Developing the Whole Child through the International Baccalaureate Continuum
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At ISB we are proud to offer the International Baccalaureate (IB) continuum meaning that our learners have access to IB programming at all times while at ISB. The International Baccalaureate mission aims to “develop inquiring, knowledgeable and caring young people who help to create a better and more peaceful world through intercultural understanding and respect.” By offering a continuum of IB programmes, we are able to not only engage learners in academically challenging areas but also help them to develop as a whole person.
The Primary Years (PYP), Middle Years (MYP), and Diploma Programmes (DP) have a number of key elements in common which we value from PreK to Grade 12:
Conceptual framework: The foundation for all three (3) programmes is conceptual learning and teaching. We see this through the conceptual understandings in PYP, the statements of inquiry in MYP, and connections to the Theory of Knowledge course in DP. Conceptual teaching and learning develops learners who move past learning content knowledge and instead act with this knowledge as deep thinkers and problem solvers in a rapidly changing world.
Developing Approaches to learning: Conceptual teaching and learning requires learners to grow in their Approaches to Learning (ATLs). This is a term keyed by IB which refers to the skills required to be effective life-longlearners. The five (5) broad categories of skills are: self-management, thinking, social, communication, and research. Each of the IB programs culminates in a project that requires learners to reflect on their ATL skill development. In Year 5 (Grade 5) of the PYP, learners take part in the PYP Exhibition. In Year 5 (Grade 10) of the MYP, learners complete their Personal Project. During the two (2) year Diploma Programme, learners carry out an independent research project in the Extended Essay.
Taking action: With knowledge and understanding comes the responsibility to take action. Each of the IB programmes focuses on developmentally appropriate ways for learners to take action. In PYP learners build autonomy and agency that lays the foundation for taking action. In MYP and DP, learners are engaged in CAS which is a program that focuses on developing a balanced lifestyle that incorporates Creativity, Activity, and Service.
IB Learner Profile attributes: The IB Learner Profile attributes are 10 core attributes that aim to be developed through IB programming. These attributes help learners to confidently take action in a VUCA (volatile, uncertain, complex, and ambiguous) world. They place an emphasis on developing learners who are not only strategic thinkers but also empathetic, respectful, and responsible doers who act with integrity.
While the IB continuum works together to support the holistic growth of our learners, there are elements of each program that are distinctly different in order to meet the developmental needs of the learners.
Primary Years Programme
Primary school is the beginning of the learning journey for students. In the Early Years, learners inquire about the world around them through play and interacting with others. Teachers support the development of the child through listening, documenting, questioning and challenging. Young learners are encouraged to ask questions and use their interests when exploring new concepts. This allows learners to remain actively engaged throughout their time in Primary school.
The Primary Years Programme is a curriculum that is Transdisciplinary. In the PYP, learning aims to transcend traditional boundaries between subject areas. Students explore six transdisciplinary themes of global significance: 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. Early Years learners will explore four units a year and when they enter Kindergarten they explore five units. From Grade 1 to Grade 5 all six units are investigated.
In the final year of the PYP, learners engage in a culminating project called the Exhibition. This is an opportunity for students to engage with an issue of local and global significance that is of interest to them. They research the issue and decide how to take action on their learning. This is a time for them to reflect on all of their learning over their time in Primary school and use their skills to make a difference in our world.
Middle Years Programme at ISB: Developing Outstanding Learners
In the Middle Years Programme (MYP) at ISB, we are guiding students to become outstanding learners who are self-aware and empowered to take ownership of their own learning. We recognize that our international and transient youth are faced with many challenges during this formative period of life. They are changing physically, mentally, socially, and emotionally. We aim to build upon previously acquired skills and conceptual understandings to help them flourish as learners who demonstrate our core values, understand and respect diverse identities, and are empowered to decide who they are as individuals and how they want to contribute positively in society.
All learners in the MYP engage with the following subject areas: English Language and literature, Language acquisition, Individuals and societies, Mathematics, Sciences, Physical and health education, Design, Visual arts, and Performing arts.
During Year 5 (Grade 10,) the final year of the Middle Years Programme, learners have the opportunity to consolidate their learning in a self-driven Personal Project. This is an opportunity for learners to explore an area of passion and reflect upon their own development as an outstanding learner.
ISB was first authorized for the IB Diploma Programme back in 2005, and had its first, small but 100% successful graduating cohort in July 2007. Since then, fourteen more Diploma cohorts have graduated from ISB, and went for further university studies in prestigious institutions of Europe, North America, Australia, and Asia, such as London School of Economics, University of Amsterdam, Maastricht University, Amherst College, American University Washington, King's College, MacGill University, University of Toronto. Looking for continuous improvement, ISB had significantly increased since, in the number of offered Diploma courses, covering all subject groups, to provide a bigger variety of options for each individual student, so they could create their best individual DP “package”. Individual combination of DP subjects, and levels, that suit students’ learning profile, and their wishes for further education is one of the prerequisites to successful continuation for IB lifelong learners. Being visionary focused, ISB started to offer some of the IB online courses, via IB accredited provider, from 2010, expanding its subjects offer, and providing scheduling flexibility as well as new tools and approaches to learning that positively impact student learning. To additionally help students, their families before the program starts, and their DP teachers as well, the school uses CAT4, an international cognitive ability test which gives basic predicted IB grades based on students’ profile, as well as grades students could achieve “if challenged”. Overall, the IB curriculum is part of a wider ISB curriculum, that additionally includes the most important aspects of the social-emotional development through daily homeroom program, and university preparation. Most of our students join after classes, different sports and other co-curricular activities to practice for fun, recreational purposes or prepare to compete against other CEESA schools or local schools in Serbia.
We value the IB continuum at ISB because it creates a framework of shared elements as well as unique and developmentally responsive elements which foster the growth of each child as an individual. When we say that ISB “is a collaborative learning community that inspires, equips and empowers its students to succeed and contribute positively to society,” we are able to achieve this mission because we have the foundational elements necessary to create an environment in which this mission is possible.