Last week Individuals and Societies* launched at YIS to little fanfare and a lot of nerves on my part. I&S is a two year integrated humanities course being offered as an alternative to the IGCSE History and Geography in grades 9 and 10. It will be taught using the MYP Humanities as a guide. Students will be introduced to the disciplines of history, geography and economic. That’s the boring description. In reality, this is an opportunity to teach a dynamic and varied class that is student (not test!) centered. To say I am excited about this course would be an understatement. I am going to work with students to answer questions like “Does history make the leaders or do leaders make history, ” and “What can we do to make the world a more equal place?” It’s awesome. And as I start this (hopefully) amazing class, one of my goals for this year is to reflect about the learning and teaching going on. But first a little background…
YIS is currently in the process of rolling out the Middle Years Program, with two classes (grades 6 and 7) “real” MYP students. We will be phasing out IGCSE history and geography in grades 9 and 10 as MYP expands. And at some point during last year, my department realized that we should prepare for when these current MYP-ers enter high school. We decided to pilot a MYP humanities class that is in line with our middle school curriculum and act as a bridge to the demands of DP**.
We were worried no student would sign up, because the course was too different from what people were used to. Instead it was so popular, we had enough to create two classes with two teachers. As I’m been lucky enough to have taught both MYP and DP humanities, I was asked to take on a leadership role in developing I&S. But by no means am I doing this by myself. The humanities department at YIS is amazing (Adam, Alex, Ben, Dale, Eileen and Roger) and as a group we worked to create the curriculum for the course. We were granted release time as a department to come up a curriculum based on both skills and concepts that should be taught in I&S. Sitting in a room of talented teachers, we debated what should be taught and when. We looked over curriculum guides DP history, geography, and economics and MYP Humanities. We thought about how to modify DP style assessments for 9th and 10th graders. We figured out a way to transition from a history unit, to a economics unit, to a geography unit. Teachers have shared their resources with me and we have been promised more release time as we need it to develop each unit. Have I mentioned that I am so lucky in where I work and who I work with?
This is what we came up with. I am a little in love with this piece of paper. It’s a dynamic document. It is not complete and I already see where there have to be changes. But I believe this document shows that students will have had an amazing learning experience in I&S. I have concerns and worries. Can we fit it all in? What happens day-to-day? What happens if we want to change it up? What reading do I need to do for the economics units? But the opportunities are great. What connections can we make beyond my classroom? What assessments can be created that are challenging and applicable to real-life? What do students want to learn?
One last thing, if you have comments or resources or ideas about anything about this course please let me know. If you can contribute to a class or know an expert who can add something to a unit of study, send me a note. Connection is a focal point for the course and this could be one way we connect this course with the world outside YIS.
*Group 3 of DP is officially called “Individuals and Societies”. That’s where the course got it’s name.
**There is a great document on the MYP/DP continuum in Humanities that I hope to find and link to. There is a huge gap between the two and there doesn’t have to be.