Becoming a Middle Years Programme (MYP)-authorized school may bring forth mixed emotions including the exhilaration of accomplishing a task of such magnitude that needed the support from the whole community and the dread of non-compliance with the student’s independence and performance expectations within the program or parts of it such as the personal project. These thoughts and sentiments are natural, especially among our student body. As parents, it is our prime responsibility to remind our children that even though their education has to be obtained by themselves, they are not alone in this journey and that they will have the guidance needed to assist them reach their goals. But, most importantly, they need to understand that they shouldn’t feel apprehensive as they have been “training” for this moment since they began the MYP.
Starting this year, all MYP students finishing ninth grade and entering tenth grade will participate in the personal project. This project, a requirement of the MYP, is the culmination and milestone of the program. The personal project encourages students to practice and strengthen their approaches to learning (ATL) skills, to consolidate prior and subject-specific learning, and to develop an area of personal interest. It aims for the student to participate in a self-directed inquiry; to develop deeper understanding; to demonstrate responsible action and the skills, attitudes and knowledge obtained; to communicate effectively, and to appreciate the process of learning. In other words, the personal project helps students develop the attributes of the IB learner profile and fosters the development of independent, lifelong learners.
To ready our students for a sustained, lengthy investigation and completion of a task, the personal project has three components (the final report, the process journal, and the product or outcome) and is divided into four phases which are also the criteria to be assessed (investigating, planning, taking action and reflecting). Along with Personal Project Coordinator Carine Poinson, an assigned supervisor will guide the students through the process. Since it will take them approximately eight months to complete the project, students will have to manage their time and resources by carefully following a timeline. The students will work on their projects bearing in mind that the most important aspect of it is actually the process. After the project is completed, the students share their accomplishments with the community in a showcase or exhibit.
The MYP personal project prepares students for further assignments, presentations and independent research, such as those to be encountered in the Diploma Programme (DP). While the personal project enables students to pursue their personal interests further in the MYP, the extended essay, one of the core requirements in the DP, enables students to pursue an academic interest through a research essay. Even though they are not the same, the research and communication skills developed to complete the personal project are most valuable and useful to work on the extended essay, on future academic endeavors at college level and on the eventual profession selected, turning the student into a well-rounded, productive global citizen.