University School IB Newsletter March 2022

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University School

Spring 2022


Ms. Weyers’ kindergarteners are exploring the FUNCTION of toys by taking them apart.

PYP in action:


Concept based teaching is at the very heart of our Primary Years Program curriculum. Concepts act as lenses to view a subject and to make meaning. Students come to see that there are many ways to look at a topic. Using this framework of teaching and learning, our students will be able to transfer this knowledge and use this ability to focus throughout their lifetimes.


Properties, structure, similarities, differences

Why is it like that?


Roles, behavior, patterns, systems, communication

How does it work?


Consequences, sequences, patterns, impact

Why is it as it is?


Adaptation, growth, cycles, sequences, transformation

How is it transforming?


Systems, relationships, networks, interdependence

How is it linked to other things?


Subjectivity, truth, beliefs, opinion, bias

What are the points of view?


Rights, citizenship, values, justice, initiative

What are our obligations?

A concept that we connect with often in PE class is responsibility. Students are practicing this concept while learning to jump rope. Students understand that spacing is crucial in a gym full of spinning jump ropes. The actions they take of maintaining that space results in a safe activity.

Second graders in Ms. Wang’s class explored the key concepts of form and change as they inquired about different states of matter in the unit How We Express Ourselves. They looked into how matters change and decided that they could use solids as building materials. Students discussed the properties of towers, designed and built their own towers.

First graders in Ms. Schroeders’ class explored the concepts of function and change for How the World Works. We had inquiry into sound and how it changes with different materials in a drop chamber. We learned how our ears function as a sound receiver. Students changed a variety of materials with different functions into a structure that could withstand vibration. All groups were successful with our “Three Little Pigs,” challenge.

Our IB Unit: Where We Are in Place and Time has Mrs. Kinkead’s class thinking about how people traveled to new places through migrations or forced migrations. We looked at the density of materials for floating, sinking, and buoyancy as we considered ships traveling over large spans of water. We are looking at the conditions people endured in transportation in small ships to the colonies in North America. Exploring the function and change of different materials that look similar in size, shape, texture but with different densities helped us understand properties of materials used and how that affected shipbuilding in the 1600s.

Mrs. Ferris’ kindergarten class has been learning about the design and function of toys. Students participated in a small group lesson where they used tools to take apart toys. Students enjoyed observing the internal structure of toys and they used pictures to describe the outside and inside structure of various toys.

Second grade students in Mrs. Kopp’s class explored the key concept of FORM during our How We Express Ourselves unit of inquiry. Students investigated how states of matter are used for creating and expressing oneself. For example, students built, designed and described their own 3-D shape dream houses to express their individual personalities.

Students in Mrs. Sparks’ second grade used complex ideas during the unit of How We Express Ourselves to shape their learning. They offered many different perspectives to plan, create, and build their own dream houses. These houses were built to adapt to specific situations in their lives.

Students were asked to create a quilt square to represent their families - where they are from, what do they like to eat, what do they do as a family? Students then shared out their quilts before attaching them together to be displayed. It was a wonderful way to connect the idea of the importance of family and how our families shape us during our where we are in place and time unit.

Ms. Breeden’s class is currently working on our unit called World Market where we have been studying salt. We have discussed where it comes from, how our bodies need it, how it preserves food and most recently how it was used for mummies. We did an experiment where we used apples to help us observe how Ancient Egyptians made mummies! We combined salt and baking soda to make a mixture. Then we covered the skinless apple in the mixture and made observations about what the apple might look like in one week.

In fifth grade, Ms. Kroll’s class has been working on Where We Are in Place and Time. We have spent a lot of time thinking about early explorers and how they needed to set up their governments to survive and to be fair. Their trials and errors led to OUR government. We understand the concepts of Change and Responsibility by looking at the past and comparing how things run now. Our Outreach for Law Literacy students help us to understand Perspectives, too. We have been learning about court law. We worked together to put the process of court procedures in order. We are also looking forward to hosting a mock trial in our classroom!

First graders in Mrs. McGarry’s class worked on the concepts of function and causation while learning about sound and light for How the World Works. Students used different materials to produce sound and discovered ways to change volume and pitch as well as how to stop sound. Students explored light, shadows, and reflections and inquired into how sound and light are used for communication.

During the Where We Are in Place and Time unit of inquiry, Mrs. Loudermilk’s fourth graders reflected on places we have visited or lived, countries we or our ancestors came from, and artifacts that represent where we are living now. Students applied the concept of reflection by creating Heritage Quilt Blocks. Our quilt blocks represent our place in the world and where we are on the timeline of history.

ENL: Kindergarteners with Mrs. Eno, Ms. Davis, and Miss Oyer are learning how some writers write by using the IB concept of creativity. They are creating with Legos and then writing about the process used to create their masterpiece.

