Frequently Asked Questions about the Curriculum at Shepherd

  1. Why are we pursuing the International Baccalaureate’s Primary Years Program (PYP)? What are the benefits?
    The PYP is not a separate curriculum, but a different approach to learning. It makes the existing curriculum more meaningful, more useful and more connected to real life issues. Through the PYP students are guided to think more critically, more independently and more creatively. Students are guided to make connections between the different subjects they learn and learn how to apply their skills to solve real world problems. They are taught to care more about the people around them and to see and appreciate their commonalities and differences. The purpose of foreign language study in the PYP is to help students relate to other cultures. An additional benefit is that through PYP practices students are encouraged to become more involved in their immediate community and the wider community.
     
  2. What is the status of Shepherd ES in the IB authorization process?
    Once Application Part A has been submitted to the IB North America (IBNA) Regional Office and accepted by IBNA, the applicant school becomes a “candidate school.” Shepherd’s Application Part A was submitted in the fall of 2007, so Shepherd is currently an IB candidate school. During the candidate phase of the authorization process, teachers must collaboratively develop their PYP units of inquiry and implement the units on a trial basis for at least one year. Then, the school submits Application Part B to IBNA. A few months later, an IB team visits the candidateschool to assess its readiness to become an authorized “IB World School.” We project that Shepherd will submit its Application Part B on December 1, 2009 and have its authorization visit in the late winter or spring of 2010.
     
  3. What is the connection between the IB Programme and World Languages?
    The IB Organization does not require any particular number of hours or frequency of classes for World Language instruction, only that there be exposure to a World Language by age 7 and beyond.
     
  4. Several different language programs have been mentioned over the years. What is Shepherd’s language program model?
    Shepherd has a “Foreign Language in Elementary School (FLES)” Program, which is a comprehensive and enriching world language program. Shepherd does not have a dual language or immersion program which are both language programs in which at least 50% of all instruction must be in a non-English language. FLES is the most frequently offered foreign language program in elementary school. FLES programs offer a second language as a subject much like science or social studies. A FLES Program does require a range of time and frequency. The national standard is 45 to 180 minutes per week. At Shepherd, the FLES Program is aligned with IB’s requirements and exposes students in grades pre-kindergarten through 6 to either French or Spanish language instruction.

    For those parents who want additional foreign language instruction for their children, an after school Spanish class is available free of charge. Also, funding is available for a possible Saturday Language Academy. Putting this in place will be based on interest and number.

    For those parents who want additional foreign language instruction for their children, an after school Spanish class is available free of charge. Also, funding is available for a possible Saturday Language Academy. Putting this in place will be based on interest and number.

  5. What is the role of the PYP Coordinator?
    • Shares instructional leadership with the principal
    • Receives correspondence and other documentation regarding the IB program
    • Distributes information to members of the school community as required
    • Is responsible for ensuring that the PYP is planned, taught and assessed collaboratively and in accordance with IBO requirements; helps to lead the collaborative process; is involved in whole-school planning
    • Assists teams and individuals with developing student inquiry units
    • Establishes and maintains a record of completed PYP lesson plans and other PYP curriculum documents
    • Ensures that teachers and staff are made aware of professional development opportunities; makes recommendations regarding professional development; keeps a record of workshop attendance and school visits
    • Assists 5th or 6th grade teachers with the PYP exhibition
    • Recommends the purchase of resources to support the PYP
    • Conducts parent information sessions
    • Publishes articles pertaining to the program in the school newsletter
    • Prepares and submits documentation required for authorization and evaluation
    • Sets up systems for communication and collaboration among all staff members involved in implementing the program
    • Provides outreach to the wider PYP community (through discussion forums, e-mail, school visits, etc.)
  6. What is the professional development requirement for PYP schools?
    To meet the PYP training requirement for authorization, all teachers and administrators working with PYP students, must have participated in workshops organized by or through the IB Organization’s regional offices.

This FAQ is the product of collaboration between the Principal Miles, Patricia Tucker, the DCPS Office of Bilingual Education and the members of the Shepherd PTA Curriculum Committee.

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