Learning 23 May 2016

An Inspiring Learning Journey: the P2 Project

By CIS Communications
Photograph by CIS Communications
by Katherine Ross, MYP Coordinator -

From rugby to writing, aeronautics to automobiles, Grade 10 students put their passions and interests on display for the annual Personal Project Showcase, demonstrating all of their hard work over the past 8 months in the culminating project of the MYP. What incredible work it was!

The Personal Project (P2) is an opportunity for students to explore areas outside of the traditional curriculum and showcase the skills they have learnt in their MYP classes.

August to April is a long time to be focusing on one project, so the students were careful in selecting topics that would keep them engaged. We looked at future careers, aspirations for university, hobbies and personal goals as inspiration.

Once the topic was chosen, students had to find the specific goal and outcome they were hoping to achieve. For some of our students, this was a physical product - a book, a video game, a scale model of the Hadron Collider, a football cleat, a bionic hand, while for others it was more abstract, such as a greater appreciation for their home culture, a sense of discovery through community service, or an understanding of what makes people happy.

Each student then explored their topic through the lens of the Global Contexts to better determine their focus. The product of writing a novel can be very different, depending on the context. If the focus is Identities and Relationships, it could be an exploration of their personal connection to the world around them, while Personal and Cultural Expression might focus more on what the creative process and self-expression looks like for them. With Orientation in Space and Time, a student might write a novel set in a different time period and make connections to current events. Each global context can change the nature of the product, giving it a whole different perspective.

Once they had their goal and outcome outlined, the challenge of working on a project above and beyond their regular school work tested their time-management and organisational skills. In the DP, students are regularly asked to complete assignments and essays independently over the course of the 2 year programme. For our Grade 10s, the P2 is an excellent opportunity to work on these skills, learning from their supervisor how to manage their time effectively to ensure they set appropriate deadlines and milestones. All five of the Approaches to Learning (ATL) skills of the MYP are put into practice through the P2 process. Students further develop their communication and social skills in meetings with supervisors, interviews with primary sources and peer collaboration. They hone their research skills by finding primary and secondary resources, using critical literacy skills to analyse and interpret the information, and making connections between the resources.

As many of our students mentioned in our P2 showcase, the big skills they developed throughout the process were in self-management and thinking skills. They had to set the goals for the project, plan the tasks to achieve these goals, and reflect on each step in the process. They were responsible for managing their time, adjusting and re-evaluating the process as they went. Some students had more success than others in managing their time, but they learnt innumerable skills that will serve them well for the future.

As MYP coordinator, the Personal Project journey is challenging to witness. It is a long process for our students, with lots of questions, fears and uncertainty as to how to proceed, but it is also my favourite part of the job!

Every year, when I first introduce the P2 to our students in May of Grade 9, they seem completely overwhelmed by the work they need to accomplish. They want to know exactly what they have to do, what it has to look like and what topics get the best mark. They want to hide and hope I go away, taking the whole P2 with me!

By September of Grade 10, they are starting to see the possibilities and get excited with exploring new and innovative ideas. They talk about completing amazing, innovative products, and changing the world with their new invention. They can start to see where they are going and get excited about completing the work. The energy is electric.

By February, when the report is due, they are stressed and critical, focusing on all of their shortcomings and challenges, seeing only their failures, what they could have done differently, what didn’t work. They feel a sense of accomplishment for finishing the work, a pride for getting through the process, but can’t really see what they have accomplished.

But by April, it is magical. The students have changed so much through the process, showing how much they have grown and matured as both an individual and a student in their conversations with their peers, parents and teachers. They are confidently explaining their projects, recognising their strengths and weaknesses and identifying how they grew through the process. They are so proud of their work and all they have accomplished, and they should be.

The 2016 P2 projects were amazing, showcasing the differences and diverse talents of our Grade 10s. They showed a glimmer of an incredible future for our students, in careers that range from Medicine to Engineering, Social Work to Education. No matter what career they choose in their future, they have shown that they can, and will, change the world for the better.

An inspiring event all around. Well done, CIS class of 2018!