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interdisciplinary planning

31 Aug How Atlas Can Support Your MYP Interdisciplinary Planning

By Bernard Merkel, Rubicon International

Our team attended the International Baccalaureate (IB) conference in Orlando, Florida. We had the chance to participate in multiple sessions and talk with teachers about all four programs and ways that Atlas can support their work.

We found that developing an interdisciplinary unit for the Middle Years Programme has been a challenge for some schools as they look to meet the IB’s requirement to make more connections between subject areas. Some of the schools are strategic and purposeful with their interdisciplinary planning, while others tend to develop the units organically, based on questions and interests from the students.

Interdisciplinary Planning

One of those organic interdisciplinary units came from a school, The Red Oaks School, in New Jersey that started working on a unit on Hurricane Sandy, which ended with the entire school presenting ways a country, such as Haiti, can design infrastructure to lessen the impacts of a hurricane. The project even went further, as the school ended up connecting with a school in Haiti and worked on sending material and school supplies for the school. The learning experience for the students was well received, and hit many more of the approaches to learning (ATL) skills than even anticipated.

Interdisciplinary Entry Points

The IB has recommended several entry points to begin interdisciplinary planning by using the Key Concepts, Related Concepts, Global Context, and/or Content. Additionally, some schools use the Statement of Inquiry as their entry point because the statement is typically composed of the key concept and the global context. Whether organic or purposeful, Atlas has several tools that can support in connecting units through those entry points.

Comparative Unit Calendar

Atlas provides a report that allows teachers to view when units of instruction are taught based on a selected Global Context. By using the “Comparative Unit Calendar,” a teacher can select their courses [in green] and the global context [in yellow], and generate a report of all units in those courses covering that specific global context.

In this sample report, I notice two units [in blue] that could be transformed into an interdisciplinary unit as students in Science examine global warming, and, in Humanities, they discuss foreign policy. The two go hand in hand and as countries work together in managing global warming temperatures. While in this case the unit names were clear, Atlas also provides a way to compare two or more units’ content.

Scope and Sequence

Using the “Scope and Sequence” report in Atlas, teachers can also examine the Content and the Statement of Inquiries from selected courses. By assembling all the information in one place, it makes it easier to digest the information and form connections between two or more units.

For example, by looking at the content for the 10th grade courses, we discover that students will be learning about polynomials in Math, while in English they’ll be learning to write business plans. This could lead to an interdisciplinary unit to develop a business plan for a roller coaster park. In fact, we could bring in the science teacher and the design teacher to support this unit if we needed to.

Standards Analysis

Although they are not standards, teachers can find other units using the Key Concepts under the “Standards Analysis” drop down. The report represents which Key Concepts have (and have not been) used for a specific course grade. Once selected, the report details every unit using a specific Key Concept [in yellow] and allows a teacher to view that selected unit.


Finally, a teacher may want to find opportunities to collaborate through some of the different related concepts. Using the “Search” tab [in yellow], users can seek a specific related concept for a specific grade. In fact, because the related concepts provided by the IB are examples, some of your colleagues might be using different terms or terminology. With Atlas, you can still capture those differences with the “thesaurus” option [in pink] which allows you to search similar words.

Atlas provides multiple tools to support your interdisciplinary planning in several ways. Whether you are planning with your colleagues weeks or months ahead or you are simply looking presently for an opportunity, Atlas is at your disposal!

If you need additional support with your unit planning, we offer a variety of trainings and services to support your school or district. Learn more here!

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