I sat in Ms. Pardo’s fourth grade classroom yesterday witnessing the students engaged in an Explorers simulation. This day students were presented with the concept of choosing a royal charter. Students worked with their teams debating to take the Spanish King’s offer. They had to draw on the knowledge they learned about Christopher Columbus’ experience. They debated, they struggled, they had to convince and they had to compromise. After making some decisions, the students then analyzed a primary source of a journal entry written by Columbus in order to record in their own journal.

Through this whole process I considered what the Common Core outcomes in the big picture really are. We want our students to have a skill set to know what to do when they come to new challenges. The knowledge they learn is to strengthen them in being able to solve the problems they confront. And teachers give students strategies on how to attempt to approach challenges.

These skills are what our children will need to face a future that is unknown. The jobs of the future aren’t created yet. We don’t even know what might sit in front of them. So preparation for students look different. We want them to be inquirers. We want them to be reflectors. We want them to be engaged in thinking! All of these also fit so easily into our Learner Profile of a PYP school within the IB Programme.

In watching our students decide to accept the King’s Royal Charter, I enjoyed seeing them use strategies independently. One group decided to make a T chart to weigh the options. Others really worked on convincing others to their thinking. In the end, each group came to a consensus independently.

I feel confident in these moments that the teaching and learning at Joyner is preparing our students. I am proud to consider how our students are learning the strategies to handle challenge. The skills students used in class come from the work of not only Ms. Pardo, but the work of their teachers throughout all of their years at Joyner.

Well done Ms. Pardo’s class! Excellent thinkers. I continue to be proud to watch each of our Joyner students grow!