The International Primary Curriculum (IPC)
The focus within IPC is on learning, international mindedness and a thematic approach. Every theme, also known as a unit, starts with a ‘wow’ factor known as the Entry Point. This gives students a shared experience and gets them excited to learn about the topic. After that, the ‘Knowledge Harvest’ follows. This allows students to share what they already know about the topic and to activate this knowledge. Mind maps are often used to visualize this existing knowledge.
Afterwards the teacher will explain the theme and share the learning targets. The IPC focuses on a set of learning targets per unit. These are shared with the students for them to know what the learning is about and to encourage them to take responsibility for their own learning. The targets focus on gaining knowledge as well as developing skills and understanding. There is a great focus on developing an investigative attitude. After a few weeks the unit of learning comes to an end with the ‘Exit Point’. Sometimes parents get invited for the students to share and celebrate their learning. Alternatively, they share and celebrate it with other classes in school.
The IPC units of learning focus on History, Geography, Science, Technology, ICT, Music and Art. Besides this, every unit has an international focus. Because all these subjects are integrated in a theme, students learn to make connections between different subjects and between what they know and what they are going to learn. The international aspect fits in very well with the environment in which our student population find themselves. Students learn to take on different viewpoints and perspectives and discover similarities and differences between countries around the world. The international mindedness within the IPC strengthens our international character within the NSS. In the IPC lessons, English is used as the main language of instruction in Milepost 2 (7-9 year olds) and Milepost 3 (9-12 year olds).
The use of portfolios within the IPC
Within the Netherlands School Society we use portfolio folders to document and follow the student’s development. A portfolio consists of reflections on learning as well as evidence of learning. The portfolio does not just focus on IPC; it also focuses on literacy learning in both Dutch and English, and on Maths. The reflections focus on to what extent learning targets have been attained. Students reflect on the learning target by themselves, age-appropriately, with the help of success criteria. This process is called ‘assessment for learning’ in which the students learn to assess where they are in their learning and what their next steps are to grow. Within the NSS we use smileys that grow hair when they have made a step forward in their learning! We talk about:
• Beginning – ‘I’m getting used to it’
• Developing – ‘I’m getting better’
• Mastering – ‘I’ve got it and I’m ready for the next challenge!’
The 21st century skills and ICT
The term ‘21st century skills’ is a popular one. It focuses on preparing students for an ever changing and often unknown future. The 21st century skills are at the forefront of our IPC curriculum. First and foremost they are linked to the 8 personal goals:
Within the NSS we continuously work on developing these personal goals during the Social Skills lessons and also as a sub-target in other subjects. The personal goals give meaning to the lessons and help steer the experiences we want the students to go through. It is important for students to overcome obstacles in their learning and to improve their skill level, which is in line with the Growth-Mindset culture within the NSS.
The 21st century skills, Creativity and Critical Thinking, play a fundamental part in the IPC learning process. Students learn to take responsibility for and to steer their own learning process.
Of course the development of ICT skills is a key factor in the 21st century skills. The digital world plays an important part in all of our lives. Within the NSS ICT skills are at the centre of all IPC units, especially in Mileposts 2 and 3.
IPC: Great learning, great teaching, Great fun!
For more information, please visit: www.greatlearning.com/ipc.