The International Baccalaureate (IB) Curriculum:
An All-round Education to Develop Internationally-minded Individuals
The International Baccalaureate Continuum
The programs from the International Baccalaureate build toward a deeper understanding of subjects and concepts. The IB has 4 programs, the Primary Years Programme (PYP) from 3 years through 5th grade, the Middle Years Programme (MYP) from 6th grade through 9th grade, and the Diploma Programme (DP) and the Career-related Programme (CP) for the last two years prior to graduation. (The grades in which the programs are offered are in the case of CGK.)
The Primary Years Programme (PYP)
The PYP is developed around a transdisciplinary system, utilizing young learners' natural learning strategies and approaches to tie concepts to learning in multiple subjects. Each Unit of Inquiry (UOI) will incorporate multiple subject areas, such as language, arts, and social studies, or language, mathematics, or science. This is appropriate considering how younger children learn. As learners make sense of the world around them, they don’t naturally separate their learning into different boxes related to subject areas, or textbooks, or what class they think it might relate to. When they learn about 3-D shapes for instance, they are learning vocabulary related to shapes, scientific reasoning by comparing shapes and making predictions, as well as the obvious mathematical concepts. The PYP takes full advantage of this to help concepts and basic knowledge make deep, long-lasting connections.
The Middle Years Programme (MYP)
The MYP is an interdisciplinary program. As students get older, they are ready to examine subjects more deeply and distinctly. For instance, one subject group in the MYP is Individuals and Societies. While they learned about social studies knowledge and concepts in the PYP in relation to other subjects, in the MYP they are ready to focus on more focused concepts and study specific social studies knowledge in isolation and more thoroughly. The MYP recognizes that learners are transitioning out of transdisciplinary learning and still motivated by universal concepts and connections between the subjects. Unlike the PYP which requires each lesson to intentionally address multiple subjects, the MYP requires at least one unit of interdisciplinary learning in each year of the MYP. This allows students to continue to make broad connections across subjects as they move towards more subject specific learning.
The Diploma Programme (DP) and the Career-related Programme (CP)
The DP and CP are multidisciplinary programs, with each subject being taught in isolation, but being connected naturally through the core of the programs. For instance, the DP core consists of Theory of Knowledge, Creativity, Activity, and Service (CAS), and the Extended Essay. All of these provide students with the opportunity to extend their learning and make connections across disciplines. As the subjects are taught in isolation, this allows students to not only delve deeper into the subjects, but customize their learning by selecting specific areas of challenge (Higher Level courses) as well as subject content (i.e. choosing to study Biology or Chemistry).
This continuum of programs ensures that students learn appropriately for their developmental stage, as well as preparing them for future challenges, in university and beyond.
Units of Inquiry (UOI)
One of the founding missions of CGK has been to help our students develop a spirit of inquiry. That’s one of the reasons that becoming an IB PYP (Primary Years Programme) candidate school* is so important to us. Learning in the PYP is structured differently than most curriculums. Rather than separating learning into monthly themes or categories, learning is focused around deep concepts and organized in Units of Inquiry.
A Unit of Inquiry (UOI) relates to an overall transdisciplinary theme, such as “Sharing the Planet.” Within that theme, each UOI has a central idea that we want students to understand by the end of the unit. For instance, “Living things go through a process of change.” This central idea guides the inquiry of the students, and builds upon previous learning as well as setting a foundation for future learning.
Within each UOI there are lines of inquiry. These are areas of inquiry that support understanding of the central idea. One example of a line of inquiry is “living vs. non-living.” This is not the teacher telling the students what is living and what is not, but rather an inquiry into the difference, that is led by the teacher and responsive to the students. As students become older and more adept at leading their own inquiries they take over leadership of the inquiry, with the teacher as a guide to ensure deep learning, development of skills such as critical thinking, and directing them towards resources.
Each UOI ends with a summative assessment task that allows students to demonstrate their learning. These tasks can take many forms. For instance, in a project-based assessment, students might build something that demonstrates their understanding of materials. In a performance-based assessment students may put on a play to demonstrate their understanding of creating as a community. In a portfolio-based assessment students may demonstrate their understanding of different forms of poetry.
The programs in the IB build on each other to create a continuum of learning that sets its students up for success in school and beyond. The PYP does this by structuring learning in a way that takes full advantage of how students learn and developing a spirit of inquiry that will last their whole lives.
CGK International School was founded to help our students develop a spirit of inquiry, develop acute cognitive ability, and attain strong self-expression skills. In an effort to follow best educational practices and ensure we do our part to increase opportunities for happiness for our students, we became an International Baccalaureate (IB) Primary Years Programme (PYP) candidate school in 2022. The IB mission statement has a large degree of overlap with CGK’s mission statement. “The International Baccalaureate aims to develop inquiring, knowledgeable and caring young people who help to create a better and more peaceful world through intercultural understanding and respect... These programmes encourage students across the world to become active, compassionate and lifelong learners who understand that other people, with their differences, can also be right” (IBO, 2022).
IB curriculum standards
The PYP is a transdisciplinary program and provides standards for the 6 subject areas, Language Arts, Mathematics, Science, Social Studies, The Arts, and Personal, Social, and Physical Education (PSPE). These standards are divided into phases of learning, with the recognition that learners in the same classroom may be in different phases of learning. These phases are not limited to specific grades, though teachers will identify which standards in various phases are most appropriate for their Program of Inquiry (POI) and current learners. These standards will change every year in response to the POI and importantly to the needs and development of the learners in the class. The standards from the IB will be the main standards that will be used for report cards that are sent home to parents during the year.
Grade aligned standards
In order to help ensure a high standard of academic achievement CGK has also developed our own grade-aligned standards for English, Japanese, P.E., and Mathematics. These grade-aligned standards help teachers to make sure they are covering concepts needed to be successful in academic learning moving forward. Due to the need for differentiation teachers understand that some students may be ahead or behind the grade level standards, but do their best to help every student succeed to the best of their ability. As a non-article one school with a flexible curriculum this can lead to a 2nd grade class accelerating to 3rd or even 4th grade math standards as appropriate for their learners. Teachers will use ongoing assessment data to meet students where they are in their learning, rather than leaving some students behind, or holding them back.
Programme of Inquiry (POI)
CGK's PYP Programme of Inquiry, 2023-2024
*Only schools authorized by the IB Organization can offer any of its four academic programmes: the Primary Years Programme (PYP), the Middle Years Programme (MYP), the Diploma Programme (DP), or the Career-related Programme (CP). Candidate status gives no guarantee that authorization will be granted. For further information about the IB and its programmes, please visit IB website.