8 Learner Profile Strategies – how to get creative with the attributes
8 Learner Profile Strategies – how to get creative with the attributes
Parita Parekh
Parita Parekh
8 min read

Walk through an IB school’s corridors, classrooms, teacher lounges, and offices. 

What is the one thing they all have in common?

LEARNER PROFILE ATTRIBUTES POSTERS!

Yet, in workshops, conferences, and online forums the most rampantly asked questions are around “how can we help our students in their development and understanding of the attributes of the IB learner profile?”.

All of us have to agree that, the Learner Profile Attributes encapsulate the citizen of the present and future – one who navigates complex challenges to enter a work environment where 60% of jobs don’t exist today.

The Learner Profile Attributes make the 💙 of the IB PYP. Here, we list down 8 tried-and-tested ways to make them come alive in your classroom! You can use these strategies to make the learner profile attributes more visible and intentional in your classroom!

1. Book tree

An organic display where your children identify, illustrate, and talk about the Learner Profile

Reading and storytelling are a ubiquitous part of any primary years classroom, so they make for rich opportunities to recognize the Learner Profile attributes. Very often, teachers use storytelling as a means to discuss the LPAs – pausing and asking questions about what attribute the characters displayed! This works very well but in our experience we have seen that this may also hinder the flow of the story. Here, we suggest a better strategy to use the books for LPAs.

Co-construct a display with your children. Establish an agreement with your students to identify the LP focus in each book they read. After they read, they may draw a picture / write / talk about how the learner profile attribute was evident in the book. This work can then be added to a book board in the class along with the learner profile attribute infocus. Lots of meaningful discussions and connections take place when you make the learner profile visible in the classroom. An added benefit –  children thinking about a particular Learner Profile can get book ideas throughout the year! 

Best for ages 4-10

2. Shoutout Board

We’re always talking about MUST HAVE displays in the PYP classroom! Here is one for you that goes beyond the static Learner Profile Attribute Posters. Two ways to design a shoutout board. 

Way 1 – Co-create a shoutout board with your children. Have them come up with a design, create the labels, and put it all together. Children write shoutouts for each other and the teacher adds them to the board. 

shoutout board

Way 2 – Ready the shoutout board before day 1 of school. You can give it a meaningful / punny title “Look who’s been caught being a ….” On the first day, everyone gets a “risk taker” shoutout for making it to class. Then children can give each other shoutouts for demonstrating the attributes. As a teacher, you can also give shoutouts to students and students can give them to you! Model the attributes and make it a part of your classroom’s culture.

Best for ages 3-8 year olds

3. Exit Ticket 

Developing a shared language around the learner profile attributes is an exercise in discipline and self-awareness. Anne Evans says and we paraphrase – “the real purpose of the learner profile is to encourage reflection on the attributes”. 

One great way to reflect on a daily basis – make the classic Exit Ticket a daily part of your goodbye routine. On the exit ticket, have children write one attribute they really worked on or really demonstrated! 

2 birds with 1 stone – encourage reflective practice and build learner agency. 

The real purpose of the learner profile is to encourage reflection on the attributes. Click To Tweet

As a teacher, be sure to model this along with your students! You might say something like, “Today, I think I was a risk-taker when we decided to go out and look for bugs because as you all know, I am scared of creepy crawlies”. Make the Exit Ticket a wonderful habit for all the citizens of your classroom. 

Best for 4-12 year olds

Exit Ticket

4. Handmade Student Posters 

The PYP thrives on collaboration and yet our displays and walls often have printed ready-to-use posters. Authentic displays are a process, “a systematic act of collecting, interpreting and reflecting on concrete traces of learning”. “What’s on your walls?” is a classic question and the answer usually entails prints of the Learner Profile Attributes in a variety of styles – Dr. Suess posters, Animal posters, Teachers Pay Teachers Printables and many more! We love them all. However, there is one we like above all – HANDMADE STUDENT POSTERS. 

Here are 2 ways to create hand-made student posters:

Way 1 – Ryan Highbea, an experienced PYP educator shares his experiences of helping very young children construct meaning of the IB Learner Profile Attributes. 

