A Personal Journey for Year 11
In their final year of the MYP, our students in Year 11 have just embarked on a 240-day journey of personal endeavour and exploration.
That is the number of days between their first Personal Project briefing in the Hall, and when they will be standing in the same place, presenting their completed Personal Projects to the school community in May 2021.
So, what exactly is the Personal Project? The clue is in the name. It is an opportunity for each student in Year 11 to pick absolutely anything they want to focus on, and dive deep into it, within a framework guided by the IB. There are no teachers telling them what the project must be about – the students have total freedom of choice to pick their theme.
And that is one of the hardest parts – picking the theme! Once that’s done, the students must tie it to their learning in a variety of their MYP subjects, must pick one of the MYP Global Contexts to base it on, and ensure that they engage a whole host of the ATL (Approaches to Learning) skills that they have acquired in the process.
This is the physical result or goal of the project, and can be anything at all. Examples from the last two years include a robot for clearing plastic pollution from the ocean, a video documentary about Third Culture Kids, awareness campaigns about neglected pets and ethnic minorities, an architectural model for an ultra-modern library building, a hand-made book of poetry, and a new brand of mineral water. Whatever it is, the students are required to set themselves highly challenging goals, and establish a set of rigorous success criteria to meet.
From the very beginning to the end, students must make their thinking visible by keeping a detailed diary of their work, chronicling every step of the journey they take to reach their goal. This makes them focus on the process, not just the outcome. They will need to quote extensively from this in the third component…
This is the part that is formally assessed, marked initially by teachers here at school, according to a very clear set of criteria, then sent off to the IB in April for moderation. The written report should be between 1500 and 3500 words long, and tells the story of the final product from beginning to end, including reflection and evaluation of its success.
240 days on from the first meeting, the students will present their finished projects to the school, and we hope to the wider community too.
EtonHouse is an IB Continuum school, and the Personal Project is a core part of that sense of continuity across the three IB Programmes. The Year 6 Exhibition is its close PYP cousin, and in the Diploma Programme, the logical extension of the process embodied in the Personal Project is seen in the Extended Essay, an undergraduate-level piece of independent research.