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As we approach our 11th year of educating students here at Alpine, an International Baccalaureate School, we are preparing to embrace an exciting opportunity. Our IB re-evaluation will take place this school year. Every five years, we have the opportunity to engage in a self-study to determine how well we are focusing on the mission, vision and goals of the International Baccalaureate-Primary Years Program. This November we have guests from the IBO, International Baccalaureate Organization, come and reflect with us about our progress and areas for continued growth. What does this have to with STEM? IB and STEM are two philosophies that overlap and support each other very well. During our journey through our self-evaluation, we have identified how these philosophies merge with our current IB practices.
IB focuses on knowledge, what we want students to know. STEM focuses on integration, dissolving the boundaries between disciplines. Together these concepts create an opportunity for students to synthesize knowledge across subject areas in order to create new understandings about our world.
In IB, we focus on key concepts, ideas we want students to understand. This includes form, function, change, causation, connection, perspective, responsibility and reflection. In STEM, we focus on problem solving. We use the human-centered “Design Thinking Process” which includes developing empathy for a user, defining the problem from the user’s perspective, brainstorming possible solutions, prototyping one of the solutions, and testing or seeking feedback for user feasibility. When using key concepts, students are provided with guiding questions to drive the problem-solving process.
In IB, we focus on approaches to learning, what we want students to do. We hope to develop self-management skills, communication skills, thinking skills, research skills and social skills. In STEM, we focus on personalized learning, having a say in what and how we learn. Students can use the different approaches to learning to personalize their own learning and make it more authentic, relevant and meaningful in their world.
In IB, we focus on attitudes, what we want students to feel, value and demonstrate. These attitudes include appreciation, commitment, cooperation, confidence, creativity, curiosity, empathy, enthusiasm, independence, integrity, respect and tolerance. In STEM, we focus on 21st century skills, looking at how students can move beyond the measureable through collaboration, communication, critical thinking and creativity. Students use their feelings, values and belief system to enhance their learning by connecting with others in their world.
In IB, we focus on students taking action on things that are important to them. In STEM, we focus on making connections by building relationships with people, places and professions. When making these connections with people, places and professions, students are able to take action and have an impact on their world in a more meaningful way.
Our focus has always been, and continues to be, on the International Baccalaureate foundation we have developed over the last 11 years. However, through the solid implementation of STEM philosophies and practices, we have become a much stronger, more cohesive IB-PYP School.