PYP for Parents


Everything you ever wanted to know about the International Baccalaureate (IB) 

Primary Years Program (PYP)…

but were too afraid to ask! 



“The real voyage of discovery consists not in seeking new landscapes, but in having new eyes.” 

—Marcel Proust


What is the International Baccalaureate Organization? 
The International Baccalaureate Organization (IBO) is a global leader in international education—developing inquiring, knowledgeable, confident, and caring young people. Its programmes empower school-aged students to take ownership in their own learning and help them develop future-ready skills to make a difference and thrive in a world that changes fast. It was established in 1968 in Geneva, Switzerland. The IBO offers three programs of international education for students aged 3-19 years old: The Primary Years Program (PYP) (for students 3-12 years old), The Middle Years Program (MYP) (students 11-16 years old) and The Diploma Program at the high school level (grades 9-12). There are 651,000 IB students and 2,390 authorized IB schools (242 in the United States) in 129 countries. 
The mission of the IBO
  • To develop inquiring, knowledgeable, and caring young people. 
  • To create a better and more peaceful world through intercultural understanding and respect. 
  • To work with schools, governments, and international organizations to develop challenging programs of international education and rigorous assessment. 
  • To encourage students worldwide to become active, compassionate, and lifelong learners who understand that other people, with their differences, can also be right. 
How does a school become an authorized IB PYP School? 
In order for a school to become an IB World School, it must be authorized by the IB to implement any one of its programmes. The authorization process has been designed to support schools in:
  • making the decision to become an IB World School
  • understanding the nature and requirements of the IB programme
  • defining their readiness to implement the programme
  • planning to sustain the programme in the long term. 
The authorization process has a number of phases, each of which has distinctive objectives and related time frames. The implementation of an IB programme may entail changes in the life of a school. These guidelines are intended to support schools during the process of authorization. 
What does that mean at Pinewood? 
For Pinewood, the IB PYP provides the framework for developing student agency, or voice, in what they are learning. They are taught why they should know something and how it connects to other subjects and the world around them. It means students often decide the direction of instruction, based on their curiosities and inquiries. It means high quality teaching and learning along with the development of Global Citizens.
I keep hearing about Pinewood becoming an IB World School. What does that mean?
To be an IB World School means that your school has adopted and successfully demonstrated a commitment towards meeting all the standards, practices, and requirements in developing each IB program (PYP, MYP and DP) as stipulated by the IBO. By committing to this framework, the school is in turn supported by the IBO to ensure high quality delivery and fidelity in the implementation of its programmes.
Pinewood is in the process of becoming an authorized International Baccalaureate World School offering all three programs (PYP, MYP and DP). Our school is focused on continually improving our implementation of the standards and practices of the IBO to provide our students with a strong international education.
The structure of the IB programmes are designed to provide all students with common understandings of key terms and tenets, while allowing schools to creatively use their resources to provide experiences that meet the needs of their student body. Not all IB schools look and feel the same around the globe; however, students in IB schools do gain a shared awareness of what it means, for example, to be internationally-minded, to value and cultivate human ingenuity, to hone and make use of trans-disciplinary skills, to approach learning with attitudes that yield optimum results, and to assess one’s learning in a myriad of ways.
How does the IB PYP teach students to be internationally minded? 
Through teaching and modeling the Learner Profile. Regardless of the IB program your child may be enrolled in, these characteristics, or Learner Profile, remain the same – a foundational part of the IB PYP learning experience. 
But, really, what does it mean to be internationally minded and why is it important? 
It is a thoughtful, critical perspective that applies to who we are and what we do. It includes how we communicate, our political awareness, cultural understanding, celebrating diversity, global awareness of global issues, and a reflection on how knowledge is constructed and applied. At Pinewood, we focus on moving students toward becoming Global Citizens, or people who reflect the characteristics of the “Learner Profile.” 
What is the Learner Profile? 
These are qualities determined to be most important in creating positive and productive citizens of the world. The Learner Profile consists of 10 personal qualities:
1. Inquirers – I am curious and know how to discover answers to many of my questions. I love to learn! 
2. Thinkers – I use my thinking skills to make good choices and solve problems. 
