Unit of inquiry: Economic activities

Vandana Parashar, PYP educator at Pathways School, Noida, in India

Vandana Parashar, PYP educator at Pathways School, Noida, in India

Giving students the opportunity to participate in deciding and designing their assessment tools, and finally reviewing their learning through peer editing and feedback were the highlights of this unit on economic activities under the transdisciplinary theme How we organise ourselves.

‘Assessment’ in PYP is aimed at knowing the child better; understanding his/her areas of interest and style of learning. It helps the teachers plan the next step in an inquiry. Various tools and strategies are adopted to assess the students’ growth in terms of conceptual understanding, knowledge, attitudes and skills.

At the grade 5 level at our school, we thought that economics is one of the ideas we can explore in the transdisciplinary theme How we organize ourselves. We enquire into economic activities such as systems of production as well as exchange and consumption of goods and services.

Art2 image11We began our unit of inquiry with a pre-unit assessment to uncover what the students already know and to find out what direction to take this unit further. The pre-assessment activity revealed that students are already familiar with some of the terms connected to economics such as production, supply and demand, and exchange; however, they are still unclear how these terms relate to each other and to economics.

To inquire into the role of supply and demand, students identified various areas of the school where this interrelationship could be seen. Students interviewed people in the transport, admissions, cafeteria, and stationary departments and gathered some real time data which they analyzed and represented in the form of graph. Students wrote a report and presented their findings including any observations and fluctuating trends. They also explained the concept of function (one of the PYP key concepts for this unit of inquiry) and how this relates to supply and demand.  Their presentations were peer-assessed followed by teacher review. Their reports were self-assessed using a checklist.

Students also inquired into the rights and responsibilities of a consumer. After doing research and interviewing an advocate of consumer rights, students created posters and handouts to communicate to others the need to know their rights and responsibilities as a service or product costumer. The class assessed the efficacy of these posters in terms of how informative they were.

Art2 image22Art2 image33After learning about the various aspects of economics, a summative assessment activity was designed to measure the students’ understanding of the central idea. We used a combination of rubrics and checklist as well as anecdotal notes to record student progress.

For this unit, we used various assessment tools and strategies for learning—from prior knowledge assessment to the summative. We continuously monitored and recorded students’ growth in terms of conceptual understanding and skills. Students were given the opportunity to participate in deciding and designing the assessments, and finally reviewing their learning (through peer editing and feedback)—this was the highlight of the unit. That is collaboration and taking ownership of learning in its true sense!

Although I have been observant and keenly watching for some ‘action’ initiated by them, I have not noticed any!

Can the SharingPYP readers give me their ideas on how I can encourage them to apply their learning in everyday life?”

Vandana has been a primary educator for the last 11 years in international schools from New Delhi to Tokyo and believes in good pedagogical practices and keeping her children happy and excited about every single moment of the day.

 

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