IB … PYP … so what does it mean to students?
Following a process that started about four years ago, Breckenridge and Dillon Valley elementary schools recently became authorized in the International Baccalaureate Primary Years Programme (PYP).
According to the IB website, it is a transdisciplinary program of international education designed to foster the development of the whole child.
In Summit, the sister schools teamed together to develop a cohesive program of inquiry, explained Deb Griffith, who is a half-time literacy coach at Dillon and quarter-time PYP coordinator at both schools.
“The goal is to have viable, guaranteed curriculum for all kids,” she continued, adding that teachers explored what’s most important for students and that is an on-going process.
In the fall, consultants from outside the district visited the schools and assessed the program. Last month, letters arrived about authorization.
Learning in depth, being able to make connections across subjects, developing thinking skills, taking action and a number of attitudes including tolerance, enthusiasm, empathy and more, are part of the program, teachers said. And recently, first graders at Breckenridge and fifth graders at Dillon Valley demonstrated their enthusiasm for those attitudes that have become part of their daily lives.
BRECKENRIDGE ” After studying traditions and celebrations around the world, Breckenridge Elementary School first graders put their knowledge to the test.
They became to school’s party planners to celebrate the recent International Baccalaureate Primary Years Program (PYP) authorization. And last week, they set to work getting ready. The celebration they planned included music, dancing, decoration, and with these elements, the students incorporated the attitudes that have become part of their world.
“It’s important to show the attitudes because if you don’t show appreciation and things like that people aren’t going to want to be your friend,” first-grader Audrey Buller explained.
Student Noah Begley said his favorite part of the program is how he and his classmates have really tried to use the PYP attitudes. And students with excited waving hands named them: Tolerance, cooperation, curiosity, respect, empathy, creativity, integrity, enthusiasm, independence, appreciation and confidence.
While some of those words may seem a bit large for first graders, the children even defined a few before working on celebration details in groups ” an area where the attitudes come in handy, they said.
“It makes group work easier,” commented first-grader Henry Boyd. “We’re better at working in groups.”
The children’s teachers Mandy Lover and Kai Miller have also seen the impact of this teaching style, including the cross connections as well as global perspective, they said.
“It has helped me to have a common language with my peers and for students to have a common language (across grades),” said Lover who participated in a educational program in Japan last summer, an experience she incorporates with lessons, including those about celebrations.
“It’s really focused what we teach. … We go deeper rather than wider,” she added. And what she has noticed the most is the difference in how children relate to each other and how they will even discuss attitudes such as tolerance.
Miller, who has been a teacher for 18 years, said the program challenged her in a new way. “It has made me a better teacher. … I’ve seen so much growth in the kids overall and I think it has a lot to do with IB,” she said.
DILLON ” Stacks of letters will soon be on their way to government officials at all levels.
They are from the Dillon Valley Elementary School fifth graders who hope that instead of becoming recycling material, the senators, representatives and presidential candidates will hear their message and be their voice to save the planet.
“I hope that they will spread the word,” said fifth-grader Hannah Estes.
She is in one of the two classes studying biomes, including the ocean and rainforest.
The students led the charge delving into the subject and finding ways to take action for the environment ” a subject they feel passionate about. And teacher Jill Brickson said she sees the students using the Primary Years Programme (PYP) attitudes, delving deeper into the subjects and that the action component of the program provided a focus for them to apply what they’ve learned.
Friday, they proved that as they enthusiastically shared their extensive knowledge of the subject. They quoted facts, provided a historical perspective of issues with whaling and in the rainforest and discussed ideas for saving whales, birds, dolphins from pollution and human impact and the rainforest from devastation.
“(Studying biomes) made me passionate about it because I didn’t know about it before,” said Yazmin Castillo Ruiz.
And for Carolina Mejia-Lopez, the unit took an even more personal role in her life.
Shortly after they began studying the rainforest, her sister was diagnosed with leukemia and the medicine she takes comes from the rainforest, Carolina said.
Additionally, the unit inspired couple students to present another idea for action to their classes. Riley Vargo introduced the idea that her class adopt a polar bear and Yanek Carrion-Kozak introduced the idea for his class to adopt a humpback whale.
When asked about the program of inquiry which the students used to delve into the subject, Yazmin said, “I think all of us have learned more.”
Fifth grader Mareline Segovia echoed that, saying, “We were really curious and we wanted to learn more.”
Nicholas Christiansen said, “We’re not just learning facts. … We’re learning more people’s perspective.” And Kimberly Coffin said, “It helps because we’re inter-learning.”
Fifth grade teacher Renee Gutekunst said, “The learner profile (thinkers, principled, caring, open-minded, risk-takers) and the attitudes are really powerful. We use them in everything.”
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