Reading… Writing… Speaking… Number… Chance and data… Geometry… Music… Gardening… Physical education… Art… and then we’re expected to expose our learners to Geography?
With such restrictions on time, and pressure from those higher powers to ensure we are giving our learners the appropriate skills in literacy and numeracy, it is becoming increasingly difficult as educators to ensure that we can provide them with enough insight into the (physical) world around us.
As a PYP educator, my goal is to encourage my students to develop a love for learning, and international mindedness. The latter of which is a term that has many different interpretations. According to the IBO, IB world schools ‘develop opportunities for sustained inquiry into a range of locally, nationally and globally-significant issues and ideas’. They ‘critically consider power and privilege in their inquiry, action and reflection’. But just how do we, in the PYP, make the time for ensuring our learners have at least the most basic conceptual understandings of the world we live in?
A quick survey (in the form of an end-of-week quiz) of my Year 3s showed that many could not even place our state capital on the map of our state, let alone the national capital. A concern, but the reality is, when do we have time to look at the physical world map? Perhaps in mathematics when we look at mapping, location etc.
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This year we have used one tool in particular that has enhanced our ‘incidental’ geography – that is, we don’t really plan to use it, but its authenticity and easy access has allowed for it.
In February, I was setting up our class blog with a little help from our PYP coordinator @WhatEdSaid. She said it would be a great idea to put in a ‘Flag Counter’, and at the time, I really didn’t think much of it. It was a ‘cool’ thing that would sit in the top right-hand corner of our page, and as new visitors came across our page, a number would come up next to the flag of their country, and the countries with the greatest tally would feature at the top.
As the days and weeks passed, the Flag Counter started to really take shape. We quickly tallied 100 visitors from Australia and welcomed the USA, Canada, Great Britain, Singapore and South Africa. The students grew eager to check the Flag Counter each morning – and any new countries that would come along.
I thought about ways I could integrate this into our learning. So, I scoured the school for the biggest map of the world I could find, and pinned it up at the back of the room
– While writing this post, another new country has visited us (El Salvador) –
I put a pin on the map through Melbourne, and with pieces of twine, began to slowly connect our learning to countries across the world.
From Switzerland to Japan. From Brazil to Mozambique. We began making connections with so many different countries, cultures, languages, religions and ideologies.
We struck a relationship with a class in Indonesia, and Skyped them to assist with their inquiry into different cultures.
It ignited authentic inquiry and a desire to know more about the world.
Our numeracy focus on place value allowed us to compare, order and practice our expanded notation skills with the populations of those countries.
We compared different patterns on flags, and use data to assess dominant religions and native tongues.
But the best part – it was student-driven. The students wanted to know more. They were desperate for more and more countries to view our learning.
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Fast forward to today. August 2014 and almost at the end of third term.
– I just had to check to confirm that the count was 39, but we are now up to 41 countries: Welcome Romania and the Philippines, who visited within the past hour! –
We have had guests from every continent.
Over 1500 Australian visitors.
Over 200 visits from our friends in the USA – from 34 of the 52 states.
1 visitor from Tanzania, Bangladesh and Angola.
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I think I may even get more excited than the students each time a new country sees us.
Maybe it’s the competitive nature in me. Maybe I just love numbers.
Either way, I know that my kids and I are using this Flag Counter to make authentic global connections – and we have all the time in the world, for that!
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Click here for the link to adding a Flag Counter to your wordpress.com blog!
Click here to see our class blog! Don’t forget to leave a comment!