This post is a quick overview of a some of the good books I’ve read this year (or plan to (re)read over the break), and how they have helped in this ‘pedagogical leadership‘ role. Thanks to all who have recommended these books over the last year or so. If you have suggestions for other great books for the MYP Coordinator, please add them in the comments below (or let me know through Twitter).
Visible Learning for Teachers, John Hattie
This one rocked my world when Malcolm Nicholson (@malnicolson) mentioned it in an #MYPChat session as being highly informative in the MYP: Next Chapter curriculum design process. It has informed a lot of my discussions and decisions since. It is the ‘teacher-friendly’ companion to Hattie’s Visible Learning meta-analyses, which looked carefully at the impacts of many different educational interventions.
What works well? What doesn’t? Why? How can we take action on this in class? Each intervention is given an impact score (d), with d=0.4 being ‘average learning’, and d>0.6 being ‘enhanced effects’. Almost all interventions we try in schools cause some learning, but what has the biggest effect and how to make the most of this?
Here’s a blog post I wrote on this in more detail.
Why is it useful?
Why do the MYP (or plan units, or reflect on teaching, or formatively assess) if there is no impact on student learning?
This gives a great starting point for further reading, discussion and evaluation of practices and planner elements. It highlights the power of self-assessment, formative assessment and feedback. We plan to give a copy to each teacher next year, and use this as the basis of differentiated teacher learning communities, as groups explore how they can have a bigger impact on student learning.
I find it very useful on a personal level in making decisions on tech tool use or teaching strategies: how can I make the best use of our time and energy. As a result I’ve started a techbarometers wiki*, to try to connect the learning impacts with tech tools that might make them more effective. When you put student learning at the heart of everything we do in MYP, it makes it much easier to address concerns, especially across the perceived MYP-DP gap.
It is extensive, well-researched and yet concise in each section. It gives concrete ideas and will make a difference to your teaching.
Embedded Formative Assessment, Dylan Wiliam
I read this along with the companion booklet “Sustaining formative assessment with teacher learning communities.”
Formative assessment (d=0.9) and quality feedback (d=0.74) are two of the highest-impact practices we can use in class. The benefits of formative assessment (assessment for learning) were highlighted in Wiliam and Black’s Inside the Black Box (pdf), and this book gives a great toolkit for teachers. If we are going to really help students succeed in MYP and IBDP, we need to give them opportunities to learn from their mistakes, without these mistakes impacting their summative grades. Embedded Formative Assessment was shared with me by Tony Bellew (@bellew) and James Lindop (@JamesLindop); it formed a useful part of our ‘unconference’ PD sessions on feedback.
Why is it useful?
This is a high-impact strategy that most teachers know about, but perhaps all of us can strengthen. It is a highly practical resource, with sections on good feedback, using learners as instructional resources, eliciting evidence of student learning and much more.
The companion booklet is an excellent short text that synthesises how to make the most of teacher learning communities and in-school professional development. A quick read, but I would recommend it very highly – we will take action on this next year.
Making Thinking Visible, Ritchhart, Church & Morrison
The influence of this book, developed from the work of Harvard Graduate School of Education’s Project Zero, has been clearly evident in the recent MYP workshops I’ve attended, and the thinking routines are an excellent and creative way to generate information on student learning: genuine formative assessment. There has been an engaged and dedicated group of PYP teachers using this as a PLC this year, and I can see these tools being appropriate for all ages.
Why is it useful?
A set of tried-and-tested thinking routines, with justifications, to give diverse and creative formative assessments. These encourage deep thinking, and make the students’ learning visible to the teacher, as Hattie recommends. You can preview many of the thinking routines here.
Stirring the Head, Heart & Soul (& facilitator’s guide), H. Lynn Erickson
With the concept-based nature of MYP: The Next Chapter being more prominent that at present, this is a great book to read. For a sneaky-peaky at the big ideas, read Erickson’s Concept-based Teaching & Learning for the IB’s Position Papers blog. As we aim to strengthen the MYP with the Next Chapter, we are really looking to addressing the key and related concepts effectively.
Why is it useful?
Where Stirring the Head, Heart & Soul is a useful background text that really helps understand the nature on concept-based curriculum and the move from 2D content-based teaching to 3D concept-driven inquiry, I plan to read this facilitator’s companion book next, looking for guidance on how best to work with teachers in developing more concept-driven curriculum and practices.
Taking the MYP Forward, Mary Hayden & Jeff Thompson
What is the history of the MYP and how can it get stronger? Taking the MYP Forward is a collection of essays by various authors gives an overview of the MYP from conception to present, and the various roles it plays in education. It does not give a lot of practical guidance on implementation or development in schools, but it does give a solid understanding of the philosophy of the programme.
Why is it useful?
More theoretical and reflective than practical, this is an interesting read and should at least be on the MYP Co’s bookshelf.
Reading from the OCC
Over the last couple of years, the IB have produced a lot of great articles and papers that have been stored on the OCC. They are well worth reading, so here are some of the greatest hits. Links are to the OCC, so you’ll need to log in to be able to open them. They are generally PDF files.
- What is an IB education?
- Towards a continuum of international education
- Teaching the disciplines in the MYP: Nurturing big ideas and deep understanding
- MYP guide to interdisciplinary teaching and learning (an update is coming in July)
- History of the Middle Years Programme
- Curriculum integration in the International Baccalaureate Middle Years Programme: Literature review
- Curriculum alignment, articulation and the formative development of the learner
- The Global Engagement series
- The Position Paper series
- The Learning Stories series
If you have further suggestions for great reading for the MYP Coordinator over the summer, please let me know in the comments below or on Twitter (@IBiologyStephen). I’m always looking for new stimulus!
*If you think this is a worthwhile project, let me know. I can’t find an equivalent that has already been done. It would be great to crowdsource.