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Planning the inquiry

1. What is our purpose? To inquire into the following:

Class/grade: School: QAIS


Age group: 7 -10 School code:

transdisciplinary theme Title: Symbols are Used to Communicate Teacher(s): Ms. Laura and Ms. Jenny Date: Feb 1 March 30th Proposed duration: number of hours 48 over number of weeks 8 PYP planner

How we express ourselves: An inquiry into the ways in which we discover and express ideas, feelings, nature, culture, beliefs and values; the ways in which we reflect on, extend and enjoy our creativity; our appreciation of the aesthetic.

central idea

People use symbols to be expressive and to communicate Summative assessment task(s): What are the possible ways of assessing students understanding of the central idea? What evidence, including student-initiated actions, will we look for? 1) 2) 3) Students will create a folktale that communicates a message and incorporates symbolism. Students will create a personal symbol representing who they are focusing on their culture. Art: Students will create a new school logo that communicate key messages through symbols

2. What do we want to learn? What are the key concepts (form, function, causation, change, connection, perspective, responsibility, reflection) to be emphasized within this inquiry? Key concepts: Causation (things do not just happen, actions all have consequences), Form (why something is the way it is), Perspective (the different points of view) Related concepts: Structure, subjectivity, opinion. What lines of inquiry will define the scope of the inquiry into the central idea? Symbolism Why people use symbolism How specific groups use symbolism

Understanding of the shared central idea will be evidenced through student journals, writing notebooks, student drafts with revisions, final published pieces, photographs documenting student work, student reflections, teacher conference notes/anecdotals, and rubrics.

What teacher questions/provocations will drive these inquiries?

What is a symbol? How are symbols created? Why do groups use symbols? How can we use symbolism to express ideas?

International Baccalaureate Organization 2007

Planning the inquiry

3. How might we know what we have learned? This column should be used in conjunction with How best might we learn? What are the possible ways of assessing students prior knowledge and skills? What evidence will we look for?
During the initial stage of the inquiry, teachers will be observing students to see how aware they are of symbols and how well they are able to articulate their thoughts about symbols. At the beginning of the unit, students will be exposed to numerous folktales from around the world to generate discussions about communicating messages and symbolism used in stories. Students will be asked to bring in folktales from their culture to develop motivation and interest as well. This will hopefully begin discussions and student thinking about how symbolism is a tool in literature.

4. How best might we learn?

What are the learning experiences suggested by the teacher and/or students to encourage the students to engage with the inquiries and address the driving questions?
Tuning in/Learning Invitations Search for signs and symbols around the school. Compare and contrast signs, symbols and logos. Define each and identify commonalities. Expose students to a variety of folktales from around the world by first reading shared texts from Junior Great Books and inviting students to bring in folktales of their culture to share and to examine the elements (message, characters, and symbolism). Co-construct understanding of folktale genre components. Finding Out/ Investigating Create a folktale using the five stages of the writing process: pre-write, draft, revise, edit, and publish, focusing on communicating a clear message and incorporating symbolism. Students will select ways to publish: book format, typing on the computer, creating a Powerpoint, creating a movie by drawing pictures and filming as the story is read aloud, or Bits-Strips a computer web site that publishes comic-like stories. Students examine traditional Chinese symbols such as dragon, fish, and coins and inquire into their meaning. Students reflect on the connection of the symbols meaning in context of the Chinese culture and beliefs. Students will go to the Qingdao Museum and participate in a symbol hunt observing symbols in primary sources. Invite the creative director of the schools logo to discuss how the logo was developed, what process was involved and key messages to express in the new logo. Students brainstorm key messages and symbols to represent them to create a new logo. Examining symbolism in movement by watching a Powerpoint presentation on Tai Chi investigating symbolic meaning connected to the movements. Students will also investigate the symbolic meaning in yoga movements by doing the movements and inquiring into the meaning. Exploring understanding of the Learner Profile attributes and communicating understanding of the attributes by participating in dramatic play activity. Students work in pairs to show a tableau of their understanding of the attributes. Going Further/Connections Students focus on the various groups they personally belong to and identify the symbolism used by these groups. What do the symbols have in common? Ask students to identify the significance of each symbol, linking back to the central idea. Students are challenged to create a personal symbol that expresses the identity or beliefs of a group they belong to. This symbol can be represented in the form of a song, sculpture, flag, dance, book, story, symbol, rhyme, painting, movement, etc. Students will share their folktales, school logo, and personal symbol.

