Academic - PYP as a framework for learning
The Junior School is a Candidate school for the International Baccalaureate (IB) – Primary Years Programme (PYP). In February 2015 we will apply for authorisation as an IB World School.
The PYP focuses on the total growth of the developing child. In educating the heart and the mind, the PYP is a framework encompassing academic, social, physical, spiritual, emotional and cultural needs. The PYP is based on respected international educational research and practice, with the purpose of creating a relevant, engaging, significant and challenging curriculum.
Within this framework, students engage with the mandated curriculum requirements of the Australian Curriculum and the New South Wales Board of Studies.
IB Mission Statement:
The International Baccalaureate aims to develop inquiring, knowledgeable and caring young people who help to create a better and more peaceful world through intercultural understanding and respect.
To this end the organization works with schools, governments and international organizations to develop challenging programmes of international education and rigorous assessment.
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.
The aim of all IB programmes is to develop internationally minded people who, recognising their common humanity and shared guardianship of the planet, help to create a better and more peaceful world. The IB Learner Profile below, is a set of 10 attributes valued by IB World Schools. We believe these attributes, and others like them, can help us become responsible members of local, national and global communities. As IB learners we strive to be:
Inquirers - We nurture our curiosity, developing skills for inquiry and research. We know how to learn independently and with others. We learn with enthusiasm and sustain our love of learning throughout life.
Knowledgeable - We develop and use conceptual understanding, exploring knowledge across a range of disciplines. We engage with issues and ideas that have local and global significance.
Communicators - We express ourselves confidently and creatively in more than one language and in many ways. We collaborate effectively, listening carefully to the perspectives of other individuals and groups.
Thinkers - We use critical and creative thinking skills to analyse and take responsible action on complex problems. We exercise initiative in making reasoned, ethical decisions.
Principled - We act with integrity and honesty, with a strong sense of fairness and justice, and with respect for the dignity and rights of people everywhere. We take responsibility for our actions and their consequences.
Caring - We show empathy, compassion and respect. We have a commitment to service, and we act to make a positive difference in the lives of others and in the world around us.
Reflective - We thoughtfully consider the world and our own ideas and experience. We work to understand our strengths and weaknesses in order to support our learning and personal development.
Courageous - We approach uncertainty with forethought and determination; we work independently and cooperatively to explore new ideas and innovative strategies. We are resourceful and resilient in the face of challenges and change.
Balanced - We understand the importance of balancing different aspects of our lives – intellectual, physical, and emotional – to achieve well-being for ourselves and others. We recognise our interdependence with other people and with the world in which we live.
Open-minded - We critically appreciate our own cultures and personal histories, as well as the values and traditions of others. We seek and evaluate a range of points of view, and we are willing to grow from the experience.
(Reference International Baccalaureate Organisation 2013)
The written curriculum: What do we want to learn?
In the PYP a balance is sought between acquisition of essential knowledge and skills, the development of conceptual understanding, the demonstration of positive attitudes, and the taking of responsible action.
One of the most distinctive features of the PYP is the way learning is structured around the six transdisciplinary themes. Learning within themes allows students to go beyond subject boundaries and explore contemporary and historical issues of local and global relevance.
Who we are—The girls inquire into the nature of the self; beliefs and values; personal, physical, mental, social and spiritual health; human relationships including families, friends, communities, and cultures; rights and responsibilities; what it means to be human.
Where we are in place and time— The girls inquire into orientation in place and time; personal histories; homes and journeys; the discoveries, explorations and migrations of humankind; the relationship between and the interconnectedness of individuals and civilisations, from local and global perspectives.
How we express ourselves— The girls inquire into the ways in which we discover and express ideas, feelings, nature, culture, beliefs and values; the ways in which we reflect on, extend and enjoy our creativity; our appreciation of the aesthetic.
How the world works— The girls inquire into the natural world and its laws, the interaction between the natural world (physical and biological) and human societies; how humans use their understanding of scientific principles; the impact of scientific and technological advances on society and on the environment.
How we organise ourselves— The girls inquire into the interconnectedness of human-made systems and communities; the structure and function of organizations; societal decision-making; economic activities and their impact on humankind and the environment.
Sharing the planet— The girls inquire into rights and responsibilities in the struggle to share finite resources with other people and other living things; communities and the relationship within and between them; access to equal opportunities; peace and conflict resolution.
In each year group, the girls learn about an element of the themes through six substantial, in-depth units of inquiry that usually lasts for several weeks each, and so by the end of their time in the Junior School, they have developed a deep understanding of the important ideas.
At Tara we strive for a balance between learning about and through subject areas, and learning beyond them. There are six subject areas in the PYP and NSW Board of Studies—arts; language; mathematics; physical, social and personal education; science; and, social studies. These subject areas provide students with knowledge, skills, attitudes and concepts which the girls explore to understand the interconnected nature of the subject areas and the transdisciplinary themes.
The taught curriculum: How best will we learn?
The PYP curriculum is not just concerned with what we will learn but also with how we will learn. Therefore an integral aspect of the framework is an articulated approach to teaching and learning, in recognition of the fact that, in practice, the what and the how are inextricably linked. The predominant methodology is authentic learning that is inquiry-based and conceptually driven. This involves a commitment to structured, purposeful inquiry that engages students actively in their own learning. In the PYP it is believed that this is the way in which students learn best. In this way, teachers can support them in constructing meaning.
The taught curriculum also touches on the approaches to learning (ATL) which are currently identified as “transdisciplinary skills” in the PYP. The ultimate intention of ATL is to develop self-regulated (self-managed, self-directed, independent) learners through skill based, process focused teaching.
The assessed curriculum: How will we know what we have learned?
Assessment in the PYP identifies what students know, understand, can do and value at different stages in the teaching and learning process. The direct link between assessment and the teaching and learning process means that they function purposefully together. Assessing the product of inquiry as well as the process of inquiry are important objectives of the programme.
The principal purposes of assessment in the PYP are to:
• provide feedback to students, parents and teachers
• determine what the student knows and understands about the world
• inform and differentiate teaching and learning
• monitor student progress in the development of the IB learner profile attributes
• monitor the effectiveness of the programme.
When assessing the process of inquiry, teachers consider whether:
• the nature of the students’ inquiries develop over time; whether they are, in fact, asking questions of more depth, which are likely to enhance their learning substantially
• the students are becoming aware that real problems require solutions based on the integration of knowledge that spans and connects several subject areas
• the students are mastering skills and accumulating a comprehensive knowledge base in order to conduct their inquiries successfully and find solutions to problems
• the students demonstrate both independence and an ability to work collaboratively.
Consideration of these points allows teachers to plan for effective teaching and learning opportunities that give students a chance to develop their inquiries further.
Students who are in their final year of the programme are expected to carry out an extended, collaborative inquiry project, known as the exhibition, under the guidance of their teachers. The exhibition represents a significant event in the life of both the school and student, synthesizing the essential elements of the programme and sharing them with the whole school community. It is an opportunity for students to exhibit the attributes of the Learner profile that have been developing throughout their engagement with the programme. It is a culminating experience marking the transition from PYP to further steps in education. Schools are given considerable flexibility in their choice of real-life issues or problems to be explored or investigated in the exhibition.
(Reference International Baccalaureate Organisation 2013)
For more information about the PYP http://www.ibo.org/pyp/ or contact the school.