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The Enhanced PYP

The Enhanced PYP

From First Steps to Grade 5, the inquiry-driven approach to learning at FIS is underpinned by the International Baccalaureate (IB) Primary Years Programme (PYP). For the past six years, the IB has been reviewing the PYP and released updated guidance to schools in October 2018. PYP schools around the world, including FIS, are now in a period of innovation and advancement as teachers engage with the new requirements. I sat down with our FIS Oberursel Campus PYP coordinator, Gioia Morasch, to find out about the changes.

Which change to the PYP has been most exciting for teachers?

Ms. Morasch: When the IB announced that it would allow for schools to develop a unit planner of their own, we jumped on the opportunity. Our new PYP planner has undergone at least 12 revisions and teachers have expressed the ease and added clarity of focus with which it has been implemented.

What is different about the new planner?

Ms. Morasch: Our planner is concept-based and includes connections between curricular outcomes, lines of inquiry and guiding questions, as well as learning engagements a “Rubric of Understanding” gauge student levels of comprehension. The previous PYP planner did not have these components so we have gone full force with implementing the most effective PYP planner we could devise.

Are there any other elements of the PYP that have become more flexible?

Ms. Morasch: Yes! Units of inquiry can now be taught over longer periods of time and this has provided additional flexibility, especially for STEM-based units. One example is in Grade 4 whereby next academic year, students will be able to engage in a once-per-week “ITime” unit that will build on students’ personal interests, maths integration, Makerspace engineering, drama and more. 

The early years age range is extended to age six. How will this affect students in Primary Grade? 

Ms. Morasch: This change has been very liberating for us. Previously, our Primary grade level students underwent six units of inquiry and now they learn four units per year, [allowing students to] develop deeper understandings afforded through additional time to engage with new concepts. It has also worked to complement the Primary School’s acknowledgement and respect for the developmental need for play.

Reflection is no longer a Key Concept. What does that mean for students and teachers?

Ms. Morasch: [Reflection] has always been integral to our school culture. It’s good to see that the IB has removed it from the 8 Key Concepts as something that might only sometimes apply, as it’s happening continually in all that we do. Our grade-level teams continually reflect on units, considering what worked best and what to change/amend, and also support students with reflecting on positive behaviours contributing to a rich learning community.

Are the Approaches to Learning skills also part of the PYP now?

Ms. Morasch: Yes, in fact I am working with our Upper School Instructional Coaches, Robin Neal and Antony Winch, to develop a coherent document articulating the [Approaches to Learning] skills that we would like to see in our students as they move from First Steps to the Upper school. The earlier we support our learners with metacognitively engaging with these skills, the better equipped they will be in demonstrating them at the appropriate times in both their school and social lives. In this way, our students will become familiar with the skills [needed] to thrive in the 21st century.

This is an exciting time for FIS as the flexibility afforded by the new PYP allows the curriculum to be tailored even further to suit the needs of our students as individuals and make the most of our unique context. We will be continuing this conversation next academic year with Jason Bentley, PYP coordinator at FISW, to discover how the implementation of these enhancements is further impacting learning and teaching.

Leila Holmyard
FIS World Writer

  • FISO Elementary
  • curriculum