Tuesday, July 17, 2007

Planning Together

A lovely day today with some planning and thinking about the teaching of the Middle Years Program of the IBO. We will be teaching the program to Years 7 and 8 next year. We have a team of twenty teachers doing this planning and discussing what makes the MYP unique. It was a good match with hearing David Hornsby yesterday as it is all about pedagogy to engage students using constructivist principles. Our Director of Teaching and Learning, Peter Kadar started the session off getting teachers in groups (mixed learning areas) and sharing what expertise we bring to the planning group, as well as one non-educational thing that people generally don’t know about us. It was great, very affirming. After some minutes we introduced our partner to the group. We were amazed at the diversity of experiences within our group. One member had even gone trekking in the Himalayas. I shared that I was not a native English speaker, having learned English as a second language when I was five.

Later on in the morning the Year 7 English teachers went off to plan a unit through the lenses of the Areas of Interaction which form the framework of the MYP curriculum, which we then shared with the rest of the group. The five areas of interaction go across all discipline areas and make planning integrated units so much easier. This term we are studying Millie and the Night Heron by Catherine Bateson. It is a great novel to use in studying all sorts of themes such as family, identity, change, friendships and a whole heap of other topics. There was a place for reflective learning activities as the main character Millie, who is 11 going 12, has to complete a school project and learns lots from her experience including the dangers of leaving things till the last minute. With the focus on creativity in the novel it is easy to look at the novel through the lens of Homo Faber, and the environment is dealt with through the school project as well, which is about her local area. And so on. There will be lots of opportunities to work with teachers of other subjects to make links among all the learning done by the students throughout this term. It was quite inspiring, imagining the students’ responses to this novel and, I hope, their eagerness to have a go at lots of the activities and experiences. I’ll let you know how it goes.

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