How do you know that students “get it?” How do you know that they understand core concepts and can articulate them and express them in multiple ways? These were the questions I asked myself when designing a lesson for fourth graders at Manor View Elementary at Fort Meade, Maryland seeking to understand the Learner Profiles and Key Concepts from the PYP International Baccalaureate program. Drawing inspiration from the book Innovating for People by the Luma Institute, I asked students to create magazine cover to demonstrate their understanding of the concepts. Creating magazine cover is hardly a new concept but I love how the Luma Institute includes it as part of the innovation process.
Gather materials – markers, crayons, 8.5 x 11 plain white copy paper. When it comes to arts integration done directly in the classroom use the very simplest materials available. The emphasis should be on the doing/creating/processing rather than manipulating complex or messy materials.
Use the See/Think/Wonder thinking routine to show positive examples of a student magazine cover. In the example below, the students saw the child’s colorful socks, the fact that she was sitting on books and that the story names used numbers. They thought that she might be caring and knowledgeable (two of the IB Learner Profiles) and the wondered what grade she was in, where she lived and why she was smiling. The point is to model what a great example might look like and for the students to draw inspiration from it. (10 minutes)
Source: Kiwi Magazine Cover
Ask the students what IB Learner Profile best fits their personality, life or activities. Be sure to explain to them that all of the profiles apply to them but they may feel more strongly about one in particular. I have found that Risk-Takers, Caring and Knowledgeable are the most popular with 4th graders. It may help to show them a picture of the Learner Profiles so they can visualize some hard to grasp concepts. (10 minutes)
Source: Prairie Waters Elementary School
Create a magazine cover (30 minutes) – Fold the paper in half, and make sure the students include:
- Name of the Learner Profile as the title of the magazine cover. This should be big, clear and colorful.
- Create a symbol or image that describes the Learner Profile.
- Create at least one article name on the side like “5 Ways I am a Caring Student.”
- Write a short article or list on the profile inside of the cover.
Offer students the opportunity to present their covers to the class (10 minutes) – Students take pride in their work and offering them the opportunity to explain why they are caring, knowledgeable, etc. will give you a chance to assess their understanding of the profile they chose. In fact, the whole activity serves as a great formative assessment of their understanding because there is:
- Discussion of the profiles that allows them to verbally articulate understanding and also hear fellow students’ ideas.
- Creation of visual art that demonstrates their symbolic/conceptual understanding of the profiles.
- Writing that allows them to create a list of ways that show how they apply the profiles to their lives.
- Presentation of the entire work in front of an audience.
Happy magazine cover creation! This is a super easy way to engage your students and use arts integration to both deepen and assess student understanding of sometimes abstract concepts.
Rob Levit, an acclaimed musician and artist and 2013 Innovator of the Year from the Maryland Daily Record, has created award-winning innovative “Life-Skills Through The Arts” programs for adults with mental illness, the homeless, adults in drug and alcohol recovery, youth in domestic/sexual abuse counseling, foster children, hospital patients, veterans and many more. He is currently Executive Director of Creating Communities and was the first Artist-In-Residence at Hospice of the Chesapeake, where he created and infused healing activities for the well-being of staff, families and patients. Email Rob.