As part of the fifth grade Unit of Inquiry(Who We Are), students inquired and then constructed 3-D models of their chosen human body system. Pictured above are a few of the 60 projects on Human Body Systems. The first image is an example of Visible Thinking as the students in 1 class actively engaged in thinking and learning. 
Welcome back for another year at the Tuscaloosa Magnet School! We begin this year with grand goals and the mindset of the forty-niners...we seek the treasure, the riches untold, the mother load! In March 2013, we received official authorization as an International Baccalaureate World School. Before that even happened, the staff and faculty endeavored to dig deeper than before in terms of instructional practices and delivery with Webb's Depth Of Knowledge, align our scope and sequence with the Common Core, expand the the breadth of our Project-based Learning and much more.

For insight into what that looks like, sounds like and feels like, read on...

Authorization went extremely well for us as we had many commendations and only one single item to address. The item in question was related to our Spanish teacher not having been trained as an IB educator. That was resolved immediately and authorization sailed through. 

The Common Core is not very new to schools rich in project-based, and research-based instruction. A link is provided here to point you toward the FAQ's related to the implementation of the Common Core in Alabama. 

Project-Based Learning is always going to be at the center of what we do at TMSE. As we develop our Units of Inquiry within the framework of the IB Philosophy, you'll begin to hear more of the Depth of Knowledge according to Webb. Webb, like Bloom before him, sought deeper, more authentic teaching and learning outcomes for students. The Tuscaloosa City School System has adopted the Webb DOK approach as an effort to enrich our curriculum. At TMSE, we deliver that through projects. For a look at the way Webb organized his theory and a comparison to Bloom's Taxonomy for higher order thinking, click here

It's official! We have been authorized as an International Baccalaureate World School! Woohoo! Congratulations to all of the students, parents, families and friends and teachers for all of the dedication and drive to make TMSE the very best model in education! Plans for a public celebration are in the works! Stay tuned!!!

Everyone's got one!
One of the most important aspects of the International Baccalaureate curriculum is that it makes room for people to have an opinion, inquire about others' perspectives, and enter into discourse about how these opinions and viewpoints may be alike or different. The IB makes it very clear in their closing assertion found in the mission statement, "These programmes encourage students across the world to become active, compassionate and lifelong learners who understand that other people, with their differences, can also be right." Simply put, at Tuscaloosa Magnet School, we strive to be open-minded thinkers and learners who are willing to accept the views of others as valuable even if we disagree. This is evident in so many places in our culture: football teams, religion, family orientation, politics, and much more.

What does that look like?
That's a loaded question! Basically, students and teachers at the magnet school have a rich, valuable life experience we want to embrace and respect each day. By taking the time to share opinions and viewpoints and allowing others to do the same, we hope to allow our community to see what it means to be compassionate, tolerant, empathetic members of our society. From time to time this may cause conflict for some as many people have varying belief systems. We embrace the differences in those situations and work tirelessly to allow the students to find ways to accept all others and their points of view as valuable despite differences in opinion.
IB- International Baccalaureate
PYP- Primary Years Programme
POI- Programme of Inquiry
UOI- Unit of Inquiry
PSPE- Personal Social Physical Education
LP- Learner Profile
TT- Transdisciplinary Theme
CAR- Choose Act Reflect
What do all of these acronyms mean?!?
Each has a meaning behind it as do most of the ones we see all around us on a daily basis. So, I decided that we should have a 'dictionary' of sorts to help everyone understand what we are referring to with regards to our programs.

As we go on, I'll provide some information about each and try to connect it to a more familiar term or process to aid in understanding what we do.

The IB(or IBO) is the International Baccalaureate Organization. It's the governing body that sets forth the ideals that we have determined most closely align with our philosophy at TMSE. In short, it's the organization that made up all the acronyms:).

The PYP(Primary Years Programme) is the specific program created by the IB for ages 3-12.

The POI(Programme of Inquiry) is the 'big picture' of what each grade level is teaching throughout the school year.

The UOI(Unit of Inquiry) is the specific plan for each grade level which includes the the central idea, the lines of inquiry and the concepts and skills students will be learning and demonstrating while involved. This includes the activities that will take place throughout the Unit of Inquiry.

The TT(Transdisciplinary Theme) is the guiding principle for the inquiry into each of 6 themes: Who We Are, Where We Are In Place And Time, How We Express Ourselves, How The World Works, How We Organize Ourselves, and Sharing The Planet. Each lasts approximately 6 weeks.

The LP(Learner Profile) is a list of attributes or characteristics we seek to develop in all learners.

The CAR(Choose Act Reflect) is a reference to the Action Cycle. This acronym is not IB, but the Action Cycle is. The action cycle is a methodological approach to decision making.

The PSPE(Personal Social Physical Education) is a scope and sequence of child development as it relates to the development of the learner as an individual, a member of larger group, and as an active human. 

It should be noted that these 'definitions' are not official. They are mine to help me keep the acronyms straight. I hope they make some sense for you as well. If you have questions, you can email me or you can set an appointment and come meet with me. For the official breakdown on all things IB, check out the section for parents on the web at the