IB Core

Elements of IB teaching

Teaching any of the subjects as part of the IB Diploma program involves a solid knowledge of the 'core' of the IB, the central philosophy and the over arching aims for IB Diploma students. This is an important part of teaching IB and depends on teachers having time, training and support in understanding the aims and requirements of these various elements. These pages will help teachers to do that.

What are the elements?

The following is a list of considerations for all IB teachers....

  • IBLP - The IB Learner Profile
  • ToK - Theory of Knowledge
  • CAS - Creativity Action Service
  • EE - The Extended Essay
  • Aims and Objectives for Group 5 subjects
  • Approaches to Teaching and Learning

IB learner Profile

This is a list of attributes that IB students are to aspire to. It is an ambitious list that encourages students to seek progress in becoming effective, able and considerate learners and global citizens. It can be quite a challenge to understand and help students how these ideas apply to studying this course, but they do and we need to help students understand how they do. Follow the link to the IB learner Profile ​page to learn more about how this can happen in Mathematical Studies Classes.

Theory of Knowledge

This is a really wonderful element of the course as I am sure many of you know. I would urge any teachers to find more opportunities to learn about ToK and bring it in to your classrooms. The teaching activities in each of the different syllabus sections are designed to encourage critical thinking in students and each can be used to explore some ToK ideas too. Read the Theory of Knowledge ​page to learn more about this and follow some links to some specific ideas that could be done with students.

Read a personal perspective in this blog post.


IB Students are required to undertake a number of projects under the headings, creativity, action and service with a general aim of broadening their horizons and experiences and learning about and helping in different areas of society. For us as Mathematics teachers, the aim is to try and see where their CAS activities relate to the aims and objectives of the group 5 subjects. Equally we need to look for ways where the syllabus, aims and objectives offer obvious opportunities for CAS


  • A number of HL and SL mathematics students might help out in a homework club for younger students
  • On a similar theme, Mathematical Studies students for whom Mathematics has been difficult might share the moments and explanations that made significant differences to them with younger students who are struggling.
  • Students involved in collecting food for charities might be involved with keeping statistical or financial records associated to that collection. Any charity work might offer similar opportunities.

Extended Essay

The extended essay is a research project that students are expected to undertake during the diploma course. It should focus on a particular subject area. For that reason, it is not recommended that students of Mathematical Studies do their extended essays based on Mathematics. There is no rule against it and it has been known, but students will likely struggle to reach the required level of subject content. That said, a number of students will do their essays on topics that require some statistical analysis and it is worth making this link during the study of the statistics units of the course.

Aims and Objectives

I highly recommend the Aims and Objectives for the group 5 subjects are printed and displayed on classroom walls. Like the learner profile their are, quite rightly, very ambitious aims. It is good to be reminded of them regularly and to remind students what we are doing and why.

Approaches to Teaching and Learning

This is one to watch for the future. The IB are introducing mechanisms to help teachers and schools audit the features of good teaching that is being seen in classrooms. This is consistent with the approach used at the Middle Years Program. Details are not finalised and this website will respond to them as they come out.

Selected Pages


Mathematical Quotes 11 September 2015

There are hundreds of great mathematical quotes from all kinds of people and this is just the beginning of a collection....

Theory of Knowledge 5 October 2016

To many teachers the theory of knowledge (ToK) element of teaching the IB diploma is completely new and it can be a little...

IB learner Profile 5 October 2016

This page is about the IB Learner profile and how the fits with the Mathematical Studies. The IB learner profile is an ambitious...

ATTL and planning 5 October 2016

In January 2015,the IBO published the first of its documents entitled 'Approaches to teaching and learning' designed to...

Student Placement 1 April 2015

This page is about helping students to make the right choice of Mathematics courses at IB. The information will be useful...

Mutilated Chess Board 8 December 2014

The mutilated chessboard problem provides a lovely opportunity for students to experience the stages of problem solving...

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