If you are new to the MYP (teacher, student or parent) and wondering what to expect, this post is for you! Whether you are moving from a different curriculum or school stage, read on to find out what is likely different in this new setting.

*Note: while the points shared are true for all subjects, any extra examples will be specific to mathematics. All links lead to further FREE resources, so please click through for further information after reading this post!*

So, what is unique about the MYP?

**1. THERE IS A LOT OF NEW LANGUAGE **

There is a lot of jargon in the MYP, some of which will be used in this post. In order to follow along effectively, download an at a glance __poster__ for easy reference.

**2. THE CONTENT DIFFERS IN EACH SCHOOL**

The MYP is a *framework* and there is no set curriculum by the IB - this means that a school can design a 5 year learning journey which meets the unique needs of their students and context. In mathematics there is a skills framework given in the guide with a __list__ of topics that can be covered, and should be covered by schools participating in the __eAssessment__ (an optional external assessment students sit at the end of MYP year 5 if the school has opted to take part).

In non-participating schools, the curriculum may be driven by the prior knowledge needed for the next stage of learning i.e. students going into the Diploma Programme or Careers-related Programme (IBDP or IBCP are the IB’s post 16 programmes) or the local further education system.

Ideally the learning foci should reflect the priorities of the school community but it may also be directed by the areas of expertise or interests of the leading teachers. This means that, in many cases,* there is unlikely to be a textbook or external resources *which perfectly map to the learning journey of your school.

**3. THE UNITS ARE MEANINGFUL**

Teaching units are planned around __concepts__ and a real-world context rather than content alone. Take for example an MYP2 (year 8/grade 7) unit where students learn about perimeter, area and volume. This unit in an MYP context will be centred around a big idea called the statement of inquiry (SOI) which links together key concepts, related concepts and a global context exploration (told you there was lots of jargon). Ok, so what does that actually mean? For this unit, the SOI might be *"changing the way resources are used can form more ethical designs"*. Here the concepts are change, form and resources while the exploration is ethical designs within the global context of fairness and development.

**4. THE ASSESSMENT IS VARIED**

Assessments correspond to one or more of the four objectives in the subject which will impact the type of task. That means that in mathematics you will see more than just a conventional test. For the aforementioned unit there may be a traditional question-answer exam to address objective A "Knowing and Understanding". Students would be assessed on problems ranging from simple and familiar (calculate the perimeter of the compound shape) to challenging and unfamiliar (two rectangles have the same area but the perimeter of one is 40% more than the other. Determine potential dimensions for both rectangles).

Objective B is "Investigating Patterns". To assess this, there might be an exploration into the largest area that can be made with a perimeter of 20, 40, 60 etc. The focus is on describing patterns, predicting, generalising findings and verifying these findings. In the older year groups they would also need to justify or prove their generalisations. See an example investigation __here__.

The "Communicating" component of objective C may be attached to the investigation or the "Applying Mathematics to Real-Life” which is objective D. This application might be a project to find out how the classroom could be rearranged for better feng shui, or to redesign a chocolate box to use less cardboard, or position a boundary in the playground to fairly divide the space for different sized year groups. This involves solving the problem with mathematics but there is also a reflective element where students need to consider which other real life elements should inform their solution (e.g. a cube box may use less cardboard but makes for difficult sharing around a coffee table) and on the accuracy of their process (e.g. did they include the tabs of the box in their calculation for material costs).

The communication element (objective C) may be showing the clear design, using specific vocabulary and notation correctly, or putting together a presentation for the target audience.

Note that the words objectives and criteria may be heard interchangeably - they refer to the same four components but the objectives are the focus of teaching and learning while the criteria refer to what is assessed.

Within these assessments are command terms which direct students. For example, considering the investigation, **stating** the optimal shape as a square is different from **writing down** the general rule (a rectangle with perimeter p has a maximum area A = p²/16). **Verifying** would require showing that a perimeter of 24 can have areas of 11, 20, 27, 32 (with integer dimensions) and a maximum of 36 which happens as a 6x6 square. **Justifying** might involve connecting the rule to quadratic functions or sequences (note, this is only necessary in the older years).