3. Communicators – I understand and share ideas in more than one language. 
4. Courageous – I try new things, love to explore, and confidently share my experiences. 
5. Knowledgeable – I explore big ideas that are important. I know and can do a lot of important things. 
6. Principled – I am fair and honest. I can make good decisions about what is right and wrong for me. 
7. Caring – I am concerned about other people’s needs and feelings. I believe it is important to help others. 
8. Open-Minded – I am comfortable with differences. I welcome and respect other people’s points of views and ways of doing things. 
9. Balanced – To be healthy, it is important for me to balance the needs of my mind and body. 
10. Reflective – I think about and discuss my learning, skills, and products 
What are the IB Attitudes? 
“Attitude is a little thing that makes a big difference.” 
– Winston Churchill
The Attitudes are the daily expressions of the Learner Profile used by teachers in teaching and by students in their learning. 
1. Appreciation – Seeing and being thankful for the wonder and beauty of our world. 
2. Commitment – Being responsible for my learning, showing self-discipline, and perseverance. Sticking with a difficult task until it is completed. 
3. Confidence – Knowing I can do it! Having courage to take risks, using what I have learned, and making good choices. 
4. Cooperation – Working with others and being willing to lead or follow as needed. 
5. Creativity – Using my imagination while thinking and doing things. 
6. Curiosity – Wanting to know more about the nature of learning, about the world, its people and cultures.
7. Empathy – Being able to put myself in someone else’s place in order to understand her or him. 
8. Enthusiasm – Being excited about learning and life. 
9. Independence – Thinking and acting on my own. 
10. Integrity – Being fair and honest. 
11. Respect – Showing that I can for others, our world, and myself. 
12. Tolerance – Understanding, appreciating, and celebrating differences in each other. 
So, what will my child be learning at Pinewood now that they are a PYP school? 
At Pinewood, we are committed to structured inquiry as the vehicle for learning. Six transdisciplinary themes provide the framework for exploration and construction of knowledge. Teachers and students are guided by these transdisciplinary themes – as the design units of inquiry for exploration and study. Through this process, students develop an understanding of important concepts, acquire essential skills and knowledge, develop particular attitudes and learn to take socially-responsible action.
Ok, what does Transdisciplinary mean? 
Transdisciplinary is the word that IB uses to describe a discipline that applies across all disciplines – it is an interconnectedness and can be applied across all subjects and applied to real life. A transdisciplinary concept stretches across math, science, language arts and social studies and ties it all together; it is not isolated to one subject. For example, the idea of change affects all subject areas – the IB PYP strives to demonstrate this through learning, giving understanding to a real-life world. The IB curriculum is based on seven fundamental concepts, expressed as key questions, to propel the process of inquiry. These universal concepts drive the research units, called Units of Inquiry (UOI), but they also have relevance within and across all subject areas (transdisciplinary). The seven fundamental concepts are:
What skills will my child learn through the PYP?
There are five sets of transdisciplinary skills acquired in the process of structured inquiry. These are:  
What are these units of inquiry we keep hearing about?
Rather than provide a fixed syllabus or curriculum, the PYP has identified themes, or areas of knowledge, which are used to organize the 6 Units of Inquiry, taught from early childhood through grade 6. These Units of Inquiry provide the framework (as opposed to a text book curriculum) for a wide variety of resources to be explored in order to accomplish the objectives within each Unit of Inquiry: 
1. Who We Are 
2. Where We Are in Place and Time 
3. How We Express Ourselves 
4. How the World Works 
5. How We Organize Ourselves 
6. Sharing the Planet 
A Unit of Inquiry usually lasts for 6-8 weeks and the objective is to cover all 6 themes throughout the year (except in our early years classes, where they only cover 4 units). For example, while in a unit on Sharing the Planet, students may spend 6 weeks looking at the resources we have in the world and how various countries use and share and dispose of these resources. Students will answer questions like: How do these resources connect people around the world? Or, how are these resources changing and what does that mean for people? These concepts and questions move across all school subjects and apply to real life and the world around us. 
How do Pinewood teachers implement these Units of Inquiry? 
These themes, or Units of Inquiry, provide a framework on which our teachers build students’ knowledge. With the IB PYP, the priority is not on using a set of textbooks, but rather the emphasis is on a wide variety of resources from which teachers and students extract knowledge, develop understanding, and explore ways of applying that to real life.
I was told my child is going to have to take action at the end of each unit of inquiry. 
