Middle Years Programme

Content-driven vs. concept-driven
If we look at ManageBac (for those of you who are using ManageBac), teachers are faced with a huge number of lists, boxes, statements they need to tick, fill in or write down… How do we make the MYP a meaningful curriculum and go beyond the box ticking exercise?

ManageBac in numbers for a single unit

  • 8 pages to fill in
  • Summary, inquiry, stream of resources, curriculum, assessment, learning experiences, connections and reflections
  • 4 key concepts, 12 related concepts, 6 global contexts
  • 1 statement of inquiry, 3 types of inquiry questions
  • Task, website, video, file, photo, note
  • Formative and summative assessments

MYP Curriculum

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The MYP comes across as being complex; however the MYP makes explicit effective teaching as it addresses/breaks down all the aspects of good teaching. We need to make it understandable because the language of the MYP is the same as the language of the DP and the PYP.

We tend to try and fold neatly the MYP so it fits within a box. Let’s try to “unpack” for a better understanding of what it is that the MYP is trying to achieve…

The avocado problem

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Skin = what students will forget the moment they leave the classroom
Flesh = what they will digest and what they will use in formative and summative assessments
Kernel = conceptual understanding: can they apply this in other subjects? Are those concepts transferable? Can students use them later in life?

Content is of course necessary but the “lens” we use to look at content might even be more important…

Kernel of truth

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The great thing is that most teachers already do all this…. They are not always aware of it and they don’t always make explicit what needs to be made explicit in MYP (and often believe that their students already know).
The concepts are the underlying principles of everything we do: the concepts underlie the teaching, not the other way around.

The content is only the tip of the iceberg…

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Concepts are big ideas that have relevance within specific disciplines and across subject areas. MYP students use concepts as a vehicle to inquire into issues and ideas of personal, local and global significance and examine knowledge holistically.

Concepts are like lenses. They allow to look at the “content” via different pathways. Concepts are also the driving force of the MYP. It is often tricky: teachers have units and content but they need to look at them through the “prism” of conceptual understanding…

Let’s imagine that we have a unit on impressionist painters… We might want students to describe famous French paintings using technical vocabulary and being able to differentiate between impressionist painters and “classical” painters… This is our unit and content… How do we integrate conceptual understanding?

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Based on the “prism” idea, the driving force will be about looking at creativity as an aspect of breaking away from conventions. Students will endeavour to answer the following questions:

  1. Are we only creative when breaking away from conventions?
  2. Can you think of other examples in other disciplines?
  3. Could you apply the concept to yourself? How?

This is only the beginning of a long process…

What can we do to make it more meaningful?

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Making the MYP more understandable

  • New staff induction programme
  • Staff guidance throughout the year (micro MYP workshops, lesson observations with clear feedback and targets, one-to-one guidance)
  • Step by step “statement of inquiry guide”
  • User friendly MYP guide (short version with clear examples for teachers, parents and students)
  • MYP Google site with specific and easy to read information.

Making the MYP more visible

  • Posters around the building and “MYP information area”
  • School website
  • Newsletter
  • Social media (Facebook, Youtube, Instagram, LinkedIn, Twitter, etc.)
  • More visibility in the classroom
  • Showcasing digital citizenship projects and other ATLs
  • User friendly MYP guides available electronically.

Possible CPD for staff

  • How to develop concept-driven inquiry-based learning (conceptual understanding)?
  • How to formulate statement of inquiry and inquiry questions?
  • How to make students co-planners of their own learning as part of assessment as learning?
  • How to develop metacognitive skills (making “learning how to learn” more explicit)?
  • How to develop Visible thinking routines in class?
  • How to develop growth mindset?
  • How to better develop IDUs and cross-curricular activities?
  • How to further teachers’ understanding of their subject needs and of ATL and the global contexts?