  • Teachers can start by showing children a diverse range of photos for each attribute. For risk-taker, show them images like
  • Then teachers can tell their young learners, “these are all risk takers. What do you observe them doing”. Children contribute several ideas (being a risk taker looks like doing dangerous things, being excited, helping someone, doing something you wouldn’t do otherwise). 
  • Students are then given pieces of paper to illustrate themselves as risk-takers. Overtime, students can also take photographs of themselves and each other to stick them next to the posters! 

These drawings together make the Learner Profile Attribute Poster. 

Way 1 is best suited for 3-7 year olds

Way 2 – Divide students into 10 tables (1 for each learner profile attribute). Give them art tools to create posters that illustrate the Learner Profile Attribute. Make the posters come alive by giving children the ability to take photos and clip them next to the posters every time someone demonstrates the attribute. 

Way 2 is best suited for 6-11 year olds

5. Brag Tags

To us, the Learner Profile attributes are a toolbox with specific superpowers that allow us to navigate diverse challenges. With this lens, our students are constantly working towards strengthening those superpowers. One strategy we use is called “Brag Tags” – a form of student lanyards.

The Learner Profile attributes as a toolbox with specific superpowers that allow us to navigate diverse challenges. Click To Tweet

Each student has a brag tag that has a personalized note about the attribute they have demonstrated well. Students enjoy being stopped by people at school and being able to talk to them about the tag they’ve earned! Students get to vocalize around the attributes, take ownership of the ones they want to develop, and get acknowledged for their personal strengths!

Best for 5-7 year olds

brag tags

6. Build, Construct, and 3D Represent 

We’ve never met a student who didn’t love building, constructing, and making a mess! Get creative with the learner profile attributes. Divide children into teams and assign them 2 attributes each. Give them a range of materials – lego, art tools, blocks, clay, paints, and more. Let children explore what the Learner Profile means to them and create a visual representation.

To conclude, each team should explain their thinking and present their models to their peers.

Best for 3 to 8 year olds

reflective

7. Quotation Station 

Quotes are so underrated – sprinkled over twitter posts, projects, and essays! But if we look at them closely, quotes provide opportunities for deep reflection and metacognition. Gather your favourite quotes and save them in a nice little ribboned diary. Get ready for Quotation Station by:

  • Starting your Monday mornings by diving into 1 famous quote. Here are few quotes you can start with “A person who never made a mistake never tried anything new – Albert Einstein”, “You must be the change you want to see in the world – Mahatma Gandhi”, “Stand up for what you believe in, even if it means standing alone. Never, never be afraid to do what’s right – Martin Luther King, Jr”, “Reading without reflecting is like eating without digesting – Edmund Burke”.
  • Encourage students to make personal connections with the learner profile attributes. Ask questions to provoke their thinking “how can you bring this to life? What action can you take?”
  • Dedicate a part of your display wall or a corner of the classroom as the “Quotation Station”.
  • On Fridays, regroup and have children reflect on what they did to live the quote!

We promise your students will love this!

Best for 5 to 10 year olds 

Quotation station

8. Kindness Ninjas

Learner Profile Attributes are the foundation for developing strong internationally minded citizens. Create opportunities for children to have real experiences with the world by implementing a “Kindness Ninjas” program. 

  1. Assign a core attribute for each week.
  2. Children identify and recognize this attribute all across the school.
  3. Like ninjas, they leave notes of appreciation for teachers and students everywhere!

To take this a step further, teachers may identify penpals for students to speak to all across the world.

Play around with these flexible strategies – you can find lots of opportunities to merge them and make magic!

PS: We made a memorable Learner Profile mnemonic to remember the attributes – “The Ridiculous Iguana Befriended Cats, Reindeers, Cobras, Koalas, Octopus, & Parrots”.

Parita Parekh

Parita is the head of learning at Toddle and the bridge between teachers & engineers. She is a passionate early years educator who co-founded Toddler’s Den - a network of Reggio-inspired play-based preschools. She studied at Brown University and Stanford University.

Disclaimer - The ideas and resources presented in this blog have been developed independently from and are not endorsed by the International Baccalaureate (IB).
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