Curriculum

Arts

Arts are viewed by the PYP as a form of expression that is inherent in all cultures. They are a powerful means to assist in the development of the whole child, and are important for interpreting and understanding the world. Arts in the PYP promote imagination, communication, creativity, social development and original thinking.

From an early age, students have the opportunity to develop genuine interest, to give careful consideration to their work, and to become self-critical and reflective. They are provided with opportunities to communicate about their creative work and to share their understanding with teachers, peers and families.

Through the arts, students gain confidence and competence in self-expression and collaborative learning, in both formal and informal settings. A competence in reflecting and evaluating their own work and the work of others is integral, and empowers students to take risks in and beyond the arts setting.

In the PYP, the arts are identified as drama, music and visual art, which are significant disciplines in their own right. However, the transdisciplinary nature of the arts makes them an essential resource throughout the curriculum: through the arts we learn to communicate, have exposure to other cultures and other times, and find out more about ourselves. The creative process is seen as a driving force in learning through inquiry.

The IB learner profile is integral to teaching and learning arts in the PYP because it represents the qualities of effective learners and internationally minded students. The learner profile, together with the five essential elements of the programme—knowledge, concepts, skills, attitudes and action—informs planning, teaching and assessing in the arts.

Exposure to and experience with the arts opens doors to key questions about life and learning. Evidence of students’ learning will be seen in their willingness and ability to take action in order to make a difference in the world.

Good arts practice

Arts teaching requires a formalized structure that encourages students’ artistic development. Skills and processes are introduced in a systematic way without reducing the opportunity for students to inquire into the creative process.

Students draw on a wide range of stimuli: the creative works of professional artists; contemporary and historical literature; music, artwork, dance and stories. Drama, music and visual artwork develop naturally from students’ own imaginations, observations, real-life experiences, feelings, values and beliefs. Introducing issues and concepts through appropriate media gives them meaning and allows students to take ownership of them.

Arts inquiry in a PYP classroom takes place in an environment that stimulates and challenges students. It is well resourced with an extensive range of tools, supplies, teaching materials, media and audio-visual equipment. These resources reflect the work of artists of both genders from around the world throughout time. The use of appropriate technology influences and enhances student learning. Students are able to gather, organize, create, record, share and assess information through the use of ICT as well as other media.

Learners of the arts are both active and reflective. As well as being actively involved in creating and performing, students reflect on their work and on the work of others. Collaborative activities with other students in their own classes or other classes are essential; inquiring, working and reflecting with other students (older or younger) in a two-way learning process.

Students are given opportunities to meet and work with living artists from a variety of cultures. They attend live performances and art exhibits as well as experiencing reproductions. Students display their work or perform in both informal and formal settings because an awareness of the audience is a skill that can be learned only through practical application.

A PYP teacher’s personal knowledge of the arts is of key importance. What teachers themselves understand shapes which resources they choose, what learning experiences they design and how effectively they teach. The teacher’s own interest in, and development of, the disciplines of drama, music or visual art is maintained through regular professional development, reading of professional journals and, especially, through regular contact with colleagues who share their commitment to teaching arts through inquiry. Commercially available resources for teaching the arts are carefully evaluated in order to ensure that they meet the requirements of the teacher, the students and the curriculum.

The role of arts in the programme of inquiry

Arts are inquiry-based because of the nature of the creative cycle and the emphasis on process. In addition, the learner profile, concepts, knowledge, skills, attitudes and action are embedded in a balanced arts curriculum. Whenever possible and appropriate, arts teaching should be within the school’s programme of inquiry. Arts teachers may use a number of the following models to teach their subject area within the PYP.

