International Baccalaureate Primary Years Programme
The Primary school offers the Primary Years Programme designed for students aged 3-12 years and focuses on the development of the whole child as an inquirer, both in the classroom and in the world outside.
Throughout the school, our teachers strive to:
-Provide a nurturing atmosphere that supports the student’s emotional well-being, encourages positive social interaction and international-mindedness.
-Provide a variety of experiences which enhance learning.
-Encourage a positive attitude to learning by engaging students in inquiry and develop their awareness of the process of learning to promote their development as lifelong learners.
-Emphasis through the Learner Profile, the development of the whole student – physically, intellectually, emotionally and ethically
-Work with each student at his/her developmental level, incorporating teaching strategies appropriate for different learning styles.
Our Teaching Methodology
We believe that students learn best when actively engaged in their own learning. Substantial and in-depth structured inquiry is used as a vehicle for learning. The most significant and distinctive feature of the PYP is the six transdisciplinary themes. These themes focus on issues that have meaning for and are important to all of us. The programme offers a balance between learning about or through the subject areas, and learning beyond them. Teachers work in teams to develop the units of inquiry which are in-depth investigations into important ideas. Teachers collect evidence of how well students understand the ideas being investigated.
The Units of Inquiry are structured around important concepts and provide a context in which students can gain understanding, and at the same time, acquire essential knowledge, skills and attitudes.
Units of Inquiry: (organized around six themes)
Who we are
An inquiry into the nature of the self; beliefs and values; personal, physical, mental, social and spiritual health; human relationships including families, friends, communities and cultures; rights and responsibilities; what it means to be human.
Where we are in time and place
An inquiry into orientation in place and time; personal histories; homes and journeys; the discoveries, explorations and migrations of humankind; the relationships between and the interconnectedness of individuals and civilizations, from local and global perspectives.
How we express ourselves
An inquiry into the ways in which we discover and express ideas, feelings, nature, culture, beliefs and values; the ways in which we reflect on, extend and enjoy our creativity; our appreciation of the aesthetic.
How the world works
An inquiry into the natural world and its laws; the interaction between the natural world (physical and biological) and human societies; how humans use their understandings of scientific principles;
the impact of scientific and technological advances on society and the environment.
How we organize ourselves
An inquiry into the interconnectedness of human-made systems and communities; the structure and function of organizations; societal decision-making; economic activities and their impact on humankind and the environment.
Sharing the planet
An inquiry into rights and responsibilities in the struggle to share finite resources with other people and with other living things; communities and the relationships within and between them; access to equal opportunities; peace and conflict resolution.
Concepts are explored within the Units of Inquiry and are arranged under 4 main strands: living things, earth and space, materials, forces and energy. Students develop their observation skills, gather and record information in a number of ways and reflect findings to identify patterns or connections. They make predictions and test and refine their ideas with increasing accuracy. Students use their learning to plan positive and realistic action to improve their welfare and that of other living things and the environment.
Concepts are explored within the Units of Inquiry and are arranged under the strands of history, geography, and society. Students learn to formulate questions and use appropriate language of the past, of place and of society. They begin to empathise with people, to distinguish between fact and opinion, and learn how to collect and interpret various data.
Language is integrated into all areas of the curriculum. The learning expectations in language are arranged into 3 main strands: oral communication, written communication and visual communication. Sub-strands include: listening, speaking, reading, writing, viewing and presenting.
Listening: Students listen for a specific purpose in a variety of situations, e.g. stories, poetry, drama, music, guest speakers, and instructions. They show their understanding, evaluate what they hear, and begin to gain an understanding of literal and inferred meanings.
Speaking: Students give and respond to increasingly complex directions and instructions. They begin to use language confidently, appropriately and with increasing accuracy. They organise thoughts and feelings before speaking and begin to paraphrase and summarise during presentations.
Reading: Students are encouraged to read independently for enjoyment. They are instructed and guided in a variety of ways to increase their fluency and comprehension of texts. Students identify and describe elements of a story. Students are encouraged to read together and discuss ideas. Oral reading becomes increasingly accurate and expressive. A variety of genre are introduced and read to, by, and with children.
Writing: Students understand and use the writing process – pre-writing, drafting, revising, editing, and publishing with increasing independence. They write for specific purposes and share their work confidently with their peers. They learn the purpose and symbols for punctuation, include paragraphs and topic sentences and begin to edit their work. Spelling is becoming increasingly accurate. They experience writing a variety of genre including exposition, narrative, explanation, report, recount, procedure and poetry.
