Inquiry Based Learning

Teachers at NOVA are focused on using and learning content as a means to develop information processing and problem solving skills. Their approach is student centered, with the teacher as a facilitator of learning. There is a great emphasis on how we learn in addition to what we learn. The resources that teachers use in their instruction are open-ended and authentic. In NOVA’s PYP environment, the teacher and the students explore all questions that may come up. To monitor students’ learning and adapt instruction to the learners’ needs, teachers use assessments in all steps of the process.

Transdisciplinary Learning

Transdisciplinary learning allows students to build concepts and skills across subject areas, rather than studying subjects in isolation. Subjects are distinct, yet interconnected, allowing for a holistic learning experience in which students apply what they're learning in a variety of contexts. In real life, we never exercise our knowledge confined to subject areas. Transdisciplinary learning means that when students are, for example, studying astronomy, they are writing about astronomy, learning about its history and making related mathematical connections.

The Six Transdisciplinary Units 

The transdisciplinary themes mark the starting point of student inquiries. It is within the context of each theme that students explore related central ideas and assimilate knowledge. These themes engage the learning community in rich dialogues and ongoing collaboration to build an understanding of themselves, their wider community and the world.

1.  Who We Are:  An inquiry into the nature of the self; beliefs and values; person, physical, mental, social and spiritual health; human relationships including families, friends, communities, and cultures; rights and responsibilities; what it means to be human. 

2. Where We Are in Place and Time: An inquiry into orientation in place and time; personal histories; homes and journeys; the discoveries, explorations and migrations of humankind; the relationship between and the interconnectedness of individuals and civilizations, from local and global perspectives. 

3. How We Express Ourselves:An inquiry into the ways in which we discover and express ideas, feelings, nature, culture, beliefs and values; the ways in which we reflect on, extend and enjoy our creativity; our appreciation of the aesthetic. 

4. How the World Works:An inquiry into the natural world and its laws, the interaction between the natural world (physical and biological) and human societies; how humans use their understanding of scientific principles; the impact of scientific and technological advances on society and on the environment 

5. How We Organize Ourselves:An inquiry into the structure and function of organizations; societal decision-making; economic activities and their impact on humankind and the environment. 

6. Sharing the Planet:An inquiry into rights and responsibilities in the struggle to share finite resources with other people and other living things; communities and the relationship within and between them; access to equal opportunities; peace and conflict resolution.


Assessment in the PYP is a collaborative process between the teacher, the student and the family.  Teachers use multiple tools to help students on their learning journey.  Elementary teachers use a variety of assessment tools to record student progress including rubrics, checklists, continuums, task or subject-specific outcomes/standards, forms, benchmarks/exemplars, and narrative records.

PYP teachers also rely on standardized assessment tools such as the DRA (Developmental reading Assessment) and MAP (Measures of Academic Progress) test to customize teaching and learning for all students.  These tools identify student strengths and areas for growth. They are not achievement tests and are not reflected in the report card.

Reflection is a powerful tool in assessment.  Students are asked to self reflect on their learning at several stages throughout a unit of inquiry.  These self reflections allow students to gain agency over their learning, understand what they know and can do and encourage them to become an active part in the learning process.  

The Elementary School uses AERO (American Education Reaches Out) Standards as a framework for assessment in Literacy, Numeracy, Science, Social Studies, Music, Visual Arts and Macedonian Language. Course grades are determined by overall performance on Power Standards (key standards per subject/grade level). Based on these benchmarks, teachers create rubrics for each assignment that they later use to assess, or administer for students to self-assess.  At the end of a marking period, teachers combine evidence of all formative and summative assessments and use their professional judgment to determine the overall attainment level. For more information on assessment please refer to our assessment policy.


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NOVA International Schools is a candidate school* for the PYP. This school is pursuing authorization as an IB World School. IB World Schools share a common philosophy- a commitment to high-quality, challenging, international education- that we believe is important for our students. 

* Only schools authorized by the IB Organization can offer any of its four academic programmes: the Primary Years Programme (PYP), the Middle Years Programme (MYP), the Diploma Programme (DP), or the Career-related Programme (CP). Candidate status gives no guarantee that authorization will be granted. For further information about the IB and its programmes visit