Becoming an Authorized IBO Middle Years Programme

A bit of background:
·         Hamilton is a unique and inspiring school community because of the rich diversity of children we serve from all across Denver.  With over 20 languages spoken among our families and every neighborhood represented in our community, the vision of uniting our student community through an international theme has been a key element in Hamilton’s future.
·         Throughout last year, the Hamilton community looked at a way to unify our community under the same, internationally-minded, academically rigorous vision aimed at building a more cohesive, empowering experience for all of our students.  
·         We want to deliver on our promise of being a true, internationally-focused, rigorous program for all students.
·         Together, the Hamilton community studied and decided to build upon our international vision and “go official” in becoming an authorized, International Baccalaureate Middle Years’ Programme (MYP), joining an international coalition of schools committed to a common vision of developing the whole child through one of the respected, proven approaches in the world for middle school education.
·         We encourage you to visit www.ibo.org to learn more about International Baccalaureate.
 As we build our vision for Middle Years Programme:
o All classes at Hamilton will emphasize key parts of the International Baccalaureate MYP academic vision.  All classes will continue to align instruction around the Colorado Academic Standards and differentiate to meet all students’ academic needs within the standards.
o   The Colorado Academic Standards will serve as the instructional baseline, and MYP will take learning to a higher and deeper level.  As a major improvement, our classes will create enriching learning experiences that provide real-world, internationally-themed growth for students.
·         Core subjects and the arts will work together to build cross-subject, exploratory projects that empower our students to look into the world and solve real-world dilemmas throughout their classes.  
o   For example, Social Studies and Reading/Language Arts will create a cross-subject project, unified around a common theme, where students work collaboratively to solve real-world problems and present their findings.
o    Students will hear from speakers on international topics throughout the year, as MYP emphasizes exposing students to global thinkers.  For example, guest speakers from international organizations, universities, and globally-minded non-profits will present to scholars and student government.
o   Students will collaborate with schools across the world, video-conferencing with classes in the Middle East, Europe, and Asia, and working together on projects with international peers.
·         Importantly, Hamilton will emphasize service learning, as all students will participate in a service project, sometimes collaborating with other Denver schools, civic leaders, and international peers and organizations.  For example, a class here at Hamilton is already leading a service project to raise funds for children in the world who have lost a limb.  Importantly, Hamilton will intentionally develop in students a core set of values, known as the IB Learner Profile, as we model and celebrate core values of open mindedness, inquiry, being caring, balanced, and principled, among other character traits in the Learner Profile.
·         Hamilton will offer Honors Math and Reading/Language Arts, grouping scholars based on a “readiness range” of characteristics we will announce in the Spring semester of 2017.  Other classes will be carefully constructed to have a representative, diverse set of learners in each section to increase collaborative rigor, cross-cultural problem-solving, and creativity.
How will MYP increase the rigor of my students’ education at Hamilton?
  • ·         MYP will significantly increase the “rigor” of each students’ experience at Hamilton.  When students engage in broader thinking about real-world problems and apply the content of a subject to a project that requires them to find solutions and collaborate with their peers, the level of thinking is much higher and more demanding.
  • ·         MYP emphasizes conceptual thinking, rather than just memorizing facts.  For example, in MYP students explore “key concepts” such as sustainability and justice, therefore developing a much deeper level of learning than in the traditional approach to the standards.
  • ·         Because all classes (Science, Math, Social Studies, Unified Arts, etc.) develop connections to these key concepts, students learning to integrate all of their learning, connecting the dots among the subjects, rather than seeing their subjects as without connections.
  • ·         This level of thinking results in a much more powerful preparation for success in advanced academics in high school and a more meaningful education.
  • ·         Because students are also applying their thinking to service projects and personal projects, such as the National History Day, learning becomes more purposeful and meaningful, which increases the depth of thinking students apply to school.
If we are moving to one academic program for all students, how will this approach meet my student’s individual academic needs?
  • ·         It is important to recognize that Hamilton is unifying all of our academics and school culture around a common vision through MYP.  It is essential for all students to feel connected to this unifying, empowering vision that believes in all of them as future leaders and thinkers in our global community, a vision that celebrates the vast and rich diversity within our school.
  • ·         Within this unifying vision, we will also have differentiated academic programming with the goal that all students grow to their greatest potential. .For example, in math, we will have accelerated Math classes, offering highly accelerated math pathways.  
  • Middle school students develop at highly individualized paces, and we believe this approach will allow all students to flourish and feel unified as MYP scholars.
How will MYP meet my students’ needs who receives Special Education services?
  • ·         We believe that MYP will unify all scholars and faculty around an aspirational vision that uses the same, common language of empowerment found in MYP in all classes.
  • ·         Students receiving special education services in different ways will all unify around the international theme and MYP beliefs. Scholars receiving special education services, for example, in our Affective Needs program will all feel more a part of a unified school community, as their academics will also connect into the MYP approach, as will scholars in inclusion-based classes.
  • ·         No changes to our inclusive service delivery will occur in the MYP approach, but the level of inclusion and unification with our broader, common school theme will improve.
How will MYP impact my scholar who is identified as GT?
  • ·         We believe scholars who are identified as GT will thrive in the MYP approach because it connects their school learning to exploring and solving larger societal and global dilemmas.
  • ·         The MYP approach will allow scholars in GT to participate in deeper-levels of integrated problem solving and enrichment, including rich service learning projects.
  • ·         Moreover, we believe the MYP approach will allow for a more equitable, advanced identification of more scholars who are GT, as the MYP will accelerate students’ engagement in school and feeling of value in improving the world.
How is AVID connected to IB?
  • ·         Hamilton is one of DPS’ top AVID schools.  AVID stands for “Advanced Via Individual Determination” and is a program that provides middle school students with the academic foundation to succeed in rigorous coursework.  It also prepares students with college-readiness skills.
  • ·         We have built AVID into our academic vision, to prepare all students with organizational skills and school-habits that help them succeed in the rigor of the MYP program and prepare for success in high school and college.
  • AVID offers an enriching focus on preparing for college, especially for underserved students.  In addition, we emphasize teaching our middle school students organizational practices needed for success in school, such as the “Husky binder system” and Cornell Note-taking methods, both nationally-recognized AVID practices that help students learn academic habits of success.  To learn more about AVID, please visitwww.avid.org
Is MYP too hard for my student?
  • ·         MYP is absolutely not too hard for any student, as MYP is aimed at increasing all students’ engagement in school, connection to real-world issues, and feeling of worth in school and in their futures.
  • ·         Because MYP creates cross-disciplinary connections (for example, projects that bring Social Studies and Reading Language Arts together), MYP increases students’ interest and engagement in school.
  • ·         Because we are also emphasizing AVID-strategies, we are preparing all students to succeed in MYP.