Viewing and Presenting: Students experience a wide variety of visual media materials. They respond to viewing experiences orally and in writing. They interpret visual media and recognise its power to influence thinking and behaviour. Students begin to learn how to make informed choices in their personal viewing experiences. They use a variety of materials to plan and create projects with different media and use electronic media to find information.
Problem solving, developing logic and reasoning, and communicating mathematical ideas, are learned and assessed within 4 strands. Between the ages of 9-10 students will move at their own pace from concrete to more abstract understanding of mathematical concepts. As students develop they will gain experiences, skills and knowledge in:
–Number – Emphasis is placed on the understanding and applying of place value. Read, write, count, compare and order numbers 100-100,000 and beyond; Describe and implement strategies to solve math problems, use mathematical vocabulary appropriately, model addition, subtraction, multiplication and division equations, understand and use fractions.
-Understand multiplication arrays, model relationships between operations, find patterns, including patterns within number systems to 100.
–Measurement – Estimate and carry out measurements of length, mass, time, and temperature using standard and non-standard units, select appropriate tools for measurement, to estimate and explain their thinking, to begin to understand the concepts and operations involving area and perimeter.
–Shape and Space – Identify line of symmetry in 2D and 3D shapes in isolation and as part of a combination, identify lines and axes of symmetry. Locate features on a grid using coordinates. Identify, orally and written congruent geometric shapes.
–Data Handling – Collect, display and interpret data in simple bar graphs and discuss, create and compare sets using diagrams. Use mathematical language to interpret results.
The Arts: Integrated in the classrooms
Art: The goal of the Primary art program at Westwood is to enrich the lives of all students through the understanding and production of visual art. Many of the concepts explored will be within the units of inquiry. All students will be taught basic art fundamentals while also instilling art appreciation within them. These skills will lead the students towards better self-expression and the ability to better identify within their environment. The visual arts are also a valuable learning tool that reinforces the other disciplines, such as reading, writing, social studies, science, and math. As students become educated in the arts, their minds, lives, and talents will begin to flourish in every aspect of their lives.
Arts by a specialist teacher: Children have the opportunity to participate in a variety of drama, dance and visual art activities such as mime, role play, puppet theatre, plays and simulation games. They use these to examine concepts from the Unit of Inquiry being studied, and as a tool for developing the skills associated with the Arts.
Music by a specialist teacher Elements of the programme include:
-Performing – singing and playing instruments,
-Creating and composing,
Through a variety of songs and pieces children develop an understanding for talking versus singing, high and low pitch, loud and quiet and sound and silence. Through music they work on being able to keep time, explore rhythm, and move creatively. They develop an awareness and appreciation of music from different cultures.
The information and communication skills of media are integrated throughout the curriculum. Students learn and use the media skills of discovery (research), creation, and communication to support and enhance their learning in all subject areas. They learn about on-line research, library orientation and procedures
Students explore the use of modern technology as a tool to reach the goals of our curriculum. Computers, software, digital photography, and safely guided exploration of the internet will help our students to become more balanced members of our community. Word processing, presentation, and typing skills software are introduced at this level to integrate with their communication skills.
Library by a specialist teacher. Students will also become familiar with the library and computer resources in the Media Centre. Students will learn library procedures, including borrowing books.
ICT by a Specialist teacher. Students also have time dedicated to learning to use technology in the ICT lab where they learn the skills that will benefit them in their Units of Inquiry.
English is the language of instruction at Westwood. French is offered at an introductory level. The main goal is for students to begin acquiring an additional language. This course emphasises the development of oral communication and later on, moving towards basic skills of reading and writing.
We offer Cultural Setswana as a specialist subject, one period per week. Our aim is to work towards students achieving simple literacy skills in Setswana.
Host Country Awareness
Appreciation and understanding of the host nation culture is an important component of our programme. Batswana staff and classroom teachers integrate aspects of Motswana culture and language into their Units of Inquiry. At other times, Batswana staff may assist teachers in initiating classroom discussions and activities involving local festivals, celebrations, the Arts, customs and beliefs.
Content of the course includes: athletics, gymnastics, dance fitness, fundamental skills, football games, hitting sports, throwing sports and swimming. Students discover the capabilities of their bodies. They are exposed to a number of situations, which develop motor skills that may later be applied to various sports. They learn about a healthy, active lifestyle and the way exercise affects their bodies and overall well-being.
Personal and Social Education
Students develop increasing initiative and self-direction. They learn to follow classroom rules and routines, use materials with purpose, make independent choices of activities, approach tasks with flexibility, and use discussion and compromise to resolve conflicts.
The counsellor plays active role in all classrooms during SEL lessons. This is to assist students with gaining the necessary life skills to be socially responsible life-long learners.