These days a lot of my energy is going into developing the MYP program at Aspengrove School. As part of this endeavour I am writing blog posts to try and help parents understand the program. The following is a cross-post from our school’s IB continuum blog.
What exactly is the Middle Years Programme (MYP)? I think that this is a question every MYP student, teacher and parent has asked themselves at some point or another. It is a programme that can’t be easily explained, and it looks different in every school in which it is offered. It is a framework carefully crafted to help middle years students transition from the transdisciplinary model of the Primary Years Programme (PYP) into the Diploma Programme (DP), where disciplinary concepts are taught. Being a transition program it must, by necessity, be flexible and customisable; a programme and framework based on fundamental concepts (rather than specifics) and created collaboratively by the practitioners involved (rather than by ‘experts’ that don’t know the local community).
The 3 fundamental concepts that guide the MYP are: holistic learning; intercultural awareness; and communication. According to the IB, holistic learning represents the idea that “knowledge is interrelated and that the curriculum should cater to the development of the whole person”. Intercultural awareness represents the idea that “school communities should encourage and promote international-mindedness by engaging with and exploring other cultures”. Communication represents the idea that schools should encourage open and effective communication, important skills that contribute to international understanding.”
The MYP framework was created to give teachers tools and strategies they could use to turn these big fundamental concepts into more real, tangible classroom experiences. It provided lenses that teachers could use to develop links between their subject groups and between subjects and real-world issues so that students could learn to see knowledge as an interrelated whole. It provided an assessment model that focussed on the process of learning and the development of life long learners and independent thinkers. For the most part it was quite successful, but it turned out that crafting classroom experiences that instil the MYP fundamental concepts in middle school students was a difficult thing to do. Which is why two years ago the IB started the process of reworking the MYP framework to be more effective at supporting holistic learning, intercultural awareness and communication.
In September 2014 the MYP “Next Chapter” framework will officially be launched. In December of this year the draft subject guides will be available for teachers to read. At Aspengrove School we are managing the transition to this “Next Chapter” by building a solid foundation on which to situate the new programme. We spent most of last year working on our assessment and reporting procedures so that they could support our students taking charge of their learning. This year we will be working with our newManagebac system to tweak existing MYP units and create new ones using the MYP “Next Chapter” framework. At the same time we will be looking for opportunities to create interdisciplinary links that allow our students to explore topics in more depth than they could in just one subject.
As we work to implement the MYP “Next Chapter” framework it is important that all stakeholders in this process feel like they understand what is going on. As the year progresses my hope is to share many more blog posts on our continually evolving program. There are many topics that need to be unpacked further, some examples might include: assessment; interdisciplinary instruction; how we are supporting international mindedness; how we are helping the students learn how to learn; what the MYP “Next Chapter” framework looks like. If any of our community members have other ideas for topics to discuss I would love to hear them, either via email or as a comment left below.
There are exciting times ahead and I look forward to exploring them together.
Phil Macoun (MYP Coordinator)