Why GIIS IB PYP students are in control of their learning

Shubhdarshani Mitra
Jun 18, 2021

(This blog has been written based on my conversation with Ms. Manju Nair, IB PYP Coordinator, GIIS SMART Campus)

Do you often ask yourself, ‘Is my child motivated to accomplish a task and not give up, no matter what the situation?’ The Covid-19 pandemic has made many adults like us question the same to ourselves. Unknown challenges have forced us to redirect and rise up to overcome the difficulties.

Our children have adapted too since the pandemic turned lives topsy-turvy. There were those who could transition with ease and others, who needed more support. The way students in the Primary Years Programme (PYP) at GIIS learn equips them with that independence, self-motivation, self-regulation and confidence to ‘be better prepared for the unknown’. The IB Primary Years Programme  enables students to become agents of their own learning, engaging in inquiries and building up a strong foundation where they are in control of their success.

Independent learning has a vital role to play

At GIIS, our PYP students are introduced to a world of knowledge that is engaging, relevant and challenging. What starts as a central idea in each unit, culminates to success through inquiry and independent learning. Inquiry fosters active participation, expanding the learning possibilities. To learn about a concept, students need to explore resources, share ideas and ask questions. Here, both internal and external motivators are at work as students learn to ask and work alongside their team members.

“Self-regulation and motivation are difficult to build at a later stage. Setting them up for a future that is unknown is how we look at education. Knowledge has exponentially increased over the years and traditional ways won’t work anymore. It’s about making students future learners who are in control of their learning. Also, weaving in the fact that this won’t happen alone and they need to collaborate with others,” says Ms. Manju Nair, PYP Coordinator, GIIS SMART Campus, Singapore.

Curiosity kindles inquiry, freedom gives it wings

The IB PYP-certified teachers at GIIS share the urge to grow along with their students and act as facilitators for our young learners.

The idea is to engage and encourage learners who have the ability to wonder and inquire about themselves and their surroundings. The students build their own learning needs through inquiry-based approach, which transcends disciplines through concept-based models of teaching. The teachers ask the factual, conceptual and debatable questions. The students have the freedom to inquire within that framework.

“The students have to ask what they don’t know or what they want to do. Teachers help them with how they can go about doing things or where to find out more information. Can we go to the library, do we think we have the books for it? Do we have experts, do we have parents who work in this particular field who can share knowledge? So, you are constantly referring back to the children,” says Ms. Nair.

Digital classrooms, learning commons, and the state-of-the-art library are some of the facilities that GIIS provides to its students, enabling free thinking, opportunity to conduct meaningful research and work on projects.

Students have a voice in their learning

Students in PYP classrooms are the torchbearers and have a voice in their learning even as teachers make them understand the expectations of their learning by the end of each unit. There is an assessment at the end to determine the success of each unit.

“They discuss the success criteria and sometimes when the students become familiar with the process, they even design the success criteria along with the teachers. So, they ask if we are learning about report writing, do we really know what is the structure of report writing? Let's go back to it and find out. Also, if the students have met all the criteria and they want to take the learning further, they can do that as well,” says Ms. Nair.

Yearning for learning gives them the edge

The reason the PYP is being successfully implemented in GIIS is because “we have a hungry set of teachers and hungry set of students who look out for intellectual stimulation all the time.” Steady focus on learning drives both the students and teachers.

“Our students and parents value education. Our students are well-read and articulate with a curious mind. And the teachers, because of their ability to think and understand these concepts, have adapted to PYP very well. Quite often you have teachers who are struggling with the PYP model but here at GIIS we have teachers who are constantly self-evaluating and passionately believe in this model,” elaborates Ms. Nair, who has led teams from various parts of the globe.

Collaboration is key to drive home success

PYP is a very collaborative model: on one hand the teachers are communicating  with the PYP coordinator and their peers, and they are also checking back with the students. “All this leads to self-efficacy because after a while the teachers only need to facilitate discussions. By the time students are in Grade 4, they already know what they need to do and they have abundant ideas. But there has to be an adult in the classrooms and our teachers are constantly there to give them that support,” adds Ms. Nair.

At GIIS, our students find ample resources along with the nurturing that gives them the confidence and motivation to continue this onward journey of learning. The child is not controlled but empowered to feel the joy of learning which sets the stage for success that does not merely rely on external motivation.

If you would like to find out more about our IB PYP programme, speak to one of our admissions counsellors or get in touch with us now.

Shubhdarshani Mitra

Shubhdarshani has over 10 years of experience in content creation, curation and editing. She has worked for Indian newspapers, school magazines and international news websites where she worked closely with the leadership on the execution and communication of the content strategy. Aside from work, she’s a passionate B&W photographer and storyteller.

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