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“IB programme is practical and application-based”

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The focus of the International Baccalaureate (IB) pedagogy is on ‘how to learn’, not ‘what to learn’, says DRS International School PYP Coordinator Monalisa Dash, in conversation with Ruhi Ahuja Dhingra

It is believed that IB prepares a student for the university. Please tell us how?DRS International Principla
IB is a practical and application-based programme. The International Baccalaureate Organisation (IBO) is a recognised leader in international education and encourages students to be active learners, well-rounded individuals and engaged world citizens.

IB standards demonstrate a very high degree of alignment with the Knowledge and Skills for University Success (KSUS) standards in all subjects. In addition, many of the individual IB standards are at a level more advanced than entry-level college courses.

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The recent studies on IB Diploma Programme graduates in university say that the students perform well and have significantly higher grade point averages and higher graduation rates than students who did not complete the IB Diploma.

IB assessments are curriculum-based. The depth and breadth of the programme gives students the exposure to an academically-challenging curriculum that emphasises the use of a variety of assessments, including an emphasis on written essays that reflect the students’ ability to write, think critically, and look at issues from all sides and present arguments based on evidence to support their point of view.

The assessment tasks evaluate students’ ability to think and process what they know, rather than assessing rote learning skills.

How is IB different from any other curriculum, for example, CBSE?
The IB programme is practical and application-based. It has a broader spectrum of subjects that lead to all-round development. IB examinations test students’ knowledge, not their memory and speed. There are no externally evaluated examinations till the Middle Years Programme (class 10).

The focus of the IB pedagogy is on ‘how to learn’ rather than ‘what to learn’. The purpose of the programme is to produce global citizens, but it can be well-integrated with the local curriculum.

Hindi is offered as a second language in the IB Diploma Programme. The curriculum is more challenging than educational boards like the CBSE and ICSE. The challenge is in the quality of assignments, and not in the amount of work assigned.

Please share with us your strategies for student assessment.
Student achievement is assessed according to specific performance criteria established by the International Baccalaureate Organisation. Assessments of IB value both content and process, creating a balanced assessment approach that builds on students’ strengths.

There are a variety of assessments used by IB which take different learning styles and cultural diversity into account. Most subjects require both internal and external evaluation. The various types of assessment include research work of the student, written examinations, oral examinations, formative and summative assessments.

Apart from this, report cards are also issued twice a year. The full report contains examples of student work and their reflections, a student profile evaluation, the student’s self-analysis of the attitudes, a description of the units of inquiry, rubrics for stand-alone subjects, goal-setting and comments on progress made towards meeting goals.

Is IB recognised in all the cities of India and across the world?
The rigour and the standards of the IBDP ensure that colleges and universities around the world recognise the IB Diploma as a superior academic programme and a strong university-entry credential.

The Association of Indian Universities (AIU) rates the diploma at par with class 12 CBSE, ICSE, NIOS or state boards. Many educational institutions and colleges have published their policies and entry criteria for IB students on their websites.

For example, the Delhi University has specified its conditions for entry of IB students. Universities in over 110 countries recognise the diploma, which allows entrance to the most competitive universities around the world.

Can a student join an IB school after doing a few years of his schooling from a different board?
Although the PYP, MYP and DP form a continuous sequence, each can be offered independently too. A student can join the IB Diploma Programme after completing the grade 10 level qualifications from CBSE, ICSE or any other state board. The programme is equivalent to 10+2 level qualification through the CBSE.

Please tell us about TOK, EE and CAS.
The Theory of Knowledge, an essay of 1,200-1,600 words, is written on a given title (from a choice of 10), followed by a ten-minute presentation of the essay by the student in the class.

The Extended Essay is an original independent research leading a DP student to produce a comprehensible written piece of 3,500-4,000 words in any chosen subject and title.

Under Creative, Action and Service (CAS), each DP student must complete at least 150 hours of work spread over one-and-a-half years, engaging in some form of creativity, participating in sport or other physical action, and doing social service.