What are the possible ways of assessing student learning in the context of the lines of inquiry? What evidence will we look for?
Go on a signs, symbol, and logo hunt around the school. Identify signs, symbols, and logos within their community. Create a folktale that communicates a message and incorporates symbolism. Identify symbols in literature and be able to uncover the meaning in connection to the storys theme. Examine traditional Chinese symbols and infer their meaning in connection to beliefs. Create a movement that symbolizes the meaning of the IB Learner Profile attributes. Create a personal symbol that represents who they are by researching their culture and identifying historical symbols (images and color symbolism). Create a new logo for the school based on key messages to communicate. 5. What resources need to be gathered? What people, places, audio-visual materials, related literature, music, art, computer software, etc, will be available? Junior Great Books, various folktales from around the world, fantasy novel: The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe, Powerpoint presentation on Chinese Symbols, field trip to the Qingdao Museum, How will the classroom environment, local environment, and/or the community be used to facilitate the inquiry? In the local community, look at symbols of Chinese culture. Invite in the creative director of the school to explain the school logo. Invite parents to share symbols, possibly about Feng Shui and beliefs from cultures/countries around the world. Classroom environment will have a variety of symbols, and a selection of literature related to symbolism in all cultures. Key language relating to the unit, including central idea, lines of inquiry, concepts and teacher questions, will be posted in the class. International Baccalaureate Organization 2007

Students will select a scene from the class read aloud, The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe to perform as a readers theatre skit. Students will identify symbols and their meaning understanding that meaning connected to the symbol is dependent on the context.

What opportunities will occur for transdisciplinary skills development and for the development of the learner profile attributes? Reading: Reading a variety of folktales and fantasy and comprehending what has been read; making inferences and drawing conclusions. Writing: Creating a folktale using the 5 stages of the writing process; keeping a U.O.I journal to record observations and reflections. Speaking: Speaking clearly when presenting folktale and/or readers theatre performance. Presenting: Constructing visuals and multimedia for a range of purposes and audiences. Learner Profile Attributes: (Reflective, Communicators) In the development of their own symbols, students will be reflective. Students will need to be communicators visually as they investigate how to convey meaning through symbols. Attitudes: (Creativity, Respect and Appreciation) Creativity: through the creating of folktales, school logo and personal symbol. Respect/appreciation: evidenced through their appreciation of other students culture and beliefs.

Reflecting on the inquiry

6. To what extent did we achieve our purpose? Assess the outcome of the inquiry by providing evidence of students understanding of the central idea. The reflections of all teachers involved in the planning and teaching of the inquiry should be included.
Immersing students prior to the unit of inquiry with folktales from around the world from Junior Great Books and students bringing in folktales from their culture helped to generate enthusiasm for the unit and establish a foundation for understanding the basic components to a folktale. Reading folktales from the different culture also exposed students to different cultures and allowed them to see commonalities. It was a great way for students to understand that folktales convey meanings and to see folktales as a symbol. Completing a symbol hunt in the first week of the unit helped students gain an understanding of and distinguish commonalities and differences between logo/symbol/symbolism. Learning about the symbolism in Chinese culture reinforced their understanding of symbols in different cultures and developed the attitudes of appreciation and respect. The third grade students understood central idea on a simplistic level as they made connections from their understanding to symbols they see in the school and speculate as to what meaning they might have. Students could identify symbolism on a surface level but struggled to build more complex symbolism into their narrative stories in a less obvious way. This is a very difficult concept to understand on a deeper level at this stage. Students in the forth grade were able to identify symbols in literature, discuss the meaning and see the connection to the storys theme. Students in the forth grade attempted to include a symbol in their folktale. How you could improve on the assessment task(s) so that you would have a more accurate picture of each students understanding of the central idea. The narrative writing could have focused more on including symbols to add deeper meaning to the folktale. There could have been more connections made between the strategies students learned in reading to support the writing. The school logo project should have had a rubric from the beginning to clearly outline student outcomes. Although students were given continual feedback from the teacher as well as from each other at the beginning of each class, a rubric would have been a useful reference for the students throughout the process. The personal symbol project explored the central idea on a surface level. Next time, include more in-depth research of the students culture to gain a deeper understanding of their culture and historical symbols, and allow students to explore commonalities across cultures. One option is to have the students complete a picture research focusing on images and symbols so that students can examine how groups use symbols. Additionally, peer review should have been included within each lesson.

7. To what extent did we include the elements of the PYP? What were the learning experiences that enabled students to: develop an understanding of the concepts identified in What do we want to learn? demonstrate the learning and application of particular transdisciplinary skills? develop particular attributes of the learner profile and/or attitudes?

In each case, explain your selection.

