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How do you teach math and science in the IB?


At La Scuola students are engaged in mathematical learning through the use of interesting, concrete materials and real-life problems to solve that encourage their awareness of mathematics as relevant in their daily lives. We ensure that each child develops a conceptual framework of numbers and quantities, and understands the composition and decomposition of numerical amounts, before asking him or her to solve equations on paper. Through inquiry-related activities and projects, the daily use of the calendar to explore number patterns, and games and manipulatives to build number concepts, children develop the following foundational mathematical concepts:

 Data handling: Data can be collected, organized, represented, and summarized.

 Numbers and measurement: Numerical value can be attached to a quantity. It’s important to know how accurate a measurement needs to be.

 Shape and space: Regions, paths and boundaries of a natural space can be described by shape.

 Pattern and function: Patterns can be identified in order to understand how mathematics applies to the world in which we live.

    Children are born with an immense capacity and motivation to explore, discriminate and interpret reality through their senses. Children are natural and talented scientists, wondering, “what will happen if…?” We are compelled to preserve and build upon children’s scientific skills of observing, theorizing and testing of relationships. A research-based approach, using the cycle of inquiry and the scientific method, as well as high-level, open-ended questions, will develop critical and analytical thinking skills for life. We believe that students “learn science by doing science,” through observation, theorization, experimentation, reflection and implementation of new action.

    How does the IB work?

    Our curriculum framework incorporates and exceeds the California mandated state curriculum by complying with the International Baccalaureate – Primary Years Programme (IB-PYP). The aim of all IB programmes is to develop internationally-minded people who, recognizing their common humanity and shared guardianship of the planet, help to create a better and more peaceful world.

      The IB-PYP philosophy is to foster tolerance and inter-cultural understanding among young people through a specific method of teaching. This method of teaching, also known as a “curricular framework”, incorporates critical thinking, problem solving, and exposure to a variety of viewpoints.  The IB Learner Profile forms the core of what La Scuola strives to develop in all community members.

     IB offers a balance between academic rigor and learning about the traditional subject areas (humanities, math, science, social studies, arts, music, drama, physical education, wellness) as well as learning beyond and across them. Interdisciplinary themes and project-based learning allow students to make meaningful connections about their world and their interests across disciplines and in an authentic context. At the heart of the programme’s philosophy is a commitment to structured, purposeful inquiry as the leading vehicle for learning.

      To learn more about how the IB is different, please explore the IBO website.

      How do you teach vocabulary to non-Italian speakers?

      We translate in many ways: some children help to translate (our community is cooperative), we use visual communication (labels, images, objects around us), and we translate with the use of context, concrete materials, and movement. In some cases the teachers translate.

      How will kindergarteners learn to read?

      Reading and writing are integrated throughout the entire curriculum with emphasis on letter recognition, sounds and formation, and inventive spelling. Children are introduced to letters and sight words and are encouraged to practice storytelling and experiment with printed materials in both languages. The literacy curriculum includes phonemic awareness instruction, journal writing (using inventive and phonetic spelling), handwriting instruction (Handwriting Without Tears), reading, and project-based activities (labeling work, making signs, taking observational notes).

       The reading curriculum is based on the theories and practices of the Columbia Teachers College, called “Readers Workshop.” Children independently read “just-right books” at their current level, and are given guidance with slightly more challenging texts. The teacher gives direct teaching of important reading strategies, word patterns, etc., through mini-lessons. Children engage in active reflection of their reading development through their literacy journals, by reading with a partner, and in one-on-one conferences with their teacher.

       We acknowledge that writing involves more than just the letters in the alphabet, and being literate is far beyond the ability to write and read the alphabet. Drawings and other graphic representations are highly valued as strategies for communicating ideas. We encourage the exploration of various visual designs, such as signs, symbols, pictures, labels, words, texts, and images. We explore letters, composing “stories” and cursive script, etc.

       Additionally, listening is a core value of our program and teachers demonstrate and model “attention strategy” to dialogue and exchange of ideas as an empathetic context for listening to each other.

        How will the children be assessed for grade level skills in writing, reading and math?

        La Scuola evaluates students with a skills checklist that combines a narrative with a listing of discrete skills in core academic subjects.  Rather than a letter grade we use the following criteria for each skill:  introduced, in progress, mastered or needs work.  Comprehensive student assessments are also an important part of this process.  Parent/Teacher Conferences are held twice a year.

        What is the atelier curriculum?

        The atelier is one of the primary innovations of the Reggio Approach: the school studio and laboratory. The atelier at La Scuola is the heart of our creative expressions. The atelier is a place for experimentation with visual languages, either in isolation or in combination with verbal ones. The atelier is equipped with clay, wire, paint, pens, paper, beads, shells and a variety of recycled, natural materials used by the children in short and long-term projects with the purpose of expressing the “hundred languages” of children.

        Children explore a variety of media and techniques as they are encouraged to improvise, experiment and create. The process of experimenting with materials, tools, and ideas is a key component of the curriculum. The creative process is emphasized rather than the product. After children have had ample time to experiment, tools and techniques are introduced as they move toward a desire to create a finished product in relation to their project work.

        How can non-Italian speaking parents support lessons at home? What is the best way to support language acquisition at home?

        La Scuola is committed to creating an environment in which Italian is used by children and teachers alike. While not a requirement, parents who speak Italian are encouraged to speak it both at home and at school. Parents who do not speak Italian are encouraged to learn. We encourage families to read Italian books at home with a parent/caregiver for 20 minutes per day.