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International Baccalaureate Information

International Baccalaureate Mission Statement

International Baccalaureate Mission Statement

The International Baccalaureate aims to develop inquiring, knowledgeable and caring young people who help to create a better and more peaceful world through intercultural understanding and respect. To this end the organization works with schools, governments and international organizations to develop challenging programmes of international education and rigorous assessment. These programmes encourage students across the world to become active, compassionate and lifelong learners who understand that other people, with their differences, can also be right.

What is IB?

The International Baccalaureate® (IB) is a non-profit educational foundation, motivated by its mission, and focused on the student. Founded in 1968, in Geneva, Switzerland, the IB currently works with 3,576 schools in 145 countries to develop and offer four challenging programs to over 1,098,000 students aged 3 to 19 years.

The IB philosophy encourages international-mindedness in students. The philosophy is based on the belief 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 in the international community—essential for life in the 21st century.

IB encourages a positive attitude toward learning by encouraging students to ask challenging questions, to reflect critically, to develop research skills, and to learn how to learn. At IB schools, community service is an essential component because, to be a citizen of the world, there is more to learning than academic studies alone.

In addition to a second language, the IB places a strong emphasis on the inclusion of the Arts and PE in all teaching units. The IB also believes that families play an integral part in the education of the child, and IB schools provide a welcoming atmosphere to all members of the school community.

What is the PYP?

The Primary Years Program (PYP) is one of the four IB programs, and is designed for students aged 3 to 12. It focuses on the development of the whole child as an inquirer, both in the classroom and in the world outside. It encourages independence, and asks that students take responsibility for their own learning. The program addresses each student’s academic, social and emotional well-being. It is a framework guided by six transdisciplinary themes of global significance, explored using knowledge and skills derived from all subject areas:

Who We Are

Where We Are in Place and Time

How We Express Ourselves

How the World Works

How We Organize Ourselves

Sharing the Planet

How long have you been an IB school?

Dr. Thomas S. O'Connell IB World School began the rigorous process of IB authorization in 2012, culminating in our authorization as an International Baccalaureate School in the summer of 2014.

The International Baccalaureate is committed to supporting the ongoing development of a worldwide professional learning community comprising internationally minded teachers, school leaders and school administrators. To keep current with IB practices and innovations, our staff members are sent every year to professional development seminars across the country. Recently, staff member have attended training in New Mexico, Miami and New Orleans.

What is inquiry and what does it look like?

In IB, learning is inquiry based, meaning that the focus is on how students learn as well as what they learn. In this rapidly evolving world, students need to understand that the process of learning is as important as the product. In IB, students work on issues of global significance, and apply their learning to real-world problem solving situations. Student questions are the foundation of inquiry learning. Teachers provide provocations to generate student interest, and guide student discovery. Students share their knowledge by “going public” with their learning in an authentic situation.

Answer vs. Understanding

When we ask children to answer a question, we’re expecting a certain reply. The learning ends there.

Answer: What is 2 x 2? 4

When we work towards understanding, we try to keep the learning going.

Understanding: How do you know that 2 x 2 = 4? How can this be demonstrated? How does that help you solve 6 x 8?

What is the IB learner profile?

The IB Learner Profile is at the core of the philosophy. The aim of all IB programs 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. All IB learners strive to be:

Inquirers - They develop their natural curiosity. They acquire the skills necessary to conduct inquiry and research and show independence in learning. They actively enjoy learning and this love of learning will be sustained throughout their lives.

Knowledgeable - They explore concepts, ideas and issues that have local and global significance. In so doing, they acquire in-depth knowledge and develop understanding across a broad and balanced range of disciplines.

Thinkers - They exercise initiative in applying thinking skills critically and creatively to recognize and approach complex problems, and make reasoned, ethical decisions.

Communicators - They understand and express ideas and information confidently and creatively in more than one language and in a variety of modes of communication. They work effectively and willingly in collaboration with others.

Principled - They act with integrity and honesty, with a strong sense of fairness, justice and respect for the dignity of the individual, groups and communities. They take responsibility for their own actions and the consequences that accompany them.

