IB Bob’s Journey


My name is Bob Smith and, in 2001, when I began my journey into the educational world of the International Baccalaureate (IB) at John Glenn Middle School in Indio, California, we had three new Bob’s on staff. One Bob was a PE teacher, one Bob was a resource teacher, and me, the new Middle Years Programme (MYP) Coordinator, so PE Bob chose Bobby, resourse Bob chose Bob and for me, well the staff coined my name – IB Bob. I know it sounds somewhat arrogant, but it’s been fun to introduce myself as, “IB Bob, who UB?”

If the IB has taught me anything on this journey, it’s that I will never run out of things to learn about how to be a better teacher and to best support student learning.

Throughout the years I’ve worked in large public middle schools and high schools, as well as, a small private high school. I’ve worked as an IB District Manager for an urban school district and as a private educational consultant. I’ve witnessed the transformation of the IB Middle Years Programme, itself, doing my best to guide IB administrators and teachers through the transformation. All through this time, I’ve strived to put into practice and make practical the IB Middle Years Programme pedagogy and philosophy.


In July of 2017, I moved to Northern India to take on the job of an IB Middle Years Programme Coordinator, as well as, a year 2 or 7th grade Individuals and societies (I&S) teacher in the Himalayas at Woodstock School. I’ve wanted to create a blog where I can share my experience with other Middle Years Programme Coordinators and teachers, especially now that the Next Chapter is wrapping up and there are few good examples of MYP unit planners or of IB classroom practices out yet. So, here is my attempt!

IB MYP World Schools come in all shapes and sizes, my candidate school is a private international boarding school for boys and girls in grades 6 – 12; so I’m not here to say, “This is how you do it,” but to show you one way it can be done. Each Middle Years Programme Coordinator and teacher will have to take what is said here, and make it their own, according to each one’s circumstances.


Our school started on July 19, and I arrived on July 5. The school had applied for candidacy last April, so some things were started without my knowledge. About 10 days into the school’s orientation for new staff, I learned that the administrators had changed the electronic grade book to a standards based grading system for MYP years 1, 2 and 3 and that each of the 4 MYP objectives for each of the 8 subject areas were now the standards that teachers had to report on. So, in one fell swoop, like Canadians changing to the metric system, we were going to have to use MYP criteria to score all our first summative tasks from our first ever MYP units!

The benefits from a seismic culture shift are that there is not much you can do but learn the new ways and learn them fast, if you want to survive. So, my focus with the teachers before school started – 4 days away – was on MYP objectives and criteria. Fortunately, many of the returning staff were taking the Online IB MYP category 1 subject area courses and were into their second module. I say fortunately, not because the teachers were engaged and happy about their course, but because most were confused and frustrated with their new learning, and this gave me an opportunity to set up meetings with them to conduct face-to-face mini workshops prior to their next online learning module that they were to undertake. This way we could choose concepts and a context that we understood how to drive the content through. We were able to create summative tasks that showed a relationship to the statements of inquiry (SOI) the teachers had made.

Here are a few samples:

From Language and literature: Year 1 Creative expression

SOI: The craft of using self-expression and style can enhance communication.

Summative task: TASK: Creative expression (Assessed with MYP criteria C and D )

Your goal is to show your understanding of how the craft of using self-expression and style can enhance communication. You are a freelance poet and your audience is interested in Impressionist art.

A publishing company has contacted you to use your craft as a writer to creatively express, in words, artwork from the Impressionist era for a coffee table book. The company has given you 4 weeks to work through the creative process and to produce your response to a piece of Impressionist art for the book.  Considering this is going to be a published book, the company has requested that you carefully edit your work, paying close attention to vocabulary, grammar and punctuation.

You will craft a creative response to a piece of artwork from the Impressionist era.

Your piece will be evaluated by how well you produce text (Criterion C) and by how well you use language (Criterion D).

From Individuals and societies: Year 2 Thinking Geographically about the Earth

SOI: Communication constraints and adaptations over time, shape our understanding of place and space.

Summative tasks: TASK 1: Rapid transit system map (assessed with MYP criteria B and C)

Your goal is to show your understanding of how communication constraints and adaptations, over time, shape our understanding of place and space. You are a freelance cartographer. Your audiences are the inhabitants, visitors and tourists of a future urban center.

The situation is that by 2030, almost 60% of the world’s population will live in urban areas and 95% of urban expansion in the next decade will take place in less developed countries. The Geographic Information Systems: Cartography & Publishing Services (GISCAPS) has been hired by several city councils to plan out a rapid transit system for developing urban areas around the world. GISCAPS has hired you to plan and map out a rapid transit system for one of their cities. You will work with a team of cartographers to plan and map out a rapid transit system for your developing urban area.

Your team will plan out a region’s rapid transit system (RTS), and then make a map that communicate how to use the region’s RTS.

Your work will be judged by how well you investigate your question (Criterion B), and by how clearly you communicate your information as well as how completely you followed the criteria given to you at the start of the project (Criterion C).  

TASK 2: Test: Analysing Maps (assessed with MYP Criterion D)

Students will be given 5 maps from different times and will be asked to analyse them for origin and purpose, for any constraints the cartographer faced during that time and for possible adaptations made after that cartographers time that would improve the map.

