De Bono’s Thinking Hats – a tool for communication


Dr Edward De Bono is an international authority on creative thinking and the direct teaching of thinking skills. His most famous work is the creation of the Six Thinking Hats, a tool for thinking about a problem or situation from a variety of angles, one at a time. It’s a handy tool for having children think around a topic and communicate their thoughts from different perspectives.

Try the hats on while thinking around the idea of holidays:-

  • Red Hat – With my red hat on I communicate my feelings and emotions. Not why I am feeling a certain way but just how I feel right now. Holidays make me feel…
  • Yellow Hat– With my yellow hat on I communicate the good points, how something will help us and why it will work. The great things about holidays are… 
  • Black Hat – With my black hat on I communicate the bad points. I ask – Is this true? Will it work? What are the weaknesses? The disadvantages of the holidays are…
  • Green Hat – When I put on my green hat, I express creativity. I share different ideas and make suggestions. In the holidays I am going to try something new like…
  • White hat – With my white hat I communicate the facts and information. Last holidays I….
  • Blue Hat – If I have my blue hat on, I communicate my thoughts. I am thinking about what I will do in my holidays and planning my first day. I am going to do some cooking. First I will………..then…………and …………..Finally I will……………..

Communicators in Action!


As we continue to focus on the learner profile attribute “communicators” this November, it might be opportune to share with you a newly documented section of our curriculum. Our end of year expectations for oral language have been incorporated into a new continuum covering all aspects of communication.

This continuum focuses not only on oral language (listening and speaking) but acknowledges that communication is also visual, and identifies the strand” viewing and presenting”.

Speaking and listening combine into a transactional process. Listening involves more than just hearing sounds. It requires active and conscious attention in order to make sense of what is heard. Purposeful talk enables learners to articulate thoughts as they construct and reconstruct meaning to understand the world around them.  “In an inquiry-based learning environment, oral language exposes the thinking of the learner.”

Presenting and viewing involves interpreting, using and constructing visuals and multimedia, allowing students to understand the ways in which images and language interact to convey ideas, values and beliefs.  Visual text includes advertisements, brochures, computer games and programmes, websites, movies, posters, signs, logos, flags, maps, charts, graphs, diagrams, illustrations, graphic organisers, cartoons and comics. Learning to interpret this data, and to understand and use different media, are invaluable life skills.

As I wandered around school this week on a quest to find and document communication in action, I saw and heard examples of both expressive (creating and sharing meaning) and receptive (receiving and construction meaning) communication – a glimpse of which is captured here (and not just from students!). The statements in italics are examples of learning expectations from our new communication continuum.

Hanging out! Begins to listen attentively, and speak appropriately, in small and large group situations

 Figuring out together how to make Rangoli patterns: Uses questions to inquire, probe and clarify to enhance understanding

Performing in assembly! Uses performances to tell stories about people and events from various cultures, including their own.

Being a good audience: Displays audience etiquette and appropriate responses

Giving directions: Uses gestures, actions and body language with words to communicate

Learning in other languages:  Follows classroom directions and routines, using context cues

Responding to questions: Listens appreciatively and responsively, presenting their own point of view, and respecting the views of others.

 Planning collaboratively: Works cooperatively towards a common goal, taking an active part in a creative experience.

Saying goodbye: Uses language to address needs, express feelings and opinions

Writing signs and messages: Selects and incorporates colours, shapes, symbols and images into visual presentations

Viewing on the internet: Views visual information and shows understanding by asking relevant questions and discussing possible meanings

Sharing your principles! Uses language to address needs, express feelings and opinions

Please share your own experiences and ideas about what good communicators by leaving a comment here, or by emailing me at .   



Making the PYP Happen in the Classroom (IBO 2009)

IST Communication Continuum

Learner Profile in the Spotlight


The IB learner profile is the IB mission statement translated into a set of learning outcomes for the 2st century. It is a statement of the aims and values of the IB, and an embodiment of what the IB means by “international-mindedness”.

High ideals, but the challenge is: how can we make this vision come alive?

The IB learner profile is displayed in every classroom, and particular attributes are selected for focus during each unit of inquiry. Adults look for ‘teachable moments’ when we can catch a child demonstrating a learner profile attribute and use it to help others understand what it looks like.

However, the profile should not be a focus just for our students. Perhaps the most powerful, yet challenging, strategy for teaching students these attributes is that of modeling, as all this idealistic talk holds little value and meaning if the adults in our community fail to model the attributes we want to see our students exhibit.

 The entire school community – students, teachers, support staff, parents – all need to work together to demonstrate an understanding of, and commitment to the attributes of the learner profile. To this end, we are introducing the spotlight feature – an opportunity to take some time to explore each attribute, develop our own understandings of what each means, and strive to demonstrate it in action.

In your IST appointment calendar (created by EPN, and on sale in the Elementary Front Office) you may have noticed that each month, a learner profile attribute is described. November’s attribute is the subject of our first spotlight:

IB learners strive to be communicators

They understand and express ideas and information confidently and creatively in more than one language and in a variety of modes of communication. They work effectively and willingly in collaboration with others.

Here are some ways IB community members around the world have made the attribute of communicator their own:

We are communicatorswhen we listen and observe carefully the thoughts, words, actions and feelings of our children. We recognise that children and parents have 100 different languages.  We express ourselves in a respectful and empathetic manner. Parents of children at Wesley College, Melbourne, Australia

I am a communicator when I use my face, body, words, drawings and writing to tell someone how I feel or what I am thinking. A student from K International School, Tokyo

We value open and honest communication with staff, parents and children and encourage opportunities to express our ideas and listen to others. We openly communicate our goals and ideas.Educators at Wesley College


Here’s my challenge to the IST community: let’s make the idea of communicators come alive through words, photos, symbols, quotes – any way we can.

