Loving to Learn in the MYP

Loving to Learn in the MYP
Eric Usher

Our First Cohort Set to Complete the MYP This Year

The implementation of the IB Middle Years Programme at Seisen International School has been a multi-year effort involving engagement from the full spectrum of the school community. With the opening of the 2021-22 school year, we look forward to the first fruits of those labors as our first cohort completes the Programme. In addition to their regular classes, our Grade 10 students are already well into the preparation of their Personal Projects, the culminating assessment that invites them to demonstrate and reflect on the skills they have been developing over the course of the MYP.

Learning Principles and the MYP

SIS has recently constructed a new definition of high-quality learning, supported by eight learning principles that further describe the learning environment we want to create together.

As we enter this new year, we have been encouraging students to pay particular attention to one of those principles:

Learning is enhanced within an inquiry cycle that fosters a love and ownership of learning.

To take an INQUIRY based approach to learning implies an emphasis on discovery rather than delivery, which is, as the above principle suggests, key to students LOVING and feeling a growing sense of OWNERSHIP of their learning. The Personal Project in Grade 10 provides for the most open-ended opportunity for student ownership, but all of the learning students engage in should have some of those same characteristics. To that end, we have posed two questions to guide MYP students’ thinking about their daily lives at school:

What is the value in what I am learning?

“Why am I learning this?” Over the course of a school day -- or semester, or year -- it is easy for students to get caught up in the details of the content and lose sight of the big picture. The MYP strives to help students turn their attention to bigger ideas through an emphasis on concepts and global contexts. Teachers support student discovery through compelling inquiry questions, some of which the students may come up with themselves. Here are a few examples of deeper questions that MYP students are considering these days:

  • Can money buy happiness?

  • How do we decide whether or not an argument is valid?

  • How do writers influence their audience?

  • Should we care about what other people think?

  • What is the essence of life?

  • What makes something “beautiful”?

  • What really makes a democracy?

As we explore these and other questions together, we expect to reach understandings that have lasting value for us for years to come.

 

ATL at SIS

What are my next steps?

In order for students to take greater ownership of their learning, they need to feel empowered to move forward in their journey. The MYP framework provides important guideposts to help students chart their own progress. That purpose is central to both our emphasis on Approaches to Learning skills (shown above) and in the MYP assessment criteria in each subject. The intent of both is to help students identify their present level and clearly identify the steps required to get to the next level. When looking at the assessment criteria together with a group of students at the beginning of the year, we noted that levels are designated both by numbers and descriptions. 

 

 

Students are tempted to look only at the numbers, but in fact the words are much more important.

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Fostering a love and ownership of learning is exciting work that the whole school community can be involved in. We look forward to celebrating many new and valuable discoveries with students and parents throughout this year.

Programming Note: Parent Day - Intro to the MYP Webinar

As a final note, please feel free to join me for a live Intro to the MYP webinar on Parent Day. This webinar is designed to provide Grade 6 parents and any new parents with a clearer picture of the design and objectives of the MYP framework.

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