At Highland Park Elementary IB World School, we organize our teaching and learning around six global themes that incorporate all the different subject areas, the Minnesota State Standards, and the St. Paul Schools scope and sequence.
We create units of inquiry that explore big ideas and concepts that are relevant and global. The students learn and acquire knowledge by asking questions, observing, investigating, and researching.
The PYP program strives to develop respectful learners who are
These Learner Profile attributes are the heart of our PYP program. Each attribute is specifically taught, practiced and acknowledged.
Students ask lots of questions at HPE. The teachers help students organize their questions with the key concepts. Because of this, our units of inquiry look somewhat different from year to year, because the lessons and learning are driven by students’ questions, background knowledge, and interests.
Another difference you will notice about Highland Park is not only students asking questions, observing and inquiry skills, but also our emphasis on students showing action. This is a way for students to communicate their learning. It can be as small as bringing something in from home that relates to what they are learning in class, or something a bit larger, like connecting with a local or global cause that is relevant to the students and coming up with a plan to make a difference. We have had students share interests and hobbies, students put up posters and bulletin boards to raise awareness of topics, students have organized fundraisers for organizations that they are passionate about, and many students have researched intriguing questions, and then shared their new knowledge and findings with others.
An example of how this all connects is our kindergartners’ current unit of inquiry. The kindergartners are exploring systems that consist of patterns and cycles. They have chosen to specifically talk about patterns and cycles in our galaxy and components of our solar system. Kindergartners learn about the cycles and positions of our Earth, Moon and Sun. The kindergartners experience constellations in centers. The students put on space suits and hang out in a spaceship. Writing is centered around planet research. Art is centered around creating constellations and a 3D space collage. Math focuses on patterning. Literature and guided reading are connected to systems that consist of patterns and cycles. Our field trips and community connections also connect to our units of inquiry. The kindergartners have taken a field trip to an omnitheater for a movie presentation on space. This year the students visited the St. Paul Schools' Planetarium.
It is exciting to have grade-level traditions for students to look forward to, like every year, the second graders make an edible landfill, but it is also fun to discover new knowledge differently than the students of the past. It gives our families with multiple children opportunities to share their learning and new experiences while reminiscing about activities from the past.
HPE has a strong history of students being immersed in engaging and relevant learning experiences.