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Personal Project Superheroes

Personal Project CoverLaura England, one of the authors of our new publication, Personal Project for the IB MYP 4&5: Skills for Success, blogs about being your students’ superhero and one-person cheer squad. Find out more about Laura in her Learner Profile/bio.




 

The MYP personal project is the culmination of the experiences MYP students have had in our classroom and our colleagues’ classroom. The knowledge and skills we have equipped our students with forms part of the prior learning and subject-specific knowledge of students’ personal projects. The opportunities we have provided for students to grow as independent and self-managed learners will be reflected in their personal project. The manner in which we have nurtured and broadened our students’ curiosities and interests within our classes will also be evident in this culminating MYP project. Supervising our students’ personal project can be an empowering and rewarding experience.
 
How your role as a supervisor operates within your school will be determined by how your school MYP leadership team has organised this. In terms of requirements surrounding how students begin their personal projects and the level of support given by ourselves and the school Personal Project Coordinator, will also be determined by how your school MYP leadership team has organised this. The information listed below are possible ways in which we can support personal project students in our role as supervisor, aka, their superhero and one-person cheer squad.
 
Something to keep in mind as a supervisor is that we do not have to be expert in the topic the student has chosen to focus on for their personal project. We simply need to guide them through the process of their project and have a clear understanding of the personal project objectives. If anything, not being an expert is a benefit considering that we will be more able to objectively understand and assess how students apply the criteria to their project.

Personal projects blog image


Our one-person cheer squad responsibilities 

Your responsibilities can include the following: 
  • Ensure the student has access the support material required for them to independently manage their personal project.
  • Guide the student on how to complete the personal project successfully.
  • Remind the student of all deadlines as determined by the MYP leadership team.
  • Ensure the student keeps a detailed process journal.
  • Help the student to connect their goal to a global context.
  • Help the student create criteria to evaluate the success of the product/outcome.
  • Help advise the student on the most appropriate format for the project report.
  • Offer positive and constructive oral and written comments at each stage of development of the personal project. You should use the assessment criteria as the basis for such comments and discussions.
  • Provide formative feedback on a draft of the personal project report.
  • Assess the personal project according to the assessment criteria ensuring that you standardize your grading with another supervisor. 
  • Ensure the project is authentic and entirely the student’s own work. Complete the IB’s academic honesty form, to be submitted with the student’s final project.
  • Ensure that the material and sources used are accurately referenced.
  • Inform the Personal Project Coordinator when you have significant concerns about the student’s progress, organisation, etc.


Meeting with students

  • The IB stipulates that you must meet with your student at least 3 times throughout the process. However, some students will need more regular guidance; use your professional judgment here and clarify the guidelines of your school surrounding this in terms of the frequency and duration of meetings. If you have concerns about your student’s progress, inform the Personal Project Coordinator. You will need to complete an academic honesty form, which students will submit with their final projects, in which you authenticate the student’s work and record the details of at least three meetings. This is available in the MYP Projects guide.
  • Students are responsible for setting up meetings so they can demonstrate their self-managed social skills, but you may need to encourage them and ensure they do so.
  • Frequency of meetings may change throughout the duration of the project due to the topic/theme, type of project being completed, and/or the individual student.
 

Approaches to Personal Project meetings

Considering our role as personal project supervisor is to support students grow as self-managed learners who can take responsible action as a result of inquiry through demonstration of ATL skills, an effective approach to supervisor meetings can be to employ the GROWTH coaching model.


The GROWTH coaching model question starters will help you support the student to unpack just where they are currently in their personal project at the time of the meeting. Break down what needs to happen and help them set goals.
  • Goals: What do you need to achieve?
  • Reality: What is happening now?
  • Options: What could you do?
  • Will: What will you do?
  • Tactics: How and when will you do it?
  • Habits: How will you sustain your success?

This simple acrostic can be so vital to empower our students as self-managed learners. It can also support their development as thinkers, open-minded, knowledgeable and inquiring learners.
 

Final Thoughts

The role of the personal project supervisor can serve as a powerful inquiry, reflection and action cycle for ourselves as MYP teachers and collaboratively as a team of MYP teachers. The personal project is a reflection of how our own journey as implementers of the MYP in our classroom is travelling

As we enjoy the process of being a personal project supervisor, take time to reflect on and inquire into how individually and collaboratively our classrooms are supporting students in the following:
Knowledge and understanding of how the global context provides relevance and meaning to our learning.
  • The degree of agency we are providing within our classrooms.
  • How we listen to the voices within our classes and our ideas and beliefs about student choice in learning.
  • How we cultivate and provide an atmosphere for students to pursue personal interest and their passions.
  • The skills we equip our students with to be reflective and self-managed learners.
  • And finally, the one I personally believe to be most important, how we allow the full expression of the individual in our classrooms. If this is truly evident in their personal projects – both the product/outcome and the process – it is a reflection of how we cultivate spaces for students to express their unique and important sense of self and identity. 

Being a superhero and a one-person cheer squad (aka personal project supervisor) is truly a selfless task that will have one of the most important impact on our students as they transition to study beyond the MYP. Enjoy the process and be empowered as an MYP educator as you serve your students.
 
Sources: Noun Project Icon created by Uriel Sosa; MYP projects guide, 2014, IBO; Growth Coaching International, www.growthcoaching.com.au/about/growth-approach