A simple unit planner
Unit plans are an integral part of the MYP and unit plans are featured in the Approaches to Teaching and Learning document (ATL) which the IB has published for the Diploma Programme. There are several model unit plans included in the teacher support material but the IB does not prescribe any specific design. Teachers are free to design their own planning documents, which is what I have done here.
I like to use something concise which provides me with useful reminders of the important elements. If I don't find myself using the unit plan in my lessons then it's not informing my teaching!
I think there is a benefit in writing a unit planner, even if it is on the back of an envelope, so long as it has the right focus. It's a moment to think about the students we are about to teach, about their prior knowledge, their various needs and preferences. Personally, I often do this type of planning in my agenda, as scribbled notes, but I know it would be better written in a simple template, hence this unit planner sheet.
This simple template can be filled in quickly and makes a useful "aide memoire" of the different points to consider when planning and when teaching. The text in a pale font provides suggestions, which serve as reminders of what might be included.
Each column has a specific focus; the curriculum, the student, methods of assessment and the lab activities. If you work from left to right, the planning of lesson activities only takes place after the aims and outcomes are clearly established, just as recommended in Understanding by Design, written by Grant Wiggins and Jay McTighe.
The table is also adapted to the IB ATL and it promotes consideration of prior knowledge and learning skills which students might use.
I don't copy and paste the IB curriculum statements into my unit planning. This would put an emphasis on curriculum content above student learning and teaching approaches. The purpose of the exercise is to record a thoughtful plan, to provide a relevant and engaging learning experience which is driven by inquiry, promoting learner attributes and taking account of students' prior experience. That's why I give limited space for the ccurriculum content. It's OK to copy and paste the guide but that's not the main focus of this type of planning.