When I started at my current school the focus of the curriculum was fairly content heavy and was presented to me as a list of knowledge targets for students to hit. This approach to planning didn't sit well with me because I couldn't see the consideration that had gone into choosing those particular outcomes. I wanted to know if they had been chosen because they were a useful thinking skill, knowledge required for completing MYP assessments, because they were scaffolding knowledge required for the DP, or for any other of a multitude of reasons.
So I came up with a plan for categorising the learning outcomes that were listed with the aim of identifying redundancies or areas where the focus had become too specific (one of the units had 30+ outcomes). I realised that once this information was logged, it wouldn't take too much effort to turn the data into a curriculum map that showed where certain skills (thinking, problem solving, ICT etc.) were being taught and where there might be gaps.
The final result of all of this was the three documents below.
The first is a common unit planner that I imagined would be completed by a team. This is where you would input commonalities such as Key Concepts, ATLs and so on. Here is also where you would categorise learning outcomes into types of knowledge or skill, as well as which DP subject area they are related to.
The second is an individual unit planner which, when given the link to the common planner, would import all of the information from the common planner. Individual teachers could then develop their own learning activities while ensuring that they can hit the mutually agreed upon outcomes.
Finally, there is a curriculum overview document that, again when the unit plan links are added, imports the data from all common planners and turns it into a full curriculum map.
Common Unit Planner
Individual Unit Planner
Curriculum Overview Document
Unfortunately the idea was not well received when I presented it to my team. I thought that I was swimming with the tide in taking the documentation that we had and using that as a starting point, but it turned out that there was some disagreement about the idea of using a list of outcomes as the basis for planning a unit. I may have had more success in trying to overhaul the curriculum first.
That said, I do think that there is value in the idea, if not the current product. And I have a couple of thoughts for how it could be improved or re-purposed:
1. In a completely student directed unit, you could have the student list the things that they learned in completing a certain project or investigation. Ticking the boxes will help them reflect on the learning that occurred outside of the content. And if the matching with DP subjects occurred over a number of years, it would help them identify which DP subjects they would be most suited to.
2. I could invert the approach of using the teaching happening in the classroom to create a curriculum map, and instead create a curriculum map that automatically filters down to the unit plans. I'm currently working on an ATL Scope and Sequence that could form the basis of a map along with a set of SOIs and Key Concepts. This would ensure that teams were vertically and horizontally aligned with the things that I personally consider more important and would leave room for flexibility in the knowledge outcomes.
Luke Scholtes is a Science teacher with eleven years experience, currently working at the American International School of Bucharest.