As the new school year has begun, there’s a fresh class of incoming sophomores, myself included. In some schools, it’s another year of high school working towards a diploma, but at City, it’s a whole different story. Students in their sophomore year at City are finishing in their final year of the Middle Years Programme, and as their culminating challenge, a way of combining everything learned in MYP, each student must complete The Personal Project.
The Personal Project is defined by IB as “a student-centred and age-appropriate practical exploration through a cycle of inquiry, action and reflection, which allows students to consolidate their learning throughout the programme”. The goal of this project is to have students learn to lead themselves through different experiences and situations they may encounter by using the 5 Approaches to Learnings. It also fosters the use of creative thinking and problem solving. Students must be able to make a time plan with goals, and then follow through on their goals.
IB students should spend about 25 hours of work on their Personal Projects over the course of four months. Throughout the project, students will plan, meet with supervisors, complete the project, work through problems with creative solutions, and at the end, write a final report in which they will evaluate all that has been done, and what could’ve been better. This brings in the IB learner profile of Reflection. When the whole project is completed and turned in all students will present their product to the school and community members at the Personal Project Expo.
The Personal Project is graded on an IB scale of 1-8. The final grade is decided by three criterions: A (Planning), B (Applying Skills), and C (Reflecting). Each criterion is graded on a 1-8 scale, and the final grade comes from all three scores. Criterion A is defined as stating a project and the associated learning goals while elaborating. Creating a detailed plan with specific dates of completion, success criteria and how the success criteria played a role is essential to a 7-8 score on the project.
For the second criterion, the student is graded on how well they elaborate the uses of the 5 ATLs. The third criterion requires students to reflect on what they did in a video or essay. In either of these formats, the student must tell how the project had an impact on their life and how they will go forward. Also, they must look at the success criteria from A, reflect on how well they met those goals, and explain what they could have done better.
The Personal Project can seem pretty daunting, but the difficulty is not meant to scare students away. It is meant to develop a higher level of thinking. The most common advice I’ve heard is that you must take your time. Do not wait until the last minute. The most important advice I’ve heard is to have fun with it! Don’t let it become another task, allow it to be something you are truly interested in.