Voice, choice, and agency: Pattengill launches International Baccalaureate (IB) program aimed at boosting student-led learning

Primary Years Programme (PYP) classrooms help students become lifelong learners

Since 2103, The Ann Arbor Public Schools IB continuum of international education has offered academic and personal rigor for all students in the Mitchell, Scarlett, and Huron pathways.  

Now, two more schools have been added to the International Baccalaureate (IB) continuum.

Beginning in late January, Bryant (pre-K-2) and Pattengill (3-5th grades) have been offering I.B., a way of teaching and learning that is student-driven through a conceptual lens.

(Editor’s Note: Bryant’s I.B. program will be detailed in an upcoming post on AAPS District News.)

Some essential aspects of I.B. are encouraging voice, choice, and agency, for students will engage in learning that emphasizes: 

  • Inquiry – students asking questions, students finding answers;
  • Global awareness – connecting to the local, state, national and international community;
  • Action and Service – learning by doing, making a positive impact;
  • World languages – all students learning a world language;
  • Access and Equity – intentional development of curriculum and supports connected to the needs of learners.

Amanda Saffian, IB PYP Facilitator at Pattengill, explained that IB learning is anything but the “silo approach” to learning and teaching.

“There is collaboration; there is meaningful conversation that happens; there is sharing,” she says. “Every single voice for every single student is honored and heard and embedded into everyday classrooms. And that is the magic of I.B. So when we’re looking at things like key concepts and transdisciplinary themes and aspects of the learner profile attributes, you will see those throughout our building in our classrooms and sent home with children in newsletters. You will see it everywhere. Because this is not a surface-level approach to teaching and learning. This is completely enveloped, so that everybody knows what’s happening and every bit buddy gets to take place and take part in the learning environment. And so it becomes a really exceptional way for us all to move forward and I think this is a really incredible opportunity for Bryant and Pattengill.”

At Pattengill, the third grade’s unit focuses on economies, resources, and entrepreneurship. Students will create and market a product, analyzing its sustainability.

“Students will learn about the rights and responsibilities in the struggle to share finite resources with other people and with other living things and communities and the relationship within and between them,” said Saffian. “They will also study how Michigan’s economy connects to other economies. Michigan’s economy is a cycle that provides for its citizens and how entrepreneurs use various resources to produce and sell products.”

At the end of this unit, each student will create a how-to book related to the process of becoming an entrepreneur, she said. 

Fourth graders will focus on energy and technology. Students will learn about alternate energy sources and build/test pinewood derby cars. They will also design a sustainable vehicle.

“The central idea of this unit is that societies use technology to evolve with the natural world,” said Saffian. “In this unit, students will learn about how humans use their understanding of scientific principles.”

The fifth grade teams will focus on the theme: How We Organize Ourselves: An Inquiry into the Interconnectedness of human-made Systems and Communities; the Structure and Function of Organizations; Societal Decision-making; Economic Activities and Their Impact on Humankind and the Environment.

The central idea of the unit is that governmental decisions impact citizens and influence their actions

The Ann Arbor Public Schools offers the only full continuum of IB education in the state for all students from pre-kindergarten through 12th grade. In addition to Bryant and Pattengill, the continuum is as follows:

  • Primary Years Programme (PYP) at Mitchell Elementary School, grades Pre-K-5th grade;
  • Middle Years Programme (MYP) in partnership at Scarlett Middle School (grades 6 – 8) and Huron High School (grades 9 and 10) 
  • Diploma Programme (DP) at Huron High School, grades 11 and 12, with 27 DP course options.  
  • Career-related Programme (CP) at Huron High School, grades 11 and 12, with several career related study pathways including automotive technology, business, cosmetology, engineering and home building with plans for additional career pathways in development.

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