Taking Action

Taking Action has been on my mind a lot lately…both in my personal and professional life.  Being in my first year of teaching inquiry through the PYP programme, it’s been a journey of figuring out what the different puzzle pieces are and how they fit together…and a piece I feel like has been missing (or at least not visible) in my classroom is this part of inquiry that involves taking action.  I think part of the reason I haven’t worked to make it more visible is because I wanted it to be authentic action, not just for the sake of it.  In my personal life I have been thinking for the past few years about what I truly feel passionate about and asking myself, “Then what am I doing about it?  How is it changing my life?”  

Recently I had a bit of a shift in my understanding of what Taking Action could look like after reading a blog by Richard Black found here and looking at a poster he developed for his classroom below.  I liked the idea that action might be more than just doing something- how he used the different types of verbs to show different aspects of action (great grammar lesson too!).  Not everything we learn translates into raising money for something or putting up posters, perhaps a more powerful action at times would be in changing how you think or feel about something which might not lead to a doing action for quite some time.  When I was 16 I went to Mexico and experienced the third-world slum life for the first time.  It changed the way I thought and felt and opened my eyes to a world where people lived very differently than I did….we did take some action and help for the week, but I think the more powerful action I took on was the change in my thinking and feeling…which has led to more action and ‘doing’ and changed my life significantly as I have grown older.  But it started there.  Too often I think I have looked at Taking Action in my classroom and felt like my students needed to be ‘doing’ something in order for it to ‘count’.  I haven’t taken the time to notice the other, often deeper, aspects of action found below.  Perhaps Taking Action is like an iceberg, where the Doing is the tiny bit you see on the surface, but there is a huge mass below that we need to remember and acknowledge as well….


From Richard Black’s post found here

This past week I visited the Year 6 exhibition at our school and had some great discussions with some of the students.  I asked one girl who had learned about people with disabilities what the big thing was that she would be taking with her from this project.  She said that she changed her thinking – she realized now that people with disabilities weren’t so different from her, that even though they might look or act different on the outside, that we are the same on the inside.  That when she saw someone who was disabled, she wouldn’t get scared and go away or ignore them, but she would walk up and have a conversation.  Another girl researched hunger and was filled with knowledge she was bursting to share.  When I asked her what she was taking with her from her project, she began to tell me how she had no idea that there were so many people without enough food and was so upset that we spend so much more money on weapons than on people.  She told me about the website Kiva where she had loaned $20 to help a family to save their business…both of the girls were Saying, one was Doing, but perhaps even more powerful was the Thinking, Feeling and Being that was so obvious and will most likely stay with them in the future…

I’m going to try setting up an Action Wall based on the poster and make our action more visible in this last term of the year…it is great to learn new things, but I feel like what you do with your learning is what determines its meaningfulness in your life.  


Categories: Education | 3 Comments

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3 thoughts on “Taking Action

  1. Hi Michelle

    I am quite enchanted by your iceberg analogy. I have never thought about action in that way!

    Too often teachers think there is no ‘action’ because they can’t observe their students DOING. Yet the most authentic learning can change a learner deeply… even though there is no instant, visible, measurable action.

  2. We constantly refer to the iceberg model for developing deeper thinking. Great comparison that taking action is like an iceberg. Love your Action Ideas poster.

    • Thanks Desiree! Do you have a specific picture/model that you use? (I’m bad at the whole comment/responding part of this blogging thing…a bit of a late response!)

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