IB Chinese: An Insider’s View


Siqi Guo is currently a 3rd grade Chinese immersion teacher for Washington Yu Ying Public Charter School and our newest guest blogger. We are excited to share her insights with you all.

Did you know that there are 3,851 schools across 148 countries now offering International Baccalaureate® (IB) and over 3000 leading universities now recognizing the IB Diploma Program (DP) assessment? Many US schools are attracted by the IB mission of building internationally-minded students, and have started to adopt IB programme. I am currently a Chinese teacher at Washington Yu Ying Charter School, a Chinese-immersion, public charter, International Baccalaureate World School in the nation's capital. I've learned so much about meeting the high demands of IB through the help of my colleagues and wanted to share my learnings regarding program planning, curriculum development, and lesson alignment to IB standards. Here's an insider view of what teachers are doing for a Primary Years Program (PYP) school's Chinese program.

1. Program Planning: Standards, Content Maps, and More

Most PYP schools do not have a set curriculum because they believe that students learn best from inquiry. It adds the flexibility and responsibility of resource selection and curriculum design to the teachers which I really enjoyed.

At the beginning of the school year, our teaching team maps out 6 units based on Common Core State Standards and six transdisciplinary themes of global significance, which include “Who we are”, “Where we are in place and time”, “How we express ourselves”, “How the world works”, “How we organize ourselves” and “Sharing the planet.”  Our discussion mainly focuses, but is not limited to the content of the unit, central ideas, essential questions, and lines of inquiry. When we agree on the content, we then start to put those units in sequence. We then source books and materials from multiple channels including Better Chinese and China Sprout that links to each unit's content map. For our Influential People unit, we chose a storybook about Qu Yuan, the famous Chinese poet and minister who was known for his patriotism and the origin of the Dragon Boat Festival.

2. Lesson Planning through Backward Design

My fellow teachers and I then start to plan the learning experiences of each unit week by week using the methodology of Backward Design. The first thing we consider is the summative assessment at the end of each unit. This assessment is typically a showcase or presentation allows students to demonstrate and reflect upon what they have learned. The [caption id="attachment_3608" align="alignright" width="100"] Bruce Lee[/caption] summative assessment for our Influential People unit is "A Living Museum". Students act like museum statues of various influential people we had learned, such as Qu Yuan, Bruce Lee, Qin Shihuang, Mao Zedong, etc. When someone presses the "Magic Button", they come to life and need to talk and act like the person. Some students even come dressed up. It is a creative way of presenting what they have learned in the unit and students really enjoy it. Once the assessment is determined, we start to design weekly learning objectives and activities. We work to ensure that every member in the teaching team is clear about what to teach and how to teach them throughout the unit.

Working in an IB school provides teachers with a lot of autonomy in creating their own curriculum and lessons. The structure encourages teachers listen to their students' questions and thoughts and fosters a learning environment built on collaboration and exploration.

 If you would like to know more about IB, please stop by the Better Chinese booth at this week’s IB Conference in Washington, DC. Helen Yung, Better Chinese VP of Academics and Joanne Hsu will be there and happy to answer any IB related questions.

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