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What are IB & MYP?

What are IB & MYP?

Middle School Principal, Rob Kapner, helps break down what “International Baccalaureate” and “Middle Years Programme” really mean and how they are going to affect your child.

What are IB & MYP?
Katie Kroeger
What are IB & MYP?

Good job. You are doing your due diligence and found this post as you explore schools for your rising middle schooler. If the terms “International Baccalaureate” and “Middle Years Programme” are new to you, keep reading. I sat down with our Middle School Principal, Rob Kapner, who solicited examples from the Middle School teachers to help explain what it is and how it is applied versus a traditional educational model.

Q: What is the International Baccalaureate Middle Years Programme Curriculum?

A: Think of the IB MYP not as a curriculum but rather as a framework. What that means is that students learn how to learn and how to apply their learning in context outside of the four corners of a classroom.

Another way to say that is the IB MYP isn’t about teaching to a test.

Q: If you don’t “teach to a test,” how are students evaluated?

A: MYP is so much more than acing one exam on a given day. It is about student growth. 

MYP is holistic - we work with students as a whole. Can the student obtain knowledge? Reflect on it? Communicate about it effectively? Apply it in a meaningful way?

MYP assessments are complex and student-centered. We measure student growth instead of averaging their grades.

Q: Tell me more about student reflection.

A: Students evaluate their own work and thinking.  Asking students to reflect on their learning is a powerful way to develop a growth mindset and foster confidence. 

Q: What approach is used for teaching?

A: Students learn in an approach called “inquiry-based learning.” We want students to be thoughtful. Curious. And life-long learners.

Inquiry-based learning gives students a driver’s seat in their own learning. They become researchers, architects, journalists, inventors, and designers in this hands-on approach. Teachers are there to help guide and facilitate their learning.

Through an inquiry-based learning approach, students apply content to real-world situations to solve real problems and produce authentic products. 

Q: Can you share a few examples of what inquiry-based learning might look like?

A: Sure! Students may:

  • Examine the relationship between exponential growth in population and diseases throughout the world and create a visual representation with an explanation.  
  • Investigate how the earth’s complex climate systems relate to early and present patterns of human settlement and agriculture.
  • Study human phenotypes throughout the world and relate them to climate adaptation.  Students investigate genetic dominance vs. diversity.
  • Create an abstract Family/Friends Soft Sculpture after learning about art created by traditional Native American (American Indian) artists and contemporary Native American artists. Students use both traditional (yarn, beads, feathers) and other craft materials to create their own art piece that is connected to a theme related to their family, themselves, and/or friends. Examples include Abstract Trees, variations of weaving, and other types of fiber art.
  • Use prior knowledge to create melodies on software notation programs showing the importance of patterns and repetition in music.

Q: Can you give an example of how an MYP lesson might look different than a lesson in a traditional educational model classroom?

A: At a high level, MYP students will conduct an investigation to determine a relationship between two things versus having students read about the difference. Here are two in-depth examples:

  • A comparative study of the US Bill of Rights and China’s “Rights and Duties of Citizens” leads not to a test of connecting the law to a case or some definition-based matching exercise but instead to the dividing of the class into two delegations that draft a hypothetical Students’ Bill of Rights (which may contain Duties). Because the goal of the exercise is to demonstrate the relationship between the law and language, the students struggle with phrasing something in a way that will not be open to misinterpretation or bring on unintended consequences. The learners will constantly be plagued with ‘what ifs’ and ‘what abouts’ and have to force their way through those roadblocks as best they can. The two delegations then come together with two different versions of the Students’ Bill of Rights (potentially twenty different rights and/or duties) and must agree on the ten that matter most and on how they should be written. 

Instruction in MYP links doing and experiencing with learning. 

Want to learn more about our International Baccalaureate Middle Years Programme? Join us for a tour to speak with Rob and the other members of our IB MYP Team.


  • International Baccalaureate
  • Middle Years Programme
  • middle school

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