The Transition to PYP
The transition to a new school is exciting, challenging, and so rewarding at the same time.
After the first three years of my career at a Catholic Primary School I made the move to an Independent Girls International Baccalaureate Primary Years Program (IB PYP) School at the beginning of the 2015 school year.
Arriving at my new school I was delighted to be placed in Year 6 alongside two fantastic educators; An IB PYP Workshop Leader and the Deputy Principal. They have both greatly supported me with my transition.
Becoming familiar with the schools daily organisation and routines took time but the biggest change for me was understanding teaching within the IB PYP curriculum framework.
The IB PYP framework is based around an inquiry approach to learning. This framework is focused on developing caring, inquiring knowledgeable young people who are lifelong learners committed to making the world a better place.
I was already an advocate of the inquiry process. Developing students ability to ‘learn how to learn’ rather than ‘what to learn’ was a mindset I promoted.
“Schools need to be a place where students create knowledge and experiences that add value to the world”
In developing my understanding of this new framework I have been very lucky to work with IB PYP workshop leader Brooke Clayton. Brooke has supported me to unpack and develop my understanding of what this new language means and looks like within the classroom.
IB refers to International Baccalaureate which is an international Framework. There are 3 programs within the IB Model. They are;
- The Primary Years Program – PYP (3-12 years)
- The Middle Years Program – MYP (11-16 years) &
- The Diploma Program – DP (16-18 years)
All three programs follow the;
- IB learner profile
- Programme Standards and Practices
- Risk Takers
The Primary Years Program
There are 5 essential elements of the IB PYP curriculum framework.
What do we want students to explore and learn. This is broken up into the Transdisciplinary Themes. There are six themes to cover during the year and each theme is explored through a unit of inquiry. Each of these units address a Central Idea, which is further supported or broken down using lines of inquiry.
- Who we are
- Sharing the Planet
- How we express ourselves
- How we organise ourselves
- How the world works
- Where we are in Place and time
The lens through which the students explore the central idea. These concepts can be phrased as questions. For example, if students are inquiring into personal identity under the transdisciplinary theme of ‘Who we are’ they might be looking at personal identity through the lens of change. The question for change is ‘How is it changing?’ and therefore students may investigate ‘How is or does personal identity change?’
- 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?
The skills we want students to develop and demonstrate throughout all areas of the curriculum
- Thinking Skills
- Social Skills
- Communication Skills
- Self-Management Skills
- Research Skills
The attitudes play an important role in developing students personal attitude towards others, the environment and learning;
Action is the final part of the PYP model. This is where students take action on what have been learning about.
Implementing the IB PYP inquiry framework allows students to develop their awareness of themselves, others and the environment around them. It supports the pedagogy I have developed in my first three years of teaching allowing students to become lifelong learners. I look forward to further developing my understanding of this framework as the year progresses.
Eleni Kyritsis is an award winning Year 3 Teacher and Leader of Curriculum & Innovation from Melbourne, Australia. Eleni facilitates professional learning workshops around the world that focus on unleashing creativity and curiosity in classrooms.