A Comprehensive Guide To The International Baccalaureate (IB) Framework

March 08, 2021

Understanding the International Baccalaureate (IB) curriculum means going beyond the role of the teacher in a classroom. Many prefer to refer to the curriculum as a framework when explaining what it is to the wider community. The IB framework is defined by how lesson plans are organised, with questions for teachers on the purpose of each lesson for the successful development of each unit. Learn more about the IB framework by reading our insightful guide below.

How is the International Baccalaureate framework designed?

As mentioned above, the IB framework is equipped with key questions that assist teachers in designing lesson plans and units. Some of these can include, “how might we know what we have learned?” or “what is our purpose?”

When teachers design IB lessons and units, they are required to state the main focus, fundamental ideas and concept, and cite references to resources that will be relied upon for the teaching thereof, like textbooks or videos. Suggestions can also be included for student projects, and teachers are to mention the ways in which they will evaluate students and how well the material has been received by them.

What is different about the IB approach to planning?

Planning a curriculum under the IB framework is not done the way traditional schools do it. With the IB approach, grade-level teachers will collaborate on a weekly basis to reflect, share best practices, suggest ideas for improvement, compare notes, and review activities which may have been most effective, or make suggestions for teaching more challenging concepts. The IB approach to planning a curriculum also entails teachers reflecting on their lessons. This is done together by all grade-level teachers who share what they would change about a lesson and what worked really well. This insightful information is then passed on to the teacher for the following year who may make amendments, but the essence remains the same.

What is the Primary Years Programme (PYP) framework?

The PYP framework is an inquiry-based and transdisciplinary approach to education that is focused on the student. It enables students to learn in between, across and beyond the boundaries of traditional school subjects. The PYP framework is one that offers an insightful guide to successful inquiry-based learning that is challenging and engaging, yet relevant to students in the programme. By taking an inquiry-based and reflective approach, students are driven to developing their knowledge, understanding of concepts, attributes and skills. This particular framework is made of 3 fundamental pillars, namely:

  • The learner: this pillar defines what the outcomes are for individual students and what outcomes these students seek to achieve themselves.
  • Learning and teaching: this describes the factors of teaching and learning. How can teachers support students in an effective way?
  • The learning community: an emphasis is placed on the social result of learning, as well as the inherent role that IB schools and communities play in achieving these outcomes.

Also fundamental to the PYP framework are the concepts of agency, action and self-efficacy. Students are responsible agents for their own learning and that of others. A sense of identity is what directs their learning, while engaging with others is how a community feeling, and consciousness for others’ values, opinions and individual needs is developed. At the heart of this framework is action. Action is how global citizens are shaped for the outcome of international thinking. The undertaking of individual and collective action is how students are shown what it means to think diversely, while valuing the collaboration of working with others towards a common goal.

What is the Middle Years Programme (MYP) framework?

The MYP programme consists of 8 subject groups, namely:

  • Language acquisition;
  • Language and literature;
  • Individuals and societies;
  • Arts;
  • Science;
  • Mathematics;
  • Design; and
  • Physical and health education.

The MYP requires a minimum of 50 hours of teaching time for each subject group for every year of the programme. In the last 2 years, students can opt to select courses from 6 of the 8 subjects listed above to cater to flexibility in their personal learning requirements, as well as meeting local requirements. Additional to this, students must engage in a minimum of 1 collaboratively planned interdisciplinary unit per year for at least 2 subject groups.

The MYP is designed to assist students in developing their responsibility in the community, their own individual understanding, and their own developing sense of self. The following key areas are at the core of the MYP framework: teaching and learning in context, approaches to learning, conceptual understanding, and service as action (through community work). Also fundamental to the MYP curriculum is learning diversity and inclusion, with schools addressing this through written, taught and assessed curriculum. STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics) is also integral to the MYP framework, carried out through concepts and skills in these fields.

What is the Diploma Programme (DP) framework?

The DP framework comprises the DP core, and a grouping of 6 subjects. There are 3 core elements to the DP curriculum, which are:Theory of Knowledge (ToK);The extended essay; andCreativity, activity, service (CAS).

The 6 subject groups of the DP curriculum include studies in language and literature, individuals and societies, language acquisition, mathematics, sciences, and the arts. Students will select courses from these 6 subject groups, but can choose to study an additional science, individuals and societies, or languages course, instead of the arts course. Students studying the DP framework will select subjects at a Higher Level (HL) and at Standard Level (SL). While the scope for HL and SL differ, the grade descriptors are the same. However, students are required to showcase a deeper understanding, skill and level of knowledge at the Higher Level. SL subjects require a minimum of up to 150 teaching hours, whereas HL subjects require 240 hours of teaching time.

The IB framework is a collaborative approach to teaching and learning, and varies according to the programme of selection. Whether a student is partaking in the PYP, MYP or DP curriculum, the framework is aimed at developing students’ minds to think critically, drawing connections between their learning and the outside world. Students who study the IB curriculum—or framework—are prepared for greater society in a way that fosters their growth as international citizens.

The Ambassador International Academy is an accredited and acclaimed school in Dubai that combines British education standards with the IB curriculum. As an authorised PYP school, our goal is to nurture the minds of students to become global ambassadors in the real world.

References: https://ibo.org/

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