Many people are interested in having their children attend a school that has the International Baccalaureate (IB) program. But when asked what it is and how it impacts students, most do not have a clear answer.
IB is a program that promotes an integral education and international mindedness. In this program, students develop skills such as problem solving, critical thinking, and a rigorous program of inquiry, all with a vision that fosters a culture of leadership with social commitment that impacts not only their schools, but their families and communities. It is an education that leaves the classroom and becomes involved with society and can even impact the globalized world of our times. As the IB’s slogan says, “Education for a better world”.
This holistic program is student focused. Here the student becomes an active being, responsible for his own knowledge, inquirer, and curious about the world around him.
What is international mindedness?
The international mindedness is a philosophy that establishes values and principles related to an international education. The IB learner profile is associated with ten attributes that internationally mindedness students should demonstrate. The attributes are: to be inquirers, knowledgeable, thinker, communicator, principle, caring, risk-taker, balanced, reflective and open-minded. In IB, students are exposed to learning activities that allow them to develop the attributes of the learner profile.
What elements does the IB curriculum incorporate?
In an IB curriculum, the learning, from the contents to the way students learn and how the teachers evaluate, moves away from a traditional school. The IB curriculum incorporates five basic elements: knowledge, concepts, skills, attitudes, and action. IB programs seek to strike a balance between knowledge, skills, and development of conceptual understanding, positive attitudes, and the ability to take responsible actions.
The curriculum is divided into three areas. The first is the written curriculum which includes the Program of Inquiry (POI). For the Primary School Program (PYP) the POI is the curricular framework that will allow students to investigate and develop the IB learner profile attributes. This is based on six transdisciplinary themes that will make connections of what is learned with the real world. The units of inquiry that are created are linked to the subjects of natural science, social science, mathematics, art, personal, social and physical education, and language. These allows students to accomplish deep learning, taking into account multiple intelligences and cognitive processes that this learning entails.
The second curriculum is the taught curriculum. It focuses on how students learn, taking into account their uniqueness, their different social, cultural, and experience contexts. Here the approach is to use constructivist methodologies that respect the way students learn, using differentiation, by offering an interesting, relevant, stimulating and meaningful learning experience.
The third is the evaluated curriculum, which answers to the question of how do you know that we have learned? This is a fundamental component since it will allows teachers to measure not only the student’s knowledge, but the five IB elements in an integral way. The learning processes, the skills achieved and the performance that the student conveys are equally important. Here the assessment takes several forms and uses multiple strategies. For example, it is common to evaluate with self-evaluation, peer to peer, teacher to student, etc. Evaluation strategies and tools include evaluation of processes, performance, open tasks, rubrics, checklists, portfolios, samplers, conferences, and anecdotal records, among others.
In IB programs, students, parents and teachers collaborate to consolidate an inquiry program with a commitment to continuously improve the teaching-learning experience. Its main objective is to provide students with quality international mentality education.
Hopefully after reading this article you have a deeper appreciation of how IB contributes to students learning.