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Posts Tagged ‘International Middle Years Curriculum’

Growing number of international schools introducing Middle Year students to new way of learning

Providing 11 to 14 year olds with an enriching and engaging learning experience, one that is relevant for the student and the location of the school, and one that can also be sustained through the oftentimes transitional faculty of many international schools, can be one of most difficult challenges for many schools. However, a growing number of international schools, including the Harrow International Schools, the International School of Bremen in Germany, The School of Research Science in UAE, the British Schools of America, and Beacon Academy in Indonesia think they have found the answer with the International Middle Years Curriculum.

It is a curriculum that is directly addressing the learning requirements of young teenagers says Executive Headmaster and Chief Operations Officer of Harrow International Schools, Mark Hensman. “We all know that learning for students needs to be more relevant and inquiry-based,” he says. “We also know that this applies in particular to the Key Stage 3 curriculum,” he adds. “The recent emergence of the International Middle Years Curriculum has therefore been a breath of fresh air and a relief for those who have been looking for a middle year’s curriculum which builds on the National Curriculum but takes it much further,” he continues. “For us in the Harrow International Schools, the International Middle Years Curriculum has been a great launching pad into ‘big ideas’ while remaining grounded in the National Curriculum.”

The students at The School of Research Science in Dubai are experiencing this first-hand. One recent IMYC unit (with its big idea that: ‘the desire to know more drives exploration and aspiration’) linked students’ learning to space exploration which involved a live web-chat with a member of The Mars Society in the USA (8 hours behind UAE time), who shared expertise and answered students’ questions. “The web-chat was a huge exploration for the school,” says Science learning in action with the IMYC at IS Bremen, Germanyteacher Ryan Ball. “The student’s liked talking with someone on the other side of the world who was a real expert. Anything like this, that is slightly different from the norm and very engaging, stays with them. The IMYC’s encouragement to use technology has really helped us to do exciting learning things like this. This is our second year of learning with the IMYC and we are seeing the students developing skills that we wanted them to have, for example, learning to work on a six week plan with a final outcome; standing up in front of peers to present their own ideas; improved listening skills; and the students making links and actively looking for links with other subject learning.”

At the International School of Bremen, teacher Martyn Robinson-Slater says: “Our students are becoming creative and innovative thinkers, developing an appreciation of others in society. They are also becoming reflective and independent learners, not only willing to take risks but also to manage these risks, so becoming effective communicators of information and knowledge. We can already see that the IMYC is preparing them well for the IB Diploma.”

Supporting a teenager’s learning needs

The International Middle Years Curriculum (IMYC) is a curriculum that has been designed to meet the very specific learning and developmental needs of 11 to 14 year olds. The work that went in to creating the IMYC involved several years of research with teachers, headteachers, children, parents, neuroscientists, psychologists and other experts of adolescents. It also drew on the experiences of its sister curriculum; the highly successful and rigorous International Primary Learning with the IMYC at Rainbow International SchoolCurriculum (IPC).

A crucial determining factor of the IMYC was one we all know, regardless of whether we’re teachers, parents or scientists; that adolescence is a tricky time for many students and adults to handle. One of the researchers whose work influenced the IMYC was Harry Chugani, a neurologist at Wayne State University in Detroit who sums up the state of many students during their middle years: “Adolescence is a time when brains are absorbing a huge amount, but also undergoing so many alterations that many things can go wrong,” he says. “The teenage years rival the terrible twos as a time of general brain discombobulation.”

It is this ‘fine tuning’ of the brain that influences how 11-14 year olds respond to the way they learn and the way they are taught. The very specific needs caused by this fine tuning are addressed and supported in the IMYC and by meeting these needs, the curriculum creates an enriching learning experience for students. At Rainbow International School in Seoul, South Korea, Principal Emin Huseynov says: “Before [learning with the IMYC], our students were using many resources in different classes but they were not able to link any of their subjects. It was a hard way for them to learn. Now with the IMYC it’s different, they make links to all their subjects so all the learning makes sense to them. Now the students are learning together, working as a team, they are learning to work out their problems together and learning from each other. They are happy, the behaviour is good, they are more engaged. They are getting hungry for more learning.”