From Performing Arts: Year 3 Short Play (Note: The arts meet twice a week so one unit will take up the trimester)

SOI: Communication can show personal identity and/or perspectives regarding power and privilege.

Summative task: TASK: Short play (Assessed with MYP criteria A, B, C and D )

Your goal is to demonstrate your understanding of how communication can show personal identity and/or perspectives regarding power and privilege. You are an actor, playwright and director. Your audience will be YouTube viewers.

You’re a member of an activist theatre troupe with a strong identity. You have resolved to create a YouTube video to communicate your perspectives on power and privilege.

You will create a short play of no more than 5 minutes that communicates your group’s perspective on power and privilege.You will also create and keep a process journal.

Your work will be evaluated by how well you think creatively (Criterion C) and how well you respond to your own work as well as others’ (Criterion D). You will also be evaluated by your knowledge and understanding of theatre-making (Criterion A) as well as your skills as an actor (Criterion B).

From Performing Arts: Year 1 Ostinato Composition (Note: The arts meet twice a week so one unit will take up the trimester)

SOI: Composition can be built on patterns that start and stop in a specific time duration and place and space.

Summative task: TASK: Ostinato Composition  (Assessed with MYP criteria A, B, C and D )

Your goal is to show your understanding of how composition can be built on patterns that start and stop in a specific time duration and place.

You are a musician and a composer. Your audience will be young children.

You have been asked as a local composer and musician to demonstrate a composition based on ostinato patterns to Early Years classes who are learning about ostinati in their music class at Woodstock School.  

You will compose and perform a piece of music containing a 3 layered ostinati and describe to your audience how you composed your piece of music. You will also create and keep a process journal.

You will be evaluated by how well you demonstrate your knowledge and understanding of Ostinato music (criterion A), by how well you think creatively and demonstrate your rhythmic skills (Criterion C and B) and how well you evaluate the elements and principles of your piece (Criterion D).

From Mathematics: Year 1 Numerical Expressions, Factors, Multiples and Proposals

SOI: Logical relationships can be used to analyze systems in order to share finite resources in a fair manner.

Summative task: TASK: Proposal (Assessed with MYP criteria C and D)
Your goal is to show your understanding of how logical relationships can be used to analyze systems in order to share finite resources in a fair manner. You are working for a refugee or flood relief organization and you are in charge of distributing resources. Your audience is the program director.

A group of victims, many of them families, have arrived in your area and need help from
your relief organization. You have a limited amount of clothes, toiletries, food, water, and shelter to distribute among them, which you must do in the most fair and equitable way possible.

You have 5 minutes to pitch a proposal to your boss of how you plan to distribute the resources. You should use a variety of visual aids and a written proposal in the form
of your choosing. These materials should justify your choices, both mathematically and in the real life context.

Your boss will judge your work by how well you apply mathematical concepts to the real life event of distributing resources (Criterion D) and how well you communicate your knowledge and understanding of factors and multiples (Criterion C).

I knew you wanted a math example!

I’m proud of my teachers efforts to quickly put together their statements of inquiry and summative task(s), and I know we have a lot more to discuss and learn. As we have moved through the units, teachers have commented on how the objective stands have focused their teaching and have even brought up the need of certain skills students will need in order to meet the objectives, but we will save a staff intro to approaches to learning skills for the coming units. Right now it’s on an individual need to know bases, and I feel we are off to a good start.


IB Bob




Filed under Blog

10 Responses to IB Bob’s Journey

  1. Marivic Mitchell

    Hi Bob! I truly enjoyed reading your IB experiences. Excellent subject specific assessment task. As a science and design teachers I would appreciate if you can share them as well. Have a great school year!

    • Thanks Marivic, you know one of the things we have run into in Science is that we started out to ambitious. I think we have to back up and especially for the 6th grade find simple things that students can test for and help them write up a process to test their ideas.

    • Fred Myers

      These are so authentic and real world – thanks Bob!

  2. Anne

    Awesome blog, IB Bob!

  3. Courtney

    These are great! Thank you for posting!

  4. Pat Villegas

    Love the idea of the blog Bob!! Thanks for sharing all this amazing experience!
    Big hug! 🤗Pat

  5. They are so lucky to have you IB Bob!!

  6. Thank you, IB Bob! I’m glad to know the answer to “Where in the world is IB Bob?”. It comes as no surprise that you are in India growing the work!
    As we continue our MYP journey at Workman Middle IB MYP (largely thanks to your training and continued support and resources), it’s so exciting to learn of your own “Next Chapter”! Thank you for sharing your adventure with us via this blog. I’ll certainly pass on your posted Inquiry sections of your unit planners with our faculty… they are hungry for exemplar sample MYP units to learn from.
    We survived our 5 year eval and have some clear benchmarks to guide our work in this next implementation cycle. We are in year 3 of standards-based/criterion-related grading and reporting and are still experiencing growing pains. New teachers and new 6th grade students and parents present the biggest challenge in bringing them quickly (but not too quickly!) up to speed on our assessment system. Our practices are vastly different from those of traditional grading. You can find many of our communications with parents on our website.
    Let’s continue to grow our IB MYP world together, friend!

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *