Read as Avani Mack, Coordinator at Shepherd Elementary, reflects on the amount of time spent on units of inquiry at her school due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
By Avani Mack
“We wanted to provide time for the revision of units in a way that would accommodate a variety of schedules.”
Alexander R. Shepherd Elementary is a District of Columbia public school located in Shepherd Park in Northwest, DC. Shepherd Elementary is a warm and welcoming school community. The staff members and educators at Shepherd are very caring and work hard to provide conceptual and inquiry-based instruction that encourages students to take action in both their local and global communities. Through this student-centered approach to learning, students’ questions and interests guide the learning process. Throughout the school year, there are many opportunities for students to demonstrate their learning. At Shepherd, student work is recognized and celebrated by displaying student projects throughout the building, hosting student led exhibitions and providing students with opportunities to perform during school-wide events.
During COVID-19, one of the challenges has been finding time to collaborate on revising our school’s units of inquiry. Typically, the revision of units would occur during grade-level planning meetings. However, our school has had to adapt its schedule to meet the demands of virtual learning during a pandemic. This schedule shift has led to less time for revising units.
We wanted to provide time for the revision of units in a way that would accommodate a variety of schedules. We developed an IB playlist that supports teachers in the revision of units. This playlist includes a series of videos and resources. The sections of the playlist mirror the sections of the unit planner in Managebac. Each section of the playlist includes a voice-over video from the IB coordinator that discusses that particular section of the planner as well as resources for implementation. Teachers can work through the playlist asynchronously during times that work best for their schedules. The IB coordinator also has meeting times available on her Calendly (calendar app). This allows grade level teams more flexibility in selecting times that work best for them to receive support in the unit revision process as needed.
Hopes for the future:
The IB playlist has been well received at our school. Teachers appreciate the independence and support this format provides. We hope to continue to provide the IB playlist during times in which more flexibility in the unit revision process is needed. The playlist has provided a method for upholding our commitment to reflecting on both our teaching and learning practices at Shepherd Elementary.
Avani Mack serves as the IB Coordinator at Shepherd Elementary, located in Washington, DC.