Course Design

Course Design

Probably the most exciting aspect of the new course is the freedom it gives to teachers in terms of planning their course, with texts no longer organised according to parts or linked to specific assessment tasks. However, this freedom also presents a challenge and, whether you are in a department of two or twenty teachers, you have probably started thinking and talking about how you might organise your course, and also possibly started to feel a little overwhelmed by the range of choices the new course presents.  

It is important this thinking starts early so that teachers feel confident about their overall direction and sequence by the time first teaching begins.   The changes do offer exciting possibilities and allow for course design that is built around the students' authentic exploration and experience of literature in an organic and conceptually coherent way, rather than being driven by assessment outcomes.   Equally, we must not feel we have to throw away everything we have already been doing and start from scratch: students have enjoyed rich and rewarding experiences on IB Literature courses for as long as they have existed, and the essence of how we can create great teaching and learning in a Literature classroom has not changed.   

Essentially, the deal with these changes is this: we get more freedom and autonomy as teachers and, in return, we are required to become more explicit, deliberate and ambitious in our planning and teaching.  If we rise to that challenge, it's a great deal for us and our students.  

There is a section in the new guide entitled 'Principles of course design' (pages 28 - 30) which lists the following guiding principles for teachers:  variety, integration, autonomy and accountability.  There is also a video on the PRC on Course construction which shows how one English department are approaching the challenge of constructing their two year course.  The IB does not, however, offer specific suggestions for course design as to do so would suggest there is one 'better' way of constructing the course.   However, it is very useful to see specific examples, even if they would not work for us or our context; they give us a starting point, whether that is as something to build upon, adapt or resist.   

On the pages linked below are some examples of course outlines for both the Standard and Higher Level Literature courses. Remember, these are just possible approaches and we are not presenting them as ideal models.  However, at this early stage they may be useful examples and the hope is they will provoke thought and possible ways of approaching course design in your own context.  There are two approaches offered in these designs.  The Standard Level model presents a straight-forward approach built around the areas of exploration, with each year following a sequence of four units.  The sequence consists of one unit on each area of exploration followed by an independent unit where students have more choice and autonomy as they prepare for a major assessment -  the IO at the end of Year 1 (or early in Year 2) and Paper 2 at the end of Year 2.  The Higher Level example is less straight-forward: rather than just adopting one organizing principle - concepts or areas of exploration, for example  - this approach seeks to integrate and interleave the three areas of exploration, the seven concepts and associated conceptual questions.  Both examples also include possible texts and links to assessments. 

We welcome your feedback on these models and your own thoughts on course design as you start to discuss this within your departments.     

Example Course Outline 1 (HL) 

Example Course Outline 2 (SL) 

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