Approaches to Teaching
The subject groups
In the programme model, the five areas of interaction surround the learner and connect to eight subject groups. Schools are required to teach a broad and balanced choice of subjects in every year of the programme, including at least one subject from each of the eight subject groups. The subject groups provide a broad and balanced foundation of knowledge in traditional subject disciplines.
The IB publishes guides to each of the subject groups. These guides state the aims and objectives of each subject group, which are prescribed for all schools offering the MYP.
As well as presenting schools with a philosophical perspective on international education, the MYP prescribes a curriculum framework of objectives—usually framed as knowledge, conceptual understanding (some concepts may be provided or even prescribed in certain subjects), skills and attitudes—each of which is reflected in the learner profile, supported by the fundamental concepts. This framework acts as a reference point for the construction of the school’s own curriculum. How these objectives help to frame and construct the school’s curriculum is explored later in this guide, in the sections on “Assessment” and “Planning for teaching and learning”.
The total teaching time for each subject group may vary from year to year and from school to school; groups of students within one school may also need different amounts of teaching time to develop the knowledge and skills necessary to reach the final objectives over the course of the programme. However, to ensure significant learning in each subject group and to support the concept of a balanced programme, the IB stipulates a minimum time allocation of 50 teaching hours (3,000 minutes) per subject group per year of the programme.
Despite this minimum requirement, most subject groups will receive a considerably longer time allocation in each year of the programme; schools must decide for themselves how much longer each subject group will need. By careful analysis of the objectives of each subject group, as well as the content that will be taught so that students can reach the objectives, teachers should be in a position to calculate the teaching hours that will be necessary.
In some schools, the subject content in each subject group may be influenced by national, state or local requirements. In other schools, curriculum content may not be subject to external requirements. Whatever the curriculum constraints may be, schools must present MYP course materials from a range of international and cultural perspectives, as guided by the fundamental concepts.
The MYP assessment model is based on assessment criteria that are directly related to the objectives of each subject group. This criterion-related approach clarifies the assessment processes for students and enables teachers to discuss and clarify their own perspectives of assessment processes. The programme also encourages a balance between formative and summative assessment, using a range of activities within units to allow students to practise and demonstrate a full range of skills. Assessment strategies used by teachers should combine teacher-led assessment, group and/or peer evaluation and student self-assessment.
A balanced programme
The MYP model is based on the concept of balance. This is important to the programme in a number of ways.
- The programme provides learning in a broad base of disciplines to ensure that students acquire the knowledge and skills necessary to prepare for the future.
- The subject-group objectives include skills, attitudes and knowledge in addition to the understanding of concepts; the aim is to ensure that students are not only knowledgeable about a subject area, but also develop a genuine understanding of ideas and an ability to apply these in new contexts, in preparation for further learning.
- The programme promotes the principle of concurrency of learning, whereby students deal with a balanced curriculum each year in which different subjects are studied simultaneously. As students mature and develop higher-order thinking skills, they explore the disciplines in increasing depth and realize how they are linked to each other and to local and global issues.
- The programme encourages the use of a variety of teaching and learning methodologies to foster a climate in which students discover how they learn best in different situations.
- The programme emphasizes the development of the whole person—affective, cognitive, creative and physical—and its effective implementation depends on the school’s concern for the whole educational experience, including what students learn outside the classroom.