Open-Minded - They understand and appreciate their own cultures and personal histories, and are open to the perspectives, values and traditions of other individuals and communities. They are accustomed to seeking and evaluating a range of points of view, and are willing to grow from the experience.

Caring - They show empathy, compassion and respect towards the needs and feelings of others. They have a personal commitment to service, and act to make a positive difference to the lives of others and to the environment.

Risk-takers - They approach unfamiliar situations and uncertainty with courage and forethought, and have the independence of spirit to explore new roles, ideas and strategies. They are brave and articulate in defending their beliefs.

Balanced - They understand the importance of intellectual, physical and emotional balance to achieve personal well-being for themselves and others.

Reflective - They give thoughtful consideration to their own learning and experience. They are able to assess and understand their strengths and limitations in order to support their learning and personal development.

What are the essential elements?

The essential elements of the IB curriculum are:

Knowledge – Significant, relevant content that students explore and know about, taking into consideration their prior experience and understanding.

Key Concepts – Eight powerful ideas that have relevance within the subject areas but also transcend them. Students must explore and re-explore these concepts in order to develop a coherent, in-depth understanding.

Form, Function, Causation, Change, Connection, Perspective, Responsibility, Reflection

Approaches to Learning – Those capabilities/skills that students need to demonstrate to succeed in a changing, challenging world.

Social Skills, Communication Skills, Thinking Skills, Self-Management Skills, Research Skills

Attitudes – Expressions of fundamental values, beliefs and feelings about learning, the environment and people.

Respect, Integrity, Commitment, Confidence, Co-operation, Curiosity, Enthusiasm, Empathy, Independence, Creativity, Tolerance, Appreciation

Action – Demonstrations of deeper learning in responsible behavior through responsible action; a manifestation in practice of the other essential elements.

What is action?

In the PYP, it is believed that education must extend beyond the intellectual to include thoughtful and appropriate action. Successful inquiry is designed to lead to action initiated by the student as a result of the learning process, and often happens beyond the classroom. The action may extend the student’s learning – or it may have a wider social impact.

The action component of the PYP can involve service to fellow students or to the larger community or to the world. Students are encouraged to reflect on what they’ve learned, make a choice as to how to extend their learning, and then act on those choices. It is intended that the person taking the action will grow from the experience, and that the process of taking action (or not) will contribute to the establishment of a personal set of values.

What are essential agreements?

IB schools have moved away from classroom and playground rules to creating Essential Agreements, based on developing more positive attitudes towards people, the environment and learning. Students and staff work together to come up with a set of agreements that everyone agrees are non-negotiable. Using the IB Attitudes of Respect, Integrity, Commitment, Confidence, Co-operation, Curiosity, Enthusiasm, Empathy, Independence, Creativity, Tolerance, and Appreciation – everyone makes a contribution to the well-being of the individual and the group. The Essential Agreements allow all involved parties to reflect on their actions and identify areas for improvement.

How does your curriculum differ from East Hartford's curriculum?

As an International Baccalaureate World School, we are responsible for teaching all of the standards included in the East Hartford and the Connecticut curricular areas. We have written a standards-based transdisciplinary curriculum consisting of six units per grade level that focuses on the sciences and social studies, and incorporates standards from English language arts, mathematics, world languages, physical education and the arts.

How does IB work with the Common Core?

The Common Core standards being implemented in East Hartford include the English Language Arts and Mathematics, at this time. Social Studies and Science standards will follow. Our teachers are continually reflecting on and revising curricular units. As the new standards are introduced, they will be included in the appropriate units.

The English Language Arts Common Core cites high expectations for college and career readiness. The Mathematics Standards include specific mathematical practices that help to develop deep mathematical thought. The International Baccalaureate Program was one of the leading educational models studied by the developers of the Common Core. As the IB curriculum already incorporates strong elements that support deep thinking and the development of lifelong learners, the Common Core standards are fully supported through the International Baccalaureate curriculum.

What are transdisciplinary skills?

Whether the lesson being taught is part of the International Baccalaureate Program of Inquiry, a Common Core Mathematics or Language Arts lesson, World Language, or the Arts, specific language and content-based objectives are posted, discussed, and focused on throughout the lesson. This practice allows for continuous attention to explicit skills and their application within rich learning opportunities.