How does the curriculum trigger the creativity of a child?
In DP, CAS (Creativity–Action–Service) is a framework for experiential learning, designed to involve students in new roles. The emphasis is on learning by doing real tasks that have real consequences and then reflecting on these experiences over time.

The most meaningful CAS experience comes from spending time with others to build relationships and develop the self-worth of both the server and the served. Appropriate activities can include:
• Physical assistance to the elderly
• A structured series of visits to a home for orphans
• Helping with rehabilitation at the local hospital
• Teaching-basis literacy
• Establishing and coaching a sports team for disadvantaged youngsters
• Establishing and leading a musical ensemble for the visually-impaired
• Involvement in a theatrical production to which refugee children are invited
• Teaching the use of computers
• Environmental restoration and protection

Creativity: This aspect covers a wide range of arts and other activities outside the normal curriculum which include creative thinking in the design and carrying out service projects. This could involve doing dance, theatre, music and art, for example. Students should be engaged in group activities, and especially in new roles, wherever possible.

Action: This aspect of CAS can include participation in expeditions, individual and team sports, and physical activities outside the normal curriculum. It also includes physical activity involved in carrying out creative and service projects. Action may involve participation in sport or other activities requiring physical exertion, such as expeditions and camping trips, or digging trenches to lay water pipes to bring fresh water to a village.

Service: Service involves interaction, such as building links with individuals or groups in the community. The community may be the school, the local district, or it may exist on national and international levels (such as undertaking projects of assistance in a developing county).

Service activities should not only involve doing things for others but also doing things with others and developing a real commitment with them. The relationship should, therefore, show respect for the dignity and self-respect of others.

We encourage international-mindedness in IB students. For this, we believe that students must first develop an understanding of their own cultural and national identity. All IB students learn a second language and the skills to live and work with others internationally—essential for life in the 21st century.

We also encourage a positive attitude to learning by encouraging students to ask challenging questions, reflect critically, develop research skills, and learn how to learn. Apart from this, we also promote community service because we believe that there is more to learning than academic studies alone. All these target the creativity of the child.

How do you see the role of ICT in reinventing the pedagogy and in administration?
The ever-increasing impact of ICT on teaching and learning is an important consideration in education at all levels. Through ICT, there are greater opportunities for interactive communication and exchange of information through global collaboration, authentic learning, expansion of the learning community and empowerment for all learners.

ICT encompasses the use of a wide range of digital tools, media and learning environments for teaching, learning and assessing. It provides opportunities for the transformation of teaching and learning and enables students to investigate, create, communicate, collaborate, organise and be responsible for their own learning and actions. It also allows students to make connections and reach a deeper understanding of its relevance and applicability to their everyday lives.

Through the use of ICT, learners develop and apply strategies for critical and creative thinking, engage in inquiry, make connections, and apply new understandings and skills in different contexts.

In this constantly evolving digital age, ICT is progressively becoming a ubiquitous part of a learner’s life at school and beyond: for learning, working, innovating, creating, responding, problem-solving, problem-posing, socialising and playing.

The emergence of educational technologies has transformed how IB World Schools achieve this mission. In particular, the Internet, one of the greatest technological innovations in the last 50 years, facilitates the finding and creating of information, as well as building and maintaining relationships and communities.

Today’s students are raised in a connected world and their immersion in wired technologies contributes to the evolution of learning in digital spaces. A new dynamic educational landscape has emerged. It is, therefore, critical that students’ awareness, use and appreciation of different kinds of information, skills and platforms be developed both at the school and at home.

The school community should be engaged in a dialogue to ensure a positive educational experience by understanding how to use the Internet and web-based devices safely, responsibly and smartly.

Please share the expansion plan of the school.
As part of our school expansion plan, we are working on project zero and have designed our own resource material. We are also in the process of developing our own learning management platform to use technology more effectively and make the learning process more effective. We are researching on ways to ‘tabify’ the whole school. This will be a big shift, but an enduring one.

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