How do we want students to act? Why include action as an essential element?
In the PYP, it is believed that education must be extend beyond the intellectual you include not only socially responsible attitudes but also thoughtful action. An explicit expectation of the PYP is that successful inquiry will lead to responsible action, initiated by the students as a result of the learning process. This action will extend the student's learning, or to may have a wider social impact, and will clearly look different within each age range. As a PYP school we can and should meet the challenge of offering all learners the opportunity and the power to choose to act; to decide on their actions; and to reflect on these actions in order to make a difference in and to the world.
The teacher's role is to encourage action and to create opportunities for action. This can be through asking questions: What could you/ we do? And make the questions specific for the unit of inquiry they are studying at that moment. There Student initiated action should be seen as a voluntary demonstration of a student's empowerment in the context of the expectations aid down in the programme. The action can be a service in the wider sense of the word: service to fellow students, and to the larger community, both in and outside the school. Action can be something small: switching off lights in a room where no one is- after a unit on energy and energy saving. Or something bigger like writing to the city council about a play area in the local neighborhood.
Action as a result of learning may not be witnessed by the teacher and often happens beyond the classroom. Therefore we would like to hear from parents if a child is saying or doing something because of what s/he has been learning in school.
To make it all practical and tangible for both teachers and students, at the ISH PYP we have created ACTION posters in every classroom. On this the teacher, and in the higher grades the students themselves, write down what action has been going on.
Recent examples of action in the PYP:
KG 1: A girl made a transportation sort at home. She explained how different vehicles can travel on land, air and sea.
Grade 1/2: A girl made a piece of art at home about autumn. She took a photo of it and brought it to school.
Grade 5: A student was sick on the day of a fieldtrip to the Resistance museum in Amsterdam. She went in a weekend with her parents to the same museum. In this museum you follow the story of 4 children and their different lives in World War 2 in the Netherlands. The student and her family realised that they had never looked at the Second World War from a different perspective than their own and this made them look and think about WW2 differently.