Monday, November 14, 2016

Change Ahead!

The Primary Year Programme (PYP) has been around for almost 20 years now.  It's the largest of the 4 IB programmes, covering up to 9 years of school, and is currently the fastest growing of all the the IB programmes.  It's now implemented in more than 100 countries worldwide.   Several years ago the IB embarked on a review of this programme to respond to advances in educational practice, and updates are posted regularly on the Online Curriculum Centre (OCC).   The aim of the review is to ensure that the PYP continues to be relevant, challenging, significant and engaging.

The document issued in June 2016 sets out 8 principles that permeate the PYP to help teachers design learning that is significant, relevant, challenging and engaging.  These principles are as follows:
  • Developed in meaningful contexts - basically this means they have personal relevance to the learners.  Having just facilitated an online workshop on collaborative planning which had a learning engagement about how students can be partners in the process, I'm interested to read that there will be more focus on learner agency and involving students in the planning process from the outset.  My hunch is that this will mean the PYP becomes more student-centred, as they will be given more opportunities to "take initiative, develop ownership, conduct peer feedback and self-assessment and are consulted in the decisions that affect them."
  • Inclusive and values diversity - there will be more emphasis on individualization and defining learning goals with each student.  Inclusivity implies all students are capable and benefit from meaningful and challenging learning experiences.  Again the emphasis is on students being partners in the education process.
  • Conceptually focused - the focus is on the learner constructing thinking and applying new concepts in creative and innovative ways.  While concepts reach across subject boundaries, there also needs to be more understanding of the disciplines within the transdisciplinary framework.
  • Fostered in supportive environments - these environments (including resources, time, people, spaces and materials) promote collaboration, inspire creativity and allow for experimentation and failure.  Tech integration is addressed here to aid and extend the learning and to link to the world beyond the school.
  • Based on inquiry - learning is based on our curiosity to explore and investigate and is a social process.  Students wonder, ask questions, think critically, research and test theories as they build their understanding.  The review will give additional guidance on balancing planned learning engagements with exploration.
  • Informed by assessment -  we need to use evidence to determine whether goals have been reached and to make decisions about what to learn next.  Feedback to scaffold learning is an essential component of this.
  • Sustained by relationships and collaboration - because learning is a social practice we need to focus on interactions within and beyond the learning community.
  • Focused on challenge and high expectations - we know that our expectations have a powerful influence over motivation, persistence and achievements.  The PYP review will consider self-efficacy and how it can be enhanced because when students believe in their capacity to learn they are most likely to succeed.
The PYP review has been ongoing for about 4 years now and in 2018 will culminate in the release of a new document PYP: From principles into practice.  The idea is that this will not be a PDF, but an interactive digital one-stop resource for PYP teachers.  I'm really excited to know more about this digital resource and about the PD that will be involved in developing and enhancing the programme.

Photo Credit: molossus, who says Life Imitates Doodles Flickr via Compfight cc

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