Technology in PYP Workshops? Absolutely!

iphone okWaaaay back in November I had the pleasure of joining the fabulous Paul Langtree to deliver a workshop on Collaborative Planning in the PYP at Seisen International School in Tokyo. I feel it was the best workshop I’ve done to date – the staff were fantastic, open-minded and enthusiastic, and Paul was so great to work with, I felt I had known him all my life!

I was determined to incorporate more technology in the planning and delivery of the workshop than the last PYP workshop I did. Since my conversion to the benefits of backchannel chats, I felt it would be a worthy endeavour!

Luckily for me, Paul was totally on board. Together we used Google Docs to share our resources  and create our workshop plan. We set up a very basic weebly for participants to use, which incorporated some of the videos we showed, and contained a wallwisher to replace the traditional burning questions chart. We set up several laptops for participants to use if they felt so inclined, but of course many of them brought their own. Phones were also welcome.


  • Participants checking out the website of the author of an article we shared on their iPhones – they were totally on-task and used technology to further their understanding of the material covered, and learn more about the author.
  • The questions on the wallwisher were great – and many added them at home after the first session.
  • Participants accessing their planners using their laptops – this meant they could type straight onto their planners, avoiding the need for someone to type it up later.
  • It really felt as though the technology was invisible – it was just another tool for people to use if they wished, not a big deal that required a whole lot of explanation and preparation.

Next Steps

  • I’m not sure if the PYP workshop is the best forum for a backchannel chat (as engaging participants in face-to-face conversation is one of the main aims), but I haven’t ruled it out by any means. I have a workshop coming up in February, so it will give me an opportunity to explore some more options.

Photo Credit: Mastrobiggo

6 thoughts on “Technology in PYP Workshops? Absolutely!

  1. I wish our campus had wireless that we could access with our personal laptops and iPhones. It is possible at KB and may someday be on all the campuses but I’m impatient.


  2. Our school board, sadly, is dragging its heels as well. The director spoke recently of a move toward wireless, more lap tops, the need to embrace the new technology, etc., but no time frame mentioned. I’m intrigued by your site. A wealth of information, thanks. I’m staying firm in the sand as my I-T department continues to wag its finger at me for use of the Blogger site (check out my blog, please). My principal’s a big supporter, though, so I’m soldiering on.


  3. Teachers at my school are really excited about using Google Docs for working on their PYP planners. The problem we’re running into is that it seems the IBO limits you to working only in the landscape-orientation-text-bubble form provided officially as the PYP planner.

    When you used Google Docs, were you able to emulate the style of the form, or just you just work with the content? It seems to me that the critical skill is the creation of the content and the writing – not the layout or look/feel. But then, I’m new to the PYP.

    Any guidance you have on using Google Docs with PYP planning is most appreciated!


  4. @Michael – hang in there! It’s worth the ride! Keep yourself sane by connecting with like-minded individuals!

    @Warren – to the best of my knowledge (and someone please correct me if I’m wrong), the planners are records of units taught. I thoroughly agree, that the important skill is the creation of content. I can’t see anything wrong in preparing in Google Docs, so long as your work gets transferred to the planner as a record each year.

    I do know the IB thought carefully about the design of the planner, i.e. making it backwards by design, but I think given the rapid advances of technology, and multiple platforms in use, change is bound to happen sooner or later.

    You might want to ask @bgrundy on Twitter – he has experimented with using Google Docs to plan units too…

    I hope this helps!


  5. Our PYP Coordinator found this:

    Can the PYP planner be altered?
    The PYP planner (see figure 13 in Making the PYP happen: A curriculum framework for international primary education (2009)) is the tool to be used by all PYP teachers as part of their collaborative planning and reflecting. Please note that schools may make only minor changes to the planner, as reflected in the sample planners included in Developing a transdisciplinary programme of inquiry (2008). The relationship between the different boxes included on the planner must be maintained as this upholds the iterative nature of the planning process used in planning the units of inquiry. Consequently, the planning and reflecting needs to be documented as follows.
    o o o o
    Page 1 consists of the title label which must include the IB logo and boxes 1 and 2. Page 2 consists of boxes 3, 4 and 5. Page 3 consists of boxes 6 and 7. Page 4 consists of boxes 8 and 9.
    A school may choose to attach another page to the planner to document any additional section considered to be particularly pertinent in that school. (A school may change the planner format to a linear one only if there are problems with the electronic version supplied by the IB.)

    I think “not easily accessible from home as well as school” can be included in the definition of problem, and I think Google Docs can solve that problem.


  6. This is a fantastic idea for PYP workshops or even in-school Prof learning sessions K-L. Thank you for the detailed framework you used and free tools. I for one will certainly be trying them. Used Google docs for my last workshop planning and my Masters work.


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