by Steve Heere and Michelle Lok, Grade 1 teachers
In Grade One, a highlight of our learning has been the introduction of teacher-led and student-led workshops. Students have been working on a new year-long unit, focusing on using their imagination to design and create. They aim to develop their creativity, thinking and communication skills, and to be risk-takers in their endeavors.
The workshops have been one of the ways we have exposed students to new ideas and materials. Teachers began the process by leading small group workshops based on our passions and interests. These workshops included, but were not limited to, engineering and design projects in our Grade One Maker Space, games, science experiments and technology.
A diverse number of personal and academic skills can be developed through workshops. They also provide a great opportunity for other teachers to collaborate and work with the students. Mr. Broughton, our guru in Learning Technology, has been teaching students about digital photography, coding and pixel art. Students explore creativity through design, making and computational thinking. Ms. King, who teaches English as an Additional Language, has led workshops focusing on the development of language skills and critical thinking, by playing humorous games and solving math tangrams. Other workshops such as the Take Apart Lab, exploring with clay and creating shadow puppets, are focused on developing fine-motor skills, collaboration, inquiry, and creativity. The possibilities are endless!
From these experiences, a lot of students were inspired to lead their own workshops. Fostering student agency is an important aspect of the PYP curriculum, and workshops are a great way for students to share their passions and demonstrate leadership. The response from our learners has been incredible! We have seen students plan and lead workshops about Kanji and Katakana calligraphy, drawing, aqua beads, origami, Mobilo and more. As more students are taking the lead, it is encouraging other children to take risks, show bravery and lead their own workshop too!
We conclude the workshop with a reflection process, where children offer their thoughts and feedback about their own learning, whether it be as a participant or leader. The children have kept a yearlong, digital book of their workshops to communicate their learning and thinking, and have considered questions such as:
- What went well? What was challenging?
- What fantastic mistakes did you make?
- What could you do better or differently next time?
- How did you help others?
The reflections of some of our students are provided below:
“I decided to lead a workshop about calligraphy because I want to learn Chinese and Japanese characters. It was exciting that Mr. Rinker came to visit my workshop because I taught him how to write his name in Hiragana and Katakana.”
“When I led a workshop about creating Mobilo Airplanes, I was excited because I didn’t know which people were going to join my group. I showed leadership skills by helping others when they needed help holding pieces, finding parts or attaching connectors.”
“My students felt happy when they learned how to create a paper crane, so this made me feel happy too that I showed them how to do this.”
We view these digital journals throughout the year, so students can see how their learning, skills and thinking have grown.
We plan on extending these workshops in the future. We hope to collaborate with our Secondary School buddy classes and to also involve parents in these workshops when the COVID-19 situation allows us to do so safely.
Having a growth mindset, we are aware that not everything in this endeavor goes smoothly. However, we celebrate all the effort and enthusiasm that students have put into the workshops so far. The process and mistakes they make are the greatest opportunities for learning and growth.