Last Saturday I led my first conference breakout session, at the IB Asia Pacific Regional Conference 2013. It was hugely nerve-wracking, yet thoroughly enjoyable and well worth doing. As James MacDonald said in his session on Creativity, there’s nothing like doing a presentation on a topic to make you learn a lot about it – quickly!
When I was preparing the session, I had a few aims in mind:
- Pick a topic of discussion that would generate interest and be relevant to everyone in the audience.
- Develop a resource that would be used beyond the conference session, giving something tangible that participants could take home and work on.
- Facilitate something interactive, rather than a one-way information dump.
Also, after reading more about the Hattie meta-analysis, I wanted to introduce this as a ‘lense’ for these discussions. Whichever side of the fence one may sit with regard to the MYP-DP transition, it is hard to argue with evidence-based teaching and learning. There are strong practices from the DP that can be used in the MYP, as well as strong practices from the PYP and MYP that DP teachers might appreciate more fully with the evidence base.
To (try to) achieve this, I built a wikispace for resources, along with a Prezi for the session and some Wallwishers to collect participant ideas. I was careful to choose tools that would be available to participants when they got home (thanks http://www.blockedinchina.net/), and would be easy to use in the session. This meant many, many hours of preparation.
The premise was simple: are there significant ‘gaps’ between MYP and DP, either real or perceived, what does the evidence say about them (based on the Hattie meta-analysis), and what can we do about them?
I tried to classify some of the tensions into three main domains. The links take you to the wikispaces page for each.
In each domain, I summarised some of the key findings from the Hattie meta-analysis, and then provided a number of quotes and provocations for groups to discuss: this was an attempt at differentiation by interest, and as I circulated, I could see that there was a great diversity in the interests of the groups. Some groups diverged from the MYP-DP issues and got really into looking at the Hattie resources, which was fine by me – at least there was a take-home for them.
I was even able to include a shout-out to the #MYPChat and extend an invitation to all to join in.
The session turned out better than I had expected, and was worth the work.
The room was busy, with a couple of latecomers standing, and I tried to encourage a loud and collegial discussion. From the first stimulus question, people were engaged – it is clearly an issue that resonates with many schools. I joked at one point that I could just leave the room, but really I probably could have done. I was thrilled to see groups form that did not previously know each other, and one group near the front were lovely – some ladies from India, Indonesia and Malaysia who found they all faced similar challenges of national curricula as well as MYP-DP transitions. I hope they stay in touch with each other!
The hour flew by – which I expected – and I got the sense that the participants enjoyed it. The feedback I received after the session was very positive. Although we had some issues with connecting to the Wallwishers for posting ideas there was little need (that was probably a tech-step too far for some people), everyone received a paper ticket with the URL and QR code, so they can revisit the domains of tension in their own schools.
One comment I’ve had a couple of times is that there is enough material in this to develop a full workshop, which would be cool: taking an evidence-based view of teaching and learning across the transition to strengthen our practices. As the IB grows in its research base and strengthens its provision of pedagogical workshops, this might have a place.
So next year: MYP Mind the Gap, Part 2?