Concepts: Form, causation, perspective. Related concepts: opinion, subjectivity, structure Students needed to consider the form of their own symbol and all symbols and school logo as they worked on their creations. Causation was integrated as students considered why numbers, colors, animals were represented in a culture (eg the number four, the colour white, rat). Students also needed to apply the concepts of perspective and opinion when completing the group task of sorting and classifying symbols and through creating their own personal symbol and school logo. Transdisciplinary Skills: Communication and Thinking Classifying and sorting symbols as a tuning-in activity allowed for further development of both communication and thinking skills. When students created their artworks they communicated very well when giving peer review. Students used written communication skills to incorporate a message and/symbolism into their narrative stories. Students also used reading communication skills when identifying symbols in literature and understanding their connection to the storys theme. Viewing communication skills were evidenced in students use of visuals and multimedia to present their published folktales. Thinking skills were developed when students created the school logo and personal symbols. They need to apply their thinking skills when creating new symbols, learning Tai Chi and developing Tableau for the Learner Profiles. Learner Profile/Attitudes: Creative, reflective, respect Students were thoughtful and reflective and creative when creating the final projects, using the knowledge gained from the unit to produce a meaningful school logo and personal symbol. Students were able to appreciate the diversity of the worlds people by sharing their personal symbols. Depending on your belief/culture, an animal or color means very different things (eg white is worn to funerals and red for weddings in Asia). As part of this unit, students needed to consider why these differences exist and demonstrate respect in their responses.

What was the evidence that connections were made between the central idea and the transdisciplinary theme?
Throughout the unit, many opportunities were given to appreciate the aesthetics of visual imagery. This allowed students to express their ideas and beliefs about the symbolis incorporated into many aspects of daily life. Students used their creativity in performing arts when creating tableau of the IB LPs incorporating symbolism. Students also creatively expressed who they are by designing their own symbols.

International Baccalaureate Organization 2007

Reflecting on the inquiry

8. What student-initiated inquiries arose from the learning? Record a range of student-initiated inquiries and student questions and highlight any that were incorporated into the teaching and learning. At this point teachers should go back to box 2 What do we want to learn? and highlight the teacher questions/provocations that were most effective in driving the inquiries. Students were very interested in learning about color symbolism. Prior to the unit, during art, students were very interested in their Chinese Zodiac animal symbol and the meaning behind it. Additionally students were very curious about the dragon since it is the year of the dragon. Students inquired into the historical significance of the dragon and its use in Chinese folklore. Students inquired and were eager to identify and understand symbols in their environment.

9. Teacher notes The Tai Chi activity was not as successful as hoped because the instructor did not support the idea that the movements were symbolic even though there were numerous examples from the internet to support the concept. Next time,
Subject-specific content
The following social studies concepts, knowledge, and skills were explored in this unit of inquiry UNDERSTANDING Symbols express meaning. Groups create artistic symbols to communicate their identity. Symbols can be interpreted in different ways. KNOWLEDGE Traditional Chinese symbols. The identity of the groups to which the students belong. KEY SKILLS Thinking and communication skills.

What student-initiated actions arose from the learning? Record student-initiated actions taken by individuals or groups showing their ability to reflect, to choose and to act. Students expressed interest in the school adopting their logo as the official logo. Students began writing homework in code using symbols to represent certain subjects or assignments. Students began editing their writing in code using symbols connected to the Montessori grammar symbols. Students asked to perform the Readers Theatre to the parents as a form of celebration. Students chose a scene from The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe that had multiple symbols.

Additionally, language concepts, knowledge and skills relating to narrative texts were taught within the context of this unit.

Recommendations for next year:

Reconsider the museum visit: the museum was dimly lit, no heat, and overall not very engaging. Students were able to locate a few symbols, the overall reaction was poor. The best part about the visit was the wood block printmaking activity where students created a print of their Chinese Zodiac symbol. Change the investigation of symbolic movement from Tai Chi to Kung Fu or Yoga. Historically, Kung Fu lends itself better to symbolic interpretation as does Yoga. Tai Chi has many different interpretations. Include the examination of pictographs through history to increase the level of knowledge gained from the inquiry. Students can learn about the evolution of communication from cave paintings to clay tables, to Egyptian Hieroglyphics. Incorporate the evolution of Chinese symbols from pictographs to modern day characters. Have students create a pictograph of daily activities in the classroom i.e. the different subjects or homework. Give students the opportunity to research personal symbols on a deeper level. Focus on incorporating symbolism more in the folktales drawing from the multiple examples from reading.

International Baccalaureate Organization 2007