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IB Blog Series: Providing Students with Authentic Learning Experiences

Welcome to our second update in the IB Blog Series! This month's blog focuses on how the components of each IB Programme, from the PYP, to the MYP and DP, provide students with authentic, rich learning experiences that broaden their real-world understanding and abilities.  

The IB Primary Years Programme (PYP) Transdisciplinary Themes 

The Primary Years Programme (PYP) is a transdisciplinary curriculum framework that offers authentic learning experiences. In practice, this means that the PYP encourages students to learn to appreciate knowledge, conceptual understandings, skills, and personal attributes as a connected whole.

Schools do this by collaboratively developing a Programme of Inquiry that reflects the unique aspects of that school’s community. At M’KIS, our Programme of Inquiry is organized and framed by six transdisciplinary themes:

  • Who we are: An inquiry into the nature of the self: beliefs and values; personal, physical, mental, social and spiritual health; human relationships including families, friends, communities, and cultures; rights and responsibilities; what it means to be human.
  • Where we are in place and time: An inquiry into orientation in place and time; personal histories; homes and journeys; the discoveries, explorations and migrations of humankind; the relationships between and the interconnectedness of individuals and civilizations, from local to global perspectives.
  • How we express ourselves: An inquiry into the ways in which we discover and express ideas, feelings, nature, culture, beliefs and values; the ways in which we reflect on, extend and enjoy our creativity; our appreciation of the aesthetic.
  • How the world works: An inquiry into the natural world and its laws; the interaction between the natural world (physical and biological) and human societies’ how humans use their understanding of scientific principles; the impact of scientific and technological advances on society and on the environment.
  • How we organize ourselves: An inquiry into the interconnectedness of human-made systems and communities; the structure and function of organizations; societal decision-making; economic activities and their impact on humankind and the environment.
  • Sharing the planet: An inquiry into rights and responsibilities in the struggle to share finite resources with other people and with other living things; communities and the relationships within and between them; access to equal opportunities; peace and conflict resolution.
These transdisciplinary themes together provide children with authentic learning experiences that are not confined to the boundaries of traditional subjects. Although subjects play an important role in learning, PYP learners explore real-world problems by going beyond these boundaries. Students have opportunities to reflect on the significance of their learning to take meaningful action in their community and the wider world.

The IB Middle Years Programme (MYP) Learner Profile Attributes

The Middle Years Programme (MYP) not only offers a rigorous and conceptually-driven curriculum designed to prepare students for the challenges of the Diploma Programme; it is also driven by 10 learner attributes that ensure students have the characteristics they need to succeed.

Each unit of study across all subject areas has a specific attribute that is focused on ensuring students see both academic and personal growth. These attributes are also prioritized in more detail throughout our advisory program, which all of our Middle and High School students participate in.

Learner Profile Attributes are important, because we want our students to be able to say:

  • I am a thinker. I make good decisions and am thoughtful. I learn from my mistakes.
  • I am an inquirer. I ask good questions and know how to research and find the right answers to challenges.
  • I am knowledgeable. I like to explore the unknown and acquire new understandings.
  • I am open-minded. I am understanding of my own culture and the beliefs and cultures of those around me. I search for a wide range of points of view.
  • I am caring. I show empathy, compassion and respect to others. I have a personal commitment to making a positive contribution to the world
  • I am principled. I act with integrity and I am honest. I take responsibility for my own actions and am fair and just.
  • I am a risk-taker. I apply forethought and act with courage when faced with uncertainty and unfamiliar situations. I am brave and articulate when defending my beliefs.
  • I am a communicator. I am creative and confident when expressing my ideas. I am comfortable with working collaboratively.
  • I am balanced. I understand the importance of intellectual, physical and emotional well being and ensure that I tend to all three!
  • I am reflective. I support my personal development with considered thought about my experiences. I aim to be a better version of myself.

The Importance of the IB Diploma Programme Core

All of our Grade 11 students get the chance to experience the IB by taking IB subjects or by opting to be Diploma Programme candidates. So what is the difference?

If a student decides to take IB subjects, they can be IB certificate candidates and earn a certificate at the end of the 2 years to show universities they have taken academically rigorous and demanding courses. Many universities will provide credit for this, which is something worth consulting with each school’s Admissions Office about.

If a student decides to take the full Diploma Programme, they not only will need to register in 6 IB subjects, but also complete a series of Core Requirements. This is the main difference between the Diploma Programme and other high school academic programs.

The three mandatory Core Components of the Diploma Programme are:

  • Theory of Knowledge (TOK): students reflect on the nature of knowledge and how they know what they claim to know by studying different areas of knowledge and ways of knowing.
  • Extended Essay (EE): an independent, self-directed research paper of 4000 words.
  • Creativity, Activity, Service (CAS): students get involved in experiences in these three strands throughout 18 months of their program. It allows them to gain valuable skills while creating healthy habits, practicing time management, and experiencing community involvement.
What about CAS?
Students get to pick what meaningful experiences to join considering these 3 strands, so each CAS program is individual and should meet the student's needs. We start the year by doing a personal profile inventory to discover each student's skills, talents, and interests to help us guide their experiences selections and ensure the time invested is worthwhile for their personal growth.

CAS should be looked at as an outlet, a time for students to invest in themselves and experience a new kind of growth. Under the current circumstances, which are always shifting due to the pandemic, selecting appropriate and safe experiences is challenging yet extremely rewarding. For example, since there are no sports seasons at the moment, which is how the majority of students chose to meet the Activity strand of the component, students must now find more unique ways of keeping physically active. Following home workouts, doing yoga, or going on walks/runs/hikes are all meaningful activities that meet the needs of being active. 

Together, the elements of the DP Core are an incredibly valuable part of the IB experience for students as they mature through high school and prepare for the rigors of a university education and beyond. 

We look forward to sharing more developments with you in our next IB blog!

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