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Sequoia Elementary designated International Baccalaureate Primary Years Programme!
Posted 5/31/22


Sequoia Elementary 3rd-grader Shaalin Batth works on his biography assignment focusing on IB learner traits.


Teachers and administrators at Sequoia Elementary in Pleasant Hill have been working for nearly four years to have the campus authorized as an International Baccalaureate Primary Years Programme World School. The work paid off earlier this month, when they learned they had received the official authorization from the International Baccalaureate Organization, making Sequoia Elementary one of nearly 1,500 schools throughout the world that focuses on building character traits identified in the "IB Learner Profile" while also making connections between different subjects by looking at larger themes. Monte Gardens Elementary and Oak Grove MS are also pursuing IB authorizations, while Ygnacio Valley HS has an established IB Diploma Programme on its campus.

Principal Patricia Kawahara said the IB programme provides Sequoia students with a world class education that promotes voice, choice, and ownership of their learning through inquiry. Teachers at each grade level work together to create lessons that encourage students to ask questions and help decide what they want to learn about. Classroom teachers also collaborate with the school's Mandarin teacher, STEAM lab teacher, music teacher and librarian to ensure that everyone is reinforcing the same themes each month. The programme requires students to learn another language and stresses deep, critical thinking through project-based learning across broad subject areas, as well as striving to meet personal and academic goals, she said.

Third-grade teacher Isabelle Torchia said the biography assignment requires students to focus on impactful people who have made a difference in our world, while thinking about the significance of their contributions to society, and appreciating their cultural perspectives. Students are also free to decide how they want to present their projects, such as via posters, written reports, google slides, graphic novels, paintings or videos using Padlet.


Students Shaalin Batth and Harini Sathish said they were enjoying their biography assignment. They planned to post a photos of their subjects, then write about one of their IB learner traits. Shaalin selected "principled" as the trait he wanted to stress regarding baseball player Jackie Robinson, saying Robinson kept practicing no matter what other people told him and made is possible for other Black people to play Major League Baseball. Harini chose the trait "caring" to describe Mother Teresa, because she was very caring toward those in need. Both students also described themselves as caring. "I like to help other people," Shaalin said. Harini added: "I'm nice and kind to other people."


Kawahara said the IB programme helps students learn to reflect on what they are learning, as well as on how they exemplify the IB learner profile traits: inquirers, knowledgeable, thinkers, communicators, principled, open-minded, caring, risk-takers, balanced, and reflective.