How We Encourage Independent Learning in the PYP at GIIS

Manju Nair
May 31, 2021
Education Tips

The IB Primary Years Programme (PYP) is known to encourage independent and inquiry-based learning in primary students. At GIIS, our students in the PYP are encouraged to pursue self-led learning at every level - from the way they choose to arrange their classrooms and decorate the walls to the mini exhibitions held each year for Grades 1-5. 

Your child will take an active role in how they tackle subjects, choose to do their research, and how they present their hard work to the world, at GIIS. Independent learning fosters responsibility, discipline and pride, and these are values we wish to instil in every student who passes through our doors.


Teaching Self-Led Learning

GIIS teachers do more than just guide students in the right direction. We equip children with the skills they need to master, including:

● Reasoning

● Exploration

● Drawing Conclusions

● Forming Theories

● Testing Outcomes

We do this by using techniques and teaching strategies such as visible thinking routines, design thinking, transdisciplinary inquiry and encouraging student agency. Students are encouraged to take classroom learning out into the community and apply it to real-world situations.

Adopting the SOLO Taxonomy

Another academic tool we use at GIIS is SOLO or Structured Observation of Learning Outcomes. SOLO was developed by John Biggs to measure a student’s understanding of a topic. It moves students through five levels of learning, each more complex than the one that came before. The five levels of SOLO include:

● Pre-structural — Students have no understanding of the topic.

● Uni-structural — Students understand one or two elements but not the whole concept.

● Multi-structural — Students have collected relevant knowledge but have yet to assemble it.

● Relational — Students begin to grasp the big picture.

● Extended Abstract -- Students have mastered the topic and are able to apply it outside the classroom.

As they move from level to level, students are forced to use higher levels of thinking that include deduction skills, comparing and contrasting, and theoretical modelling. Using the SOLO taxonomy, children gain a comprehensive understanding of topics they’ve never encountered before.

Controlling the Teacher Response

Possibly the most significant aid to encouraging self-led learning is the response of our teachers at GIIS. Our PYP educators constantly encourage new ideas and techniques in the classroom. Additionally, they reward students who come up with new ideas by appreciating their initiative and their ideas. 

We reinforce independent thinking and creativity in our PYP classrooms and require students to play active roles in their learning processes. As a result, we’re educating a generation of students who are well-prepared to become the intuitive leaders of tomorrow.

For more information on admission to GIIS’s innovative IB Primary Years Programme, get in touch with an admissions counsellor or schedule a school tour to see the PYP in action for yourself. Also, please remember to share us with friends who may also be interested in learning more about the independent learning methods at GIIS.

Manju Nair

Ms. Manju Nair is a doctoral candidate with the University of Bath. Her research interests included leadership, inclusion, and multilingualism under the overarching practices and principles of progressive education. As a lecturer and pedagogical leader she has inspired and groomed countless numbers of teachers. As an advocate for ‘student-centred pedagogies’, she has established time and again that it leads to the best outcome for students. She is currently working as the IB Primary Years Coordinator at GIIS. Outside of work, she enjoys reading, yoga & meditation, baking, painting and traveling.

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