Integrating or supporting a unit within the programme of inquiry: Whenever appropriate, arts teachers should be involved in collaborative planning to design and teach the units of inquiry.
Preparing for or following on from a unit within the programme of inquiry: The direct teaching of arts in a unit of inquiry may not always be feasible but, where appropriate, introductory or follow-up activities may be useful to help students make connections between the different aspects of the curriculum. Arts teachers plan and teach activities or experiences that prepare students for participation in a unit of inquiry. Following on from a unit, students may demonstrate their understanding of the central idea in an arts activity.
Independent inquiry: There are times when arts teachers will be teaching their subject area independently using purposeful inquiry. At such times, teachers should structure their teaching and learning through the use of the learner profile, the transdisciplinary themes and central ideas.Teachers should still ensure that authentic connections are made while maintaining the integrity and essential character of the discipline.
Skills-based teaching: This refers to the teaching of subject-specific skills not directly related to a unit of inquiry but required for the development of students’ understanding. If undertaking a skills-based lesson outside the programme of inquiry, arts teachers should still recognize that the same philosophy and pedagogy must underpin their planning and teaching of the subject.

(Information on this page was taken in part from : “Making the PYP Happen” 2007. For further information, please visit: www.ibo.org)

Chinese

English

Language conveys thought, and from a baby’s first wailing expression of need, to the creation of the finest works of literature, language is of the greatest importance.

At QBS we recognise that language is our major means of thinking and communication. It is fundamental to learning and permeates the whole curriculum. It is not just learning a language but also learning about language and learning through language that we nuture a love of literature and an appreciation of its richness.

Speaking and listening, reading and writing skills, and viewing and presenting are taught sequentially throughout our school. English is our medium of teaching and learning, but all languages are valued and children are encouraged to use their mother tongue.

In the world of the 21st Century, it is increasingly acknowledged that a complete education includes the study of at least one additional language. Proficiency in another language brings great cultural and intellectual benefits as well as promoting cognitive growth and faclitating international understanding. Chinese is taught as our additional languages from Year 1 to Year 6

The teaching of languages at QBS allows children to express themselves creatively and imaginatively and to communicate effectively. The school uses the IBO Language Scope and Sequence along with the ESF developed guidelines to plan appropriate and engaging learning experiences.

What do we want the children to learn?

The reading process.
A love of reading.
The writing process.
A love of writing.
The effective use of language as a valuable life skill.
The internal structures of languages.
The complexity of languages.
That effectively communicating is the most important aspect of language.
How can our we help our children?

Research shows that parents who read to their children, listen to their children and talk with their children, give them a head start in life.
Parents and teachers have an important part to play in language development because children model themselves on those around them; therefore we need to provide good role models.
Children should be encouraged to ask questions and ‘wonder’ thus enabling them to learn new concepts and skills.
By providing opportunities to read, write, talk and play with language, whatever their age, we help them grow in self confidence and they become willing to be risk takers. Being a risk taker is vital to language growth; making mistakes and learning from them should be seen as positive.

(Information on this page was taken in part from : “Making the PYP Happen” 2007. For further information, please visit: www.ibo.org)

Mathematics

The power of mathematics for describing and analysing the world around us is such that it has become a highly effective tool for solving problems. It is also recognized that students can appreciate the intrinsic fascination of mathematics and explore the world through its unique perceptions. In the same way that students describe themselves as “authors” or “artists”, a school’s programme should also provide students with the opportunity to see themselves as “mathematicians”, where they enjoy and are enthusiastic when exploring and learning about mathematics.

In the IB Primary Years Programme (PYP), mathematics is viewed as a vehicle to support inquiry, providing a global language through which we make sense of the world around us. It is intended that students become compatent users of the language of mathematics, and can begin to use it as a way of thinking, as opposed to seeing it as a series of facts and equations to be memorized.

How children learn mathematics

It is important that learners acquire mathematical understanding by constructing their own meaning through ever-increasing levels of abstraction, staring with exploring their own personal experiences, understanding and knowledge. Additionally, it is fundamental to the philosophy of the PYP that, since it is to be used in real life situations, mathematics needs to be taught in relevant, realistic contexts, rather than by attempting to impart a fixed body of knowledge directly to students. How children learn mathematics can be described using the following stages:

Constructing meaning: Students construct meaning from direct experiences, including the use of manipulatives and conversation.

