Curriculum Overview

Programme of Inquiry

students in class

Like all IB Primary Years Programme (PYP) schools, each grade of our Elementary School curriculum is developed within a framework of six transdisciplinary Units of Inquiry. These units allow students to inquire into local and global issues, as they develop their own knowledge and conceptual understanding within the subjects of Science and Social Studies. They are transdisciplinary because students also inquire into these issues and ideas through Language, Mathematics and other non-core subjects as they come to understand that these subjects are interconnected. Grade level teacher teams develop learning engagements that allow the children to learn about the world as they develop Thinking, Communication, Social, Self-Management and Research Skills. Students in our Elementary School are also given on-going opportunities to develop the PYP attitudes as they demonstrate confidence, respect and curiosity (to name just a few attitudes) towards learning, the environment and people. In Grade 5, students engage in the PYP Exhibition unit when they are able to apply their knowledge, understandings and skills during an in-depth, student-centered inquiry into an issue. The children collaboratively explore different perspectives around an issue and develop an action plan based on their inquiry.


Language Learning through Workshop

Three years ago, the Elementary program embarked on a new and exciting initiative to implement the Writing Workshop model to Grades 1 to 5. The teachers at GAA have received frequent professional development in Writers Workshop instruction and are applying it effectively as they guide their students towards becoming outstanding authors that can write across a variety of genres. The Elementary teachers are engaged in ongoing reflection to develop a Writing Curriculum that is connected to the knowledge and concepts that are being explored in the Units of Study. Following a successful implementation of the Writers Workshop, the Elementary began implementing the Readers Workshop model this school year. We are excited to continue our journey into developing innovative ways in which Readers and Writers Workshop can support the essential elements of the PYP here at GAA.


This school year, Elementary educators are reviewing our Mathematics curriculum as we implement the recently revised AERO Mathematics Standards. This review has consisted of ensuring that our Mathematics teaching and learning is centred around students being engaged in real world problem solving as they grow to be enthusiastic ‘mathematicians’. Students in Elementary are given opportunities to both inquire into Mathematics concepts like numeracy and through concepts like Measurement and Data Handling that are integrated into Units of Inquiry. Children are given opportunities to construct their own meaning about Mathematics, transfer that meaning into symbols and eventually apply those meanings in authentic activities.

Specialists Subjects

Students in Elementary are able to explore the world in which they live through a variety of Specialist Subjects each week. Children in Elementary attend frequent Physical Education classes when they explore identity, active learning and interactions through the acronym of TEAM (teamwork, education, action and motivation). Throughout the year, students have opportunities to demonstrate their learning through events such as Sports Days and the Health and Wellness Summit (HAWS). The GAA swimming pool facilities are used to develop the important life skills of swimming and water safety throughout the Elementary program. Elementary age children also have multiple ways to explore their curiosities in both Performing and Visual Arts. Throughout the year, specialist teachers in these subjects collaborate with homeroom teachers to develop ways in which learning in the Units of Inquiry can be extended into the Arts. This learning occurs through creation and response to the Arts and is demonstrated in a variety of summative assessment tasks and Arts Festivals held for the GAA community.

  • Visual Arts:

Our mission in Visual Arts is to provide a safe place for students to experiment and take risks, while providing the structure necessary for building age appropriate skills leading to confident young artists.

Equally important to opportunities for creativity and exposure to new materials is the development of an “Art Literacy” in the GAA student—a foundation of art knowledge as well as an appreciation for our cultural differences and similarities, and ways of expressing ourselves, from distant past to present. Within our school culture of kindness, students develop the critical thinking skills to allow them to reflect, respond and critique in healthy and constructive ways. Part of our creative process is how we share and present our work to our community. To this end, students work towards their yearly art festival where they are given an opportunity to celebrate their accomplishments with peers and families.

  • Performing Arts:

Performing Arts at GAA provides students with the opportunity to engage the mind, body, and emotions into a collaborative expression that allows students to express themselves fully. Students are encouraged to explore music, drama, and movement. Through study and performance, students are able to explore and present themes and ideas. They are able to discover their own individual voice while learning new techniques through lessons and guided listening.  We give our students the tools to think creatively, to innovate and appreciate diverse cultures and backgrounds.

  • Drama:

Drama is recognized as a subject that benefits the overall learning and development of children. There are three main strands to the effective use of drama: a means to build children’s confidence and develop their social skills, a teaching approach for exploring cross-curricular subjects and issues, and an aid in developing children’s performance and self-presentation skills. Students explore the use of facial expressions, gestures, movement, posture, and vocal techniques. Here at GAA, students experience drama through a wide variety of stories. Throughout the year, all students are given the opportunity to perform onstage during grade level Arts Festivals. Grade 3 - 5 students are given the opportunity to audition for the Elementary school play that is produced in the Fall of each school year.

  • Music:

The ultimate goal of music education in our Primary Years Programme (PYP) is to create a solid foundation of vocal music along with strong music notation and note reading skills. Every student has the opportunity to play an instrument in an ensemble setting.  All students are exposed to, and well versed in, the use of ORFF instruments. Throughout the year, all students are given the opportunity to perform in grade level Arts Festivals. Students in grades 3 and 4 are able to learn the  recorder, while students in 5th grade learn the piano.

Here at GAA we believe that movement/dance plays an important role in society and brings communities together. Through our program, students are able to develop body awareness, balance, coordination, flexibility and strength. Students use their bodies as a medium of expression and are able to create movement/dance pieces independently.


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