Introducing the MYP 

(Middle Years Programme)

A great way to start learning about the MYP is to hear from a veteran MYP teacher and coordinator. 

In this episode of our MNIB Podcast "IB Matters" we hear from Angela Wilcox a former MNIB Vice President talk about her experience with the Programme.

In your reflection journal record your impressions. What does Angela value about the MYP? 

What would you like to learn more about?

What is the MYP?

The International Baccalaureate® (IB) Middle Years Programme (MYP) emphasizes intellectual challenge. 

It encourages students aged 11 to 16 to make practical connections between their studies and the real world, preparing them for success in further study and in life.

What the MYP offers students

The MYP aims to develop active learners and internationally minded young people who can empathize with others and pursue lives of purpose and meaning.

The programme empowers students to inquire into a wide range of issues and ideas of significance locally, nationally and globally. The result is young people who are creative, critical and reflective thinkers. 

From the IB public website:

In your reflection journal list ways you might ensure that learning is connected to current and real-world issues. 

Subjects slide for MYP intro

The Subject Groups

The MYP requires at least 50 hours of teaching time for each subject group in each year of the programme. In years 4 and 5, students have the option to take courses from six of the eight subject groups within certain limits, to provide greater flexibility in meeting local requirements and individual student learning needs.

Details regarding the 8 subject groups are found in the slide above.

Global Contexts slide for MYP intro

Global Contexts

Students learn best when their learning experiences have context and are connected to their lives and their experience of the world that they have experienced.

Using global contexts, MYP students develop an understanding of their common humanity and shared guardianship of the planet through developmentally appropriate explorations.

Details regarding the Global Contexts are found in the slide above.

MYP Projects slide for MYP intro


Students who complete the MYP in Year 3 or Year 4 complete the community project. All students who complete the MYP in Year 5 complete the personal project.

The community project provides an important opportunity for students ages 13-14 to collaborate and pursue service learning. Schools register all MYP Year 5 students for external moderation of the personal project, promoting a global standard of quality.

Details regarding the MYP Projects are found in the (3) slides above.

In your reflection journal: 

What do you notice about the subject groups included in the MYP requirements? Are there any subjects you would not expect?

How might Global Contexts play a role in how you design a unit? Don't worry - help with this will be one of the things you learn as you dig deeper into designing MYP units.

Try searching "MYP Personal Project examples" or "MYP Community Project examples" on YouTube. Watch and share your impressions of what you find.

Teaching and Learning through conceptual understanding

Concepts are big ideas that have relevance within specific disciplines and across subject areas. MYP students use concepts as a vehicle to inquire into issues and ideas of personal, local and global significance and examine knowledge holistically. The MYP prescribes sixteen key interdisciplinary concepts along with related concepts for each discipline.

From the 2014 IB document: MYP Principles into practice (pp 14-16):

"Concepts have an essential place in the structure of knowledge. They require students to demonstrate levels of thinking that reach beyond facts or topics. Concepts are used to formulate the understandings that students should retain in the future; they become principles and generalizations that students can use to understand the world and to succeed in further study and in life beyond school.

The exploration and re-exploration of concepts lead students towards:

Students gradually work towards a deepening of their conceptual understanding as they approach concepts from a range of perspectives. The concept-driven curriculum frameworks of the MYP help learners to co- construct meaning as they become increasingly competent critical and creative thinkers, able to transfer knowledge and take responsibility for their own learning.

Teaching through concepts encourages teachers to work across national and cultural boundaries. Concepts promote a broad approach to education that can encompass many ways of thinking, inspire a variety of experiences, and open doors to exciting and highly relevant interdisciplinary learning."

In your reflection journal: How do you think teaching through concepts makes students more "internationally-minded"?

The role of the Approaches to Learning (ATL's)

From the 2014 IB document: MYP Principles into practice (pp 20):

A unifying thread throughout all MYP subject groups, approaches to learning (ATL) provide the foundation for independent learning and encourage the application of their knowledge and skills in unfamiliar contexts. Developing and applying these social, thinking, research, communication and self management skills helps students learn how to learn.