What does that mean?
Action is an integral part of the PYP and an opportunity for students to seek the opportunity to make a significant contribution to their local and global communities. It is a core component of agency and offers learners the ability to see that they can not only make a meaningful contribution to the world around them but also be change-makers. 
Through taking individual and collective action, students will come to understand the responsibilities associated with being internationally minded and appreciate the benefits of working with others for a shared purpose. When students see tangible actions that they can choose to take to make a difference, they see themselves as competent, capable and active agents of change.
How are students at Pinewood assessed in the PYP? 
Students at Pinewood are assessed in a variety of ways, including written tests, exams, projects, oral presentations and written reports. Assessment in IB PYP is “criterion referenced.” This means students are scored against standards and using a rubric, not against each other. Teachers will give the students a rubric on larger assignments that explains to the students what is expected of them. The rubric states the criteria for the assignment and what the score will be for addressing or not addressing each point in that criteria. The rubric allows students to take ownership of their effort and learning. 
Please tell me what is a rubric? A rubric defines what the standards or requirements are that need to be accomplished in order to achieve the overall target or goal. It is a specific scoring tool to grade a student’s progress based on the learning objectives for the student.
Explain to me a little more about how my child will be assessed at Pinewood?  
A Pinewood, each Unit of Inquiry allows students opportunities to demonstrate that learning is taking place – that there are shifts, if you will, in their understanding. This may look different across all subject areas, however, this shift in understanding is not always best demonstrated through a piece of written work or a traditional exam. 
Students may be asked to put together a final project, draw, act out a performance, give a presentation, or some other way to show what they have learned. The goal is for our students to demonstrate that learning has taken place by showing what they understand and how they are applying that understanding to real life and the world around them. 
Authentic learning cannot always be demonstrated through traditional tests or exams. At Pinewood, we believe that assessment is a continuation of the learning process. It is NOT an assessment of learning, but it is assessment for learning. The IB views assessment as needing to be authentic, essential, rich, engaging, and feasible as well as incorporating students in the process of evaluating their learning. 
I keep hearing these terms – Formative and Summative Assessment. 
What do they mean?
Formative assessment is interwoven into daily learning. It is an ongoing process of “checking in” between teachers and students. It helps both teachers and students find out what they already know and what they need to learn, in order to plan for the next stage of learning. Formative assessment and teaching are directly linked; effective learning cannot take place without one or the other. 
Summative assessment takes place at the end of the teaching and learning process. This is the time that students have the opportunity to demonstrate their understanding and application of what has been learned. We call these celebrations of learning.
How can parents help students with schoolwork? 
When you see your child after school, ask them specific questions about their day at school. For example, don’t just ask, “How was school?” Ask them, “What did you learn in math today?” Follow up daily with your child to see what homework they have and check for assignments each evening at home. You can follow your child’s classes on Managebac. Help your student find a quiet place to study at home and help them schedule and manage their time so they don’t feel overwhelmed.
So, what does it all mean? 
These two quotes embody the philosophy 
of the teaching and learning
 here at Pinewood in the PYP:
“The whole art of teaching is only the awakening 
of the natural curiosity of young minds.” 
 France  “I cannot teach anybody anything, 
I can only make them think.” 
– Socrates 
Here at Pinewood, with the IB PYP, our students in all grades have the opportunity to take charge of their learning. Our teachers do not “cover” a subject or “give” a lesson. At Pinewood, our students take control of the learning process – they do it, make it, and experience it. 
Our students ask questions and learn how to find the answers to those questions and apply to their lives and the world around them. With the IB PYP, Pinewood students see how things are connected in a real way, rather than simply being fragmented into school subjects. 
So, in the end, what makes the IB PYP so effective at Pinewood American International School? 
We are a truly international community and we are committed to the IB philosophy that students need to be at the center of real-life learning by using their natural curiosity. The IB PYP model fits well with our vision at Pinewood to guide our students to be internationally-minded with a passion for life-long learning