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From hair vitamins to a go-kart: one school’s perspective of the MYP personal project

A key part of the Middle Years Programme is the projects that students must complete. In year 5, the personal project provides an opportunity for students to undertake an independent and age-appropriate exploration into an area of personal interest. Through the process of inquiry, action and reflection, students are encouraged to explore an area that motivates and interests them. The project provides an excellent opportunity for students to produce a truly personal and often creative product and to demonstrate a consolidation of their learning in the MYP while strenghtening the skills they have developed.

For the May 2022 assessment session, the requirements for the MYP Personal Project changed, making the process simpler and allowing for increased student involvement. One school has shared their experience of the new process, and what it meant for staff and students as they planned, applied their skills and reflected on what they learned.

“The personal project is the final step in the MYP where students can develop and put into practice the skills and abilities they have learned in different subject groups.

At our school, Complejo Educativo Mas Camarena, we offer the full IB continuum so students can follow IB programmes throughout their studies (PYP, MYP, DP and CP). By the end of each stage, students will have developed the skills and abilities from the different approaches to learning. These approaches to learning are the bedrock of our teaching strategy.

In the MYP, with the new personal project guide (and the changes to some subject guides), we have seen how important a role the approaches to learning play in the IB’s holistic education. It is vital that students work, develop and understand these approaches because they will give them cross-curricular skills that they will develop throughout their academic and personal lives.

Students connect and consolidate the knowledge, skills and abilities they want to apply across the three new criteria. Through our students’ research, following the release of the new guide, we know they can research a topic that interests them and reflect on it in a deeper and more detailed way. This new guide helps students plan their research more comprehensively in a way that’s more in line with the inquiry cycle they will use in other subjects. What’s more, this new approach will help them develop much-needed decision-making qualities and show agency in how and when to make decisions.

For me, the personal project this year has been about the research process. It was a real challenge. We have been learning from our coordinator and also from our students’ work. The balance is very positive—we’ve made great progress and now I feel much better prepared. (Project supervisor)

Our supervisors have played a significant role in supporting the students throughout the process as guides and advisers. Their role has grown in importance with the latest updates to the guide. It has been a particularly intense year for the supervisors and the coordinator because, with 168 students, they have had to develop their organization and communication skills very quickly. With such a busy schedule and so many obligations to fulfill, we cannot overstate how important in-house training has been for supervisors in helping them support and guide students’ research.

Our coordinator was a great motivator and got along well with the students. There was also a tremendous sense of teamwork and mutual support among the supervisors who took on this challenge for the first time. All in all, it was a great success, which students, parents and teachers alike celebrated at the exhibition. (Project supervisor)

Our students have carried out in-depth investigations and research. We have seen products of all sorts, from vitamins for your hair, a go-kart, sketches of animals and outlines of characters from books, to name but a few. It’s a wonderful collection that shows how students have demonstrated and developed their skills. They have worked on skills vital for their development, investigating what they like the most.

At the start, it wasn’t interesting, but over the next few months, I realized how engaged I’d become because I was working on a topic I really like and that I am passionate about. I’ve never had that opportunity before. (Student)

When I heard about the personal project, I saw it as the chance to fulfill one of my goals: to write a novel.

At first, I found it hard to work on my project because I had to choose what to do and how to do it. No one was going to show me which direction to take, which felt odd. However, this freedom helped me develop all the skills that I gained by doing my personal project. (Student)

Watch a video where staff and students discuss the personal project at Complejo Educativo Mas Camarena (Spanish with English subtitles - click settings and choose subtitles)

Antonio Soriano Vidal is Assistant Head, IB Continuum Coordinator and Head of Middle School at Complejo Educativo Mas Camarena in Valencia, Spain. Antonio currently teaches Languages B in DP, and also has experience teaching Language and Literature and Language Acquisition at MYP level. He is a member of IBEN and has led IB workshops and supported the development of courses and eAssessment within the MYP.