Tuesday, January 19, 2010

Revamping the PYP Transdisciplinary Skills

Throughout the PYP students are developing and using transdisciplinary skills: social skills, communication skills, thinking skills, research skills and self-management skills. At the BETT Show at the weekend, I met up with Kirsten from the IB Office in Cardiff and one of the things we got to talking about was how up-to-date these skills are and whether or not they need to be revised. Kirsten suggested that communication skills could be replaced with collaboration skills. I have been wondering about the thinking skills and how these could also be revamped in the light of Bloom's Digital Taxonomy. These new levels represent a transition from lower order thinking skills (remembering, understanding and applying) to higher order thinking skills (analyzing, evaluating and creating) - perhaps these are now more relevant as the thinking skills of the PYP?

The lowest of the thinking skills is remembering: this is made up of students being able to list, identify, describe, recall, name, match, label, locate, recognise and select. Understanding builds on these skills and involves recalling knowledge and demonstrating comprehension. Here students will need to be able to interpret, summarise, paraphrase, classify, compare, explain and categorise. Students will use the thinking skills of understanding and remembering in order to apply their knowledge, for example to solve problems, to graph results, to predict, or to modify or change something.

Moving on to the higher order thinking skills, analysing is seen as a transition. It involves students using the lower order thinking skills of applying, understanding and remembering in order to quantify, organise, or outline their knowledge. Evaluation was once regarded as the highest order thinking skill in Bloom's original taxonomy. It uses the lower order thinking skills in order to judge or critique, review or appraise, comment on, justify or argue a point of view. Creation is now the highest order thinking skill, where students design, construct, produce, make, assemble mix and mash.

I am wondering if the PYP thinking and research skills could be combined into just one category, using Blooms Digital Taxonomy. Formulating questions, observing, collecting and recording data, for example, would seem to be developing the lower order thinking skills, whereas organising, interpreting and effectively communicating what has been learnt would appear to be using the higher order thinking skills.

In addition I'm wondering could communication skills and social skills be combined into just one new category: collaboration skills? Collaboration involves working together to achieve common goals, to share knowledge and learning, to build consensus and to create. This does seem to encompass the social skills of accepting responsibility for taking on and completing tasks, respecting others, working cooperatively and resolving conflict and group decision making. It would certainly involve the communications skills of listening, speaking, reading, writing, interpreting visuals and multimedia and creating and presenting information and ideas in a variety of ways.

Photo Credit: Engrenage by fanfan2145


  1. I think you are right, it seems that communication and social skills should be grouped into a collaboration category. At the core, that is what they are. I am interested to see how Bloom's Digital Taxonomy is going to translate to the classroom on a regular basis. For so long the focus has been on the lower order thinking skills that to make such a major shift is going to take creativity and time. And yet, it is necessary- the sooner the better!

  2. It was lovely meeting you at BETTs in London last week and I really enjoyed our conversation, albeit short, on the PYP transdisciplinary skills. By reflecting on this on your post here, you are raising the question of how can the TDS be more relevant to the IB PYP students of today and tomorrow. I wondered what will be lost if communication and social skills are merged into one? I wonder if we all have to start over (tabula rasa) how will the TDS look like?

  3. Thanks for use my picture ;)
    See you
    Florian Leroy

  4. Lower order, higher order skills....i think we should keep the connections fluid between these orders. A metaphor to explain...Play football....go back and learn some skills...play the games again, learn some strategies this time...play the game again....

  5. We like the communication skills as they are because they link so well with our mandated English curriculum.
    We also like the Social Skills because we think they cover collaboration.