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My name is Gabe Evans, and I am the Design teacher for the International Baccalaureate (IB) Middle Years Program (MYP) at the International School of Indiana (ISI). And starting in August, I’m excited to increase my involvement in the IB Program as the IB Diploma Program (DP) coordinator, where I am responsible for leading and supporting the further development of the DP curriculum.

I teach students to design and create solutions to problems – solutions that can make an impact on the lives of others in our global and local community and the planet. The IB approach used for this class and others at ISI ultimately forms students into better learners. They learn to think critically and creatively, developing respect for others’ viewpoints and appreciating alternative solutions to problems. Following the IB Learner Profile, students become inquisitive, caring and open-minded. These skills prepare students to enjoy a lifetime of learning.

IB MYP Design focuses on project-based learning (PBL), which places deep conceptual understanding and structured inquiry at the heart of the learning process. PBL is a natural fit within the framework of Design. In my class, we combine PBL with the IB MYP Design Cycle, so students improve their critical thinking, problem-solving and collaboration skills. Students learn the importance of inquiry and development for finding a solution to a problem.

The projects in my lessons are tailored to fit individual student needs and interests. Because of this, students find a variety of solutions to their projects, which come to life as prototypes to test and evaluate. A solution can be digital: a virtual reality experience or website that raises the profile of a local or globally important cause or non-profit organization. A solution can also be physical: a healthy food product made from organic ingredients, a tea light made from sustainably sourced timber or jewelry made from recycled or reused materials. Whatever the solution is, the learning outcome is unique to each student.

Seeing my students take responsibility for their actions and learning shows me that I’m helping them become the best version of themselves. The IB program understands that there are more ways to check a student’s understanding than tests, and there is more to learning than the repetition of facts. The skills and concepts my students retain through the MYP’s experiential curriculum will stay with the students throughout their educational careers.

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On November 1, ISI grade 1 students traveled to Jennifer’s Forest and Joyful Learning Nature Center to spend a day outdoors, exploring nature and completing activities for their second Unit of Inquiry: “Sharing the Planet”. The central idea of the "Sharing the Planet" unit focuses on using natural resources in a useful way and teaches students what natural resources are and how we can use them responsibly.

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