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Written Curriculum Step 3: Identifying Concepts and Contexts

Updated: Aug 1, 2022

How do we begin building inquiry into our (currently) content driven units? We will discuss how to do this, but also head to the end of the post to see this process in action through an example. The purpose of inquiry is to promote curiosity and also to allow students to explore content at a deeper level, developing their creative and critical thinking as they build connections, question and explore. Definitions for the key concepts, related concepts and global contexts are available here.

Start by establishing a purpose for the unit. This will develop, but for the time being, look at the content and note what ideas are sparked. Does a specific project come to mind? Do you have an objective you want the students to meet? Is there a school focus for the year? Is there a need (local or global) that you think could be met by developing those skills? Make note of these ideas as they can help focus your choices.

Key concepts are ideas that are broad and open while also being dynamic enough to begin defining the unit. There are 16 key concepts in the MYP, and any can be used within a unit, but mathematics focuses on three - form, logic and relationships.

Form may link more authentically to geometry topics, units which involve modelling graphically or data visualisation within statistics.

There are many algorithms, systems and rules within mathematics so logic is useful in evaluating units which involves these; for example order of operations, simplifying algebraic terms, networks etc.

There are many relationships in mathematics - cause and effect, interlinked factors, the same thing being represented in different ways. Fractions, decimals and percentages, impact of output when substituting different values, scatter diagrams etc.

Each unit should also focus on at least one related concept. Each subject group has 12 related concepts which need to be visited at multiple times, within multiple contexts, across the MYP. Again, related concepts can come from other subjects or even developed by you to reflect the needs of your school community. In addition, a secondary key concept can be used if it seems more relevant. Fewer related concepts should be used in shorter units or within units for younger years.

Once the concepts have been selected, they should be looked at, alongside the content, to select a global context through which they can be explored. There are six overarching contexts, and a more specific exploration within one of these will help to focus the unit. This focus will allow you to plan learning experiences within authentic settings which can be much more engaging for your students and allow their learning to be applied to relevant scenarios, and solve real problems which better their world. The “From principles into practice” guide has suggested explorations - pick one, a combination of a few, part of one or create your own which is more relevant for your setting and students.

Below, the content identified for MYP1 has been reflected upon to determine relevant concepts and context. This is just sharing one thought process and will hopefully give an idea of the kind of questions to reflect on when developing your own unit of inquiry.


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