IB Framework & Conceptual Understanding
First and foremost, I follow the Primary Years Program curriculum, using the five strands; Games, Ind. Pursuit, Movement Composition, Health Related Fitness and Adventure. For each strand I developed conceptual understandings (central ideas) and these are all progressive from the 3 year olds till the Kindergarten and following on with grade 1 to grade 5.
For each strand I developed per year group several Learning Outcomes. I used the IB Scope and Sequence as a guide to develop these. So I have not divided the strands in games or activities or sub themes like striking games/ gymnastics for the program. I have determined what kind of activities fall under the strands but they are always conceptually oriented. For example under games I offer circle games/tag, one direction and multi direction tag.
36 week units!
Now, once I make my year planning (see file below), the early years program looks different from grade 1 to grade 5 because I do not teach the students in units or blocks. The reason is that our youngest students change constantly between various developmental stages (cognitive, physical and social/emotional) and move still very rapidly within one stage. In my school environment which is International, language development is an extra stage that has an major impact on the student's development.
To offer students in this development phase (3 till 5 years of age) a program organised in 4-6 week blocks is incorrect, not child centred and limits their opportunity to learn at their own pace and level. I decided several years ago that all my units need to run all year long to allow them to proceed in their learning not when the programs wants/needs them to but when they are ready for it. Learning in my lessons must be personalised.
I see my students twice a week an although I feel this should be significantly more, it is what I need to work with for now. Once established my rational, I felt I could only run this if I divided the strands over the two lesson I had per week. Nobody has an ideal working situation and so when planning and structuring our curriculum, we need to make compromises. As long it does not affect your philosophy, there is no problem and you adapt within your situation. In my case I presented to my HoD PE and management team that I needed better equipment to realise my "ideal teaching environment". This meant purchasing equipment for gymnastics that also fits my strands of Mov. Comp, Adventure and Health. This led to one lesson of the week mostly focused on a gross motor skill circuit, where music is added for warm-up and play time. The set up is offered in a way that there is plenty opportunity for problem solving and risk taking at hand. In the other lesson, I focus mainly on the Games and Individual Pursuit strands. I am a firm believer that Music and Dance guide early years learning and especially In an International setting with many students with English as an additional language. These strands are therefore integrated in both lessons as much as possible.
As mentioned earlier in this blog, the program is student centred and the only way to make that a reality is by offering a concept focused program that allows for students to choose their level and pace during Play time. In the pictures below you see a variation in distance and height for throwing (and catching). Students also had the option to vary with size and weight of the ball (all student initiated). Students are working independently on 3 different stations and it is possible to group students in any way that promotes their learning. These small groups allow for maximum learning time.
In one of my previous blogs (and upcoming blogs!!) I have spoken about the Interdisciplinary program of the PYP. I link with all the units in the homeroom (UoI) because we can conceptually link in many ways and at various levels. We will always use the Key Concepts of the PYP and put extra emphasis on the ones of the integrated unit. If possible we link with the central Idea but only if it is an authentic link. Quite recently (last week) I blogged about how I integrated signs and symbols into my PE classes and together with the homeroom and other specialist subjects taught the same conceptual understanding through a completely different setting and content. This is the essence of the PYP and leads to a deeper and better understanding of the concepts and helps our students to create (new) meaning. The learning activities are authentic and link with real life experiences.
As always, I hope you will share this blog but above all, ask me questions about it and share your perspective and thoughts as that will lead to knew understanding form my end, which will eventually help me and my students. I you wish to know more, please leave a reply.
I hope you enjoyed reading this blog.
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