone COO, as a guest speaker to tell us about the school’s History and origins. Here, students are able to rethink their answers, and ask more questions.
From Local to Global
The immediate and the international are equally important components of learning through the IPC. Students are exposed to the global dimensions of every unit and theme, also known as international mindedness. In the unit of ‘Living Together,’ students watched videos, PowerPoint presentations, and YouTube clips about celebrations around the world. We researched Guy Fawkes Day (England), Day of the Dead (Mexico), Diwali (India) and Halloween (USA). Students were excited about finding similarities and differences between celebrations in China and other parts of the world.
It’s Time to Process
The recording stage is a chance for students to process and present their research through the full range of their multiple intelligences. However, it must be remembered that the Research and Recording stages are not mutually exclusive stages. Very often these stages overlap or occur in tandem, where, for instance, research in the local community was recorded as interviews with local residents took place, or when students recorded the interview with their parents as they spoke to them. Students are introduced to multiple ways of recording research, such as brainstorm charts, labels, posters, models, and written recounts of events.
As teachers, the research and recording helps us assess a student’s progress against the learning goals set for each subject within a unit. In the case of ‘Living Together,’ couple of the learning goals, for instance, in Society are: Know that different groups have different purposes, and know that people have different traditions, celebrations and ways of living. On the other hand for Geography, students should be able to: describe the main geographical features of the area immediately surrounding the school, make simple maps and plans of similar locations, and so on and so forth.
Knowledge and skills are assessed at the end of each component. The skills are observed and assessed whilst the children are doing them. The knowledge can be assessed in a variety of ways depending on the task either orally or in written form. Students can also evaluate their own learning by identifying what they did well, and how they could improve.
Allowing students to reflect on their own research and finding enables them to take learning to the next level – being creative and innovative. In one art exercise, students modeled their vision of Keystone Academy. Another activity, in small groups, gave them the opportunity to plan and draw a new community using basic mapping skills. The children discussed what their community needed to have and what they thought a community could benefit from. Their ideas were inspiring and futuristic with a flying car school, police robots, and other exciting features. It is a true and deep learning when students can apply knowledge acquired and concepts studied to imagine beyond what they know, see and experience.
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