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Can You Say “Hola” to IB Primary Years Programme?

February 15, 2010

I don’t know if all parents are like this, but I love it when I have a meeting or a basketball game a different elementary school than the one my children attend.  I love to look at what posters they have in the hallway, the student work displayed, to see what books are out in the library and just basically to see how it’s different from the school I’m most familiar with.  So, you can imagine how excited this Nosey Nellie was when asked to go with a team of CISD personnel to look at two elementary schools in a different school district that are using IB PYP (International Baccalaureate Primary Years Programme).

CISD currently offers the IB program at the high school level for grades 11th and 12th, but IB also has programs for elementary and middle school aged children as well. The Primary Years Programme starts in Kindergarten.  Each grade has the same six themes each year (called Transdisciplinary Themes), but each grade can study different topics under each theme.  In this way, each year the children are exposed to more in-depth coverage of the theme.  One teacher explained as being able to drill down even deeper into a topic versus skimming the surface.  Also, the children are encouraged to take responsibility for their learning and can do even further research on a topic if they are really intrigued by something they are studying.   How perfect would that be for some of our G/T students that tend to go off on tangents?

The students are also exposed to a “Learner Profile” which is basically ten different traits that each student should strive for in their learning process.  One of them is being open-minded where the student is to be aware that there are different people and views around the world.  One of my favorites was the risk-taker learner profile where the student is encouraged to be confident when exploring something new to them.  One teacher said that the students have even applied the risk-taker profile when trying new foods in the cafeteria. Another learner profile was being reflective where the students are given the opportunity to look back over what they have learned to see ways to apply their new knowledge, or, in the event that their project wasn’t as successful, things that they would do differently.  This reflective time seemed very valuable because it gave students the chance to let the concepts they had researched really sink in.

What really struck me on our site visit at both schools was the amount of global awareness by the students.  The kids have an understanding that there’s a whole wide world out there. IB PYP schools still teach math, science, social studies and language arts, but their approach comes from a more global perspective.  One of the principals described it as teaching the children to be good citizens of the world. There were many projects where children were helping others in different countries.  Both had programs designed by the students for helping people in Haiti which many schools have, but there were service projects for other countries whose plights aren’t as publicized.  IB PYP requires a foreign language to be taught, which was Spanish at both campuses. Schools are allowed to pick any foreign language, but in Texas Spanish would seem like an obvious choice.

So, for me, it was a fascinating day to see two schools teaching in a way that was so different from what I am accustomed to seeing from my campus.   I can see how this program would appeal not only to G/T students, but to all children.  And, really, who wouldn’t want their child to be a good citizen of the world?

One Comment leave one →
  1. cgaregister permalink
    February 16, 2010 11:20 pm

    I’m SO excited for Coppell GT elementary students! My oldest attended Primary Years IB outside of Coppell and now is in the first graduating IB class here. What a wonderful experience he had in elementary – actually had to think! I don’t mean to “dis” our schools here, but for those who need MORE, IB is a GREAT option! I would expect at least 30% of any IB Primary Years programme to be GT. Be prepared for A’s and B’s – not just A’s. And TAKS are always commended – no prep necessary! 😉

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