Developing or reviewing the POI

by | Mar 14, 2024 | Concept, Transdisciplinary | 13 comments

Many PYP coordinators face challenges when developing a programme of inquiry (POI) for the first time or revising it with the team. In this blog, as usual, I will share the PYP perspective based on the IB documents and then give you some tips and ideas.

Let’s start with the standards and practices:

Coherent curriculum 1.2: The school articulates its curriculum horizontally and vertically. (0401-01-0200)

Coherent curriculum 1.3: The school demonstrates that all applicable IB curriculum frameworks are fully integrated with the requirements for school, local, state or provincial and national education authorities. (0401-01-0300)

PYP 1: The school designs a programme of inquiry that consists of six units of inquiry—one for each transdisciplinary theme—at each year or grade level, with the exception of students who are 3-6 years where the requirement is at least four units at each year or grade level, two of which must be under “Who we are” and “How we express ourselves”. (0401-01-0511)

PYP 3: The school ensures that all subjects are represented within the programme of inquiry at each year or grade level. (0401-01-0513)

Regarding the section related to developing a POI in the document ‘learning and teaching’, we will find:

A well-designed programme of inquiry ensures students experience a balance of subject-specific knowledge, conceptual understandings and skills, alongside opportunities to develop the attributes of the IB learner profile and to take action.

When learning is organized around transdisciplinary themes, authentic and meaningful connections are made across, between and beyond subjects.

This is a challenging task, but you can make it:

  1. Work with the entire team to develop the POI. The POI is not the class teacher’s responsibility alone with the PYP coordinator. The specialist teachers must be involved in this phase.
  2. Make sure you have the local requirements and consider them when you decide on the units, align them to the PYP scope and sequence to avoid the use of many documents.
  3. When creating the POI, remember the word BALANCE.
  4. Look at samples provided by the IB and other schools.
  5. Look at all the resources in your school library, online and community.
  6. I highly recommend that all teachers follow the same timeline and transdisciplinary theme (TD) during the first year of implementation to avoid repetitions and ensure all the TD description is covered. This will help a lot in the vertical alignment.
  7. Align your units to text genre and form (narrative, fiction, non-fiction…), and if you teach two languages, make sure the two language teachers are working on the same type of text. I am referring to bilingual schools.
  8. Check my previous blog about, stand-alone or integration.
  9. The POI is a work in progress; the perfect POI doesn’t exist.
  10. Create a template to be filled with the teachers (see below) to map the curriculum: Unit of inquiry and learning outcomes.
TimelineDate of the unit
ThemeHighlight the description of the theme that is connected to unit
UnitCentral Idea, Start your central idea with:  The students understand that
Lines of inquiry, Start your lines of inquiry with:  An inquiry into:
Specified concepts (Key Concepts)2 to 3 key concepts that align with the lines of inquiry 
(Related) Additional ConceptsLink them to the disciplines
ProfileChoose 2 learner profile attributes that you will teach explicitly
ATLChoose sub-skills from the ATLs  that you will teach explicitly
Language learning outcome  + Text form  Biography
Math  Learning outcomesStand-alone or Integration
PE Learning outcomesStand-alone or Integration
Visual Arts Learning outcomesStand-alone or Integration
Music Learning outcomesStand-alone or Integration
ITAlways integrated, IT is a tool
Sample of how to align the UOI with the scope and sequence

I usually do this task in 3 steps:

Step 1: Divide the whole team into 6 mixed groups; each group will have the units under one transdisciplinary theme. They will revise the units and ensure they align with the theme description. They will check repetition or omission. They will make sure the specified concepts are represented in a balanced way.

Step 2: Regroup the teachers per grade level now; they will revise the central idea based on Lynn Erickson’s criteria:

  • The student understands that: central idea (2 concepts or more with a verb in the present tense that shows a relationship)
  • No proper noun, our or we, in the central idea
  • Strong verbs are used: no influence, impact, affect, is, have.
  • No passive form
  • No value
  • Can, maybe, often are used if needed.

Once the central idea is revised, they can revise the lines of inquiry and the specified concepts. All specified concepts should be taught.

Step 3: in this step, the specialist teachers will rotate and join each grade level to look for authentic integration. All disciplines should be represented.

Step 4: the teachers can decide on the length and order of each unit; the enhanced PYP allows for a lot of flexibility.

Don’t forget to involve the students in revising the POI; their voices are very important.

If we are creating a POI or revising it, let’s not forget that we are curriculum designers, so we need to understand how to articulate all the elements and have a deep understanding of concept-based instruction.

Let me know if you have any questions, I’m happy to answer them.

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4 months ago

Thanks, Ali, I am just coming up to revise our POI. This is a great plan. Thanks for sharing.

4 months ago

Perfect timing, We will start revising our POI soon, great tips. Many thanks

Sandi Stone
Sandi Stone
4 months ago

This is great advice to reviewing / developing a POI.
I have used this approach at my school twice as part of our curriculum review cycle both with a positive result.
It takes time as a whole staff approach but well worth it.

4 months ago

Perfect explanation shared at right time .Thanks Ali!

Shaimaa Kaara
Shaimaa Kaara
3 months ago

Thank you so much Ali for this very useful plan:)

2 months ago

Love the 4 step POI review process. We are beginning with one next week. Going to adapt the template too, thank you!

2 months ago

Thanks Ali! We highly appreciate your tips. Very useful!

Shafaq Fatima
Shafaq Fatima
1 month ago

Your blog has made the whole process extremely simplified and practical… Thank you for sharing it .

18 days ago

How many units must be transdisciplinary per specialists (PSPE, Music, Art, Language)? Is it 1 or 2 units? Also, which IB document refers to the answer. Thank you!