Director’s update

ISPP Secondary
For May – July 2023


ISPP Director Eileen NiedermannDear ISPP Community,

This is the final update for the 2022-23 academic year and a great chance to celebrate the learning that has happened all year long as well as the key culminating events of the end of the school year. It was certainly a packed final few months with so many key milestones for our learners. In the final weeks, we were able to celebrate the PYP-MYP transition for the Grade 5 students, the Grade 12 graduation, the Secondary Arts Night, the MYP Project Change, the InChoir performance, STEM-X and many more demonstrations of learning.

In this issue, I would like to focus on an important part of learning at ISPP – becoming a self-directed learner. You may have also heard this referred to as agency. Key aspects of learner agency include the learner’s voice and the learner’s choice. Building skills to become a self-directed learner is an important part of all learning at ISPP and a key feature of the IB Programmes (PYP, MYP and DP). It asks learners to develop inquisitiveness and resourcefulness so that they can develop their learning questions, set goals, determine the learning process, find resources and determine how they can best demonstrate their learning. The attributes of self-directed learners include:

  • Curiosity, open-mindedness
  • Autonomy and motivation
  • Self-management and organisation
  • Perseverance and persistence


ISPP Students

To develop these skills and to foster attitudes that promote self-directed learning, learning activities and assessments at ISPP deliberately provide developmentally appropriate “bite-sized” opportunities to self-direct. And then three major milestone learning tasks enable learners to consolidate their agency in a significant piece of assessment.

In the PYP, the Exhibition (X) asks students in Grade 5 to “explore, document and share their understanding of an issue or opportunity of personal significance” (International Baccalaureate Organization [IBO]).

In the MYP, the Personal Project (PP) similarly asks students in Grade 10 to explore an area of personal interest. Students conducting the Personal Project have the autonomy to select a focus area, set a goal, determine a product and self-assess through their success criteria (IBO). Time management, making decisions, solving problems and presenting ideas are key hallmarks of the Personal Project.

In the DP, the Extended Essay (EE) is a significant piece of academic research and writing conducted in a discipline of the student’s choosing. In conducting the research for an Extended Essay, “learners develop intellectual initiative and rigour, develop research, thinking, self-management and communication skills and reflect on what has been learned throughout the research and writing process” (IBO).

ISPP Elementary Students

In addition to these key milestone projects in each of our IB Programmes, there are many other opportunities for learners to develop self-direction. In the PYP, learners are actively engaged in designing and arranging their learning environments, choosing their learning pathways and influencing how time is used in their classrooms. Play-based learning features heavily in the PYP – what could be more self-directed than unstructured play?

In the MYP, students are deeply engaged in adolescence and in exploring their own identities in a social world. Negotiating relationships with others, values and consequences feature heavily in their learning. They begin to apply their learning in various contexts; an expanding worldview and awareness of local and global issues enable them to explore the impact of their actions and the actions of others.

From selecting their subjects while entering the Diploma Programme to developing their Creative-Active-Service (CAS) portfolio of activities to conducting internal assessments, DP students have repeated chances to explore their voice and choice in the world of academics.

ISPP Elementary Students

I hope you have been able to see how your children have grown as self-directed learners over this past academic year!

Eileen Niedermann

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