The International Middle Years Curriculum is now being used by international schools in 18 different countries including those in Qatar, Oman, China, Indonesia, Costa Rica, Kenya, Thailand, Netherlands, Qatar and the USA as well as national schools and academies in the UK.

More information about the International Middle Years Curriculum is available at www.greatlearning.com/imyc

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New International Middle Years Curriculum Already Making its Mark

This year, eleven and twelve year-olds from several international schools, as well as schools in the UK, are experiencing a different way of learning with the new International Middle Years Curriculum (IMYC) – and it is already proving to have a positive impact.

Developed by UK-based Fieldwork Education – the organization behind the increasingly popular International Primary Curriculum (IPC) – the IMYC is a curriculum that focuses foremost on student learning. It responds specifically to the needs of 11 to 14 year olds by providing independence and interdependence in their learning through discrete subject learning and themes, encouraging learning that helps them make connections that are relevant to their own lives. It draws on current media platforms, involves active skills-based learning, and promotes self-reflection and the opportunity for students to make sense of their learning.  The IMYC was launched by Fieldwork Education in September as a result of requests from many international schools wishing to extend the thematic, rigorous and engaging learning approach of the International Primary Curriculum (IPC) into middle years.

The IMYC has already received very positive feedback. At the American International School of Rotterdam, Secondary Principal Alison Lipp says: “The children have already grown. The IMYC is definitely engaging them more, it’s been a big confidence-builder for many of them and it’s helping them all to want to solve problems and take ownership of their learning.” In Germany, at the International School of Bremen, Maths teacher Sabine Keeley said: “It’s shown us what our students are capable of achieving because previously, the teachers wouldn’t have expected so much of them. It’s getting the students to think out of the box and it’s amazing to see.”

The IMYC involves six week units of learning based around a ‘Big Idea’.  This Big Idea centres on an abstract, conceptual theme that challenges young teenagers to think about its meaning and connection through each subject as well as a personal disposition. For example, in the IMYC Balance unit, students’ learning is all based around the Big Idea that ‘Things are more stable when different elements are in the correct or best possible proportions,’ and in the IMYC Collaboration unit, learning follows the Big Idea that ‘When people work together they can achieve a common goal’.  Through the learning of specific knowledge, skills and understanding in all subjects (science, art, ICT, music, history, design and technology, PE, geography, language arts), students make connections between their various classes by investigating how the Big Idea relates to each discrete subject.  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. 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.

“Eleven to fourteen year olds have very different needs than primary learners. It’s not all hormones and attitude; their brains are changing,” says Emily Porter, Director of the IMYC. “The Big Idea provides them with a ‘rope’ to hold on to as they move from subject to subject which is hugely beneficial for them at this age; it gives them meaning in their learning and helps them to organise that meaning in a better way. The Exit Point at the end of each unit encourages them to express their understanding of the Big Idea in a collaborative media presentation which they share with their classmates. The projects we’re seeing reflect the thinking and personal connection that students are experiencing.”

As for the teachers, Bart Van Den Haak, Principal of Verenigde Scholen J.A. Alberdingk Thijm, in The Netherlands says: “We are constantly trying to get teachers to think about the work and the learning and to be innovative. For me, that was the most important reason for introducing the IMYC. The IMYC is an inspiring framework and a source to stimulate teachers to support their children in a challenging and 21st century way. The IMYC helps teachers to facilitate not only the average students but also to let children of all abilities have exciting, challenging learning experiences. Because the IMYC is not static – it’s very dynamic – the teacher can differentiate for every student. The IMYC gives children space to develop in their own way, something that we really miss in a lot of schools in The Netherlands.” Nina, a sixth grade Science teacher from the American International School of Rotterdam who has been teaching with the IMYC says: “It’s just the right amount of detail in the IMYC framework, so that then I can customise the learning. It’s giving me freedom and autonomy but also giving me ideas based on a theme that everyone is following.” And Senior Principal at the school, Alison Lipp adds: “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 on the Media Project. I’ve never seen that level of collaboration before.”

For more information about the IMYC or to talk with a school already using the IMYC contact Fieldwork Education at +44(0)20 7531 9696 or visit www.greatlearning.com/imyc