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Future of Learning

Over the past year we have been inquiring into the question of the future of learning, such as what is the purpose of school, what do our children need to learn to be prepared for the future and how do schools need to evolve to meet the needs of our learning futures.  To read more about this Journey please see the Parents’ Forum Blog.

As part of this journey we have developed a series of short papers that explain the fundamental values of our learning philosophy and the future of learning.

The Why Sheets:

WHY Agency?







Why ATL?

Why Image of the Child?

Why Motivation?

Why Ownership?

Why Play

The Future of Learning in Grade 4 and 5: Designed for Learning

In May 2019 we shared some of our plans to begin changing how learning is designed in the school and we shall be beginning that journey in Grade 4 and 5 this August.  A pdf copy of the presentation is available here.  At the end of the meeting we asked parents to share their feedback and we used that information to create some frequently asked questions that have been answered below:

Frequently Asked Questions

Will there still be units of inquiry?

Yes.  Each grade will follow the required number of units of inquiry. However, the IB has now given schools the flexibility to run units concurrently, for them to overlap and to be revisited.  So some units such as how we express ourselves will be revisited during the course of the year.  An example of how six units might be organised is provided below by the IB:

From: http://blogs.ibo.org/sharingpyp/files/2018/04/2018-April-Learning-and-teaching-part-2-eng.pdf p4

How will students follow their own interests if the units of inquiry are still predetermined?

Students will be able to follow their own inquiries within the units of inquiry, so for example rather than all 40 students visiting a rainforest for a field trip, there might be four field trips to choose from including, wetlands, rainforest, freshwater lake and urban ecosystems.  Student inquiries may also differ where one student might be researching a specific organism such as the African Grey Parrot, whereas another might be inquiring into how urban growth is impacting the wetlands.  This is very similar to how the PYP Exhibition works with multiple inquiries falling into one unit.

Will there still be benchmarks or curriculum standards?

Yes, these standards are published in the curriculum guides for each grade level and the teaching teams have mapped where, during the year, they will be most appropriately explored.  We currently base most of our curriculum on the Australian curriculum standards, the IB expect schools to use either the IB’s published scope and sequence or one that is at least equivalent in depth and breadth to the one published by the IB. These curriculum benchmarks provide a road map for developing goals so that every learner is appropriately challenged to learn in each of the curriculum areas.

How will learners be supported in choosing their learning goals?

Learners will be supported in choosing their goals with focused time with their classroom teacher.  There is time scheduled for this each day, with the first and last period of each day dedicated to CAR time which stands for Choose, Act, Refect.  During this time learners work on their goals, by either planning for them or reflecting on them.  Their goals will be based on various forms of data, which will include 3-way conferencing with their parents teachers, data from tests or pre-assessments and from teacher feedback on previous learning.

An example of a goals sheet is provided below:


How will students learn things that they aren’t motivated about, there are some things that you just have to learn?

The IB framework is our standard for learning and so all children will learn Language, Mathematics, Science, Social Studies, Arts and PSHE.  How they learn from these curriculum areas is what the IB describes as trans-disciplinary and is a more connected, but flexible approach to learning. As described above the teachers will support the children in setting their learning goals and so there will be some tasks that are required and children will learn the habits that help you succeed when something is hard, frustrating or just not as interesting.  One tool that we are already using is the MoSCoW method:




Won’t or Want

These non-negotiable tasks, goals or experiences.

These are tasks that should be completed within a flexible time period

These are ideas or suggestions that might help with the next steps of learning

These are either things learners would like to add or things that they know they won’t do.

Example from the International School of Ho Chi Min City:


How do I know what my child will be learning each if the timetable is so flexible?

Our current timetable is already quite flexible and so this will remain the same.  The children will still have set days and times for some subjects such as the arts and physical education.  Other time periods will be organised by the needs of learners, but you will still see your child learning within each of the curriculum areas.  An example of a typical day is provided below, you will note that CAR Time (Choose Act Reflect) bookends the start and end of the day.


How will these changes be managed to make sure it isn’t overwhelming for everyone involved?

The changes will be brought into the classes using gradual approach and one of the tools to guide this is the gradual increase of independence model (see below), which will be used for the individual students and for the implementation process.  When we believe the children are ready for more independence, then more opportunity for independence will be given to the children.

Credit: Suzanne Kitto @OrenjiButa

How does this approach support the transition to MYP and Senior School?

There are many aspects that will support the transition to Senior School, however, we shall highlight just three below:

1. Navigating independence

The gradual increase of independence will support the transition to Senior School where students have a lot more autonomy within their day.  In Senior School students can choose where to eat lunch, where they play or relax and they own their laptop.  They also have nine teachers and classrooms instead of one, they have to navigate the expectations of multiple teachers and the assignments they are given.  So we would like to support this transition by giving the children more choices about where they learn and who they learn with, so children will experience learning with multiple teachers.  They will also be given greater independence to create plans, meet deadlines and manage their time effectively.

2. Skill Development

One of the challenges that student’s face in the transition to Senior School and the MYP is the development of skills known as ATL (Approaches to Learning).  As mentioned above the shift towards more independence in learning will encourage students to develop skills in time management, organisation and forward planning.  This is in addition to the many other skills that will be focused on during the week, such as communication, thinking, social skills and research.

You will note that in most subject areas in the MYP 75% of the assessed learning is skill based on these skills and only 25% is focused on knowledge and understanding.  For example Individuals and Societies assesses the four areas of: Knowing and understanding, Investigating, Communicating and Thinking critically, three of these areas are concerned with students' ability to plan, follow the plan, communicate effectively in different ways and critically analyse and synthesise information.

3. Success Criteria

Success criteria will be used to help the students understand what success will look like at the end of their learning journey or inquiry.  The students will work with teachers to develop success criteria and then use this to guide their learning and ensure that they are meeting their own expectations.  This will be a great introduction to the use of criterion referenced assessment as a core assessment tool of the MYP.   Students in the MYP are provided with criterion based rubrics, which provide students with clear criteria of success for each component of their learning.

How will I know what is happening at school and what my child is learning?

SeeSaw will be a primary tool for communicating the learning at school. On a regular basis, your child and your child’s teachers will be sharing their learning plans, goals and successes through SeeSaw so that you remain informed throughout the process of learning. We hope this will enable you to support your child’s learning by asking about the learning they are engaged in, this may be in person or through posting a comment on SeeSaw. Last year was our first year of using SeeSaw and we found it to be an excellent tool for keeping parents involved as partners in this learning process.

And finally…

Parent feedback about the journey so far…

I love the concept and I am really looking forward to my child being a part of this approach. I believe it will bring out wonderful things for her.

I am excited to see my child move to independence and building the future for them.

I am excited to see you opening up the child to the future to be independent, creative and self-directed.

I’m genuinely excited.  I feel so privileged my kids are in this environment and learning community.

Further Questions?
If you have further questions that have not yet been answer please write to jsprincipal@isumail.ac.ug or pypcoordinator@isumail.ac.ug and shall add them to this collection.