For staff

  • IDUs and peer observation mandatory at least once a year for all teachers, all departments and cross-curricular
  • Collaborative planning: time to meet, share ideas, plan and reflect collaboratively
  • Commitment to planning in subject teams and in flexible teams of year-level teachers
  • Vertical planning (emphasis on G5 to G6 transition and G10 to G11 in particular)
  • Horizontal planning (scope of learning per year group, ATLs and IDUs)
  • Collaborative planning of co-curricular elements to help VIS develop a curriculum that reflects and supports the school’s identity: staff could volunteer to join an MYP
  • Team or a Professional Growth Team or a CPD team (2 or 3 meeting times a year to help teacher-led events that are focused on pedagogy) and/or proposal to create Professional Learning Communities (see DuFour’s work).
  • Defining teaching and learning better (so teachers speak the same IB language, that same language that is used in the four programmes such as concepts or command terms)
  • Sharing best practice (among colleagues, departments and within the whole school)
  • Peer observation (compulsory at least once a year)
  • Best project-based learning acknowledged and shared with colleagues, parents and students: this can be shared with other schools and it aligns with STEM/STEAM as well
  • Orienting and training new teachers
  • Individual teacher support (before and/or after school on specific days)

For parents

  • End of units projects displayed in the school
  • Posters (MYP information or project-based learning) displayed around the school
  • Newsletter (electronic format)
  • Regular MYP meetings
  • Monthly meet and greet
  • Sharing positive stories on social media (Facebook, Instagram, LinkedIn)
  • Showcasing digital citizenship projects
  • Parents workshops led by students where a common understanding of the MYP is being developed by all community members.

For students

  • Student profile at the beginning of the year (VARK, passions, languages spoken, etc.)
  • Approaches to learning (learning how to learn) and approaches to teaching (pedagogy, collaborative learning, inquiry)
  • Focusing on inquirers, knowledgeable, thinkers, communicators, principled, open-minded, caring, risk-takers, balanced and reflective
  • Concepts and Inquiry-based learning resulting in student-initiated action
  • Focus on Community Project and Personal Project
  • Considering Grade 6 and Grade 10 as special years (transition years) to make sure students are successful when moving from PYP to MYP and from MYP to DP.
  • Developing specific skills (growth mindset, conceptual understanding, ATLs)
  • Developing project-based learning
  • Highlighting academic progress and progress full stop (so less able students and/or students with special educational needs feel valued as well)
  • MYP awards and special prizes
  • Focusing on personal, social and emotional well-being
  • Having an Impact (locally, nationally or globally)
  • Personal aspiration and leading role in their own education (co-planners)
  • Teaching and learning through practical, real-world experience
  • Focusing on agility, creativity and imagination and Service as Action (classroom and community)
  • Highlighting global learning communities and learning context(s)
  • Collaborative planning of co-curricular elements to help the school develop a curriculum that reflects and supports the school’s identity, including elements such as education for citizenship, outdoor adventure, experiential education and service within the community
  • From national citizens to global citizens: global contexts and global challenges (inquiry, action, reflection).

The MYP coordinator is charged with overseeing the implementation and delivery of the MYP and to act as a central link between the stakeholders: senior management, teachers, students and teachers as well as the IB.

Leading in terms of pedagogy

  • Assessment of learning, for learning and as learning: reflection on the concept of assessment
  • Google classroom and ManageBac: how to use them efficiently
  • Introducing easy to follow unit planners
  • Regular meetings with grade leaders to be aware of pedagogy needs (teachers and students)
  • Guiding HODs whenever the need arises
  • One-to-one sessions
  • Micro workshops on a weekly or biweekly basis (specific aspects of the MYP): these could be led by members of staff who are ‘specialists’ in that domain such as ATL, PP, task design, inquiry, etc.

Immediate focus

  • More flexibility in MYP training and time allocation
  • MYP Team and/or Professional Growth Team and/or CPD team and/or Professional Learning Communities
  • Making sure all staff understand the MYP and how to build units of inquiry
  • Confident and highly capable teachers focused on agreed pedagogy
  • Project-based learning
  • Co-designing learning (students involved at all times)
  • Learning by design
  • Visible thinking routines
  • Interdisciplinary units
  • Scope and sequence (ATLs)
  • At least 1 MYP specialist per department
  • Focusing on transition (Grade 5 to 6 and Grade 10 to 11)
  • Peer observation (at least once a year with feedback)