What classes are now studying (IB themes & central ideas)

Now that we are in full International Baccalaureate Primary Years Programme (IB-PYP) mode, student learning is organized into the IB's six trans-disciplinary themes. PK classes study four thematic units per year, LK classes do five, while kinder through 5th grade classes study all six themes. For each theme, TIS teachers in each grade have worked together to create a central idea and core concepts to guide the study.

The IB themes are:











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



All classes within one grade study the same theme with the same Central Idea and guiding concepts at the same time. The different grades may study the themes in different orders from one another.

Most classes at TIS started a new theme in late December or are starting it today. Here is what is currently being studied:


























PreK. Theme: How we express ourselves
Central Idea: People use verbal and non-verbal communication to express themselves.

An Inquiry into:


  • Verbal communication through songs and stories

  • Non-verbal communication through art, dance and music

  • Art performance, such as drama, which combine verbal and non-verbal communication


LowK. Theme: How we express ourselves
Central Idea: People express themselves through nursery rhymes as they let their imagination grow.
An Inquiry into:

  • How we develop language through nursery rhymes

  • How we can present songs, chants, and poems as groups

  • How we can become different characters through our imagination

  • How music and drama can be used to illustrate nursery rhymes


Kinder. Theme: How we express ourselves
Central Idea: Painting is a way to express ideas and feelings.
An Inquiry into:

  • The materials and techniques painters use

  • The influence of a painter’s background on his/her work

  • Individual interpretations of paintings

  • Personal preferences of different types of painting like abstract, impressionist, or realism


First grade. Theme: Where we are in place & time
Central Idea: Every great civilization requires certain key ingredients to be successful.
An Inquiry into:

  • A case study of Ancient Egypt

  • The necessary geographic features required for food production and trade

  • The unifying social and political structures like the family unit, language, religion, and government

  • Its transportation and communication infrastructure


Second grade. Theme: How we express ourselves
Central Idea: Families recognize important personal and cultural events through celebrations and traditions.
An Inquiry into:

  • What tradition is

  • How and why people celebrate

  • Similarities and differences in celebrating the same holiday by people from different cultures


Third grade. Theme: Where we are in place & time
Central Idea: Cities become more complex as they grow.
An Inquiry into:

  • Comparing and contrasting problems that exist in Portland, Mexico City, Tokyo, Shanghai, and Taipei

  • Analyzing patterns of development and needs among the cities

  • Analyzing positive and negative results that have come along as cities developed (transportation, population, jobs, pollution, etc.)


Fourth grade. Theme: Who we are
Central Idea: The media can positively and negatively influence our behavior.
An Inquiry into:

  • How the media influence our body image

  • How marketing campaigns affect our food choices

  • How the media shape our hobbies and lifestyles


Fifth grade. Theme: How we express ourselves.
Central Idea: Certain behaviors, rituals, and artistic expressions make a culture distinct from others.
An Inquiry into:

  • Art, music, dance and food in different cultures

  • Religions in different cultures

  • How geographic and climatic factors influence these expressions



Questions? Please ask your child's teacher, IB coordinator Teresa Wirsching (TeresaW@intlschool.org), or Principal Maria Abad (MAbad@intlschool.org).