Inquiry Learning- The Primary Years Programme (PYP)
Students are encouraged to work together and share what they know, what they want to know and what they have learnt. They achieve this by formulating questions, based on the key concepts, which will direct the inquiry. The responsibility of the learning is shared between the teacher and the student through the development of attitudes, and the learning of essential skills and knowledge in order for students to find out about and understand ideas of global importance.
Why is learning like it is?
Current education research shows that children learn best when they are encouraged to actively ask questions and participate in finding answers or solutions to problems. The inquiry approach helps students to make connections between different areas of knowledge, rather than by learning things in isolation. Certain areas of knowledge may have to be taught as a stand-alone unit where appropriate.
How is it changing?
The curriculum is a living and growing document. This is why we as a staff are constantly reviewing and updating our curriculum through ongoing professional development both internally and externally. Facilitated planning (classroom teachers led by a curriculum leader) plays a vital role in the development of our program. It enables us to reflect on our programs and make appropriate changes for the benefit of our students
Throughout the course of each year, six transdisciplinary themes are studied which are considered to be of lasting significance for all students and for all cultures. These themes provide a framework for teachers to design units of inquiry that incorporate national curriculum standards as well as opportunities for students to develop the skills, attitudes, concepts and knowledge needed to become internationally-minded people and life-long learners.
Inquiry based learning is transdisciplinary in nature. Teachers use structured inquiry to guide students through each unit while incorporating perspectives from a variety of fields of knowledge (science, mathematical, literacy, the arts, musical, historical, and so on) to build on their past experiences and reach new understandings.
The six transdisciplinary themes are addressed at each grade level, even though the individual units of inquiry based upon them are all unique and explore different aspects of the knowledge contained under each theme. In addition to six yearly transdisciplinary units of inquiry based upon transdisciplinary themes, students have experiences with explicit teaching in Reading, Writing and Maths, to ensure that they continue to develop their skills in fundamental areas.
The transdisciplinary themes are as follows:
Who we are An inquiry into the nature of the self; beliefs and values; personal, physical, mental, social and spiritual health, human relationships including families, friends, communities, and cultures; rights and responsibilities; what it means to be human.
Where we are in place and time An inquiry into orientation in place and time; personal histories; homes and journeys; the discoveries, explorations and migrations of humankind; the relationships between and the interconnectedness of individuals and civilizations, from local and global perspectives.
How we express ourselves An inquiry into the ways in which we discover and express ideas, feelings, nature, culture, beliefs and values; the ways in which we reflect on, extend and enjoy our creativity; our appreciation of the aesthetic.
How the world works An inquiry into the natural world and its laws; the interaction between the natural world (physical and biological) and human societies; how humans use their understanding of scientific principles; the impact of scientific and technological advances on society and on the environment.
How we organize ourselves An inquiry into the interconnectedness of human-made systems and communities; the structure and function of organizations; societal decision-making; economic activities and their impact of humankind and the environment.
Sharing the planet An inquiry into rights and responsibilities in the struggle to share finite resources with other people and with other living things; communities and the relationship within and between them; access to equal opportunities; peace and conflict resolution.
Students and teachers are actively involved in assessing students’ progress. Assessment involves the gathering and analysis of student performance and is designed to inform teaching and learning. It identifies what students know, understand, can do, and feel at different stages in their learning.
We use a balanced range of assessment tools and strategies, carefully designed to give students, parents and teachers a clear picture of a student’s progress.
Some of these strategies are:
- Performance assessments such as presentations, debates and role-plays
- Teacher-student/student-student conferencing and conversations
- Open-ended tasks such as written answers and drawing illustrations and diagrams.
Some of the assessment tools are:
- Rubrics: student and/or teacher-designed criteria
Anecdotal records: brief written notes based on observations of students