Language plays a vital role in the construction of meaning. It empowers the learner and provides an intellectual framework to support conceptual development and critical thinking. In the IB Primary Years Programme (PYP), it is recognized that the teaching of language should be in response to the previous experience, needs and interests of the student, rather than the consequence of a predetermined, prescriptive model for delivering language. Fragmenting learning into the acquisition of isolated skill sets can create difficulties for learners—for example, learners may be able to read, write and spell words correctly in isolation but may not be able to read, write or spell those same words in other contexts. Learners’ needs are best served when they have opportunities to engage in learning within meaningful contexts, rather than being presented with the learning of language as an incremental series of skills to be acquired. Effective language teaching and learning are social acts, dependent on relationships with others, with context, with the environment, with the world, and with the self. Such learning is relevant, engaging, challenging and significant. Exposure to and experience with languages, with all their richness and diversity, creates an inquisitiveness about life and learning, and a confidence about creating new social interactions. Language provides a vehicle for learners to engage with the world and, in an IB World School, to relate to, and accept, responsibility for the mission of the IB to “help to create a better and more peaceful world”.
The power of mathematics for describing and analyzing the world around us is such that it has become a highly effective tool for solving problems. It is also recognized that students can appreciate the intrinsic fascination of mathematics and explore the world through its unique perceptions. In the same way that students describe themselves as “authors” or “artists”, our school’s programme also provides students with the opportunity to see themselves as “mathematicians”, where they enjoy and are enthusiastic when exploring and learning about mathematics. In the IB Primary Years Programme (PYP), mathematics is also viewed as a vehicle to support inquiry, providing a global language through which we make sense of the world around us. It is intended that students become competent users of the language of mathematics, and can begin to use it as a way of thinking, as opposed to seeing it as a series of facts and equations to be memorized. It is important that learners acquire mathematical understanding by constructing their own meaning through ever-increasing levels of abstraction, starting with exploring their own personal experiences, understandings and knowledge. Additionally, it is fundamental to the philosophy of the PYP that, since it is to be used in real-life situations, mathematics needs to be taught in relevant, realistic contexts, rather than by attempting to impart a fixed body of knowledge directly to students.
The visual arts are integral to the IB Primary Years Program (PYP) at SMIS. They are a powerful mode of communication through which students explore and construct a sense of self and develop an understanding of the world around them. The visual arts provide our students with a wide range of opportunities and means to respond to their experiences and engage with historical, social, and cultural perspectives. The students are stimulated to think and to articulate their thoughts in new ways, and through a variety of media. The visual arts as a medium of inquiry also provide opportunities for learning, communication, and expression. Learning about and through arts is fundamental to the development of the whole child, promoting creativity, critical thinking, problem-solving skills, and social interactions. SMIS believes that the visual arts engage students in a creative process that leads them to experiment in an ongoing cycle of creating and reflecting. This kind of creative process can truly be what drives learning through inquiry. From an early age, SMIS students have the opportunity to develop genuine interests in visual arts-learning to carefully consider their work and become self-critical and reflective. Reflecting on and evaluating their own work and the work of their peers is important as it empowers students to take risks and develop confidence. By exposing our students to the arts, SMIS believes that these creative experiences open doors to asking questions about life and learning. The whole creative process of making and appreciating art is inspiring and encourages our SMIS students to continue creating throughout their lives. Collaborative planning happens with the classroom teachers so that the content and concepts are covered both in homeroom and art classes. Occasionally, children do not have enough time to finish their art projects during the class time. When this happens, students may miss part of their recess time outside in order to complete their art projects.
With computer science classes, SMIS students are learning ICT skills that integrate with their Units of Inquiry. Because we see the ICT as a tool, the ICT lab is always used by the homeroom teachers and students to extend the teaching and learning in the units. Our understanding of computers and technology is constantly changing and evolving. The inclusion of computer science at SMIS within the IB PYP helps our students appreciate and become more aware of the world around them as they learn how to manipulate technology to develop their understanding of the world through inquiry. SMIS students will achieve a basic competence in word processing, data handling, following program instructions, and computer graphics. SMIS is committed to ensuring our students acquire confidence as technology users. The curriculum designed for the units of inquiry provides for transdisciplinary learning making meaningful connections with technology. To support this at home, parents can provide supervised access to a computer and programs with educational value.
Our goal with library time is to help our SMIS students connect books, the library, and the classroom with their Units of Inquiry and their understanding of the world around them. Teachers extend classroom learning – they are signing up for extra library classes to incorporate skills needed for the research and the access to information. The library is designed to develop lifelong readers and effective users of information technology. In the library, SMIS students learn how to identify, locate, organize, and present information- students learn how to find particular books on the shelves and how to find answers to questions by using the resources available in the library. Our SMIS library utilizes online reading programmes (Tumble Book) that may be accessed through our website.
As with the visual arts, the musical arts are integral to the IB Primary Years Program (PYP) at SMIS. They are powerful mode of communications through which students can explore and construct a sense of self and develop an understanding of the world around them. The musical arts provide our students with opportunities and means to respond to their experiences and engage with historical, social, and cultural perspectives. The students are stimulated to understand expression of thoughts in new ways, and through a variety of media. At SMIS the general music curriculum offered provides every student the opportunity to create, perform and respond to music, and promote lifelong enjoyment and appreciation of music. The music curriculum at SMIS is integrated into the students Units of Inquiry when appropriate, helping to bring a well-rounded experience to our students through the musical arts.
Within the IB PYP, Physical Education, swimming, and ballet are an integral part of PSPE, (Personal, Social and Physical Education). These lessons focus on physical education and developing our students personally and socially with respect to emotions, self-concept and moral values. They learn how to interact well with their families, learning communities, and the world at large through the interdisciplinary Units of Inquiry. SMIS believes in the IB PYP approach to Recreational Activities, as the PSPE in the IB Primary Years Program (PYP) is concerned with the holistic development of concepts, knowledge, attitudes and skills that contribute to an individual’s well-being. We believe that a person’s well-being is intrinsically linked to all aspects of a student’s experience at school and beyond. A person’s well-being includes physical, emotional, cognitive, spiritual and social health and development, and contributes to an understanding of self, to developing and maintaining relationships with others, and to participating in an active, healthy lifestyle.
French and Persian
The IB PYP recognizes that language, our primary means of thinking and communicating, is fundamental to learning. SMIS has a special responsibility to recognize and support students in the learning of the host country language. The acquisition of the host country language enhances intellectual and cognitive development, while enriching our students’ personal experience of living in Tehran, enabling students to communicate and socialize within the local community, as well as providing them with a much deeper awareness of cultural values and traditions that are different from their own. Learning another language also helps our SMIS students become more aware and grow in their understanding of their home language. The primary focus of Persian as the host country language curriculum is to facilitate student understanding and use of spoken Persian. Reading and writing Persian are also taught but the emphasis of our Persian program at SMIS is on developing confident, fluent oral language use. Listening, speaking, reading, and writing are taught by integrating these skills in an interactive way with the Units of Inquiry.