Transferring meaning: Students connect the mathematical notation system with concrete objects and associated mathematical processes. The teacher provides the symbols for students. Students begin to describe their understanding using symbolic notation.

Understanding and applying: Through authentic activities, students independently select and use appropriate symbolic notation to process and record their thinking. As they work through these stages, students and teachers use certain processes of mathematical reasoning.

They use patterns and relationships to analyse the problem situations upon which they are working.
They make and evaluate their own and each other’s ideas.
They use models, facts, properties and relationships to explain their thinking.
They justify their answers and the processes by which they arrive at solutions.
In this way, students validate the meaning they construct from their experiences with mathematical situations. By explaining their ideas, theories and results, both orally and in writing, they invite constructive feedback and also lay out alternative models of thinking for the class. Consequently, all benefit from this interactive process.

Play and exploration have a vital role in the learning and application of mathematical knowledge, particularly for younger students. In a PYP learning environment, mathematics skills and activities need to occur in authentic settings. As educators, we need to provide a variety of areas and resources to allow students to encounter situations that will introduce and develop these skills. In this environment, students will be actively involved in a range of activities that can be free or directed. In planning the learning environment and experiences, teachers need to consider that young students may need to revisit areas and skills many times before understanding can be reached. Applying mathematical skills to real-world tasks supports students’ learning.

The role of mathematics in the programme of inquiry

Wherever possible, mathematics should be taught through the relevant, realistic context of the units of inquiry. The direct teaching of mathematics in a unit of inquiry may not always be feasible but, where appropriate, prior learning or follow-up activities may be useful to help students make connections between the different aspects of the curriculum. Students also need opportunities to identify and reflect on “big ideas” within and between the different strands of mathematics, the programme of inquiry and other subject areas.

Links to the transdisciplinary themes should be made explicitly, whether or not the mathematics is being taught within the programme of inquiry. A developing understanding of these links will contribute to the students’ understanding of mathematics in the world. The role of inquiry in mathematics is important, regardless of whether it is being taught inside or outside the programme of inquiry. However, it should also be recognized that there are occasions when it is preferable for students to be given a series of strategies for learning mathematical skills (including rote learning) in order to progress in their mathematical understanding rather than struggling to proceed.

Mathematics at QBS

Mathematics provides opportunities for students to engage in investigations into measurement, shape and number, and allows them to communicate in a language that is concise and unambiguous. Mathematical concepts and skills can also be applied to solve a variety of real-life problems. Students apply their mathematical reasoning to a number of situations in order to find an appropriate answer to the problems they wish to solve.

Students develop their knowledge and understanding of mathematics through inquiry in the form of practical activities, exploration and discussion.

Mathematics is arranged into five strands:

Data Handling
Data handling allows us to make a summary of what we know about the world and to make inferences about what we do not know.
Data can be collected, organised represented and summarized in a variety of ways to highlight similarities, differences and trends; the chosen format should illustrate the information without bias or distortion. Probability can be expressed qualitatively by using terms such as “unlikely”, “certain” or “impossible”. It can be expressed quantitatively on a numerical scale.
Measurement
To measure is to attach a number to a quantity using a chosen unit. Since the attributes being measured are continuous, ways must be found to deal with quantities that fall between numbers. It is important to know how accurate a measurement needs to be or can ever be.
Shape and Space
The regions, paths and boundaries of natural space can be described by shape. An understanding of the interrelationships of shape allows us to interpret, understand and appreciate our two-dimensional (2D) and three-dimensional (3D) world.
Pattern and Function
To identify pattern is to begin to understand how mathematics applies to the world in which we live. The repetitive features of patterns can be identified and described as generalized rules called “functions”. This builds a foundation for the later study of algebra.
Number
Our number system is a language for describing quantities and the relationships between quantities. For example, the value attributed to a digit depends on its place within a base system.
Numbers are used to interpret information, make decisions and solve problems. For example, the operations of addition, subtraction, multiplication and division are related to one another and are used to process information in order to solve problems. The degree of precision needed in calculating depends on how the result will be used.

