IB-PYP and Immersion Options

  • The International Baccalaureate Primary Years Programme (IB-PYP) is offered at Aquila, Peter Hobart and Susan Lindgren Elementary Schools. Spanish Immersion programming is offered at Park Spanish Immersion School. More information about each of these styles of learning is included below.

    IB-PYP (Aquila, Peter Hobart & Susan Lindgren)

    Aquila, Peter Hobart and Susan Lindgren are officially authorized by the International Baccalaureate Organization to provide all students a rigorous and diverse education through the International Baccalaureate Primary Years Programme (IB-PYP). 

    St. Louis Park joins together with schools from across the world in the IB-PYP to create educational opportunities that prepare students to be independent learners, understand different cultures, embrace challenges of the 21st century, and thrive in a global society.

    Emphasis on Inquiry, Focus on Educational Standards

    The IB-PYP curriculum emphasizes inquiry. IB-PYP provides an international experience while ensuring that state and national educational standars are met. The program also includes Spanish instruction for all students.

    Every unit of inquiry is organized around a central idea. Each unit is designed to be:

    Engaging: Of interest to the students, and involving them actively in their own learning

    Relevant: Learning in a context connected to the lives of students.

    Challenging: Extending the prior knowledge and experience of the students to increase their competencies and understanding.

    Significant: Contributing to an understanding of the transdisciplinary nature of the theme, and therefore to an understanding of commonality of human experiences. All subject areas -- language arts, math, the arts, social studies, science & technology, and personal/social/physical education -- are taught using six transdisciplinary themes, which are applied across all subject areas. Students explore and deepend their understanding of the themes through shared experiences.

    Key Concepts

    IB is an internationally recognized curriculum for teaching students that focuses on the whole child. Students explore their subjects by asking questions:

    Form: What is it like?

    Function: How does it work?

    Causation: Why is it like it is?

    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?

    Learner Profile

    The learner profile represents a set of characteristics that are developed within our students to promote internationally-minded citizens. Our students demonstrate these skills throughout the IB Primary Years Programme, Middle Years Programmeand Diploma Programme.

    The Learner Profile enables students to become: Communicators, risk takers, principled, thinkers, open-minded, caring, balanced, knowledgeable, reflective, inquirers. Using these attributes, students will begin the journey of life-long learning and become active participants in a global society.

    Action Cycle

    Successful inquiry may lead to action, initiated by the student as a result of the learning process. This action may extend the student's own learning, the learning of others or it may have a wider social impact. It is intended that the student taking action will grow from the experience and that the process of taking action, or not, will contribute to each student establishing a set of values. 

    Information and Communication Technology

    Information and Communication Technology (ICT) is a vital part of the PYP. It supports student inquiry and develops conceptual understanding. ICT is a tool for learning included in all subject areas, rather than a separate class.

    Students document their ICT learning and make it accessible to a wide audience, through the creation of: blogs, e-Folio, websites, podcasts, and movies; as well as general computer and web research.

    ICT provides students opportunities for authentic learning. It offers access to a broad range of sources of information. When using ICT, students learn to use the tools critically and with integrity, paying particular attention to the validity and reliability of the information obtained. 

    Transdiscplinary Themes

    Who we are: An inquiry into the nature of the self; beliefs and values; personal, physical, mental, social and spiritual health; human relationship including families, friends, communities, and cultures; rights and responsibilitie; what it means to be human.

    Where we are in place and time: An inquiry into orientation in place and time; personal histories; homes and journeys; the discoveries, explorations, and mirgrations of humankind; the relationships between and the interconnectedness of individuals and civilizations, from local and global perspectives.

    How we express ourselves: An inquiry into the ways in which we disocver and express ideas, feelings, nature, culture, beliefs and values; the ways in which we reflect on, extend and enjoy our creativity; our appreciation of the aesthetic.

    How the world works: An inquiry into the natural world and its laws; the interaction between the natural world (physical and biological) and human societies; how humans use their understanding of scientific principles; the impact of scientific and technological advances on society and on the environment.

    How we organize ourselves: An inquiry into the interconnectedness of human-made systems and communities; the structure and function of organizations; societal decision-making; economic activities and their impact of humankind and environments.

    Sharing the planet: An inquiry into rights and responsibilities in the struggle to share finite resources with other people and with other living things; communities and the relationships within and between them; access to equal opportuniites; peace and conflict resolution. 


