The IMYC Learning Process
There is a distinct learning process with every IMYC unit, providing a structured approach to make sure that student’s learning experiences are as stimulating as possible. This process of learning, which has taken into account findings from neuroscience and cognitive psychology, helps students to become deep, engaged, active learners rather than passive participants in their schooling.
At the end of the six weeks of subject learning, students collaborate to produce a media project (such as a podcast or video) to present their personal understanding of the Big Idea to the rest of their classmates.
At the very end of the unit, having watched the Exit Point media presentations, it all came together for the children. Being able to see all the different presentations, which all focused around the idea of ‘things being more stable when different elements are in the correct or best possible proportions’ (including presentations ranging from the food chain to football), helped the children to draw better conclusions about what the Big Idea meant to them. We (the teachers) were extremely impressed with what the students came up with. It was amazing in fact.
It was important for the teachers to tell the students that the presentation was not about regurgitating what they’d already been taught, but instead the students had to find something that they found interesting from the learning and then take it from there to come up with their presentation. We (the teachers) were extremely impressed with what the students came up with. It was really amazing in fact. It impressed all the teachers, especially those who were on the fence about taking on a new curriculum; who weren’t sure that we needed to do this. Those teachers were really surprised at the results of these presentations. It showed us what the students were capable of achieving, because previously the teachers wouldn’t have expected so much of them.
One boy gave a presentation about all the different planets and their data, explaining that none of them have life and then he talked about earth and the balance that is required for earth to exist. He’d totally got his head around the idea of what the Big Idea meant to him. Another student who is big into soccer, he used the Bremen soccer team for his presentation. The team had a really stinky season this year but a very good one the year before and the student compared this year with last year’s good season and he looked at where the imbalance had occurred and where the change in their performance had been. These presentations were really quite eye-opening and very positive. All the teachers were positively surprised and this is now helping the teachers to move into the coming year with new enthusiasm and very positive expectation for IMYC.
International School of Bremen
The Entry Point launches every new IMYC unit. It is an activity or event to immerse the students into the Big Idea. The goal of the Entry Point is to get every student engaged in the concept of the Big Idea. It also provides a common platform so that every student has the experience to draw from and refer back to as they progress through the unit.
I tried to keep the Entry Point all under the lid but a couple of teachers let the information out so the children knew that something about Balance was going to happen! We had an assembly where we introduced the idea and then we had an actual balancing activity with slack-lines in the playground and teams competing to remain balanced on them.
We also did a balance activity in science where the children had to build a parachute; experimenting to balance the size of the parachute with the weight of it. The children were given a couple of hours in pairs to build their parachute. It was a great experience and it really interested the children. They really enjoyed that day; not having class time and participating in the activities and thought that all their learning throughout the unit was going to be like this!
International School of Bremen
The Knowledge Harvest takes place at the beginning of the unit, giving teachers the chance to find out what the students already know, what they want to learn about related to the Big Idea and how they would like to learn, ensuring that students are leading their learning wherever possible.
Many teachers create a mind map during the Knowledge Harvest and add to the original mind map throughout the unit to demonstrate to the students how their learning is progressing. This also helps students to see how what they are learning connects to what they already know.
This approach also provides opportunities for the teacher to challenge original knowledge if it is inaccurate.
The Learning Goals are the foundation on which the International Middle Years Curriculum is built. The Learning Goals define what students might be expected to know, what they might be able to do and the understandings they might develop as they move through school. Well written learning goals guide teaching and learning and help to focus assessment and evaluation.
Everything in the IMYC is based on these learning goals which outline the knowledge, skills and understanding across all of the subjects and international mindedness, as well as the personal dispositions students need to develop through this period. From the learning goals come the learning targets.
The Subject Goals
The subject goals cover the development of knowledge, skills and the understanding in science, art, ICT, music, history, design and technology, PE, geography and English. These subject goals are linked in the IMYC by a ‘rope’ (the IMYC Big Idea) for students to hold on to as they move from subject to subject. This enables them to connect their learning and to see how subjects interrelate while they develop their knowledge, skills and understanding in each subject in a rigorously academic way.
The Personal Goals
The personal goals refer to those individual qualities and dispositions we believe students will find essential as they move into adulthood. 11 to 14 year olds have very different needs to primary or senior learners. It’s not all hormones and attitude; their brains are changing. They are searching for personal meaning, they need to make sense of their learning, they need active involvement with their peers and they need to make connections. The IMYC personal goals take into consideration these personal needs and the crucial, adaptive period these students are in.
The International Goals
The IMYC international goals help 10-14 year olds develop a sense of their place in the world and that of others.
Because we want the IMYC to be flexible to meet the needs of your school and your students, we encourage your teachers to set learning targets based on the IMYC learning goals. This means that the learning your students will be doing will take advantage of the circumstances that are local and unique to your school.
So if the IMYC learning goal talks about students knowing how rivers are formed, the learning target will specifically identify which river is going to be studied. This means that the IMYC learning goals can then allow for precise, locally-based and relevant content.