**5. THE GRADING IS HOLISTIC**

Unless the school combines the MYP with a curriculum which requires more conventional grading, you should not expect to see a 76% on a test or an A+ on an end of year report. In the MYP, assessments are given a level (out of 8) by comparing against the rubric __descriptors__. Students must be assessed across all strands in each criteria at least twice in a year, so they should expect to have at least 8 assessment levels. At the point of reporting, their teacher will use professional judgement to give each criteria a level, taking into account all relevant summative assessment levels, trends, (in)consistencies and mitigating circumstances. However, the student’s reported subject grade will range from a 1-7 depending on the sum of the four criteria levels given.

For example, if across the year a student had received:

criterion A: 4, 4, 4

criterion B: 5, 5, 2

criterion C: 3, 4, 4, 5

criterion D: 5, 3

the teacher may award

A: 4,

B: 5 (by noting an "off" day),

C: 5 (by noticing the positive trend)

D: 4

This gives a total of 18 which produces a final grade of 4. This “4” links to a qualitative descriptor of ** “produces good-quality work. Communicates basic understanding of most concepts and contexts with few misunderstandings and minor gaps. Often demonstrates basic critical and creative thinking. Uses knowledge and skills with some flexibility in familiar classroom situations, but requires support in unfamiliar situations.“ **The full descriptors can be found in "From Principles into Practice", page 94 (available to teachers on myIB).

**6. THERE IS A FRAMEWORK FOR TEACHING**

The IB has six approaches to teaching to guide what happens in the classroom. “Differentiated” and “Informed by assessment” are (hopefully) present in most school settings. __Learning experiences__ are planned for the range of students and responsive to their progress. “Inquiry-based” can be seen in different ways through students asking questions, inductive teaching, encouraging curiosity, transferring knowledge to personalised passions etc. “Concept-driven” supports deeper understanding of the unit’s concepts. This may be considering the __form__ of a box, seeing it as the sum of six faces, or a net as well as its "complete" 3D form. Or an awareness that __resources__ in manufacturing could refer to space, material, money, time, labour or energy. “Contextualised” teaching helps to give purpose to learning by making connections explicit and showing how learning transfers to real life. “Collaborative” approaches allow for students to inquire together and develop a shared understanding.

**7. THE STUDENTS LEARN HOW TO LEARN**

Students should have ownership over their learning journey and keep in mind *the big picture* beyond single subjects. Therefore, some lessons will be less about the subject content and more about developing __ATL skills__. These are transferable skills which will support students in their learning journey if developed. For example, if an assessment was to pitch a chocolate box design to a fictional company, there may have been lessons on digital design or presentation skills (communication). Or they may have had to compare existing designs (research).

**8. THERE IS A FOCUS ON INTERNATIONAL MINDEDNESS**

The IB has a mission to develop students who are equipped to make a positive change to their community and the world. This results in broader learning opportunities such as:

**A) Interdisciplinary units** where students combine two or more subjects in one unit. This could be mathematics, design, biology and geography (individuals and societies) working together on a unit about how man-made indoor biomes (such as the Eden project) are developed.

**B) Service** is also a compulsory part of the IB framework, across the continuum. A student may use their learning in mathematics to launch a service project such as developing the school garden, using their knowledge of area and volume to purchase appropriate quantities of soil and seeds.

**C) The **__Learner Profile__** **attributes are 10 traits which are valued and nurtured by IB schools in order to develop responsible citizens. These may be referred to implicitly or explicitly, with classroom tasks used to foster or showcase these qualities.

**D) The Personal Project **and **Community Project** allow students in the later MYP years to choose areas they care about, want to learn about or want to make a change in, and pursue it as a longer term focus. These may not be subject specific but will likely use knowledge obtained from various subjects. For example, a student choosing to run a multicultural fashion show as their personal project may use mathematics when designing clothes (measurements, finding the area of fabrics) and maybe currency conversion (for any international purchases). However they would also design, visual art, and perhaps music and various languages for the overall performance.

These 8 points offer an overview for what may be different in the MYP, but there are certainly similarities to other school settings too. Furthermore, remember it is just a framework which means each school will implement it in a different way. So be sure to reach out to your school to learn any specific information such as use of technology, reporting systems, homework policies, and general classroom expectations.

Remember to check out the links shared in this post, or send a message across if there is anything else you would like to know!

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