Building a Unit of Learning: Global Contexts, Key Concepts and Supporting Concepts
These three areas work collaboratively to define the focus of learning in a Unit. They help determine and connect the BIG IDEAS and clarify and refine the content specific teaching that a unit requires. All play a role in connecting students both to the big picture of knowledge and learning and the days to day skills and content of an individual class.
Global Contexts provide shared starting points of inquiry into what it means to be internationally minded, framing a curriculum that promotes multilingualism, intercultural understanding and global engagement. Students learn best when their learning experiences have context and are connected to their lives and the world that they have experienced. Through global contexts, MYP students explore human identity, global challenges and what it means to be internationally minded
The Global contexts are the lenses that we focus with in and through the various context areas. Each unit is designed around a global context which focuses the scope and purpose of the unit. In Foods we might choose cuisine styles, but if we use Scientific and Technical Innovation we might focus on molecular gastronomy or the impacts of monoculture crops, whereas if we use Personal and Cultural Expression we might focus on reclaiming traditional indigenous diets.
The neat thing about these Global Contexts is their big ideas can bridge across grades and curriculums, allowing us to connect content across a continuum of learning or between subject groups.
Identities and Relationships
Who am I? Who are we?
Students will explore identity; beliefs and values; personal, physical, mental, social and spiritual health; human relationships including families, friends, communities and cultures; what it means to be human.
Orientation in Space & Time
What is the meaning of ‘where’ and ‘when’?
Students will explore personal histories; homes and journeys; turning points in humankind; discoveries; explorations and migrations of humankind; the relationships between, and the interconnectedness of, individuals and civilizations, from personal, local and global perspectives
Personal and Cultural Expression
What is the nature and purpose of creative expression?
Students will explore the ways in which we discover and express ideas, feelings, nature, culture, beliefs and values; the ways in which we reflect on, extend and enjoy our creativity; our appreciation of the aesthetic.
Scientific and Technical Innovation
How do we understand the worlds in which we live?
Students will explore the natural world and its laws; the interaction between people and the natural world; how humans use their understanding of scientific principles; the impact of scientific and technological advances on communities and environments; the impact of environments on human activity; how humans adapt environments to their needs.
Globalization and Sustainability
How is everything connected?
Students will explore the interconnectedness of human-made systems and communities; the relationship between local and global processes; how local experiences mediate the global; reflect on the opportunities and tensions provided by world-interconnectedness; the impact of decision-making on humankind and the environment.
Fairness and Development
What are the consequences of our common humanity?
Students will explore rights and responsibilities; the relationship between communities; sharing finite resources with other people and with other living things; access to equal opportunities; peace and conflict resolution.
Key and Related Concepts
While each subject area has key and related concepts that correspond to their area, teachers may use any of the following key or related concepts to plan their units and act as a driving force behind the development of the units core content and ideas. They guide the focus of the curricular content, just as the Global Contexts focuses the big, unifying ideas within and between subjects. Key and related concepts describe the most important ideas for teaching in the subject, and teachers can use them as a framework for vertically articulating the curriculum and related concepts for specific units. Key concepts are generally the main area under scrutiny or development while the related concepts further clarify and focus the exploration.
Key Concepts as explained in the IB’s “From Principles into Practice” April 2021
Aesthetics deals with the characteristics, creation, meaning and perception of beauty and taste. The study of aesthetics develops skills for the critical appreciation and analysis of art, culture and nature.
Change is a conversion, transformation or movement from one form, state or value to another. Inquiry into the concept of change involves understanding and evaluating causes, processes and consequences.
Communication is the exchange or transfer of signals, facts, ideas and symbols. It requires a sender, a message and an intended receiver. Communication involves the activity of conveying information or meaning. Effective communication requires a common “language” (which may be written, spoken or non-verbal).
Communities are groups that exist in proximity defined by space, time or relationship. Communities include, for example, groups of people sharing particular characteristics, beliefs or values as well as groups of interdependent organisms living together in a specific habitat.
Connections are links, bonds and relationships among people, objects, organisms or ideas.
Creativity is the process of generating novel ideas and considering existing ideas from new perspectives. Creativity includes the ability to recognize the value of ideas when developing innovative responses to problems; it may be evident in process as well as outcomes, products or solutions.
Culture encompasses a range of learned and shared beliefs, values, interests, attitudes, products, ways of knowing and patterns of behaviour created by human communities. The concept of culture is dynamic and organic.
Development is the act or process of growth, progress or evolution, sometimes through iterative improvements.
Form is the shape and underlying structure of an entity or piece of work, including its organization, essential nature and external appearance.
Global interactions, as a concept, focuses on the connections among individuals and communities, as well as their relationships with built and natural environments, from the perspective of the world as a whole.
Identity refers to the particular features that define individuals, groups, things, eras, places, symbols and styles. Identity can be observed, or it can be constructed, asserted and shaped by external and internal influences.
Logic is a method of reasoning and a system of principles used to build arguments and reach conclusions.
Perspective is the position from which we observe situations, objects, facts, ideas and opinions. Perspective may be associated with individuals, groups, cultures or disciplines. Different perspectives often lead to multiple representations and interpretations.
Relationships are the connections and associations between properties, objects, people and ideas—including the human community’s connections with the world in which we live. Any change in relationship brings consequences—some of which may occur on a small scale, while others may be far-reaching, affecting large networks and systems such as human societies and the planetary ecosystem.
Systems are sets of interacting or interdependent components. Systems provide structure and order in human, natural and built environments. Systems can be static or dynamic, simple or complex.
The intrinsically linked concepts of time, place and space refers to the absolute and relative positions of people, objects and ideas. Time, place and space focuses on how we construct and use our understanding of location (where and when).
Examples of related Concepts as outlined in the IB’s “From Principles into Practice” April 2021
Language & Literature: Genre, Point of View, Character
Language Acquisition: Audience, Context, Idioms
Individuals and Societies: Identity, Power, Equity
Sciences: Balance, Models, Environment
Mathematics: Patterns, Measurement, Change
Arts: Boundaries, Innovation, Presentation
Personal Health & Education: Interaction, Space, Adaptation
Design: Collaboration, Function, Invention