The MYP Top Ten #4
The Global Eagle - Week November 7-9, 2016
1- The Learner Profile
2- Concept based learning
3- Inquiry Questions
4- Global Contexts
As we continue deepening our understanding of the Middle Years Programme, this week I invite you to read the attached section about the Global Contexts from Principles into Practice guide. As we want our classes to be connected to the world outside our walls, the Global Contexts and their Explorations give us the WHY in our units and lessons. They bring relevance to our content and in the context of an internationally minded school they invite learners to consider the world around them.
Teaching and Learning in Context
Teaching and learning in the MYP involves understanding concepts in context. All learning is contextual. A learning context is a specific setting, event or set of circumstances, designed or chosen, to stimulate learning. The context, therefore, should have a relationship to the learner, the learner’s interests and identity, or the learner’s future. Learning that occurs out of context is often shallow and short term in character.
Concepts are abstract and applicable over many times and circumstances; contexts are specific, varied and highly situational. Concepts are powerful ideas that have universal application, but the meaning of concepts can change as people experience and interpret them in different contexts. Contexts offer the possibility of new perspectives, additional information, counter-examples and refinements of understanding. The existence of multiple contexts for teaching and learning underscores the fact that all concepts are open to interpretation. Concepts are not neutral but, rather, are subject to contest and conflict. Concepts are not prescriptive and inert but dynamic and interact with the world. When concepts are set in context, they are less likely to become prescriptive checklists of “facts by another name”. Contexts help to create productive discussion within and outside of the classroom.
The nature of a contextual curriculum
Effective teaching and learning in context helps students and teachers to:
• plan concrete, memorable engagements that can be tailored to individual students and their learning styles, diverse backgrounds and cultures
• illustrate and provide concrete examples of conceptual and theoretical ideas
• offer pathways towards authentic assessment (performances of understanding)
• model open-mindedness and intellectual risk-taking valued by the IB learner profile
• inspire critical and creative thinking as students encounter multiple, and sometimes conflicting, value systems and cultural perspectives, including concepts that are open to different interpretations such as citizenship, identity and globalization
• provide lenses through which to compare various conceptions (and misconceptions) of reality
• promote inquiry-based teaching strategies (for example, problem-based learning)
• lead towards work awareness, vocational planning and the exploration of school-to-career pathways
• link classroom learning to action and service learning
• promote self-regulation as students learn to find their own personal contexts and make meaning for themselves
• become more autonomous, strategic and self-motivated
• build up the skills and experience necessary to transfer learning from one context to another
• explore the many ways the application of concepts can vary among human cultures, and draw attention to our common humanity—including the search for universal cultural understanding.
MYP global contexts
In the MYP, learning contexts should be (or should model) authentic world settings, events and circumstances. Contexts for learning in the MYP are chosen from global contexts to encourage international mindedness and global engagement within the programme.
Students at the MYP age range learn best when their learning experiences have context and are connected to their lives and to the world that they have experienced. When learning becomes meaningful and relevant, students are more likely to be engaged. Teachers can impact on student learning by providing engaging and inspiring global contexts that contribute towards development of the attributes of the IB learner profile.
Learning in global contexts enables learners to directly link concepts with their own lives and put knowledge into action (Westera 2009). This contextual learning helps teachers and students answer the important question “Why are we learning this?” Often, students’ motivation to learn depends on the teacher’s ability to successfully answer this question.
IB programmes aim to develop internationally minded people, and MYP learning environments value the world as the broadest context for learning. Educators use a variety of models and a range of vocabulary to prepare students to live in the highly globalized societies of the 21st century. In broad terms, teaching and learning in global contexts requires MYP schools to develop the capacity and the inclination to place people, objects, situations with which [they] come into contact … within the broader matrix of our contemporary world … [to be] attuned to daily encounters with world cultures, landscapes and products; [to] place such encounters in a broader narrative or explanatory framework of contemporary global processes; and [to] perceive [themselves] as an actor in such a global context.
(Boix-Mansilla and Gardner 2007)
Learning in context requires careful preparation. In some cases, contextual learning may be uncomfortable for those accustomed to less student-focused approaches. It requires ongoing monitoring for understanding (formative assessment), and it can call on unfamiliar classroom management skills.
In a world of increasing interconnection and complexity, learning in context provides students with opportunities to explore multiple dimensions of meaningful challenges facing young people in the world today, encouraging them to develop creative solutions and understanding. The MYP encourages teachers to design units around a range of ideas and issues that are personally, locally, nationally, internationally and globally significant.
As adolescents develop their intellectual and social identities during the MYP years, they become increasingly aware of their place in the world. Working in global contexts requires a sophisticated combination of understanding, practical skills and personal dispositions that work together to define global competence (Boix-Mansilla and Jackson 2011). Global competence calls for deep, engaged learning. To prosper in the world, students must not only be able to understand globalization, but be able both to reflect critically on its promise and peril, and to act responsibly to make that world a better place for themselves and for the communities in which they live.
The MYP identifies six global contexts for teaching and learning that are developed from, and extend, the PYP’s transdisciplinary themes.
(From Principles To Practice p. 27-28)