Understanding the IB Program

    What is PYP?

    PYP is the official curriculum framework and teaching methodology of the International Baccalaureate Organization which was developed to meet the needs of children in the Primary Years (Pre-school - Grade5). It emphasizes learning through active inquiry and aims to develop the whole child to meet certain competencies and attitudes outlined in the student profile.
     PYP is an inquiry approach to learning which is rigorous, yet designed for all students.  A strong emphasis is placed on the ideals of international understanding and responsible citizenship.  Units of study are driven by a set of six conceptual questions based on the following universal organizing themes:
    • Who we are
    • Where we are in place and time
    • How we express ourselves
    • How the world works
    • How we organize ourselves
    • How we share our planet
    Our aim is to develop globally-minded citizens who are:
    Inquirers- curious and actively enjoy questioning the workings of the world
    Thinkers - able to problem solve and think critically
    Communicators - able to think and communicate in more than one way
    Caring- sensitive to the needs of others
    Principled- fair and honest
    Reflective- able to think about oneself and make constructive changes when needed
    Knowledgeable - able to explore and apply relevant and significant concepts
    Balanced- healthy and aware of good choices
    Open-minded- able to consider many possibilities before making decisions
    Risk Takers or Courageous- willing to try new things

    PYP Curriculum

    In the PYP a balance is sought between acquisition of essential knowledge and skills, development of conceptual understanding, demonstration of positive attitudes, and taking responsible action.
    The essential elements of the written curriculum:

    Significant, relevant content that we wish the students to explore and know about, taking into consideration their prior experience and understanding 

    A set of eight key concepts is of major importance in the design and implementation of the curriculum.

    Form-What is it like?
    Function-How does it work? ?
    Causation-Why is it like it is?
    Change-How is it changing?
    Connection-how is it connected to other things? 
    Perspective-What are the points of view?
    Responsibility-What is our responsibility?
    Reflection-how do we know?

    Within their learning throughout the program, students acquire and apply a set of transdisciplinary skills, or approaches to learning

    Social skills
    Communication skills
    Thinking skills
    Research skills
    Self-management skills


    In PYP schools, students demonstrate deeper learning through the action cycle of “Choose, Act, Reflect.” The goal is for them to use their knowledge to improve their community.


    What Does Inquiry Look Like?
    • The PYP emphasizes the Inquiry Teaching Method, which attempts to improve questioning techniques, curiosity, independent work habits, cooperation, control over material covered, and interest in classroom units of study.
                       Inquiry Is: 


      • Exploring, wondering, and questioning
      • Experimenting and playing with possibilities
      • Collecting data and reporting findings
      • Taking and defending a position
      • Solving problems in a variety of ways
      • Making and testing theories
      • Clarifying existing ideas and reappraising perceptions of events
      • Deepening understanding through the application of a concept
      • Making connections between previous learning and current learning
      • Making predictions and acting purposefully to see what happens
      • Researching and seeking information
    Frequently Asked Questions
    1.  What is the difference between the PYP and the Traditional Program? 
    Both the PYP and the Traditional Program are built upon the same core curriculum in reading, math, science and social studies. The differences emerge through the four cornerstones of the PYP program, which are inquiry, the learner profile, international-mindedness, and action.
    Inquiry – This method of teaching strives to improve questioning techniques, curiosity, independent work habits, cooperation, control over material covered, and interest in classroom units of study. Building on the USC School District curriculum, staff members collaborate to develop the units of inquiry (planners). These units are organized under six transdisciplinary themes: Who We Are; Where We Are in Place and Time; How We Express Ourselves; How the World Works; How We Organize Ourselves; and How We Share the Planet. Students are given a voice, generating their own wonderings and pursuing an investigation of the answers. These units extend the existing key concepts of the USC curriculum into more global perspectives. An example from the 4th grade connects with the Social Studies curriculum. The Canada/Mexico Social Studies units in the IB classrooms extend to explore the broader concepts of immigration and emigration in the Northern Hemisphere and expand into other parts of the world. To help parents and students alike see progress, each child maintains a portfolio of artifacts and personal reflections. These are shared annually.
    Learner Profile  - This element of the PYP focuses on academic attributes in an attempt to build lifelong learners, who are always seeking new knowledge to better themselves and others, and students who do more than is expected. These 10 terms capture the habits of good learners, which we want our children to recognize in themselves and in others. The Learner Profile terms are: inquirers, thinkers, communicators, risk-takers, knowledgeable, principled, caring, open-minded, balanced, reflective. Through classroom conversations, as well as bi-annual PYP report cards, students have a chance to reflect on their growth and set goals.
    Action – This aspect of PYP reaches out into the school, community and world to make a difference—one child and one deed at a time. Each unit of inquiry includes an action component. The culminating activity of the Primary Years Program occurs in 4th grade. The Inquiry Exhibition provides an opportunity for students to conduct in-depth research of a real life problem under the direct supervision of a faculty mentor. Students present their findings in a fair-like setting through visual displays, spoken expertise and written summaries. It is an opportunity for the children to share their knowledge of all aspects of the PYP program. This celebration is open to the community. Throughout the year, all students participate in cross grade level get-togethers. Addressing building-wide topics, these get-togethers foster community and a sense of responsibility for one another.
    International-mindedness – This component broadens the students’ understanding of the world around them and helps them develop an appreciation for other points of view. It is incorporated in lessons designed by teachers, through the use of literary genre, annual country investigations, utilization of technology resources, and is often driven by the students’ own curiosity as well as their family heritage. We provide instruction first in our own national identity –our own language, literature, history and cultural heritage. Using this knowledge as a basis, students are exposed to a variety of other cultures from around the world in order to better understand differences and recognize similarities. 
    2.  Is the PYP for gifted learners or more rigorous?  
    No, the intention of the PYP is to engage all types of learners. The Units of Inquiry are designed to accommodate all learning styles and abilities. Students with special needs, Service Agreements, or IEP’s receive services as specified in their agreements. Additional rigor does become a natural extension of the program during the latter year of the Middle Years Program, as well as during the Diploma Program.   
    For more information about the International Baccalaureate Primary Years Program visit their web site at www.ibo.org