Pine Street School
Education Team 20 NOVEMBER 2023
The Profound Impact of IB and Dual Language Immersion at Pine Street School
The IB Perspective: Holistic and Rigorous
The International Baccalaureate (“the IB”) is known for its academic rigor and is highly respected among colleges and universities worldwide. It is considered a gold standard in education as it develops students who will build a better world through personal growth, ethical values, and intercultural understanding.
Most families are familiar with the IB in association with the Diploma Programme for students in 11th and 12th Grade. Many are surprised to learn that the IB includes an early childhood and elementary school program called “the PYP” or Primary Years Programme. When PYP is combined with dual language immersion options in both Mandarin Chinese and Spanish, the result is an environment where students are not only academically challenged but also culturally enriched.
In 1990, international educators developed the PYP with inspiration from a host of constructivist learning models, like Montessori and Reggio Emilia. Then, as now, these models were considered global best practices for children ages 2-10. Constructivism has been around since the first Montessori school opened in 1907. Then, in the 1930s, Jean Piaget came out with his revolutionary theory of learning and officially labeled it constructivist theory.
Constructivism is a learning theory based on the belief that we all learn by constructing our own knowledge of the world through experiences and reflection, rather than by simply absorbing knowledge shared by someone else. In essence, constructivism argues that we gradually build (and revise) our own unique understanding of how things work and relate as we conduct observations, ask questions, and interact.At Pine Street School, the IB program serves as a framework that promotes inquiry-based learning. As students navigate complex subjects in two languages, they develop a deeper understanding of the content and a greater appreciation for linguistic nuances and cultural perspectives.
The IB Primary Years Programme (PYP) is the premier curriculum framework for international primary schools, designed for students ages three to ten (Preschool through 5th Grade). Through both a unique curriculum approach and unique teaching methods it develops the intellectual, emotional and physical potential of each child.
At the heart of the PYP is a commitment to structured inquiry as the best approach to learning. Giving more ownership to the students in planning and assessing their learning, providing time, space, resources and support, integrating subjects, exploring big themes, we have moved toward more authentic learning.
Throughout the program, students acquire and apply a set of transdisciplinary skills: social skills, communication skills, thinking skills, research skills, and self-management skills. These skills are valuable for any learning that goes on within the classroom, and in life outside the school.
Confidence, caring, and curiosity are the key words for the early years (3-5 year olds) classroom. Through play and exploration children learn about themselves, others and the world. Though play, fun and enjoyment don’t end with preschool, the bigger focus from reception to 5th Grade is on becoming inquirers, thinkers, knowledgeable, and reflective learners.
The PYP recognizes the importance of traditional subjects but even more it emphasizes the need for using the knowledge and skills of these subjects to explore significant concepts that are global and common for all humans. Therefore, the PYP has identified six transdisciplinary themes that are explored through 6 units of inquiry in each grade level. Together, all six units make up the “Program of Inquiry”.
Each unit lasts about six weeks giving ample time for the students to demonstrate their prior knowledge and understanding, explore, wonder, experiment, solve problems, question, research, read, view, visit places, interview people, make connections, make meaning, and construct new knowledge and understanding. The students may work individually, with partners, in a small group or as a whole class.
To celebrate and demonstrate what the children have learned we have class gatherings, put work out on the walls, invite parents and peers for presentations, showcase work in many forms during regular assemblies, and have student-led conferences with portfolios.
The culminating activity at the end of PYP is the PYP exhibition. This is not the end. Students are encouraged to reflect, to make informed choices and to take action that will help their peers, school staff and the wider community.
What distinguishes the Primary Years Programme?
- International perspective:
A driving force behind the PYP is the philosophy of international mindedness. The IB’s mission is to nurture young people who recognize that they are global citizens and who are motivated to make changes to and in the world.
The subject areas of math, language, science, social studies, technology, the arts, and physical education are taught through transdisciplinary themes in order to help students make connections among the subjects, thereby facilitating more effective learning.
The PYP fosters the development of thinking, communication, socializing, research, and self-management skills. Students are encouraged to put what they have learned into practice through service to the school community, the local community and the global community. You will notice that the PYP is comprehensive and complex. It takes time for the average PYP parent to learn the program in-depth and fully understand its power. But you will see it shortly after your child starts to experience it.
Elevate Learning With The Benefits of Dual Language Immersion
Dual language Immersion is not merely about learning a second language. It’s about immersing students in an environment where both their native language and a target language are integrated into daily learning. At Pine Street School, students experience this every day. By alternating between English and the target language, students are constantly engaged, adapting, and switching between linguistic structures.
- Students from both Spanish and Mandarin tracks are mixed in their English homerooms. They go to their target language class for 80-90 minutes each day for an immersion language learning experience.
- In target language class, each grade class offers two levels to meet learners’ different needs. In addition to teaching all skill areas in the target language, target language teachers also integrate math, science, social studies and cultural components in their classroom to deepen their skills.
This constant shifting and adapting isn’t just an exercise in language proficiency. It deeply influences cognitive abilities. Research has shown that bilingualism can improve attention and task-switching capacities in individuals. Furthermore, children who learn in a bilingual environment have been shown to develop complex problem-solving skills and show more creativity in their thought processes.
The Pine Street School Experience
The combination of the IB program and dual language immersion is not just about academic excellence but about nurturing globally-minded citizens. Pine Street School’s inquiry-based learning approach provides an experience that equips students with the skills to navigate a globally interconnected world, with empathy, critical thinking, and linguistic prowess. Students here don’t just learn; they engage, question, reflect, and understand. They come out not just as bilingual individuals but as thinkers, innovators, and leaders prepared for the challenges and opportunities of a global landscape. In a world that is increasingly interdependent, Pine Street School showcases what’s possible when we dare to think differently about education and embrace innovative, impactful approaches to learning.
Pine Street School
Address: Pine Street School
25 Pine St.
New York, NY 10005
Phone: +1 347-237-7606