(Neil Corbett/THE NEWS) Garibaldi secondary teacher Assunta Budd said expanding the international baccalaureate program to all Grade 8-10 students is a new approach that will be an overall benefit, but doesn’t demand the same academic rigour of the Grades 11-12 IB program.

Garibaldi secondary adding middle years IB

Maple Ridge school to have a Grade 8 IB program starting in September

The announcement that Garibaldi secondary is going full IB might have some students thinking their work load is about to become intense.

Indeed, the International Baccalaureate program at the Grade 11-12 level, called the IB Diploma Program, calls for serious academic rigour in an internationally standardized program. It also results in students getting university course credits and generally more choices for university entrance.

“They are kids who want to be challenged,” said diploma program science teacher Helen Carelse.

The school also offers regular Grade 11-12 courses, so the IB Diploma Program (DP) is an option Garibaldi students can choose or not.

The Grade 8-10 program is much different.

The Garibaldi staff explain the Middle Years Program (MYP) for Grades 8-10, is a different approach to education. It will be taken by all kids in the school, starting with Grade 8s only next year, with Grades 9 and 10 being added in the two subsequent years.

“DP is sort of a subset of our school, whereas MYP is a whole-school initiative,” explained principal Darren Rowell. “It falls under the IB umbrella, but it is an inclusive program.”

The MYP will be unique to Garibaldi in School District 42, although it is offered at the Meadowridge private school.

Rowell said the new program will help students connect what they are learning in school with practical applications and real-world situations, with a focus on critical thinking.

“The goal of MYP is to create a well-rounded student,” said Carelse. “MYP is the framework.”

There will be eight subject areas which include applies skills such as those found in shop classes, and fine arts including performance and visual arts. It is also inclusive of special needs.

So all of the music, drama and industrial education classes will stay in the school.

“Parents shouldn’t be scared about the MYP,” said Assunta Budd, an IB math and science teacher.

It teaches the B.C. schools curriculum that is being taught at other high schools, with a focus on developing critical, creative and reflective thinkers within a global perspective.

The IB students will be doing assignments such as designing their own science labs, instead of carrying out teacher-directed labs.

Budd said educators teaching different subjects in the school will collaborate more, plan cross-curricular projects and use the same language in their classrooms.

“The context they (students) are learning in is a little bit more coordinated for them,” she said.

There is also new scale of assessment, that is the standard used for evaluating over a million IB students in 147 countries. They get a score of 1-8, rather than A, B or C+, and students see descriptors of what they are being marked for.

“Where it gets powerful is a student can map out how they can improve,” said Carelse. “They’re getting very specific feedback.”

Although the MYP students can go on to a regular program in Grades 11 and 12, the MYP will assist students who want to take the Diploma Program to be successful, say the staff. DP students work independently on ambitious projects of their own choosing.

“To get to that in Grade 12, you have to scaffold,” said Carelse.

In Grade 10 every MYP student must take on a personal project, of their choice, that will likely involve multiple courses. “A summative task” the educators call it. It’s like a mini masters thesis, but could be an oral presentation, something they build, a digital project or a written essay.

“They can pull together all the skills they’ve learned in their various subjects,” explained social studies teacher Kyle Ludeman.

Garibaldi is not at capacity. It has 800 total school population and could accommodate approximately 1,000. There are also 120 international students at the school. More parents may be drawn to the school in the future, because it will be unique in having IB from Grade 8-12.

The school district facilities review found the middle years IB was a choice program that interested parents who took their survey.

“MYP was one of the options that parents wanted to have,” said Rowell. “It’s an internationally recognized program.”

There will be an information night on Jan. 24 at 6 p.m. at the Garibaldi library. At 7:30 p.m. there will be an information session about the diploma program.

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