Primary Years Program

 

What is the Primary Years Programme?

As an International Baccalaureate (IB) candidate school, teaching at Oman Private School (OPS) is based on the Primary Years Programme (PYP) (link to video PYP Intro).  The PYP is a well-respected programme that is based on best practices drawn from research into how children learn most effectively to create a relevant and engaging framework for children.  The curriculum framework provides for the development of the whole child encompassing social, physical, emotional and cultural needs in addition to academic benefit.  It highlights the development of an international outlook in our students and prepares children for the skills they will need to be successful young contributors in the future.  The PYP utilizes effective approaches to learning and teaching to enhance students’ thinking skills and develop their understanding of themselves and the changing world. As an international school, OPS is committed to the concept of a cooperative learning community that includes our students, teachers and staff, caregivers and stakeholders.  The values of the IB PYP should be modelled through implementation and maintenance of the programme.

With the learner at the center of the curriculum model, students build on their prior knowledge through the engagement of meaningful (and fun!) inquiry-based activities to help them construct new meaning for themselves, which makes up the taught curriculum. All children participate in self and peer reflection of their learning to constantly analyse strengths and areas for improvement.

At the core of the Primary Years Programme’s philosophy is a commitment to inquiry with emphasis on learning universal concepts as a vehicle for learning which means to:

  • Develop and refine understanding and skills in meaningful contexts that apply to real life
  • Make connections between existing knowledge and new experiences through reflection
  • Create pieces of work that demonstrate student abilities through ongoing assessment, which students, teachers and parents can see collected together in a student portfolio
  • Encourage children to be ‘risk takers’ and embrace challenges
  • Develop personal and social skills as well as an international perspective
  • Demonstrate both independent and collaborative learning.

PYP Student & Family Handbook  

 

 

What do we want the students to know?

Transdisciplinary Learning

Using structured inquiry, the PYP gives children a strong foundation in languages, mathematics, social studies, science and technology, arts, and personal, social and physical education (PSPE). OPS has developed a Programme of Inquiry (POI) as the written curriculum that includes 6 themed units of inquiry over the course of the year for each grade level (with the exception of Kindergarten 1 and 2, where there are 4 themed units of inquiry over the year).

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.

Making the PYP Happen page 12, 2009

 

What is a Unit of Inquiry?

Each of the 6 units covered over the course of the school year lasts approximately four to six weeks.  The children will dive deep into the inquiry by looking at a significant issues, formulating driving questions, researching, organizing, analysing and finally reflecting and taking action.  The key concepts and skills transcend through the subjects of English, Arabic, mathematics, science, social studies, while integrating ICT skills, visual and performing arts and physical education. 

How do we discover what the students know and have learned?

Assessment

Please refer to the PYP Assessment Policy for full details on assessment.

Assessment is integral to all teaching and learning.  It is not something that only happens during report card times. Children should be excited to share their learning experiences and demonstrate their knowledge and skills with their peers, teachers and caregivers. Learners should be given the opportunity during assessments to use a variety of learning styles, express different points of view, apply multiple intelligences and demonstrate individual strengths while sharing their understanding of learning outcomes. Assessments should give parents an opportunity to celebrate student learning in a healthy and positive manner. 

PYP teachers understand that assessing the process is just as important as assessing the product and consider the following as part of assessing a student:

  • Are the students asking questions of more depth and relevance?
  • Are learners make connections between different subjects and integrating knowledge to help them solve real problems?
  • Are students demonstrating mastery of skills?
  • Are learners increasing in concrete knowledge?
  • Are students able to work independently and contribute effectively during collaboration?

Beginning with pre-assessment tasks, teachers get a picture of what the children already know as a starting point for the inquiry process.  Assessment must be ongoing and inform the learning process to adjust lessons appropriately throughout the units (formative assessment). This style of assessment is connected directly to teaching and planning the next steps for the unit. Summative assessments are designed to give students an opportunity to demonstrate what they have learned by the end of a unit of inquiry based on criteria and identified learning outcomes for that unit. PYP assessments report on what students know, can do and feel during the learning process. These tasks give students choices in how they will demonstrate their understanding of the learning outcomes and central idea for a given unit while simultaneously giving students a platform to take action using their new understanding. Predetermined outcomes are shared with students at the beginning of a unit so they know what goals they have for a unit and understand the standard they should strive for. 

 

We use representative examples of student’s work to provide information about student understanding, documenting the process of learning and the outcomes using teachers notes and observation records, having students involved in reflecting on their work and the work of their peers, collaboratively designing rubrics and keeping records of tests, quizzes and task results. Assessment design should give teachers opportunities to evaluate student understanding that is both analytical (showing separate scores for different aspects of the work) and holistic (single scores). Upon completion of a unit, teachers must also reflect on the efficacy of the learning engagements and summative tasks as a means to provide ample information to make a judgement as to whether the learning outcomes were achieved, should there be changes to the assessment tools and strategies, and how should teaching be modified as a result of the assessment.

Assessment Strategies:

Observations

Teachers are continuously making observations of their students in class. Observations are done at different times to assess student ability within the whole class, a smaller group and individually.

Performance assessments

Using established criteria, students work towards achieving a certain goal within a task. Studnts are presented with a problem or scenario that may have multiple approaches and solutions. It is rare that there would only be 1 correct answer. This strategies requires students to draw upon multiple skills and maybe recorded through audio, video or narrative records.

Process-focused assessments

Taking note of specific behaviours (both typical and non-typical) in a variety of contexts through checklists, inventories and learning logs are common tools to be used with this strategy.

Selected responses

Tests and quizzes are used to assess one-dimension or single occasion understanding. This is not the most effective method to assess students in real life contexts that are authentic.

Open-ended tasks

After presenting students with a stimulus, they can communicate their own response through a brief written answer, a drawing, diagram, etc. These snapshots of student work are often showcased in student portfolios. 

 

Assessment Tools:

Rubrics

Using an established set of criteria and determining descriptors for different scales. Rubrics can be created by teachers but are often done collaboratively with students to give them a sense of ownership for their work.

Exemplars

Looking at samples of exemplary student work gives learners a concrete standard against which their own work can be judged.

Checklists

Creating lists or requirements that should be present in a student’s work. A mark scheme is a type of checklist.

Anecdotal records

Anecdotal records are brief written notes based on observations of students within different subject groups or contexts.

Continuums

Creating a visual that displays progression and development within different stages of learning. These are revisited several times throughout an activity or unit to have students reassess their progress and achievements.

 

How do we communicate the results to parents?

Conferences

Reporting through report cards is supplemented with 3 meetings a year:

Term 1 Report Cards:    Parent-teacher conferences.

Term 2 Report Cards:    Parent-teacher-student conferences.

Term 3 Report Cards:    Student-led conferences.  This is a meeting in which the students use their portfolio as a basis for discussion about their learning with their custodians as facilitated by their teacher.  The conferences allow students to play an active role in the reporting process and communicate their progress to their caregivers.

Anytime:          Conferences by appointment.

Portfolios

Portfolios are collections of works that have been selected with reason throughout the year by the student, sometimes guided by the teacher.  Students regularly review their work, select products that show progress and reflect on them.  This assists the students in becoming self-assessors.  Descriptions, explanations, context and links to the curriculum may be noted.  PYP students use portfolios to compile, reflect on, and share their learning.

PYP Playlist

If you are interested in learning more about the PYP and how to become active in your child’s education, please check these resources provided by the IBO:

PYP Playlist