When Blair graduates are asked what they gained from IB, a common answer is, "I learned how to learn." The IB approach is not about regurgitation of facts. Rather, IB emphasizes Inquiry, Action and Reflection.
Hallmarks of IB
- The student is the center of learning, taking responsibility to choose where and how to delve deeper
- Connections are made among all subject areas
- Assessments are tied to the real world, with clear rubrics for evaluation
- Learning experiences include hands-on engagement
- Learning is linked to the world around us, including pursuing a second language
- The goal is to grow personally and academically
- Reflecting on the learning experience and process during and after
- All strive to demonstrate the IB Learner Profile
In the Middle Years Programme (MYP), the IB approach is embedded in the curriculum. Key concepts, such as logic, creativity, systems, identity and change are applied within global contexts.
For example, in 7th Grade English Language Arts, Blair students accomplish California state standards to analyze literature including themes and points of view, but go further. In MYP, units are organized around a global issue and a big idea. Blair 7th graders have read a first person account by someone their own age, Pakistani Taliban attack survivor, Malala Yousafzai. As they read, "I Am Malala," students encountered the global issue of education, and how not all children have access to education. This big idea leads to examining topics including poverty and inequalities. An IB MYP key concept for this unit is Perspective, and the MYP Global Context is Fairness and Development. Students' inquiry is: My perspective on access to education is broadened through understanding power and privilege within a cultural context. Reporting on their inquiry during the unit has included writing summaries, visual art, research papers, oral presentations and more.
Asking challenging questions, pursuing critical thinking and honing communication skills becomes more advanced in IB courses in 11th and 12th grade. Whether a full Diploma Programme candidate, taking individual IB courses or in the Career-related Programme, students develop college level writing and research abilities. IB courses offer a lot of chances to apply the subject matter to one's own interests, and students must also weigh how what they've learned is significant and applies to the real world.
For example, in IB Math Applications and Interpretation, a student might use modeling to predict temperatures in a particular country at a specific time, and write about how scientists need to use this.
Students work collaboratively on projects, then branch out individually, notably in the 10th grade Personal Project and Diploma Programme Extended Essay. Both include a major reflection component.
IB global-mindedness first starts locally through serving the community, and service hours increase as students progress to high school. Requirements for the IB Diploma include a Creativity Action Service project of at least 150 hours.