Here are some ways you can be a communicator:

  • Listen to everyone and respond clearly
  • Let people finish their sentences
  • Express your feelings
  • Use a different language

During the rest of November, I’ll be on the hunt for photo opportunities around campus that illustrate communicators in action. I’ll also be asking children and adults to tell me what they think it means to be a communicator, or share examples. Please join in by contributing in one or more of the following ways:

  • sharing your own photos showing communication in action
  • helping your child represent the attribute through pictures, words, or other media
  • sharing anecdotes from home of when someone (adult or child) was an effective communicator
  • finding stories that illustrate the attribute

Email me your examples of communicators in action and I’ll post them here. Log in to add your comments directly.


The Learner Profile Song!


You may have already heard a performance of the Learner Profile song in assembly – and might be wondering what the story is behind it.

Here’s the story, in the words of Stephanie Brook:

Last year, when I arrived at the school, I wanted to do my part in the Arts to help students learn the attributes of the Learner Profile.  I went online to the OCC and found a song that had been written by Eden Atwood for the learner profile, and set to music written by Carl Orff.  This fit really well with my approach, and I taught the song to the younger grades last year.

This year at the opening assembly, our school principal challenged the students to really learn the attributes of the learner profile more thoroughly.  More than that, he challenged them to really strive to understand what each of them meant.  I discussed it with my Music colleague and we decided to take on the challenge of breaking down the attributes throughout this academic year.  We started by teaching the song that I had found on the OCC to all the students in the school, from early childhood up to the last year of the PYP.  We added the actions, as written in the music.

Then I sat down and wrote the music for a verse, so that we had a melody to use.  I had only two criteria for myself: I wanted it to be simple, and I wanted it to be easily accompanied by Orff instruments (pitched percussion) and/or Ukelele.  Once the music for the verse was determined, we decided on how we would get all the students involved.  We decided to ask each of the grades to write the lyrics for the verses, giving the three upper grades (Grades 3, 4 & 5) two attributes each.  All of the other grades (EC, KG, Grades 1 & 2) were given one verse each and that worked well to cover all ten attributes.  Next, we took our first group of students and began to look at the first two attributes in the song.  It was decided that Grade 3, who have an upcoming assembly, would write the lyrics for our verses about CARING and BALANCED.

We set about doing this by asking the students to tell us what they thought the attributes meant.  We compiled a list of adjectives and descriptors for each attribute, with examples of what each attribute might look like in practice.  Then I played the melody for the students and had then sing the verse to the word “LA”.  Once they knew the tune, I asked them to try and create the words to go along with the first line, then the second, the third and the fourth.  They came up with beautiful lyrics and were very proud of themselves.  Most of them had never written any music like this before!

We decided to add some dramatic art to the mix by having some of the students act out what they were singing, to illustrate it to the audience.  Grade 3 presented their two verses to the school at an assembly, using music and drama.  All of the students at the assembly  joined in on the chorus with the actions that they have learned.

I am excited about the deeper understandings that the students will gain about the learner profile attributes through this project, and I hope that it is something that can be carried on into the future.

Stephanie Brook, Music Teacher

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Key Concepts in the curriculum


One of the five essential elements of the PYP curriculum is conceptual understanding. Rather than focusing on learning and remembering a range of content knowledge, we aim to use the knowledge we choose to cover as a vehicle for developing understanding of concepts. So, for example, instead of learning facts about dinosaurs, children might use the knowledge learned through such a study to generalize their understanding of the concept of extinction.

“Conceptual development is a lifelong developmental process… a higher-level, integrative thinking ability… the ability to insightfully draw patterns and connections between related facts, ideas and examples, and to synthesize information at a conceptual level.”Concept-Based Curriculum and Instruction: Teaching Beyond the Facts by H Lynn Erikson

In the PYP curriculum framework, eight key concepts have been identified, along with an open-ended question for each, to promote focus and deeper thinking about the enduring understandings that we hope will develop from the study of each unit of inquiry.

Form: What is it like?

Function: How does it work?

Causation: Why is it the way it is?

Change: How is it changing?

Connection: How is it connected to other things?

Perspective: What are the points of view?

Responsibility: what is our responsibility?

Reflection: How do we know?

A useful array of questions for deepening thinking, try applying them to an everyday object or situation (I had a friend who used these questions to examine her marriage!). Using them with your children will help them develop their thinking and give you an opportunity to discover what they understand.

Here is just some of the conceptual questioning I encountered today as I wandered through classrooms. 

Form: What are the features of signs and symbols? What is the difference between a sign and a symbol?

 Reflection: How do I know that the information on this website is accurate?

Function: How can the long e sound be spelled?

Causation: What has caused the problems for living things in game parks in Tanzania? Responsibility: What can we do about these problems?

 Change: How have animals adapted to extreme climates?

 Perspective: How does the same event make different people feel?

 Connection: Where do I find these shapes in real life?

Function: How does my portfolio work?  Connection: How is it connected to my learning?

 Reflection: What do I do to work out a tricky word?

 Connection: How are written symbols connected to spoken sounds? Function: How is this word spelt?

Form: How is my classroom organized? Causation: Why is my classroom organized this way?

Perspective: Are there different ways to work out the same algorithm?

Try looking for evidence of the key concepts in your child’s learning.

Introduction to the PYP Presentation


Thanks to those parents who attended this workshop. Interesting discussions were had. Please post your comments and questions as well as ideas for future workshops.

Parent Workshop: Introduction to the PYP