Learning-focused and coherently structured activities for each subject support subject specialist teachers in delivering specific learning goals for their subject, all of which reflect in some way the Big Idea. These learning activities also help teachers to consistently incorporate the learning of personal dispositions and international mindedness. For example, in the IMYC Balance unit, while students are engaging in the difference between the fact that ‘things are more stable when different elements are in the correct or best possible proportions,’ they are also considering what it means to be a balanced friend and team-mate and thinking about how balanced relationships work.
Subject Research Activities
Each IMYC research activity is designed to make sure that students access information in a way that is appropriate to them. Many of the IMYC research activities are experiential, exploratory, collaborative research activities applying group working skills. Others are designed to develop individual enquiry and resilience. All tasks are open-ended to encourage students to ask their own questions related to the Big Idea. Each activity has clearly defined learning targets which are drawn from the IMYC Learning Goals. A number of research activities are identified for Assessment for Learning (the assessment of student’s progress in a range of subject, personal and international learning skills).
Subject Recording Activities
The subject recording activities are tasks in which students process the information they have gained in their subject research activities. The recording activities have been written to ensure that students have the chance to process and present their research through the full range of their multiple intelligences. Each recording activity has clearly defined learning targets which are drawn from the IMYC Learning Goals. A number of recording activities are identified for Assessment for Learning (the assessment of children’s progress in a range of subject, personal and international learning skills).
It’s forcing us all to support the same approach and that’s getting the teachers working together. This is focusing our communication and it makes the time that we do have together much more productive. The IMYC is so natural. It spreads, it’s infectious. We’re already sharing our experiences and our thinking, and to see and hear what everyone’s doing, that’s huge. It’s amazing to see the teachers collaborating with each other. I’ve never seen that level of collaboration before.
American International School of Rotterdam
Through blogging or journaling over the course of the unit, students are encouraged to reflect on the Big Idea and to develop their understanding of how it relates to them personally and to the world around them. Throughout the unit, the reflective journaling encourages personal contemplation with the aim of helping each student to develop a deeper understanding of the Big Idea from multiple perspectives, as well as their own.
By the end of the first unit, both the teachers and the children were starting to get the concept of the journaling. Some of the children were more literal in their thinking and not going out of the box whereas other children were eager to jump straight out of the box with their journaling. Teachers need to encourage the children to feel free with their thinking and gradually those less eager to do so will also jump out of the box.
International School of Bremen
Assessment For Learning
The IMYC is a learning-focused curriculum; designed to help students learn and to enjoy what they are learning. To be learning-focused means that we have to be assessment and evaluation-focused too. Both assessment and evaluation matter because they are ways in which we find out whether students are learning.
Knowledge, skills and understanding are learned differently, therefore taught differently and assessed or evaluated differently:
- Knowledge is about facts. Facts are right or wrong. The easiest way to find out whether students have learned facts is a regular test – we all know how to do that.
- Skills are practical and experiential. Skills aren’t right or wrong; they are developmental and so the IMYC talks about beginning, developing and mastering when it comes to skills learning. The boundaries between these three levels are not clear-cut and different people have different ideas of what each stage looks like. That’s why the IMYC Assessment for Learning Programme is created the way that it is – built around rubrics.
- Understanding is personal and fluid; it comes and goes. Finding out about students’ developing understandings is almost entirely a matter or judgement. The reflective journaling helps students to express their developing understanding based around the Big Idea as the unit progresses and the Media Project at the end of each IMYC unit helps students to express their understanding of the Big Idea in a coherent way.
The IPC Assessment for Learning Programme
Skills cannot be assessed by tests and they can’t reliably be assessed in one single assessment. They need time, and a consistent and simple evaluation process to support teachers. This is where the IMYC Assessment for Learning Programme will help you.
The Assessment for Learning Programme provides:
- Assessment of skills for a range of subjects plus international mindedness
- Three developmental levels of performance. The IMYC AfL Programme enables each student’s skills learning to be assessed and progressed through ‘beginning’, ‘developing’ and ‘mastering’ stages
- Performance descriptors for teachers. The IMYC AfL Programme provides performance descriptors (or ‘rubrics’) that help teachers identify actual performance of each skill in each subject at each level of development
- Performance descriptors for students. The IMYC AfL Programme provides the same performance descriptors for the students, written in language that’s easy for them to read and follow. These student rubrics help them take an active role in the assessment of their own learning and that of their peers.
- Specific teaching and learning advice. The IMYC AfL Programme provides advice to teachers to help students progress from beginning to developing to mastering at each stage of each assessed skill of each subject
- Easy to use web-based recording database. Your ongoing assessments and evaluations, plus notes, can all be recorded onto a secure on-line AfL database that lets you collate, analyse and present individual, class and school-wide skills learning
- A complete teachers’ manual explains clearly how and when to use the Assessment for Learning Programme