At the Western International School of Shanghai, we integrate the Approaches to Learning (ATLs) within the Primary Years Programme (PYP) and focus on the transdisciplinary development of Thinking, Social, Self-Management, Research, and Communication skills. Our pedagogical approaches allow teaching teams to plan naturally to develop all aspects of these, both within daily routines and structured learning engagements. Developing communication skills requires focusing on listening, speaking, reading, writing, viewing, and presenting as children grow and develop.
The art of presentation itself incorporates the necessity to merge multiple skills. Students naturally draw upon a myriad of ALTs and must feel a strong sense of psychological safety to present. Within the Primary School at WISS, this development begins with students initially presenting to a partner, a reflective friend, their teacher, or a parent. As their skills and confidence develop, they become prepared to face new challenges.
An example of the development of these skills was observed recently when our grade one students completed their Unit of Inquiry into “How Communities Require Interdependence.” Students researched and interviewed multiple local community members and explored roles and responsibilities within our school community and how they depend upon each other within communities and society. Witnessing how their learning comes to fruition as they present to their families on campus within a Living Museum was enlightening.
Student agency was evident as students were given the opportunity to research a specific community role of choice. During their living museum presentations, they drew upon the knowledge they had gained to take on a particular role. They shared their responsibilities and the connections they have to support the many other members of our community.
Grade 5 students at the Western International School of Shanghai recently participated in the Middle Years Programme (MYP) peer debate session. The Secondary Debate Team have been honing their skills throughout the year as part of the Debate Club, an After-School Activity (ASA), where they practice UK-style parliamentary debate. Our grade five students used this fantastic opportunity to challenge themselves to further their skills. These students rose to the challenge, formulating persuasive arguments and defending their points of view in a fun debate about whether they should be permitted to use mobile phones during the school’s Explore China trips. This experience enabled students to refine their communication skills, particularly their awareness that language usage is influenced by purpose, audience, and context and how to successfully verbalize their thinking to explain their reasoning.
Contributed by Lisa Ellery, Primary Principal at the Western International School of Shanghai (WISS)
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