Through approaches to learning (ATL) in IB programmes, students develop skills that have relevance across the curriculum that help them “learn how to learn”. ATL skills can be learned and taught, improved with practice and developed incrementally. They provide a solid foundation for learning independently and with others. ATL skills help students prepare for, and demonstrate learning through, meaningful assessment. They provide a common language that students and teachers can use to reflect on, and articulate on, the process of learning.

IB programmes identify five ATL skill categories, expanded into developmentally appropriate skill clusters. 

The focus of ATL in the MYP is on helping students to develop the self-knowledge and skills they need to enjoy a lifetime of learning. ATL skills empower students to succeed in meeting the challenging objectives of MYP subject groups and prepare them for further success in rigorous academic programmes like the DP and the IBCP.

In the reflection journal: Which MYP skill clusters do you think are most important to develop in middle years students? Why?

Assessment in the MYP*

*From the 2014 IB document: MYP Principles into practice (pp 78-80)

In the MYP, teachers make decisions about student achievement using their professional judgment, guided by mandated criteria that are public, known in advance and precise, ensuring that assessment is transparent. Across a variety of assessment tasks (authentic performances of understanding), teachers use descriptors to identify students’ achievement levels against established assessment criteria. MYP internal (school-based) assessment uses a “best-fit” approach in which teachers work together to establish common standards against which they evaluate each student’s achievement holistically.

This “criterion-related” approach represents a philosophy of assessment that is neither “norm-referenced” (where students must be compared to each other and to an expected distribution of achievement) nor “criterion-referenced” (where students must master all strands of specific criteria at lower achievement levels before they can be considered to have achieved the next level).

Assessment in the MYP aims to:

Assessment practices in the MYP can sometimes represent significant challenges to existing school practices. Some key features of MYP assessment include:

The MYP assessment criteria across subject groups can be summarized as follows

In the reflection journal: As you look at the ABCD Criteria for each subject, what similarities do you see? 

What do you think about using a holistic approach to assessment that depends on the final achievement reached by the end of the course?

Service as Action

Action and service have always been shared values of the IB community.

From the 2014 IB document: MYP Principles into practice (pp 22-23)

Students take action when they apply what they are learning in the classroom and beyond. IB learners strive to be caring members of the community who demonstrate a commitment to service—making a positive difference to the lives of others and to the environment. Service as action is an integral part of the programme, especially in the MYP community project.

Service requires that students are able to build authentic connections between what they learn in the classroom and what they encounter in the community. When connected to classroom learning, the experience of service offers opportunities to apply concepts, both skills and knowledge, as students explore the community in its complexity, gain personal insight, develop existing and new skills, and grow in confidence and responsibility as they become “actors” in the “real world” beyond school.

As students become more aware and acquire a better understanding of the context, and of their responsibilities, they become empowered to make choices about how to take thoughtful and positive action. This action will be different from student to student and from context to context. 

The action may involve students in:

In the reflection journal: What kinds of action and service might be an outcome of teaching in your subject area?

MYP Subject briefs

Subject briefs for the MYP look at every one of the programme's subjects. They cover core requirements, aims and assessment.

Scroll down to MYP Materials > MYP Subject briefs on this page

These subject briefs are from 2014 so they are somewhat out of date. They will stll give a useful overview of how courses are structured. 

For more detailed (and current) course outlines, check with your MYP coordinator or use your "My IB" login and search subject guides.  

Choose one subject you are interested in, download and read its Subject Brief, and then write down three observations about the nature and structure of the course in your reflection journal.

Be sure to share your completed reflection document with your MYP Coordinator. They can support you by answering questions, providing more resources or directing you to training opportunities. 

Thank you for taking the time to engage in this self-guided quick tour of the MYP. Like everything in IB, context is key. You now have the context to learn more and to better understand what you need to know. 

Please bookmark this website as we post updates about training and links to other resources you may find helpful. 

Follow us on Twitter @MNIBSchools and @MattersIB 

Subscribe to our podcast - IB Matters.