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International Baccalaureate Primary Years World School

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International Baccalaureate Primary Years World SchoolWJCC Schools2019-11-19T11:54:16-05:00

The Primary Years Program – Preparing students to be active participants in a lifelong journey of learning.

All students who attend James River are participants in the Primary Years Program (PYP). The PYP aims to achieve a balance between the search for meaning and understanding and the acquisition of knowledge and skills. The PYP supports the development of the whole child including academic, social, physical, emotional, and cultural awareness by teaching the PYP attitudes and student IB learner profile attributes.


  • Transdisciplinary program of inquiry connects all disciplines to a central idea that is concept based.
  • Content rich with global perspectives.
  • Delivers VA Standards of Learning (SOL) and WJCC division curriculum.
  • Spanish is taught as a second language to all students.
  • Integrates essential knowledge and skills.
  • Opportunities for service to home, school, and community.

Action in the PYP

An explicit expectation of the PYP is that successful inquiry will lead to responsible action, initiated by the student as a result of the learning process. This action will extend the student’s learning, or it may have a wider social impact. IB World Schools that offer the PYP should meet the challenge of giving all learners the opportunity and the power to choose to act; to decide on their actions; and to reflect on these actions in order to make a difference in and to the world.

In the PYP action should be seen as a voluntary demonstration of a student’s empowerment in the context of the expectations laid down in the programme. The complex issues of the 21st century do not often suggest simple or self-evident solutions, and so inaction may also be a legitimate choice; indeed, sometimes, inaction may be the best choice.

The PYP advocates a cycle of involvement that provides students with opportunities to engage in purposeful and beneficial action, some of which may involve service to fellow students or the school community. In the PYP effective action does not need to be grandiose. It can begin at the most immediate and basic level: with the self; within the family; within the classroom, the hallways and the playground. Effective action can be a demonstration of a sense of responsibility and respect for self, others and the environment. For younger children, the cycle of action helps them to develop the core of values and understanding upon which awareness of themselves within society and a sense of responsibility toward that society will, hopefully, grow.

Frequently Asked Questions

What is IBPYP?WJCC Schools2019-02-20T15:02:18-05:00

The Primary Years Program (PYP) provides an international educational framework based upon what is current research-based knowledge about how young children learn.

The curriculum framework consists of:

  • The written curriculum: What do we want students to learn?
  • The taught curriculum: How best will students learn?
  • The assessed curriculum: How will we know what students have learned?

IBPYP draws on research-based best practices of effective elementary school instruction:

  • Authentic formative and summative assessment, including student self-assessment and reflective practice
  • Collaborative planning among teachers
  • Collaborative reflection by all teachers and staff
  • Creating a concept-driven curriculum that teaches students six concepts per grade level that are based on age appropriate essential understandings
  • Constructivism: learners are guided to construct their own meaning in order to acquire knowledge
What is the profile of an internationally-minded IBPYP learner?WJCC Schools2019-02-20T15:02:25-05:00

The IBPYP program acknowledges and values the multicultural diversity of the school community by emphasizing human commonalities and celebrating the uniqueness its cultures.

The end result is an internationally-minded person with 21st century skills:

  • Students who can use critical thinking skills
  • Students with effective communication skills
  • Students who have multicultural perspectives
  • Students who are creative and innovative

IBPYP schools strive to develop an internationally-minded person with the attitudes and dispositions described in the student profile:

  • Balanced
  • Caring
  • Communicator
  • Inquirer
  • Knowledgeable
  • Open-minded
  • Principled
  • Reflective
  • Risk-taker
  • Thinker
What is the inquiry approach to instructional delivery of the IBPYP?WJCC Schools2019-02-20T15:02:32-05:00

Students are taught to understand that learning is about asking higher order questions to find answers, which in turn may generate new, and perhaps more complex questions in need of answers.

Students are encouraged to make connections to their prior knowledge and their personal experiences.
As teachers work with students, they also help students understand what their relationship and responsibility is towards what they are learning.