(Information on this page was taken in part from : “Making the PYP Happen” 2007. For further information, please visit: www.ibo.org)

Science

In the PYP, science is viewed as the exploration of the behaviours of, and the interrelationships among, the natural, physical and material worlds. Our understanding of science is constantly changing and evolving. The inclusion of science within the curriculum leads learners to an appreciation and awareness of the world as it is viewed from a scientific perspective. It encourages curiosity, develops an understanding of the world, and enables the individual to develop a sense of responsibility regarding the impact of their actions on themselves, others and their world.

Inquiry is central to scientific investigation and understanding. Students actively construct and challenge their understanding of the world around them by combining scientific knowledge with reasoning and thinking skills. Scientific knowledge is made relevant through its innumerable applications in the real world. The science process, by encouraging hands-on experience and inquiry, enables the individual to make informed and responsible decisions, not only in science but also in other areas of life.

In the PYP, the importance of science in an international curriculum is recognized as universal and transcends the boundaries of gender, cultural, linguistic and national biases. The inclusion of science within the curriculum develops an understanding of, and competence in using, the facilities of a rapidly changing scientific and technological world, while gaining a positive image of science and its contribution to the quality of life today. It also involves the development of an appreciation for the scientific contributions of people from various cultures and backgrounds.

The IB learner profile is integral to teaching and learning science in the PYP because it represents the qualities of effective learners and internationally minded students. The learner profile, together with the five essential elements of the programme—knowledge, concepts, skills, attitudes and action—informs planning, teaching and assessing in science.

Good science practice

Science can be used to provide explanations and models of behaviour for phenomena and objects around us. It can also be used to investigate the interrelationships between the natural, physical and material worlds. The science component of the curriculum is considered to be driven by concepts and skills rather than by content. Science should be viewed as a way of thinking and a process that strives for balance between the construction of meaning and the acquisition of knowledge and skills.

The sample activities described in the Science and technology scope and sequence (2003) document are provided as a suggested way of including the transdisciplinary concepts and skills required. Teachers should regard these as prompts for developing suitable activities to address the central ideas of their units of inquiry. There is no single right way to plan scientific inquiry. Teachers should provide a range of opportunities and situations for students to investigate, and then guide them to make their investigations more effectual. These opportunities and situations should include a variety of external resources and settings as well as classroom-based work.

Structured, purposeful inquiry is the way in which students learn best, and the starting point should always be students’ prior and current understanding. Students should be invited to investigate science by formulating their own questions, looking at the various means available to answer these questions, and proceeding with research, experimentation, observation and other means that will lead them to their own responses to the issues. The starting point has to be students’ current understanding, and the goal is the active construction of meaning by building connections between students’ experience and information and processes derived from the inquiry into new content.

It is suggested that the teacher’s role in this process is to create an educational environment that encourages students to take responsibility, to the greatest possible extent, for their own science learning. This means that resources must be provided for each student to become involved in self-initiated inquiry. Commercially available resources for teaching science are carefully evaluated to ensure that they meet the requirements of the teacher, the students and the curriculum.

In the PYP classroom, the teacher facilitates the process of students becoming initiators rather than followers by asking carefully thought out, open-ended questions, and by encouraging students to ask questions of each other as well as of the teacher. It goes without saying that the teacher must also model and value inquiry.

Teachers can use the eight key concepts and related questions (presented later in this section) to guide their own inquiry. By engaging in inquiry themselves, teachers will not only achieve a deeper understanding of the scientific issues involved, but will also be a model for their students by assuming the role of “teacher as learner”.

