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Primary Years Program: PPK - 5th grade

Baldwin School is authorized to offer the Primary Years Program (PYP) in grades Pre Pre Kinder through Fifth.  The PYP serves as a curricular outline that includes five components referred to as the 5 Essential Elements.  With the Learner Profile as the guiding light, these components, described below, facilitate the creation of the school’s curriculum providing a framework and foundation to support teaching, learning, and assessment.

PYP Curricular framework responds to the IB philosophy and best practices:

  • Constructivist approach
  • Developmentally appropriate
  • Student centered
  • Inquiry driven
  • Concept based

The PYP is also characterized by its transdisciplinary approach, exploring ideas through a conceptual lens that integrates and moves beyond the disciplines to address real world problems and situations.  The focus of the curriculum is providing learning opportunities that allow for hands-on inquiries that engage and empower learners to construct knowledge, deepen understanding, and develop skills.


The traditional subjects are integrated and worked on through the units of inquiry.  Units of inquiry are in depth explorations into a Central Idea (for example: Personal decisions affect how we can lead a balanced and healthy lifestyle.).  These units last several weeks and include a purposeful integration of the 5 Essential Elements, the Learner Profile, and the knowledge, concepts, and skills of the relevant subjects.  Teachers strive to balance a transdisciplinary approach with direct instruction of the core skills in each of the subjects.  

  • English
  • Spanish
  • Math
  • Science
  • Social Studies
  • Visual Arts
  • Performing Arts
  • Physical Education
  • Technology/Computers
  • Library

Transdisciplinary themes: The knowledge component includes the significant, relevant content that the students explore and know about, taking into consideration their prior experience and understanding. Knowledge is framed by six transdisciplinary themes:

  • Who we are

  • How we express ourselves

  • How we organize ourselves

  • How the world works

  • Where we are in place and time

  • Sharing the planet

Each grade level K - 5th works on one unit of inquiry for each of the six themes every school year. In PPK and PK they work on four units, including Who we are and How we express ourselves.  Our Program of Inquiry (POI) includes all the grade level units of inquiry (include link here).  In addition, single subject teachers also develop subject specific units of inquiry that complement the POI as well as further develop the knowledge, content, and skills of that particular subject.

Concepts: An emphasis on conceptual understanding is based on powerful ideas that have relevance within the subject areas but also transcend them. Students explore and re-explore key and related concepts in order to develop a coherent, in-depth understanding. In the PYP there are eight key concepts and many related concepts. Examples of related concepts are conflict, harmony, exchange, conservation, location, roles, relationships and so forth.

Key Concepts

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?
Perspective What are the points of view?
Reflection How do we know?
Responsibility What is our responsibility?
Skills: In the PYP we understand that skills are those capabilities that the students need to demonstrate to succeed in a changing, challenging world, which may be disciplinary or transdisciplinary in nature. The transdisciplinary skills or Approaches to Learning are grouped into five categories, with subsets in each.
Approaches to Learning
Thinking skills
  • Acquisition of knowledge
  • Comprehension
  • Application
  • Analysis
  • Synthesis
  • Evaluation
  • Dialectical thought
  • Metacognition
Communication skills
  • Listening
  • Speaking
  • Reading
  • Writing
  • Viewing
  • Presenting
Research skills
  • Formulating questions
  • Observing
  • Planning
  • Collecting data
  • Recording data
  • Organizing data
  • Interpreting data
  • Presenting research findings
Social skills
  • Accepting responsibility
  • Respecting others
  • Cooperating
  • Resolving conflict
  • Group decision-making
  • Adopting a variety of group roles
Self management skills
  • Gross motor skills
  • Fine motor skills
  • Spatial awareness
  • Organization
  • Time management
  • Safety
  • Healthy lifestyle
  • Codes of behavior
  • Informed choices

Attitudes: Explained below are the dispositions that are expressions of fundamental values, beliefs and feelings about learning, the environment and people. These habits of mind and behavior facilitate successful learning.  When practiced in daily interactions and experiences the twelve attitudes are understood to develop the attributes of the Learner Profile.

