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Action in MYP projects

Both action (learning by doing and experiencing) and global engagement are central to IB philosophy and practice. Encouraging principled action is a key feature of the MYP and, when closely affiliated with sustained inquiry and critical reflection, it can result in students developing these attributes of the IB learner profile.

Principled action, as both a strategy and an outcome, represents the IB’s commitment to teaching and learning through practical, real-world experience. IB learners act at home, as well as in classrooms, schools, communities and the broader world. Action involves learning by doing, which enhances learning about self and others. IB World Schools value action that encompasses a concern for integrity and honesty, as well as a strong sense of fairness that respects the dignity of individuals and groups. Principled action means making responsible choices, sometimes including decisions not to act. Individuals, organizations and communities can engage in principled action when they explore the ethical dimensions of personal and global challenges. Action in IB programmes may involve service learning, advocacy and educating self and others.

What is an IB education? (2013)

The guiding process with five stages of service learning, developed by Cathryn Berger Kaye in The Complete Guide to Service Learning (2010), is the foundation for MYP project objectives and assessment criteria. The following stages, illustrated in figure 4, provide a useful framework to develop the attributes of the learner profile. The fifth and final stage is “demonstration”, which in MYP projects is the presentation or report.

  1. Investigation involves taking an inventory of student interests, skills and talents to be used in considering opportunities. This analysis requires gathering information about the identified need through action research that includes use of varied approaches: media, interviews of experts, survey of varied populations, and direct observation/personal experiences.
  2. Preparation involves the student planning the service experience with clarification of roles, responsibilities, actions to be taken, resources required and timelines, while acquiring any skills needed to successfully carry the plan to completion.
  3. Action involves implementing the plan. Students may work individually, with student partners, in student groups or with others.
  4. Reflection involves students describing what happened, expressing feelings, generating ideas and asking questions. Reflection occurs intermittently and in summation to gauge understanding and synthesis, to assist with revising and rethinking plans, and to internalize the experience.
  5. Demonstration involves metacognition, with students making explicit what and how they learned and what they have accomplished, capturing the totality of the experience. Integration of technology is encouraged.

Figure 4

Service learning model

Following these five stages encourages and supports students’ initiative as their choices and plans emerge from and advance their interests, skills, talents and knowledge.

Action may differ slightly between the two MYP projects.

Community project: Service learning

In the community project, action involves a participation in service learning (service as action).

As students evolve through the service learning process, they may engage in one or more types of action.

  • Direct service: Students have interaction that involves people, the environment or animals. Examples include one-on-one tutoring, developing a garden alongside refugees, or teaching dogs behaviours to prepare them for adoption.
  • Indirect service: Though students do not see the recipients during indirect service, they have verified that their actions will benefit the community or environment. Examples include redesigning an organization’s website, writing original picture books to teach a language, or raising fish to restore a stream.
  • Advocacy: Students speak on behalf of a cause or concern to promote action on an issue of public interest. Examples include initiating an awareness campaign on hunger in the community, performing a play on replacing bullying with respect, or creating a video on sustainable water solutions.
  • Research: Students collect information through varied sources, analyse data and report on a topic of importance to influence policy or practice. Examples include conducting environmental surveys to influence their school, contributing to a study of animal migration patterns, or compiling the most effective means to reduce litter in public spaces.