A Design Thinking PYPx Story — Part 1

Chantelle Love
4 min readMay 3, 2023

One of the things that has frustrated me for a long time is the “cookie-cutter” projects that seem to come out of the PYPx process.

If our young people are truly choosing learning that engages them in a way in which they can inquire in an in-depth manner…

If they are engaging in an authentic way and engaging with the broader learning community…

If mature PYP students are taking real action as a result of their learning…

Then, surely, every learning experience will be different and, consequently, every sharing of the learning will look different.

This was the pretence with which we embarked on our PYPx journey.

The Prep

Prior to the launch with our young people, we sent them a short survey. The intention was to draw out, not knowledge they remember but what learning has been memorable from their PYP. These are the questions we asked:

  • What is something you have learned in PY that has been memorable?
  • What was the most exciting thing you have learned about in PY?
  • What is something in your learning that you have found boring that you would like to make more interesting?
  • What is something you wish you had learned about in PY?
  • What is a problem you have learned about (or not known about) that you would like to try and solve?
  • What is something you have learned about in PY that you would like to take deeper?

We then took each student’s responses and turned them into word clouds. This helped us be more intentional with our provocation day and, later, served as a starting point for choosing an area of inquiry.

The Provocations

We began sharply on a stinking hot Monday morning at the end of March. Because we wanted to help our students think from a new perspective, we ran our provocation day/s and immersion week in a different learning space.

We began by reading aloud this beautiful picture book.

In order to tilt students towards action and to align with our Transdisciplinary theme of How we express ourselves, we shared 3 examples of ways young people have taken action based on these questions:

  • What if everyone cared?
  • What if everyone took action?
  • What if everyone unleashed their creativity?

We then collaboratively created our shared PYPx vision by using a Y-chart and then sharing our thoughts in pairs and then in small groups. Here’s our shared vision:

Next, we unpacked the TD theme descriptor in small groups by using dictionaries. We then split the descriptor into 3 parts for students to choose a direction and/or focus.

The central idea we (teachers) initially developed for PYPx was simply a CI for overarching purposes. We shared this with the Yr 5 young people early-on alongside the TD theme descriptor to help them develop principles for the process. Our overarching CI was:

The creative actions people take can reflect the change they want to see in the world.

Our PYPx Principles

Once we’d laid the foundations for the group, we wanted to pivot our focus towards each individual’s passion. Thus, we handed out the word clouds and gave each student a piece of A1 paper. Students wrote their piece of the descriptor in the centre of the paper and in each corner of the paper, we asked them to consider and respond to the 4 questions below:

We kept the centre space of the paper free for ideas and we asked the students to generate 50 ideas of how they might use their ‘areas of interest’ to respond to their piece of the TD theme descriptor. Year 5 students then chose their Top 10 ideas and scored them on a ‘New, Impactful, Feasible’ table in order to choose their Top 3. They entered these in a spreadsheet along with their piece of the descriptor enabling us to pair them up (if wanted).

Tune in for the next stage of our process: Immersion.