On the path of IB education, we are committed to creating an educational environment that promotes the balanced development of the learner community, provides a rich and challenging learning space for children to explore, and establishes an equal, trusting, and multicultural community of learners. In this process, we use inquiry as the primary teaching method, supporting students to explore and understand the world around them in an authentic environment. Students' views and opinions are respected, and they have the opportunity to choose and lead their own learning, develop agency, and grow into effective learners.
In the process of supporting children's inquiry-based learning, we stimulate children's interest and curiosity in a variety of ways and collect and record students' spontaneous questions. Students expand their ideas by researching and seeking out information, thereby gaining new understandings and experiences.
In the inquiry unit “How lifestyles and relationships affect our health and happiness”, students were inspired by provocations and formed the following questions: “Which foods are healthier?”, “Why do people get sick?”, “What's in our bodies?”, “Where does the food go that goes into your mouth?”. These questions were recorded on the question wall by teachers and constantly drove students to inquire further with clear goals. Throughout this process, students constantly think and verify various possibilities, and finally realize - transferring from existing experience to new understanding.
We use observation as an important strategy to support young children in seeking out information and conducting research. In the process of exploring how living things change, the various plants, seeds, fruits, roots and leaves in the learning spaces sparked students’ interest to observe. Teachers support students to observe and record the features and growth process of plants to develop their thinking and research skills. By observing, collecting, and analyzing information and verifying their ideas, students gradually gain new cognitive experiences. These inquiry strategies and opportunities can support children in learning how to learn and how to become self-regulated learners.
People, things, and events in the learning community are important resources that stimulate children's curiosity, promote their thinking, and provide direct or indirect learning experiences for their learning.
These inquiry resources inside or outside the school can be field trips, social practice, interactive communication, parents supporting inquiry within the class, etc. Parents with access to diverse resources, who are enthusiastic about child development and the learning community have established good cooperative relationships with the kindergarten.
We believe that the authentic, life-experience-based provocations are helpful for children to explore the world around them.
In the process of inquiry, Teachers will encourage children to use data, pictures, protocols and other methods to collect and display information. These vivid and interesting “diagrams” will help children to gather more authentic, clear and objective information.
In the inquiry unit “Human actions impact the environment and all living things”, the children recorded the amount of water and paper they used each day. These statistics were alarming to everyone: “Wow, we use so much water every day!”, “It means that a lot of trees will be cut down!”. As a result, they voluntarily engaged in recycling and saving water (and paper), which revealed that they had developed their conceptual understanding of “responsibility” and “impact”.
Taking inquiry as a way of learning can not only cultivate children's curiosity but also helps them gradually master the skills to carry out inquiry activities. In addition to independent discovery, we also focus on cultivating children's ability to work with others. Our K1 students (about five years old) are immersed in various exploratory games in different learning spaces throughout the classroom. They have devoted themselves to inquiring into different cultural practices. Teachers collaboratively planned cultural experience days where children are encouraged to share their inquiry journey across classes. We have also carefully created transdisciplinary inquiry corners to support children as they embark on an exciting journey of student-led discovery.
Children's play is closely related to real life in a child-centered environment. They enthusiastically explore, ask questions and actively participate in the evaluation of the inquiry and learning process with the support of the teacher to improve their problem-solving skills. Various visualized learning methods are available in the classroom to support children in choosing and using effective problem-solving strategies. Students can explore and select conflict resolution strategies with their peers at Cathy Frog. When students encounter doubts in the inquiry, they have access to resources; these include peer discussion and debate, searching the internet, referring to books, embarking on field trips, and conducting surveys and experiments.
When inquiring into the unique lifestyle and cultures in different regions, children were very interested in exploring lifestyles where people live in tents. The children's interest was so great that they decided to build their own tents. Once students had created the tents, they wondered about the structure of their creations, asking themselves, "how can we make our tents more stable?
"What?", "Why?" and "How" questioning methods expand the boundaries of children's thinking and encourage them to think outside the box. At different stages of inquiry, teachers put forward open-ended questions to promote students' development of their metacognition skills strategically. Throughout this process, teachers constantly create opportunities for students to reflect. Through reflection, students can continuously adjust methods and strategies to optimize and improve their inquiry.
The school supports children in reporting on learning outcomes in various ways. Three-way conferences, student-led conferences, and inquiry-based exhibitions are all ways we report to all school community members about child development and growth. Evidence of children's learning is visible throughout the school environment via learning journeys displayed in the classrooms and along the corridors around the school. Towards the end of a unit of inquiry, the students design invitation cards and invite parents into the learning spaces around the school. The children also discuss, choose suitable music, design costumes and make props for their end-of-unit exhibitions. Parents, students, and teachers all participate in the exhibition performances and enjoy sharing in the student's success.
Successful inquiry will lead students to take responsible action, which may include student engagement campaigns, advocacy, promoting social justice, social entrepreneurship, or changes in lifestyle choices. Taking action expands students' mindsets and learning methods and may also have a broader social impact. As a key factor of children's agency, taking initiative through student-led action is an important opportunity for children to put into practice their knowledge, skills, conceptual understanding, and learner profile attributes.
Planning charity sales, raising money to buy books for donation, designing eco-friendly bags, turning off the tap after washing hands, and advising parents to reduce pollution by riding to school are all examples of authentic and meaningful actions that can be initiated collectively or individually by students. These actions can sometimes be continuous and repeated experiences, or they can also be memorable and unique experiences. Regardless of the model, all members of the learner community provide recognition and support to student initiative by providing sufficient time to plan and facilitate valuable and meaningful inquiry-based action.
Inquiry is both a method and a mindset. Many years of IB experience and practice have led us to understand that the International Baccalaureate Organization provides a macro framework to guide student-led learning. However, more time and research are needed to continue adapting the framework to maintain our country's local, regional, national, and societal expectations regarding education. Golden Apple Tianfu IPAK is committed to exploring the unknown together with children by working hand in hand with community members to create a better world.
During the CISA visit on May 14, 2022, two senior PYP teachers in our school will share their teaching experience in implementing the IB PYP program in our local community in the lightning speech.