    Spanish Immersion (Park Spanish Immersion School)

    Park Spanish Immersion School (PSI) is one of St. Louis Park Public Schools' four elementary schools. PSI is an option you may consider for your kindergarten student. A computerized lottery system is used to process enrollment applications for resident and non-resident students.

    Language immersion offers a unique and innovative educational opportunity. Here are some frequently asked questions about PSI and immersion education:

    What are the long-term goals of students in a Spanish immersion program?

    The school community works to help students:

    • Master elementary subjects (i.e. English, science, social studies, math, etc.)
    • Acquire a high level of proficiency in Spanish
    • Gain an understanding and appreciation of Spanish and Spanish speakers and their varied cultures.
    • Develop a strong foundation in English

    What makes PSI unique?

    At Park Spanish Immersion School, students are immersed in the Spanish language while they learn reading, writing, mathematics, science, social studies and other subject areas. The curricular content and outcomes are aligned with the District's other elementary schools. However, students at PSI are primarily instructed in Spanish rather than English.

    Park Spanish Immersion School began in 1996 with two kindergarten classrooms. We are currently an elementary school serving more than 500 students in kindergarten through fifth grade.

    Is language immersion a new concept?

    No. Immersion has been used in Canada since the 1960s and in the United States since the early 1970s. Immersion schools in the United States have gained popularity as an effective method of language and content learning. In reality, the immersion concept has been around for thousands of years since it is the way all of us learn our native language. In immersion, language learning is done in such a natural way that students are comfortable with the instruction. Children are excellent mimics. they are eager, curious and less self-conscious than adults in experimenting with and acquiring new languages.

    How do children learning English at PSI?

    In the Spanish classroom setting, starting on the first day of kindergarten, all instruction is in Spanish. Students may use English initially, but their classroom teachers respond in Spanish. As students become more accustomed to hearing and understanding the Spanish language, they are encouraged to express themselves in Spanish.

    Starting in second grade, students begin formal English classes to work on comprehension, spelling, writing, grammar, and decoding for reading accuracy and fluency. In third grade, reading strategies are strengthened. Students continue to work on spelling rules and writing skills. The amount of English language arts instruction increases through fifth grade. The English teachers work in tandem with the Spanish classroom teachers to plan together to help students in both languages. 

    PSI students have the same English language outcomes as the students in the other three St. Louis Park elementary schools. At every grade level, daily reading, in both English and Spanish is essential for the child's language development.

    PSI has other English classes to support learners. English reading intervention is offered for students needing additional support and English Language Learner classes are offered for students whose home language is not English.

    How will learning content in Spanish affect my child's English lanaguage literacy?

    Research consistently finds that the immersion experience actually enhances English language development. During the first few years of the immersion program, students' English development may lag temporarily in reading and English language skills. However, by the end of elementary school this discrepancy disappears and immersion students tend to perform as well or better than their monolingual peers. It is important to remember that the intiial lag is temporary and to be expected.

    What level of proficiency in Spanish will students have by the end of elementary school?

    The goal is for students to speak Spanish fluently. They will also have strong enough reading, writing, and listening skills to master the core academic subjects in Spanish.

    Is a background in Spanish needed?

    No. The majority of PSI students do not speak Spanish before beginning kindergarten. Teachers use instructional techniques, which help students understand what is being taught, and they consider this when they communicate with parents and assign homework.

    Are PSI teachers native Spanish speakers?

    Many of our teachers grew up in Spanish speaking countries and all classroom teachers have a high level of Spanish proficiency. PSI classroom teachers have traveled or lived abraod and have an excellent understanding of other cultures and the value of global education. 

    In addition to the licensed teachers, PSI is fortunate to have Spanish speaking teaching interns and classroom assistants working with our students. The classroom interns live iwth families during their semester of year-long assignments and are supported by the Parent-Teacher Organization (PTO).

    What role do parents play in our school?

    A dedicated commitment is essential for children to experience the great benefits an immersion education yields. Parents support their children in many varied ways by:

    • Making a long-term commitment to immersion education
    • Providing experiences outside of school to develop English language skills.
    • Developing an understanding of immersion education
    • Encouraging the use of Spanish outside of school through daily reading
    • Supporting daily attendance

    Park Spanish Immersion School has a strong and active Parent-Teacher Association (PTO). Many volunteer opportunities exists in the school to help support its learners.