International Baccalaureate

The French American International School is an authorized IB World School for both the International Baccalaureate Organization's Middle Years Programme (MYP) and its Primary Years Programme (PYP).

The International Baccalaureate comprises a worldwide network of schools that share a common commitment to making the world a better place through high-quality, international education.

What Is the International Baccalaureate Organization?

  • After World War II, Marie-Thérèse Maurette, a pioneer of International Education, wrote a handbook for UNESCO entitled  “Is There a Way of Teaching for Peace?” which became a framework for the International Baccalaureate (IB) Diploma programme.
  • The Diploma Programme in High School was established in 1968, the Middle Years Programme (MYP) in Middle School in 1994, and the Primary Years Programme in Primary School in 1997.
  • It is a non‐profit educational and non‐governmental (NGO) organization of UNESCO.
  • There are + 1,000,000 IB students and + 4,300 authorized IB schools in more than 140 countries.

What does it mean to be an IB School?

Regardless of location, size, or make‐up, an IB school strives to develop an internationally-minded person.

The Mission of the IBO:

  • To develop inquiring, knowledgeable, and caring young people.
  • To create a better and more peaceful world through intercultural understanding and respect.
  • To work with schools, governments, and international organizations to develop challenging programs of international education and rigorous assessment.
  • To encourage students worldwide to become active, compassionate, and lifelong learners who understand that other people, with their differences, can also be right.

 All IB Programmes:

  • value international mindedness
  • emphasize language learning
  • provide opportunities for actions and becoming responsible community members
  • emphasize collaboration for both students and teachers
  • develop key learning opportunities through Approaches To Learning (ATL) Skills
  • value inquiry as a pedagogical approach


What is the IB Learner Profile?

You may have noticed poster across campus describing the IB Learner Profile. The profile is often described as the IB Missions Statement in action. The ten traits listed below is a set of ideal attributes meant to inspire and motivate students. Where once the profile described ideal traits for students, it now is a set of ideals that can inspire, motivate and focus the work of schools and teachers, highlighting  the inclusive nature of IB programmes, and showing the  importance of learning communities, including families, teachers, school leaders and other community members.

The profile aims to develop learners who are:

  • Inquirers
  • Knowledgeable
  • Thinkers
  • Communicators
  • Principled
  • Open-minded
  • Caring
  • Risk-takers
  • Balanced
  • Reflective

Inquiry-Based Learning

Guided inquiry ensures that learning is engaging, relevant, challenging and significant. Students and teachers identify together what they want to know, what they already know, what they need to know, and how best they might find that out. 
In the inquiry-based classroom there is increased emphasis on real life situations, decision-making, problem solving, research, and action. 
“Teaching and learning in the IB celebrates the many ways people work together to construct meaning and make sense of the world. Through the interplay of asking, doing and thinking, this constructivist approach leads towards open, democratic classrooms. An IB education empowers young people for a lifetime of learning, independently and in collaboration with others. It prepares a community of learners to engage with global challenges through inquiry, action and reflection.”  (What is an IB Education, p4.)


“We are teachers of skills and use our subject to build them” (ATL skills workshop)
A unifying thread throughout all IB units is teaching students how best to learn. Approaches to Learning (ATL) skills provide the foundation for independent learning and encourage the application of their knowledge and skills in unfamiliar contexts. Developing and applying these social, thinking, research, communication and self-management skills helps students learn how to learn not just in the classroom but in a real world context. Teachers explicitly teach ATL skills that reflect the goals of their units and give students several opportunities to practice and refine these skills. 
ATL skills are divided into skill categories and clusters:
ATL Skill CategoriesATL Skill Cluster
Communication Communication 
Social Collaboration 
Self-Management Organization, Affective, Reflection 
ResearchInformation Literacy, Media Literacy 
Thinking Critical thinking, Creative Thinking, Transfer


Concept thinking is a shift from teacher-centered, fact based thinking to:

  • High level thinking
  • Deeper understanding

Conceptual planning and teaching is organized around broad, timeless, universal, and often abstract notions that transcend disciplines. This kind of learning gives students an opportunity to cross traditional subjects in a deeper, more meaningful and appropriate for 21st century learners. Examples of concepts include system, perspective, force, interaction, logic, space, and value.

Concepts and global contexts are used to develop inquiry statements, which teachers use to support and justify a unit of study and inquiry questions (factual, conceptual, and debatable).

Examples of inquiry statements at FAIS:

  • The availability of diverse cuisine reflects increasing globalization
  • We depend on one another
  • Building fitness requires a strategy
  • The outcome of conflicts impacts the quality of life
  • The world is changed by exploration and Discoveries
  • Gestures reflect the traditions of a culture
  • Migration leads to diffusion of language and customs
  • We have systems in place that keep us safe and organized


A variety of assessment strategies are used by teachers to inform their teaching as well as understand what students have learned. A key component of assessment practices includes both teacher and student reflection and self-assessment in order to provide feedback on the learning process.

Forms of Assessment:

Pre-assessment: before a unit begins, teachers check in with students to determine their prior knowledge. This can be a discussion or a written response. This informs the learning community on the direction and focus of learning.

Formative assessment: integrated with daily learning, formative assessment may be class questions, journal entries, homework problem solving, short exercises or discussions and a variety of exit interviews. The purpose of formative assessment is to inform teachers on their teaching and students on their learning. Based on formative feedback, teacher and student reflect and make adjustments.

Summative assessment: Final task, generally at the end of a unit, in order for students to demonstrate what they have learned. Tasks can range from performances, exams, authentic projects. By the time a summative task is assigned, students have had ample opportunity to practice and become proficient at new skills and concepts.

The IB Primary Years Programme

The IB Middle Years Programme

5th Grade Exhibition

IB News

As part of the IB Primary Years Programme, 5th graders hold an annual exhibition demonstrating the five essential elements of their learning journey: knowledge, concepts, skills, attitudes, and action.

This year's unit (How We Organize Ourselves) tackled a wide range of real-life issues with local and global implications... from "Urban Planning Impacts How Our Cities Function" to "Your Wealth and Gender Affects Your Opportunities in Society."

After identifying and researching a relevant topic, students employ different methods of communication to create engaging and effective presentations (in both French and English) that inspire the viewers to take action.

The students themselves are required to take action to address their chosen issues, and for some groups those actions depend on YOU! Gabby, Vikram, Hannah, and Quinnlan, whose topic was, "Animals Without Rights and Freedom Impact Humankind and the Environment," propose the idea of Meatless Mondays. Click here to read their Action Article.

Bravo to all 5th graders for their spectacular work!

Download Exhibition brochure.

View more photos on Facebook.

French American International School 8500 NW Johnson Street, Portland, Oregon 97229
Ph: (503) 292.7776 Fax: (503) 292.7444
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