Primary Years Programme
The International Baccalaureate Primary Years Program (PYP) includes Pre-School through
Grade 5. Throughout the year, students across Grades 1-5 explore six units of inquiry, which fall
under six transdisciplinary themes and incorporate six PYP subject areas: mathematics, science,
social studies, language, arts and personal, social and physical education. This inquiry-based
learning method enables students to construct understanding within the context of their own lives.
First grade students complete a unit of inquiry on Sharing the Planet, during which they learn about decomposition and what we do with our waste. A field trip to the nearby park helps them understand how the government uses methane from an abandoned, underground landfill to power the park that was built on top of it. Students take action by promoting recycling in the school and composting waste to support our Growing Concern rooftop garden.
Grade 2 students follow a design cycle to identify problems, design and build prototypes, test and reflect on their prototypes, and implement change. This unit, How We Organize Ourselves, helps learners develop higher-level thinking skills while enhancing a sense of community by solving problems for themselves, their classmates and others.
The Primary Years Programme (PYP) is first and foremost a transdisciplinary programme
organized around six themes of global significance. Additionally, there are six defined subject
areas that have value in themselves and provide students with knowledge and skills to explore the
six transdisciplinary themes; as well as a culminating Exhibition project.
PYP Transdisciplinary Themes:
• Who We Are
• Where We Are in Place and Time
• How We Express Ourselves
• How the World Works
• How We Organize Ourselves
• Sharing the Planet
Overview: Arts in the PYP exemplify learning through inquiry because of the emphasis on, and the nature of, the creative process. Arts provide a unique vehicle to enhance the understanding of the transdisciplinary themes by providing both students and teachers with a range of mediums with which to access the units of inquiry. Arts support the acquisition of essential knowledge and skills, the development of conceptual understanding, the demonstration of positive attitudes, and the taking of action.
It is the school’s responsibility to find opportunities to infuse arts teaching and learning in all areas of the curriculum that are relevant to the community of learners and reflect the educational theories underpinning the programme. (Making the PYP Happen, 2009).
Arts Strands: The PYP identifies two art strands in developing what we want students to know, understand and do:
Overview: In the final year of the PYP, students participate in a culminating project, the PYP exhibition. This requires that each student demonstrates engagement with the five essential elements of the programme: knowledge, concepts, skills, attitudes and action. It is a transdisciplinary inquiry conducted in the spirit of personal and shared responsibility, as well as a summative assessment activity that is a celebration as students move from the PYP into the middle years of schooling.
The exhibition unit takes place under any transdisciplinary theme at the discretion of the school. Students are required to engage in a collaborative, transdisciplinary inquiry process that involves them in identifying, investigating and offering solutions to real-life issues or problems. The central idea selected must be of sufficient scope and significance to warrant a detailed investigation by all students. (Making the PYP Happen, 2009).
Overview: The need to communicate is instinctive. The development of language is fundamental to that need to communicate; it supports and enhances our thinking and understanding. Language permeates the world in which we live; it is socially constructed and dependent on the number and nature of our social interactions and relationships.
PYP schools have a special responsibility to recognize and support language development to ensure that all students are provided with the environment and the necessary language support to enable them to participate fully in the academic programme and in the social life of the school, as well as to develop as individuals. All teachers in a PYP school are considered teachers of language.
Every learner benefits from having access to different languages, and, through that access, to different cultures and perspectives. Acquisition of more than one language enriches personal development and helps facilitate international-mindedness. (Making the PYP Happen, 2009).
Dwight School Seoul currently offers PYP students the opportunity to learn:
• Preschool 3s – Grade 2: Korean.
• Grades 3 – 5: Korean, Mandarin or German.
Language Strands: The PYP has identified three strands that are learned across and throughout the curriculum, with each strand being an integral component of language learning. Each strand has been considered from both the receptive aspect—receiving and constructing meaning, and expressive aspect—creating and sharing meaning. (Making the PYP Happen, 2009).
1. Oral Language.
2. Visual Language.
3. Written Language.
Overview: In the PYP, mathematics is viewed primarily 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 competent 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. 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. (Making the PYP Happen, 2009).
Mathematics Strands: The PYP identifies five mathematics strands in developing what we want students to know, understand and do:
1. Data Handling.
3. Shape & Space.
4. Pattern & Function.
Overview: In the PYP, personal, social and physical education (PSPE) is concerned with the individual’s well-being through the promotion and development of concepts, knowledge, attitudes and skills that contribute to this well-being. Well-being is intrinsically linked to all aspects of a student’s experience at school and beyond. It encompasses physical, emotional, cognitive, spiritual and social health and development, and contributes to an understanding of self, to developing and maintaining relationships with others, and to participation in an active, healthy lifestyle.
PSPE is integral to teaching and learning in the PYP and is embodied in the IB learner profile that permeates the programme and represents the qualities of internationally minded students and effective lifelong learners. (Making the PYP Happen, 2009).
PSPE Strands: The PYP identifies three PSPE strands in developing what we want students to know understand and do:
2. Active Living.
Overview: 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. (Making the PYP Happen, 2009).
Science Strands: The PYP identifies four science strands in developing what we want students to know, understand and do:
1. Living Things.
2. Earth & Space.
3. Materials & Matter.
4. Forces & Energy.
Overview: 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 IB 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. (Making the PYP Happen, 2009).
Social Studies Strands: The PYP identifies five social studies strands in developing what we want students to know, understand and do:
1. Human Systems & Economic Activities.
2. Social Organization & Culture.
3. Continuity & Change Through Time.
4. Human & Natural Environments.
5. Resources & the Environment.