Sunday, April 29, 2012

What do you do when you don't know? (Part 3)

As mentioned in a previous post, I attended a couple of sessions with Art Costa at the SGIS Conference last month and I was intrigued by the habits of mind that he mentioned.  These habits are the ones we want to cultivate in students so that they know how to behave intelligently when confronted with problems that they cannot immediately find the answers to.  As I've read more about these habits of mind I've been linking them up with the IB Learner Profile and the PYP Attitudes.  In this post I'm going to think about 3 very important attributes of the IB Learner Profile - we want our students to be inquirers, knowledgeable and communicators.

Questioning and Posing Problems - IB Learner Profile:  Inquirers
Being able to formulate a question is the first step towards becoming an inquirer, and being able to ask a new question requires a creative imagination.  In IB schools we aim to develop students' natural curiosity and to give them the skills so that they can conduct inquiry and research and show independence in their learning.  Encouraging students to be inquirers will promote their love of learning, which while hopefully be sustained throughout their lives.  Students who are inquirers search for data to support their thinking, search for connections between things and can consider alternative points of view.  Students who are not inquirers often just ask simple questions for which there is one answer.  They are fact finders, but not true inquirers.

Applying Past Knowledge to New Situations - IB Learner Profile: Knowledgeable
Knowlegeable students, according to the Learner Profile, explore concepts, ideas and issues that have local and global significance and so acquire an in-depth knowledge and understanding.   Costa and Kallick believe this knowledge comes from experience:
When confronted with a new and perplexing problem they will often draw forth experience from their past...They call upon their stores of knowledge and experience as sources of data so support, theories to explain, or processes to solve each new challenge.  Furthermore they are able to abstract meaning from one experience, carry it forth, and apply it in a new and novel situation.
Thinking and Communicating with Clarity and Precision - IB Learner Profile:  Communicators
One important aspect of the IB programmes is that students learn a second, or in some cases a third, language.  The Leaner Profile states that students should "understand and express ideas and information confidently and creatively in more than one language and in a variety of modes of communication."  Costa and Kallick recognize that language and thinking are inseparable and that intelligent people communicate accurately in written and oral form, supporting their statements with explanations and evidence.  They write, "Enriching the complexity and specificity of language simultaneously produces effective learning."

Photo Credit:  Question Mark by Marco Bellucci, 2005 Attribution 

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