Thursday, November 8, 2012

Tension between IB prescriptives and the modern learner

This is my first year in an IB program. I teach MYP Language A to sixth and seventh graders. I have an awesome collaborating teacher and a school that values PD tremendously. I could not ask for a more supportive environment.

One thing that I am trying to get my mind around as I teach in the IB program for the first time is how friendly (or not friendly) the IB program is to modern learners.

With its focus on external moderation, how can a teacher engage in student-centered, collaborative, project-based learning? How can I allow my students to choose what product they create or even convince them that the process itself matters, when the IB at times looks like standardized testing, minus the bubbles?

Sure, the IB is not all about what facts students know, at least as far as Language A goes, but it is about producing a very particular piece of work in a very particular way. And it is about producing a prescribed number of these pieces of work on the IB timetable. So while it's not high-stakes standardized testing, it comes across as something a bit analogous. High-stakes standardized prescribed essays or speeches perhaps?

This is something my husband (who is also a Language A teacher, though in the DP program) is trying to figure out as well. He's not as concerned with the pedagogy as I am. His interest is in the writing and how formal it has to be. He has always encouraged his students to have strong voice in their work. The students in our IB program seem to think all writing must be very formal. It seems lifeless and stunted. It does not seem to encourage creativity or risk-taking in any way.

So while there is much to like about the IB (perhaps that's another post, to check my attitude), some questions remain in my mind.


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