  • Appreciation: Appreciating the wonder and beauty of the world and its people.
  • Commitment: Being committed to their own learning, persevering and showing self-discipline and responsibility.
  • Confidence: Feeling confident in their ability as learners, having the courage to take risks, applying what they have learned and making appropriate decisions and choices.
  • Cooperation: Cooperating, collaborating, and leading or following as the situation demands.
  • Creativity: Being creative and imaginative in their thinking and in their approach to problems and dilemmas, as well as solutions.
  • Curiosity: Being curious about the nature of learning, about the world, its people and cultures.
  • Empathy: Imagining themselves in another’s situation in order to understand his or her reasoning and emotions, so as to be open-minded and reflective about the perspectives of others.
  • Enthusiasm: Enjoying learning and willingly putting the effort into the process.
  • Independence: Thinking and acting independently, making their own judgments based on reasoned argument, and being able to defend their judgments.
  • Integrity: Being honest and demonstrating a considered sense of fairness.
  • Respect: Respecting themselves, others and the world around them.
  • Tolerance: Being sensitive about differences and diversity in the world and being responsive to the needs of others.
Action: Learning is best evidenced by voluntary, responsible actions based upon that learning.  In other words, these are demonstrations of significant learning through responsible action; a manifestation in practice of the other essential elements.  

The Learner Profile includes ten (10) attributes that are understood to describe an effective lifelong learner.  As the guiding light of all IB programs, we intentionally weave learning opportunities that develop these attributes throughout the curriculum.  This development of these attributes begins with our youngest learners, however it is understood to be an ongoing process - not a goal to be reached and checked off by year’s end.  All constituents are expected to be aware of the Learner Profile, as well as to engage in the purposeful reflection of one’s strengths and areas of improvement within it. (PYP Attitudes have been highlighted in the descriptions below.)

Inquirers We nurture our curiosity, developing skills for inquiry and research. We know how to learn independently and with others. We learn with enthusiasm and sustain our love of learning throughout life.

Knowledgeable We develop and use conceptual understanding, exploring knowledge across a range of disciplines. We engage with issues and ideas that have local and global significance.

Thinkers We use critical and creative thinking skills to analyze and take responsible action on complex problems. We exercise initiative in making reasoned, ethical decisions.

Communicators We express ourselves confidently and creatively in more than one language and in many ways. We collaborate effectively, listening carefully to the perspectives of other individuals and groups.

Principled We act with integrity and honesty, with a strong sense of fairness and justice, and with respect for the dignity and rights of people everywhere. We take responsibility for our actions and their consequences.

Open-minded We critically appreciate our own cultures and personal histories, as well as the values and traditions of others. We seek and evaluate a range of points of view, and we are willing to grow from the experience.

Caring We show empathy, compassion and respect. We have a commitment to service, and we act to make a positive difference in the lives of others and in the world around us.

Courageous (Risk-takers) We approach uncertainty with forethought and determination; we work independently and cooperatively to explore new ideas and innovative strategies. We are resourceful and resilient in the face of challenges and change.

Balanced We understand the importance of balancing different aspects of our lives — intellectual, physical, (spiritual) and emotional — to achieve well-being for ourselves and others. We recognize our interdependence with other people and with the world in which we live.

Reflective We thoughtfully consider the world and our own ideas and experience. We work to understand our strengths and weaknesses in order to support our learning and personal development.


The Exhibition is the culminating experience of the Primary Years Program. In Fifth Grade, students undertake a collaborative, transdisciplinary inquiry process that engages them in identifying, investigating, taking action and offering solutions to real-life issues or problems. The Exhibition offers students an exciting opportunity that empowers learners to demonstrate independence and responsibility for their own learning.
The prime objective of assessment and reporting in the Primary Years Program at Baldwin School is to provide feedback on the learning process. It is central to the PYP goal of thoughtfully and effectively guiding students through the five essential elements of learning: the acquisition of knowledge, the understanding of concepts, the mastering of skills, the development of attitudes and the decision to take action. At the heart of our Assessment Philosophy is the individual student and our responsibility towards their educational development and success.
For more information regarding the Primary Years Program, please contact our PYP Coordinator, Janelle Mendez at [email protected]