Music class is full of hands-on activities that give students the opportunity to experience concepts in multi-faceted ways. For example, first graders experienced Form through a dance that has different movements for different sections. Sixth graders learned about Function as they played ukuleles to find out how chord progressions work in common pop songs.

In the unit, How We Express Ourselves, students in Ms. Eastes’ class inquired about the various ways homes are built and the reasoning behind the design choices. They looked at different materials used to build each home. The students then designed and created their own 3-D homes, as an expression of who they are.

Fifth graders in Miss Weisenbach’s class explored the key concept of perspective during their Where We Are In Place and Time unit of inquiry. Students participated in an exploration simulation by designing their own colonies, discussing what supplies they needed to bring on their ship, and setting sail to a New World. In the picture, you can see two students discussing where to expand their land. Throughout the entire simulation, students got to take on the perspective of an early explorer. They learned the hardships they went through and the hardships that Indigenous peoples went through when that land became colonized. By taking on the perspective of others, students have been able to build empathy.

Mrs. Piekarsky’s fourth graders are studying Where We Are in Place and Time. This quilt shows the journeys/ culture of our students’ families.

Sixth graders in Ms. Cerwinske’s class consider the Key Concept of Form as they begin their Sharing the Planet unit and inquire about factors that affect the organization of the world. Here students consider characteristics and features of animals that can be observed, identified, and described as they learn to classify as a part of studying taxonomy.

First graders in Mrs. Harpring’s and Mr. Dietmeyer’s class worked on the concepts of function and change while exploring light and shadow for How the World Works. Students stood on the playground and used their bodies with the light from the sun to create shadows. We learned how our bodies can make different types of shadows. Mr. Dietmeyer and several students demonstrated that they could listen to and meet a shadow challenge working with others. The end result of this challenge produced an eight-armed monster!

“Snuggling!” “Playing superheroes!” “Sleeping buddy!” There were many ideas for the function of Kindergarteners' newly made toys.

Students in Mrs. Grabczak’s class were very excited to learn they would be making toys in our newest IB Unit: How the World Works.

They explored how to form their toy through the design process and by testing out different materials while creating.

Ms. Wiggins’ 3rd grade class are seasoned learners! In our How We Organize Ourselves IB Unit, we have been exploring the needs and uses for salt. Salt has value beyond simply seasoning our meals and providing flavor. One use of salt we explored in S.T.E.M. is its effect on ice. With our snow/ice days we experienced this winter, it was observed that salt is used to melt the ice on roads and sidewalks. Exploring the key concept of Causation, the students conducted an experiment to test the effects of salt on ice by observing the reactions and monitoring temperatures of three different types of salt when placed on ice for a given amount of time. Moving forward, we will use our newfound knowledge of how the many needs and uses of salt we’re valuable to explore salt as a global trade market.

In library class, we’ve been talking about the theme of PLAY : toys, games, sports, and imagination. Here are some student comments on the FUNCTION of classic toys.

Ms. Yang-Smith’s fourth grade: For our theme “Where We Are In Place And Time”, one of the concepts we focused on was causation. We discussed the causes of migration. To kick off this inquiry, we created a class story quilt.

Each student worked with their family on a quilt square. They included pictures, items, recipes, and stories to tell about their family and where their family came from. Using the story quilt, we had discussions about where families migrated from, why they decided to migrate to a place, and how these decisions impact their lives today.

In Spanish Kindergarten students continued exploring the concepts of Form and Function of toys. We learned about traditional toys in some Spanish speaking countries and made baleros.

Ms. Hays’ sixth grade Sharing the Planet unit, students are learning about the ways in which relationships are balanced and maintained. Along with this, we are exploring the factors that impact how the world is organized. Using the Medieval Ages and the societal system that they upheld during that period as a model, we are delving into those lines of inquiry. Through simulations such as the one seen, students are exploring the social agreements and interactions that instituted the feudal system and perpetuated its continuation for that period of time. Here we see a group working together under the supervision of the lord of the manor to create a self-sufficient community.

Mrs. Thompson’s sixth graders model solar power in the “Next Top Model Fashion Show ” and study energy absorption of heat on different types of materials. From Ms. Antrim’s third grade: Did you know our bodies need salt to survive? Did you know salt was used as currency in ancient times? We are currently in our How We Organize Ourselves unit in 3rd grade. For this unit we study economics through learning The Story of Salt. One of our key concepts for this unit is “connection.” The question we ask for this concept is, “How is it connected to other things?” We are learning so much about how salt connects to our everyday lives, even the meaning of idioms and Latin phrases that come from salt! Did you know the world salary comes from the Latin word salt? Or, how about the word salad? Did you know that salt even started wars? We have connected salt with health, history, economics, science, and even language! We have read poems, folktales, and nonfiction texts on salt. Through this unit we have started our own class economy, and are at the beginning stages of learning Latin. Salt has connected us to


In art, students reflected about a typical day and crafted books about the potential actions and impact they can make. University School * Bloomington, Indiana