How is IBPYP embedded in school culture at James River Elementary?WJCC Schools2019-02-20T15:04:42-05:00

The student learner profile traits and character-building attitudes share a prominent place alongside learning.

  • All IBPYP teachers and staff model the learner traits and attitudes.
  • Students recognize the learner traits and attitudes in themselves and in their peers.
  • Students make connections to traits and attitudes to characters in books and in essential knowledge in the Standards of Learning (i.e. explorers, colonists, famous Americans).
  • Students are recognized with a Dynamic IB Dolphin award by going above and beyond of what is expected of a student

Students are expected to make good choices.

Students are expected to take action, based on the needs of:

  • themselves at home and at school
  • fellow students
  • staff
  • people in their community, region or world

Students are expected to reflect on their learning, take action as a result of what they have learned and reflect on the actions they take.

The IBPYP requires all teachers in the school to plan units of instruction and lessons collaboratively around six important themes.

  • The themes integrate essential knowledge from the Standards of Learning across multiple content areas.
  • The units provide both students and teachers a rich and inviting learning environment.

The school wide articulation and collaboration facilitates a carefully thought-out and sequential development of skills, knowledge and attitudes. The school provides IBPYP professional development opportunities for teachers that support the pedagogy of the programme.

Are all children in the school required to participate in the PYP at James River Elementary?WJCC Schools2019-02-20T15:05:31-05:00

The Primary Years Program is inclusive of all children ages 5-12 in the school, regardless of their learning needs. IB authorized schools are expected to involve all of their students in the Primary Years Programme, regardless of their learning needs. The IB refers to this as a “whole-school approach”. The IB expects that schools will make any necessary accommodation for students with special and/or exceptional needs.

At what age does second language instruction need to begin at an IBPYP school?WJCC Schools2019-02-20T15:06:20-05:00

All authorized PYP schools are required to begin second language instruction to all students. JRE offers Spanish language instruction to all students K-5. The JRE Spanish language program is integrated across the content-related curriculum at each grade level.

What is the Primary Years Exhibition?WJCC Schools2019-02-20T15:06:51-05:00

The exhibition is the culminating event of an IB learner’s Primary Years Programme.
The exhibition is an in-depth inquiry of a global issue that also has local and/or regional implications.
The exhibition draws from the essential knowledge of the Standards of Learning K-5.
The topic and research is student-driven and exhibited at the end of the fifth grade year.
The entire school community and community at large are invited to attend.
The exhibition incorporates all the transdisciplinary skills the students have acquired during the Primary Years Programme.

What are the Essential Agreements?WJCC Schools2019-02-20T15:07:35-05:00

The essential agreements describe how James River “works on the work” as a faculty of an IBPYP School; the living document outlines the practices and procedures that the staff has developed and agreed to adopt. The agreements are revisited each year and revisions are made according to changing needs.

What are the five essential elements of the IBPYP?WJCC Schools2019-02-20T15:09:46-05:00

Concepts and related questions:

  • Form: What is it like?
  • Function: How does it work?
  • Causation: Why is it like it is?
  • Change: How is it changing?
  • Connection: How is it connected to other things?
  • Perspectives: What are the points of view?
  • Responsibility: What is our responsibility?
  • Reflection: How do we know?

The six transdisciplinary themes that integrate essential knowledge from all content areas, including the Standards of Learning and the WJCC elementary school curriculum:

  • Who we are
  • Where we are we in place and time
  • How we express ourselves
  • How the world works
  • How we organize ourselves
  • How we share the planet

Transdisciplinary skills that all students need to have for the 21st century

  • Communication skills
  • Critical thinking skills
  • Research skills
  • Self-management skills
  • Social skills

Twelve IBPYP Attitudes

  • Appreciation
  • Commitment
  • Confidence
  • Cooperation
  • Creativity
  • Curiosity
  • Empathy
  • Enthusiasm
  • Independence
  • Integrity
  • Respect
  • Tolerance
Action: How do we want students to act by creating a climate of expectation for action in connection to a unit of study?WJCC Schools2019-02-20T15:12:07-05:00
  • Students learn something
  • Students feel something
  • Students do something (take action)


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