Concepts

The IB has been pushing the idea of concept based learning for a few years, but has made stronger commitment to this with the “Next Chapter” changes. Here’s what they say about it:

“The International Baccalaureate (IB) values education more as the transformation of personal understanding and the collaborative construction of meaning, and less as the transmission of knowledge and rote memorization of facts” (Developing MYP Units).

These changes will be reflected in the introduction of Key and Related Concepts.  Because of this, there is a renewed emphasis on teaching concepts in addition to subject specific knowledge. It’s important to note that the IB doesn’t ever say one shouldn’t be teaching knowledge, but rather making sure it’s framed in the larger view of certain concepts.

Key Concepts

The IB has identified 16 Key Concepts that should be introduced and worked through in the MYP.  The first change you’ll notice to the new MYP Unit Planners is the Key Concepts.  These show up first, and are the ‘big ideas’ you want the students to get out of the unit.  Basically, it’s the one thing you want students to end the unit understanding.  Below is the IB’s explanation:

“A concept is a big idea—a principle or conception that is enduring, the significance of which goes beyond aspects such as particular origins, subject matter or place in time (Wiggins and McTighe 1998). Concepts represent the vehicle for students’ inquiry into issues and ideas of personal, local and global significance, providing the means by which the essence of a subject can be explored” (Developing MYP Units).

When you open the unit planners, the Key Concepts related to your subject area will be underlined.  It’s also important to note that:

  • You should only choose ONE per subject group, and not all subject groups are responsible for all concepts.
  • You’ll see small underlining under certain concepts when you start your unit.  Those are the Key Concepts your subject is responsible for.
  • If you want to use one of the Key Concepts, but it isn’t part of your subject’s responsibility, you can use it as a significant concept instead.

Consult the screenshot below to see an example from ManageBac.  You can see the Key Concept I’ve selected is Change.  Since I’ve created it for a Humanities course, it is underlined.

Screen Shot 2014-03-03 at 5.01.01 PM

Here are the  16 Key Concepts with their explanations below:

Related Concepts: In the next section of the new MYP unit planner,  you’ll see boxes for the Related Concepts.  These are actually subject specific, and each subject has a different amount to cover.  This is where some of the knowledge requirements come into the idea of concepts.

Related Concept

Related Concepts have been developed by the IB to help specify how the Key Concepts are delivered and addressed in each subject.

The IB gives us some freedom here, so if you want to create your own related concept, you are free to do so, but it’s probably easiest to identify one from the list provided by the IB.   You can also take a key concept that isn’t included in your subject, and make it a related concept.

Below is the IB’s explanation of the Related Concepts.

“Related concepts promote depth of learning and add coherence to the understanding of academic subjects and disciplines. They are grounded in specific subjects and disciplines, and they are useful for exploring key concepts in greater detail. Inquiry into related concepts helps students to develop more complex and sophisticated conceptual understanding. Related concepts may arise from the subject matter of a unit or the craft of a subject—its features and processes” (Developing MYP Units).

In the document below, you can find the Related Concepts applicable to your subject.  Each subject guide has a detailed description of what each Related Concept actually means.


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