The International Baccalaureate Primary Years Program supports the development of Approaches to Learning that allow students to work appropriately with others. Each Approach has specific skills that are identified and taught explicitly within several units at every grade level. Below are some examples:

Social Skills

Accepting responsibility, Respecting others, Cooperating, Resolving conflict

Research Skills

Formulating questions, Observing, Planning, Collecting data, Recording data

Communication Skills

Listening, Speaking, Reading, Writing, Non-Verbal communication

Thinking Skills

Acquisition of knowledge, Comprehension, Application, Analysis, Synthesis, Evaluation

Self- Management Skills

Gross Motor skills, Fine Motor Skills, Organization, Time management, Healthy lifestyle

When does world language study begin?

Students at Thomas S. O'Connell IB World School learn at an early age that is important to acknowledge different cultures and world languages. The IB Mission Statement encourages students to understand that, “…other people, with their differences, can also be right.” Therefore, we begin studying a second language in Kindergarten. Our world language is Spanish.

How does IB meet the needs of all students?

Teachers at O'Connell differentiate their instruction to meet the needs of all learners. Units of study within the IB Program of inquiry lend themselves to natural differentiation based on student interest and through the use of carefully selected instructional materials. Teachers work collaboratively within their teams and with support teachers throughout the school to develop lessons and instructional models that meet the needs of all students, whether that need is for support or additional challenge.

How are students assessed?

Student learning is assessed in many ways, for different reasons:

-District-wide and grade level assessments, including the use of rubrics, are used consistently to measure growth on current academic skills and to assess the appropriate use of learning strategies.

-Teacher Observation and the use of rubrics by both teachers and students allows for continuous feedback for students regarding their development of the IB elements (Learner Profiles, Attitudes, Use of Key Concepts, Approaches to Learning, and Action). Families are encouraged to recognize the IB elements being exhibited at home, and to share examples of these with the school.

-Students and teachers use rubrics and observation to identify when students are using successful approaches to learning, including: social skills, research skills, communication skills, thinking skills, and self-management skills. Elements of the IB curriculum are immersed in each unit of study. Students include a discussion of their development of all elements during their student-led conferences in December and March.

-Students at O'Connell take all state-mandated assessments, such as the SBAC, and are held to the same high standards and expectations for success as all other East Hartford students.

What happens after students leave O'Connell?

Students who have experienced the International Baccalaureate philosophy are well prepared to enter into any academic setting. IB students connect their learning to current world issues, are apt to search out answers to their questions, and to use their understandings to act in positive ways to impact their world. Our students stand out as involved life-long learners.

What are key concepts?

The PYP is committed to a concept drive curriculum as a means of supporting inquiry. The key concepts, also expressed as key questions, help teachers and students to consider ways of thinking and learning about the worl and act as a provocation to extend and deepen student inquiry. The set of eight concepts are:

Form- What is it like?

Function- How does it work?

Causation- Why is it like this?

Change- How is it changing?

Connection- How is it connected to other things?

Perspective: What are the points of view?

Responsibility- What is our responsibility?

Reflection- How do we know?

What are the IB attitudes?

While recognizing the importance of knowledge, concepts and skills, these alone do not make an internationally minded person. There also needs to be a focus on the development of personal attitudes towars people, towards the environment and towards learning.

The attitudes are:













Thomas S. O'Connell School Language and Assessment Policy

Programme Of Inquiry

IB Website

For more information regarding the IB programme, please visit their website.


Staff Resources

Dr. Thomas O’Connell Elementary School is an International Baccalaureate (IB) Primary Years Programme and  IB World School.


IB World Schools share a common philosophy—a commitment to improve the teaching and learning of a diverse and inclusive community of students by delivering challenging, high quality programmes of international education that share a powerful vision.

*Only schools authorized by the International Baccalaureate can offer any of its four academic programmes: the Primary Years Programme (PYP), the Middle Years Programme (MYP), the Diploma Programme or the IB Career-related Certificate (IBCC). Candidate status gives no guarantee that authorization will be granted.

Double Click Below to view IB Learner Profile      

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