Rice Elementary: An International Baccalaureate (IB) School

by Principal Sue Paasch

On June 21, 2019, Rice Elementary School became an authorized International Baccalaureate (IB) World School for the Primary Years Programme (PYP). In the state of Minnesota, there are 24 elementary IB schools, but Rice Elementary is the only school in outstate. The rest of the schools are in the Twin Cities area.

An IB World School means being a part of a global community of schools committed to developing knowledgeable, caring young people who will be ready to make contributions that will result in a more harmonious and peaceful world. Students are better prepared to undertake activities that enhance social, cultural and economic environments locally, nationally and, perhaps, internationally.

That is a really lofty definition, but what does it look like in the classroom every day? Much of the work happens behind-the-scenes as teachers are trained and plan in this model. 

The curriculum emphasizes big concepts in six different planners: 

Who we are;

  • Where we are in place and time;
  • How we express ourselves;
  • How the world works;
  • How we organize ourselves; and
  • Sharing the planet.

The learning starts with the whole and expands to include the parts. Teachers have embedded our state and local standards into these planners. Learning is very interactive and builds on what the student already knows. Questioning and wondering is highly encouraged and teachers have conversations with students helping them construct their own knowledge. The role of the teacher is very interactive as they encourage students to explore their own questions and thoughts. Assessments can include student work, observation, points of view, as well as tests.  Students work together to collaborate, ask questions and solve problems. The process is as important as the product. 

The mission of Rice Elementary School is to develop empathetic inquirers. We want our students to be curious about things, research those things and find ways to change them. We also want them to be kind and empathetic as they go about that work. We believe that we can do this by being reflective, being internationally minded, being collaborative and being engaged. IB is an exciting journey to be on and the avenue that we think will develop our next generation of leaders.