The IB Learner Profile: A Formative Assessment Task

Here is a simple activity. It introduces students to the IB Learner Profile; it introduces students to teachers; and it provides a formative assessment opportunity for teachers to make a preliminary evaluation of their students’ writing competency.

It is suggested that the activity is included in the first week of a course.

Begin by presenting the Learner Profile to students.

The IB Learner Profile:

Inquirers

Knowledgeable

Thinkers

Communicators

Principled

Open-Minded

Caring

Risk-Takers

Balanced

Reflective

Teachers can ask their students what each of the traits mean; they can ask students to rank the attributes; and/or teachers can ask students if the characteristics are easily translated into other languages they speak.

However teachers introduce the Learner Profile, it is important that students understand the terms and can begin to appreciate why the traits are highly valued by IB World Schools.

The Task

Teachers ask students to decide on one trait from the Learner Profile that best describes them. Using supporting evidence, students should write a paragraph to buttress their view.

Teachers should scaffold the activity for their students using an acronym such as PEEL (Point, Example, Explanation, Link) or PEA (Point, Evidence, Analysis). Whatever acronym teachers use, it should be the one that they will consistently employ in their course. Teachers may, additionally, ask students to present their ideas in tabular form in a graphic organizer.

It is strongly recommended that teachers, as in all writing activities, provide a model for students to emulate. Models, generally, should be something to aspire to. However, even somewhat blemished models are useful, and it is one indication of student engagement when they can identify the limitations in the writing of others (including that of their teachers!). 

A Model Using PEEL

TOPIC SENTENCE/MAIN POINT: Over the last few years, I have become a particularly effective communicator. I don’t mean that I have become a great communicator in all senses, but I have become an effective public speaker.

EXAMPLE 1: Lacking confidence in Middle School, I signed up for my school’s debating team. Although, at first, I was very nervous, I was supported by my teacher, and over time I became confident enough to debate in regional and national events.  

EXPLANATION 1: The opportunity to debate and work with compassionate friends and a knowledgeable, encouraging teacher has developed my awareness of rhetorical argumentation, making me a much more able and convincing communicator.

EXAMPLE 2: Inspired by my success in debating, I have begun to participate in open-mic events. As recently as June, I participated in the ‘Vibes in the City’ open-mic event in Manhattan where I performed two of my own poems.

EXPLANATION 2: Taking part in school debates really improved my confidence, and has inspired me to take on new challenges. My own poems are hardly great, but I am no longer afraid to stand in front of and speak to a large, live audience.

EXAMPLE 3: Since returning to school, I have signed-up to audition for this year’s school play, The Crucible, and I’m hoping to be given the role of John Proctor.

EXPLANATION 3: Playing a lead role in a play we will study in English this year should give me a really good insight into the play. I imagine, too, that I will become an even better communicator as I increasingly transition into dramatic productions.

CONCLUDING IDEA/LINK: As Ralph Waldo Emerson, a great speaker in his own right, famously said, “all great speakers were bad speakers at first”. I am not, of course, a great speaker, but I am certainly a better speaker than I was before I dared to join the school’s debating team. None of my experiences, however, has prepared me to ask Jane in the parallel class to go to on a date to the cinema with me. That, however, is a different kind of communication.

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