Primary Years Programme (PYP)

Transdisciplinary Themes 

One of the most significant and distinctive features of the IB Primary Years Programme is the six Transdisciplinary Themes. These themes are about big ideas that have meaning for and are important to all of us. The programme offers a balance between learning about or through the subject areas and learning beyond them.

For example, the "Sharing the Planet' transdisciplinary theme is about 'inquiring into rights and responsibilities in the struggle to share finite resources with other people and with other living things; communities and the relationships within and between them; access to equal opportunities; peace and conflict resolution.'

During their seven years of schooling, each TD theme offers an authentic context for students to learn increasingly complex ideas about themselves and the world around them. 
Many of our students have started a 'deep dive' into their first unit of inquiry. 
Often teachers begin with a 'provocation' where we set the scene of the inquiry and tune in to the possibilities by sparking curiosity, triggering background knowledge and provoking wonder. 

The Year 5s have begun their 'Sharing the Planet' unit of inquiry and this week the students were faced with a provocation that caused consternation, reflection and in some cases, outrage!  

Students in small groups were given the task of building the tallest tower they could using only what was given to them. As each bag held different materials, it meant that some groups were disadvantaged. 

"That's not fair!" "Some groups have an advantage!" "We are unlucky" "I was disappointed" While I don't want to give away our central idea yet, this task allowed students to tune into some of the language, attitudes, feelings, and issues which they will need in our upcoming unit. Teachers filmed students during the task and took notes of our observations, for students to discuss and analyse. 

It wasn't all uncomfortable feelings though. Many students loved the feeling of anticipation while building their towers, they were proud of not giving up, they appreciated how people expressed their ideas and they admired the creative approaches of others. They enjoyed working and cooperating in their teams.

" The activity really helped me realise that even if some people had better materials than others it didn't matter if you had good team work" Joseph 

"It kinda made me think that we should have a balance in life" Henry 

"People should have the same choices and opportunities in life" Moon  

Janine Bell | PYP Coordinator