By Diego Zaragoza, Interim Director of Academic Affairs
Our Lower School students have always enjoyed the involvement of their parents in their education at The American School Foundation. Two of the greatest strengths have been the structure of our homeroom parents supporting classroom activities throughout the year, as well as parent readers in different classes, making the classroom environment a dynamic one. This year, we have decided to strengthen our parent partnership by creating our PYP Parent Talks.
Our objective is to involve parents throughout the year to support the six transdisciplinary themes of the Primary Years Programme (PYP) and to give students an outlook on how to apply learning in practical ways. Our goal is to have students transfer their learning and see it through the lens of application in real-life contexts. They are focusing on understanding, building skills that transfer into the Middle School and showing the PYP attitudes in order to develop the IB Learner Profile. When we involve parents as guest speakers to support our units of inquiry, we are strengthening our approach to develop international-mindedness as a set of personal values that will transcend into their Upper School years.
But let's first understand what the six transdisciplinary themes are. The PYP has Ernest Boyer's research as the foundation of its philosophy and framework.
[He] proposed that students explore a set of themes that represents shared human experiences such as "response to the aesthetic" and "membership in groups". He referred to these as "core commonalities".
Making the PYP Happen
These six themes have global significance around cultures, societal organization, natural resources, expression and what it means to be human. They are the same themes covered from the early years to 12-year-olds yet with different conceptual lenses to ensure that we build on understanding and internalization. They promote critical thinking, inquiry, and use all subject areas to build relationships between the subjects – conceptual understanding.
2017-2018 ASF PYP Programme of Inquiry (click images to enlarge)
|Grade 1||Grade 5|
The benefit of strengthening parent involvement is to best serve the student by building a partnership between teachers and students, home and school; reciprocal support. We have opened up our curriculum in the Lower School so that, in partnership with the ASF Parent Association, we identify parents who have different expertise to support the transdisciplinary themes. This idea has been enthusiastically embraced by our parent community to the point where we now have a strong bank of parents who wish to come in and give a PYP Parent Talk to the students regardless of the age group. With our great facilities, we are able to involve all students in a particular grade-level to attend a parent talk and benefit from building different perspectives, formulate questions around real-life application of concepts and build strong ASF pride.
We have started off with two parent talks:
Grade 1 – How We Express Ourselves
Daniela Magún, famed singer from the Mexican pop group Kabah, came to speak to the students on the importance of having self-confidence and use creativity to express one's self. This parent talk gave students the insight on the importance of creativity, self-expression, enthusiasm and commitment. Yes, even grade 1 students begin to build their foundation based on these characteristics that later define how they internalize different learning outcomes.
Related Article -> IBAMEX: Enriching the Education Experience at ASF
Grade 5– How We Organize Ourselves
Rafael Pacchiano Alemán, Mexican Secretary of Secretaría de Medio Ambiente y Recursos Naturales (SEMARNAT), exposed students on the importance of having different government agencies to protect the natural resources of a nation. Students formulated questions around the role of different government branches, their role and how this impacts their lives. They were able to listen, first hand, to examples of challenges and successes to protect nature, wildlife and to give importance to the relationship between humans and the natural world in Mexico.
We are meeting our goal to give our students real-life application examples so that they can see learning through a different lens. This year, the commitment and enthusiasm of parents wanting to get involved has strengthened the PYP programme of inquiry and has been a catalyst for students to inquire further.
As an instructional leader of the school, I firmly believe that students who develop skills, knowledge, attitudes and big ideas, will find purpose and in turn act to improve our community. They will have become agents of change and global citizens who serve the world by exemplifying understanding, justice and truth.