Tag Archives: PYP

For the love of reading ….

A virtual class library

Source – Pinterest

Children who love reading perform better in school overall – vocabulary development, grammar – these are the obvious benefits. A more subtle learning is the development of the art of writing. When you read good pieces of writing – novels, essays etc you imbibe the style and the tone of different genres of writing. So it’s a win-win all around!

Now for the slightly tricky part – some children love reading, some not so much. Can a love for reading be developed and enhanced? As a teacher, yes, I believe it can. Reading can be fun especially when we read aloud and read together for enjoyment. I have witnessed this in my classroom, when we spend the most magical time (once or twice a week) reading a book together.

The challenge was to create an ambience or a feel of the bookshelf / library at school during these challenging times of virtual learning. But, If there is one thing this pandemic has taught us, it is that the human will is indomiatable – so read on…

I created a virtual class library for my students so that, in some way, they could have the feel of a library, and a bookshelf full of books to click and read.

I used the following video as a guide to use Bitmojis in creating my virtual library –

Am sharing a step by step pictorial guide to how I created my own class library. Hope this helps you create one of your own! Here goes

Open a new Google slide in your browser

Delete these two blocks (title and subtitle), so you have a blank canvas to work with

Now, choose a background you would like for the library – I chose a brick wall

The next step is to place a bookshelf in your library -> insert image -> search web for a transparent bookshelf. Make sure you include the word transparent

Once i chose and added my bookshelf to the slide, I snipped an image of the book cover i wanted to add and placed it on the bookshelf, using insert image. To enable students to click on the book cover and read, first click on the image, then click on Insert -> link. Copy paste the hyperlink to the pdf version of the book here. Picture reference below :

You can keep adding books in this way. The link to this google slide can then be shared with students. I have pasted this link as a separate section in the Microsoft Class notebook. I have created one bookshelf for unit related and academic content, and one for fiction books – reading for pleasure. A snip of the 2 bookshelves in my class library is pasted below –

An example of how we have used the class library (other than for unit related and English reading) – we have been doing loud reading of the Roald Dahl book ‘Matilda’ around once a week. Students are really loving this book. They read aloud in turns (serves the purpose of a reading assessment also 👍) and then we discuss the story, the characters, what parts we enjoyed. It was so rewarding to hear some students share that these reading sessions motivated them to actually buy a physical copy of the book to continue reading!

Students are now recommending books that would like to add to our bookshelf –

A double act – Jacqueline Wilson

A series of unfortunate events Daniel Handler

Skylanders Universe – Onk Beakman

Sam the stolen puppy – Holly Webb

Are we there yet – Enid Blyton

Would appreciate any recommendations to add to this list of good reading for my Grade 5 students – please do share in comments 😊

Happy reading to all of you and your students. Do share in the comments any initiatives you are taking to develop a love for reading in your children….

New academic session – a virtual beginning

 ‘Technology can never replace great teachers, but technology in the hands of great teachers is transformational’ – George Souros

I began this academic session as form tutor for Grade 5, which gave me the tremendous advantage of already knowing the students as I taught them math last year in Grade 4; otherwise I literally would not have seen them IRL. We welcomed 2 new students in the class – it was a unique challenge to make them feel comfortable and get to know their new buddies on the virtual platform.  They are deprived of the normal sensory  interactions – in the class, in the lunch hall, and playground – that nurtures bonding for a lifetime. A small activity I did for their peers to get to know them a little better – 2 truths and a lie. They expressed two truths and one lie about themselves and their peers had to guess which was the lie, thus gaining some insight into their likes and aspirations.

A key question as we started with online learning was – why should children attend online classes? Can’t they be home schooled? Parents could buy the relevant course textbooks and let them learn at home. There are 2 key aspects to learning – the content and the process. Parents (or other significant adults) can deliver content but may not be equipped to follow the process, especially the PYP pedagogy – which focuses on constructing knowledge through inquiry and collaboration. PYP teachers have to conform to certain minimum requirements in terms of certifications and training to ensure authenticity of the PYP is maintained.

In my digital classroom, as much as exploring content, students are thinking critically, collaborating (using some amazing online apps) and reflecting on their understanding (metacognition).

Some of my thoughts and experiences with online learning –

  • A unique feature of online learning is the blend of synchronous and asynchronous learning. As compared to the physical classroom where the teacher and students are disconnected once school hours are over, in the digital classroom teachers and students are always connected. I am able to help students in real time – ensuring a timely and relevant feedback process.
  • I have observed students behaving and reacting differently than they would in regular school.  Even the diligent learners are missing the classroom environment and the physical connect with their peers and teachers and this definitely affects their learning. It thus becomes critical to maintain a balance between their social emotional health and the delivery of curriculum. Sharing some strategies that worked in my class –
    • Using technology Interactive and engaging lessons – Quizizz, Wakelet, Peardeck, Nearpod and MS- Forms are some of the apps I have used effectively to replace worksheets and audio visual presentations. (Will share details of how I used these tools in another post) 
    • Small activities to let them express their feelings
      • Sometimes just letting them express their feelings
      • Sometimes using strategies for the same like this peardeck SEL template helps students express their feelings
  • Emphasising the criticality of being principled towards their own learning – whether it is timely submission or doing their work independently. It’s like walking a tightrope – iron fist in a velvet glove, if you may!
    • Connecting with students individually and asynchronously using the online platform– to check in on them or help them with their concerns.
    • A balance of moving ahead with the curriculum and giving them the time and space to just be, just express themselves. Giving them the space and the time to just be – the way they could in school. I have started devoting one day week towards fun activities – this could be a structured and planned activity – flameless cooking, craft activities, virtual tours or an unstructured platform to share something unique they are doing to make quarantine life better, share some unique talent of theirs.

This learner profile attribute given by a student means so much to me because it captures the essence of what I strive to role model as a teacher – don’t be scared to make mistakes, reflect and learn from them, there is immense growth in this process. More than teaching them math or science, if I can inculcate this attribute in my students, I would consider myself a good teacher.