A PYP teacher’s personal knowledge of science is of key importance. What teachers themselves understand shapes which resources they choose, what learning experiences they design and how effectively they teach. The teacher’s own interest in, and development of, the discipline is maintained through regular professional development, reading of professional journals and, especially, through regular contact with colleagues who share their commitment to teaching science through inquiry.

The role of science in the programme of inquiry

As science is relevant to all the transdisciplinary themes, all planned science learning should take place within the transdisciplinary units of the programme of inquiry. The fact that the science component of the curriculum is defined by the transdisciplinary themes means that schools often find that the subject-specific content in science will be reduced. Transdisciplinary learning that includes important science concepts will be increased. Examples of how this might be done can be found in the PYP sample programme of inquiry with sample planners (2005) and Science and technology scope and sequence (2003) document, both available on the OCC.

There may also be occasions that present themselves for student-initiated spontaneous inquiries that are not directly related to any planned science teaching.

Schools that have local and/or national curriculum requirements in science should articulate how best this predetermined knowledge (or skills) can be incorporated into their programme of inquiry to the fullest possible extent. They will need to plan how students can be encouraged to think scientifically, and promote this way of working throughout the curriculum and not just in the programme of inquiry. If successful learning in science has taken place, students should be able to select key ideas and significant understanding from the data acquired for a unit of inquiry. They should be able to frame genuine, open-ended questions worthy of sustained research. As they conduct their inquiries, they should be able to provide accurate information and valid explanations. They should be able to identify possible causes of an issue, choose a solution and determine appropriate action to be taken. A willingness and ability to take action demonstrates evidence of learning. Through these processes, students should develop the habits and attitudes of successful lifelong learners.

(Information on this page was taken in part from : “Making the PYP Happen” 2007. For further information, please visit: www.ibo.org)

Social Studies

In the PYP, social studies is viewed as the study of people in relation to their past, their present and their future, their environment and their society. Social studies encourages curiosity and develops an understanding of a rapidly changing world. Through social studies, students develop an understanding of their personal and cultural identities. They develop the skills and knowledge needed to participate actively in their classroom, their school, their community and the world: to understand themselves in relation to their communities.

The aim of social studies within the PYP is to promote intercultural understanding and respect for individuals and their values and traditions. In support of the IBO mission statement, the social studies component of the PYP curriculum will encourage students “to understand that other people, with their differences, can also be right”. Therefore, there is a strong emphasis on the reduction of prejudice and discrimination within
the classroom, the school, the community and the world.

The IB learner profile is integral to teaching and learning social studies in the PYP because it represents the qualities of effective learners and internationally minded students. The learner profile, together with the five essential elements of the programme—knowledge, concepts, skills, attitudes and action—informs planning, teaching and assessing in social studies.

Exposure to and experience with social studies opens doors to key questions about life and learning. Evidence of student learning will be apparent in their willingness and ability to take action in order to make a difference in the world.

Good social studies practice

In the PYP, a wide variety of strategies and learning experiences can be used to teach social studies, but the philosophy and pedagogy of the PYP should inform all planning, teaching and assessment of the subject. Decisions about content in social studies will be dependent on the school’s location, context and curriculum requirements. Through relating content to significant and universal concepts, common to all societies, times and places, the social studies component of the curriculum becomes international. Social studies teaching and learning takes place within the programme of inquiry.

Structured, purposeful inquiry is the way in which students learn best, and the starting point should always be students’ prior and current understanding. Teachers work with colleagues to plan authentic learning experiences that address the central idea and inquiry points of the unit. This collaboration enhances the transdisciplinary nature of the units. Resources are selected on the basis of the multiple perspectives that they present. Commercially available resources for teaching social studies are carefully evaluated to ensure they meet the requirements of the teacher, the students and the curriculum.

(Information on this page was taken in part from : “Making the PYP Happen” 2007. For further information, please visit: www.ibo.org)