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Approach & Philosophy

Learning Locally, Thinking Globally

The International Baccalaureate (IB) continuum of education, recognized worldwide for rigorous instruction, critical thinking, an emphasis on active, global citizenship, and inquiry-based learning, is offered at GEMS in a highly localized context. The IB offers students the opportunity to gain deep content knowledge to prepare them for the rigors of university, while developing a global, active, problem-solving mindset.

Subjects offered and content covered vary by grade, but we consistently teach the core disciplines of math, literacy, science, and social studies, as well as physical education, the arts, technology and design, and a choice of a daily world language (French, Mandarin, or Spanish). Our Field Studies programs, emerging Chicago Curriculum, and cultural exchange opportunities provide full access to the city of Chicago and the world, enabling students and teachers to extend learning well beyond the walls of their classrooms.

How Students Learn

Social learning theorist Lev Vygotsky wrote that learning in children occurs through their interactions and communications with others. Communication and collaboration are critical elements of how students learn at GEMS. Inquiry across disciplines drives learning and enables students to apply concepts to new situations or problems. The faculty support student-driven inquiry by creating an environment that encourages risk taking and learning from our mistakes. We utilize a variety of human and other resources to maximize each student's ability to create, engage in rich academic discourse, think critically, problem solve and collaborate with others. Student learning occurs and is evaluated through:

  • Small group work
  • Whole class discussion
  • Short- and long-term independent projects
  • Field studies
  • Lab reports
  • Mathematical modeling
  • Socratic seminars
  • Debates
  • Literary analysis
  • Summative, formative, and meta-cognitive assessments

Whole-Person Development

We emphasize student development in accordance with the IB learner profile and offer students opportunities to discover themselves and their place in the world. We value active student engagement and agency across grade levels. Students have choices in both what they study as well as how they demonstrate their understanding or mastery of a concept. They also have a choice in how they approach service learning and have a voice in policies throughout the school.

The IB in a localized context

Explore Our Programs

Early Learning

Lower School

Middle School

Upper School

Early Learning

Preschool through Kindergarten | Unlocking limitless potential through a learning environment that nurtures creativity, risk taking, and independent thinking.

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Lower School

Grades 1-5 | The IB Primary Years Program (PYP) provides a framework for teaching and learning that is student-centered, inquiry-driven, and transdisciplinary, while offering students opportunities to explore topics, ideas, and passions.

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Middle School

Grades 6-12 | A time of rapid growth and change as students solidify their sense of self, hone their passions, and think critically about their place in the world.

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Upper School

Grades 9-12 | Preparing students to thrive in college and beyond. We tailor our programs to our students, giving them ways to highlight their
strengths and interests and providing more than typical high school offerings.

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