About the IB Primary Years Program at OAES

What is the IB PYP?

IB stands for International Baccalaureate. The International Baccalaureate Organization is a non-profit education organization which supports learning models built on rigorous intellectual inquiry and personal growth for children aged 3 to 19 years. At the elementary school level, this is called the Primary Years Programme (PYP). In all IB programs, the focus is on helping students become “internationally-minded”—taking an active, principled, positive stance toward learning and making a difference in an increasingly globalized future. OAES is working through a rigorous multi-year authorization process toward becoming an IB World School.

What does it mean to be “internationally-minded”?

Being “internationally-minded” means valuing the world as the broadest context for learning, developing a deep conceptual understanding of the world and our place in it across a range of subjects, and taking on opportunities to inquire, act and reflect. In the Primary Years Programme, “international-mindedness” is consciously taught and encouraged as the IB Learner Profile. Click on the IB Learner Profile Attributes section to the left to learn more about it.

 Why is OAES an IB PYP school?

The PYP was selected by our staff and parents as our schoolwide learning model because it allows us to:

  • Focus on the development of the whole child through a framework that can meet every child’s academic, social, emotional, cultural and physical needs.
  • Offer a concept-based, inquiry-driven learning model that is integrated across subjects in the curriculum.
  • Encourage students to take ownership of their learning, with teachers providing ongoing knowledge-building; guidance around inquiry through questioning, finding out, making meaning of learning and sharing/acting on what's been learned; differentiation for all learners to meet each student where he/she is and valuing what she/he already know; and promoting formative, reflective assessments of learning.
  • Help prepare students for life in a globalized world by focusing on deeper exploration of universal central ideas around which students can build their understanding of their world.

The OAES community chose to become an IB PYP World School after exploring other models and getting input from teachers, parents and administrators. OAES is building the program into the fabric of the curriculum with the Program of Inquiry (POI) as well as across the school community with the IB Learner Profile and the five essential pedagogical elements of the program..

What is the Program of Inquiry (POI)?

The POI is the over-all curricular learning path across the academic year and from Kindergarten through 5th Grade. Each IB PYP school develops its own POI based on the developmentally-appropriate expectations for subject learning in the building, the district, the state and with national standards. The POI includes the Units of Inquiry that each grade level works through during the school year. The teaching staff plans together to create the POI, with input from arts, languages, phys ed, ELL and special ed. Each grade-level team develops, teaches and assesses their Units of Inquiry under the six Transdisciplinary Themes of knowledge: Who We Are; Where We Are in Time and Place; How We Express Ourselves; How the World Works; How We Organize Ourselves; and Sharing the Planet.

A Unit of Inquiry is organized around a central idea that is relevant to the overall theme and is developmentally and academically appropriate. Teachers both integrate and maintain a balance among the Units of Inquiry and targeted content-area teaching, particularly in the areas of math and reading and writing skill-building.

Our single-subject teachers, including Art, Music, PE and Spanish, integrate relevant aspects of the Learner Profile Attributes, the PYP attitudes, and the Key Concepts into their unit and lesson planning, and integrate learning and inquiry opportunities based on the grade-level inquiry units where possible.

 What are the essential pedagogical elements of the Primary Years Program?

The PYP is an integrated learning model that adapts to and aligns with the best practices in primary education OAES teachers have always taught through, with strong emphasis on student-centered inquiry and conceptual understanding. The five essential elements of the model include:

(1) The themes of knowledge around which our inquiry units are developed by our teaching teams, as outlined in the previous section. Knowledge is also gained through rigorous, student-centered subject-matter teaching that promotes conceptual understanding and making connections.

(2) The key concepts through which all learners construct their understanding of their learning, applicable to all subject areas: Form, Function, Causation, Connection, Change, Perspective, Responsibility and Reflection.

(3) The skills that all learners must acquire to access, consolidate, and expand their learning throughout their lives: Thinking Skills, Communication Skills, Research Skills, Social Skills and Self-management Skills.

(4) The attitudes that all learners practice and demonstrate in order to grow as independent, critical thinkers and community members in all contexts: appreciation, commitment, confidence, cooperation, creativity, curiosity, empathy, enthusiasm, independence, integrity, respect and tolerance.

(5) The encouragement and opportunity for all learners to take action around what they are learning, to find purpose in sharing their growing knowledge, understanding and creativity to address issues or problems they notice around themselves and in their world.