Osaka YMCA
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Making Projects Personal at OYIS

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Patrick Anderson

Patrick Anderson

Mr. Pat Anderson has been the Personal Project Coordinator and MYP I&S Teacher (and more!) for the past three years. He enjoys determining the nature of knowledge, learner profiles, and long walks through inquiry.

Inquiry works best when people are pursuing something they are truly passionate about, and Personal Project gives them the freedom to do just that. Furthermore, because projects are often directly linked to the IB’s Global Contexts and their service experiences, they are often gateways for self-directed progress towards intercultural understanding and respect.

Making Projects Personal at OYIS

Personal project (PP) is the culmination, the zenith, the finale of the MYP. To succeed, students use all their knowledge, skills, and learner profile attributes. Armed only with a supervisor and their personal interest, students work all year to explore and express something that is important or interesting to them. It can be something traditionally “academic,” but it could also be something like singing, creative writing, dancing, gaming, or travel. So long as the students are working to complete something that is substantial and challenging to them, it’s all fair game!

According to the MYP Personal Project Guide:

The personal nature of the project is important; the project allows students to explore an area that motivates and interests them. Students choose what they want to focus on, which can be an existing or a new interest, choose how to achieve their goal, and create their own success criteria for the product. 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.

Although all the classes in the Middle Years Program of OYIS are IB – and I may be biased – the Personal Project is perhaps the subject that most embodies the IB’s mission: “The IB develops inquiring, knowledgeable and caring young people who help to create a better and more peaceful world through education that builds intercultural understanding and respect.” Inquiry works best when people are pursuing something they are truly passionate about, and Personal Project gives them the freedom to do just that. Furthermore, because projects are often directly linked to the IB’s Global Contexts and their service experiences, they are often gateways for self-directed progress towards intercultural understanding and respect.
Here at OYIS, the Personal Project is a huge part of the Grade 10 experience, and I’m incredibly proud and lucky to get to help students achieve their goals. Each personal project consists of a learning goal and a product goal. To give an example of the process, a student might first decide that they want to write a series of short stories, then decide that their learning goal is to study Japanese folklore and horror story conventions in order to create that product. Or a student might first decide that they want to research waste management programs in the city, then decide that their product is to create a composting system at the school for lunch leftovers. Over the next few months, the students will develop an action plan, conduct research, and write their own success criteria for their product. Finally, the students write a (lengthy) report and evaluate their product themselves, using their own criteria. It is an in-depth process and is necessary to create the sort of learners that will be successful going forward in the Diploma Programme.
Over the past two years, I’ve gotten to watch films, attend concerts and events, watch TEDTalk-style presentations, read short stories (and once an entire 120 page novel!), contribute to fundraisers, and view student art. Every September I’m surprised by the new choices they make, and then in February I’m blown away by the work they’ve done. I can’t wait until next year!

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