Creativity in Unit Timings

“Creativity requires the courage to let go of certainties. ”

Erich Fromm

This year in my PYP6 class, inspired by reading about others’ creativity in timings, I have been trying to get the most out of my units by spreading them out over the year.

It is a pivotal year for the students. One of growth and change, the PYP Exhibition and the anticipation of moving to Secondary. A time of looking backwards and forwards; reflection and planning. I wanted our units of inquiry to provide optimum opportunities for the students to explore the changes and have time to reflect and prepare.

We started the year with a ‘Who We Are’ unit, ‘Perceptions of self evolve over time’. We used this to frame the inquiries for the first month of the school year and then we will revisit it for the last two and a half weeks. The revisiting will be an opportunity to reflect on the students’ growth over the year and particularly their growth during the PYP Exhibition which is the unit before. Splitting this unit has kept it in our minds throughout the year as we have been talking about it and looking forwards to coming back to it. It has kept their growth and development at the forefront of their minds.

In January we had a funny two and a half weeks of school between the winter break and the Chinese New Year holiday, so I used it to start exploring our ‘How We Express Ourselves’ unit. I wrote the wrote the central idea with the PYP5 teacher and some input from the students, ‘Communication is open to interpretation’ and we worked with the students to decide on the concepts and lines of inquiry we wanted to explore. The students chose to write them together as a class.

Different modes of expression (form) 

How people relate to different modes of expression (connection) 

How people interpret different types of communication (perspective)

This unit is now running until the end of the year. We had a focused exploration for those few weeks in January, using poetry but giving access to may other modes of expression in the process. The students explored the concepts of interpretation and perspective in detail. Following on we are using this to support the learning in our ‘How we organise ourselves’ unit and the PYP Exhibition. We will reflect on this unit as a part of our end of year reflections as we revisit our ‘Who we are’ unit.

It all sounds complicated I realise but in fact it isn’t! It has all fitted together and developed its own logic better than I could have hoped for. The students have also the logic and made more connections than I did when planning for this. Next year we won’t have the short break between Winter and Chinese New Year so I am hoping that the Year 6 team will be open to a year long inquiry for ‘How we express ourselves’.

Life is trying things to see if they work.

Ray Bradbury 

One thought on “Creativity in Unit Timings

  1. I love the idea of trying things, even if they don’t work out. In my MYP classes and with colleagues, we often discuss the difference between creative and critical thinking. And we’re pretty secure in our knowledge of what constitutes critical thinking and confident in ways to explore that type of thinking. But creative thinking is just more…creative. Its very nature lacks a concrete. And this idea of just trying it is frankly, scary for a teacher. What if we’re wrong? What if it fails? Of course, the alternative is also possible – which you have discovered – but what if we fly?


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