The International Baccalaureate Middle Years Programme at Thomas Jefferson Middle School
The MYP or Middle Years Program is the second of three programs in the International Baccalaureate (IB) continuum. The goal of all the IB programs is to develop active, life-long learners: students who have the knowledge, abilities and skills to function independently and collaboratively, to be reflective and to take appropriate action. The IBMYP, particularly, encourages students to:
- Understand connections across subjects and to the world
- Become critical and reflective thinkers
- Develop a strong sense of self-awareness and identity
The IB learner profile is said to be the IB mission statement in action. The traits of the learner profile are the characteristics IB schools are developing in students in order to fulfill the IB goal. The learner profile therefore, provides the foundation for learning in the all programs.
What is international-mindedness?
- Understanding and celebrating the value of diversity
- Having empathy for those who are different, while retaining pride in one’s own identity
- Using open-minded inquiry with critical thinking
- Showing adaptability, or capacity to cope with rapid change
- Balancing interdependence with independence
- Understanding that individuals can improve the world, and an acceptance of the responsibility to take action to do so.
Adapted from Alex Horsley’s IBNA Regional Conference presentation (2008)
What is the IBMYP curriculum?
The IBMYP curriculum is an international framework of objectives that are standard to all IBMYP schools throughout the world. In 2014, the objectives were slightly revised to better link the IBMYP with the IBDP (Diploma Program).
Students acquire and are assessed on skills and content knowledge in eight subject areas in every year of the program.
The IB organization regards gaining in-depth knowledge in several subject areas simultaneously as integral to the growth and development of middle school students. With a varied, but balanced curriculum, students experience a “richer, more interdisciplinary learning, whereby insights from different disciplines inform learning in a mutually enhancing way.” (IB 2010)
Students study state and county course content in eight subject areas. The eight IBMYP subject areas at TJMS courses are:
- Language and Literature (English Language Arts)
- Language Acquisition (Spanish, French, Latin, Chinese, Arabic)
- Individuals and Societies (U.S. History I-Grade 6. U.S. History II-Grade 7, World Geography-Grade 8))
- Arts (Visual Arts, Drama, Band, Chorus and Orchestra)
- Physical and Health Education
- Design (Family and Consumer Science, Business Ed., Tech. Ed)
How do I learn? What am I interested in? How can I help others? How do I understand the world?
The Middle Years Programme regards these questions as important for students to explore during their time in middle school. In fact, the Middle Years Programme believes that students are the center of importance; their interests, their thoughts, and knowledge about their own learning are vital in order for education to be meaningful. Therefore, after much research, the International Baccalaureate Organization designed a program that helps teachers keep in mind what is important to students, while they teach important concepts, content, processes and skills.
A Concept-based Program
A concept-based model is used in the MYP because it encourages students to:
• process factual knowledge at a deeper intellectual level as they relate the facts to concepts and essential conceptual understandings; this synergistic thinking (interplay between factual and conceptual thinking) engages the intellect on two levels—factual and conceptual—and provides greater retention of factual knowledge because synergistic thinking requires deeper mental processing
• create personal relevance, as students relate new knowledge to prior knowledge, and promote understanding of cultures and environments across global contexts through the transfer of knowledge
• bring their personal intellect to the study as they use a key concept to personally focus on the unit topic in order to increase motivation for learning• increase fluency with language as students use factual information to explain and support their deeper conceptual understanding
• achieve higher levels of critical, creative and conceptual thinking as students analyze complex global challenges, such as climate change, international conflicts and the global economy, and create greater subject depth through the study of discipline-specific related concepts.
(Source: MYP: From Principle to Practice)
Approaches to Learning (ATL) Skills
Approaches to learning skills are strategies and techniques that are applicable across the curriculum. ATL skills focus on the process of learning, helping students to become confident, independent, self-managed learners for life. Teachers explicitly teach the skills through structured opportunities and students reflect on the development of these skills.
|ATL Skills Categories||Student expectations|
Global Contexts for Learning
In the IBMYP, teachers use the six global contexts (themes) to focus the curriculum on real-WORLD issues. Through exploration of the six contexts, students learn to connect the subject matter to their personal lives and to the lives of others around the globe.
Six global contexts and possible explorations:
Identities and Relationships
- Competition and cooperation; teams
- Identity formation, self-esteem, status, role
- Attitudes, motivations, happiness and the good of life
- Human nature and human dignity, moral reasoning, ethical judgment
Orientation in Time and Space
- Civilizations and social histories, heritage, migration, displacement and exchange
- Eras, turning points and “big” history
- Scale, duration, frequency and variability
- Peoples, boundaries, exchange and interaction
- Natural and human landscapes and resources
- Evolution, constraints and adaptations
Personal and Cultural Expression
- Artistry, craft, creation, beauty
- Products, systems and institutions
- Social construction of reality, ways of life, belief systems; ritual and play
- Critical literacy, languages and linguistics systems; histories of ideas, fields and disciplines; analysis & argument
- Abstract thinking
- Entrepreneurship, practice and competence
Scientific and Technical Innovation
- Systems, models, methods; products, processes, and solutions
- Adaptations, ingenuity, and progress
- Opportunity, risk, consequences and responsibility
- Modernization, industrialization
- Digital life, virtual environments and the informational age
- The biological revolution
- Mathematical puzzles, principles and discoveries
Globalization and Sustainability
- Markets, commodities and commercialization
- Human impact on the environment
- Commonality, diversity and interconnection
- Consumption, conservation, natural resources and public goods
- Population and demography
- Urban planning, strategy and infrastructure
Fairness and Development
- Democracy, politics, government and civil society
- Inequality, difference and inclusion
- Human capabilities and development; social entrepreneurs
- Rights, law, civic responsibility and the public sphere
- Justice, peace and conflict management
- Power and privilege
- Authority, security and freedom
- Imagining a hopeful future
What is the teaching and learning approach of the IBMYP?
“Tell me and I forget, show me and I remember, involve me and I understand.” The third part of this age-old saying captures the essence of inquiry-based learning.
The instructional model in the IBMYP follows an inquiry-based approach. Inquiry is a process of gaining understanding by way of active participation. Inquiry entails formulating questions based on one’s current knowledge and seeking answers in order to construct new knowledge, collaborating with others in their quest for understanding and applying their knowledge in authentic ways outside the classroom. Students also reflect on their learning and formulate their own inquiries for further study.
The IBMYP is also concept and skills based. Because information is now at one’s figure tips, teaching focuses on developing students understanding of concepts that are meaningful across disciplines and that connect topics and processes in relevant ways.
In addition, students practice and acquire necessary skills in the individual subject areas as well as habits of mind skills (organization, research, collaboration, making connections, etc) that are needed for success in school and for lifelong learning.
The Design Cycle trains students to look at the big picture of learning and to have a personal stake in their own education. Students learn to investigate, plan, create, and then evaluate three branches of technology: information, materials, and systems. With technology at the helm, students become leaders in the classroom.
Thomas Jefferson Middle School has a strong tie to technology (the actual thought process of design and innovation) and technology tools.
Teachers have access to tools including digital cameras, movie cameras, SMARTBoards, wireless slates, and lcd projectors. Teachers also have access to various software and video programs to support instruction on just about any topic.
Teachers have students using software and Internet tools to create multimedia presentations, desktop publications, Webquests, and movies. The students even broadcast a morning announcement show over closed circuit television