Rethinking Timetables in the PYP: Making our Days Truly Transdisciplinary
Ali Ezzeddine
4 min read

Learning in the PYP goes beyond the boundaries of traditional subjects and uses knowledge, conceptual understanding, skills, dispositions and actions to help students explore the relationships between disciplines (From Principles into Practice). 

Transdisciplinary learning is at the heart of the programme! As an IB PYP team leader and consultant, my goal is to find ways to make these relationships between disciplines stand out. While PYP schools focus a lot on transgressing the boundaries of academic subjects, most of us still organize our days using fixed compartments for our disciplines. Today, I would like to share with you my perspective on timetables, the most rigid component of the school since its inception.

I have seen schools struggle to find a balance between fixed timetables and inquiry-based learning. Since constructivism and inquiry underpin all the IB programmes, everything we do in our schools, including extra-curricular activities and school events, keeps these at the centre. Everything, except for our timetables! Often, schools schedule a specific time in their planners for ‘inquiry sessions’, ‘Unit of Inquiry time’ or ‘PYP sessions’, but aren’t students engaging in inquiry and PYP practices, all day, every day?  I believe that we need to think of a way to find ways to make our days more ‘fluid’. My goal for this blog is to push your thinking and help you re-image timetables.

Let’s Explore this Timetable

This is an example of a traditional weekly planner. In this timetable, we see a balance between subjects, there is enough time allotted for in-depth inquiry, as well as specific time for collaborative planning by teachers. On any given day, this timetable meets the IB PYP requirement by ensuring a balance between disciplines and has adequate time for inquiry. This team has also scheduled time for students to work on their passion projects during ‘My Time’, which provides yet another space for student inquiry and action.

Reimagining Timetables with a Conceptual Lens

Now let’s imagine a specific day in this school. On Monday, a student spends their day as follows:

I’m now going to reimagine this timetable to make it conceptual. As a teaching team, we could identify conceptual understanding and dive into specific teacher and student questions every day. Using conceptual questions will help make learning truly transdisciplinary and will allow for in-depth inquiry, throughout the day! While planning on Toddle, teachers can map learning goals, key questions and learning experiences from their unit and single-subject planners to their weekly schedules. This allows teaching teams to keep conceptual questions in mind while planning their units and learning experiences. 

So Monday could look something like this:

Let’s take this even further! What if we created mixed-aged classrooms and found ways to make learning personalized? What if we added optional subjects and gave students voice and choice from a younger age to choose these subjects based on interest? 

Toddle classroom gives teachers the agency to differentiate learning and make it meaningful for each student. Teachers can assign learning experiences to specific students and can also assign the same task to students across classrooms.

Time to Act

The COVID-19 pandemic has pushed educators across the globe to be creative and come up with innovative ways to make the PYP happen. Whether in virtual, hybrid, or in-person classrooms, education does not look the same anywhere. The current situation has, therefore, provided us with creative opportunities like never before. This is the perfect time for us to work with our learning community and engage parents, students and teachers in this exercise to re-image our school day. Think about the need for inquiry, opportunities at home, the balance between synchronous and asynchronous learning and what your school day could look like. So, how would you re-imagine your timetable?

The Power of Collaboration 

It takes true collaboration to make inquiry rich transdisciplinary learning come alive in a school. Intentional collaboration brings teachers within and beyond grade-level teams together to foster learning that can surpass the boundaries of Programmes of Inquiry. As your one-stop solution for all your PYP teaching and learning needs, Toddle strives to provide you with tools that supercharge collaboration in your schools. On Toddle, you can collaboratively build your Programme of Inquiry, yearly plans, unit plans, and weekly plans- all in real-time, no matter where you are! Want to learn how? Schedule your personalized walkthrough today!

The all-in-one collaboration platform for educators.

Toddle streamlines planning, assessments, reports, projects, portfolios, and family communication - all from one place!

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Ali Ezzeddine
Ali Ezzeddine
Ali Ezzeddine is an educational consultant and trainer in various educational fields. He is a certified international trainer from Lynn Erickson Institute to lead concept based workshops and international educational consultant for the International Baccalaureate Organization. Ali is an experienced primary educator and fluent in Arabic, French and English. Aside from teaching, he loves children’s literature and he is a published author. He visits schools to lead training, consult with faculty or just to share his writings with the students.
Disclaimer - The ideas and resources presented in this blog have been developed independently from and are not endorsed by the International Baccalaureate (IB).