Middle Years Program » MYP Unit Planner

MYP Unit Planner

The word “explainer” might just barely be a word, but it describes this document well.  Its purpose is to help teachers, coordinators, and anyone else understand all the vocabulary and terminology that sits at the surface of the MYP Unit Planner.  It’s notable that the vast majority of this “terminology” sits on the first page of the MYP Unit Planner.  I’m sure it wasn’t intentional, but the first page of the Unit Planner is the hardest to understand, and this document helps readers make sense of it all!


Steps to Building an IB Middle Years Program: Resources for Preparing PD

prepared by Jared Phelps, IBDP Coordinator Bonita Vista High School


Purpose of this Document:

The purpose of this document is to help teachers with all levels of experience with the MYP (from novice to experienced teacher) to deeply understand the components of an IB MYP unit of study, and how they come together to support student learning at an IB World School.  Please note that this document is not intended to explain everything there is to know about the MYP - its purpose is to focus on understanding the components of MYP Unit Design.


About the Author or a Disclaimer:

At the time of the writing of this document and these resources (Spring 2023), I (Jared Phelps) am an IBDP Coordinator who has taught IBDP Mathematics for 15 years and coordinated a successful IB Diploma Program for 8 years.  For the past two years, I have been working with my partner middle school (Bonita Vista Middle School) to develop an IB Middle Years Program.  As I worked with my new middle school colleagues as well as my own high school colleagues, I felt a need to develop alternate representations of some International Baccalaureate information in order to make it more accessible to both my teachers and myself as a future IBMYP Coordinator.  With that said, I want to be clear in indicating that I am not an authorized MYP Coordinator, but I have spent significant time working to understand MYP unit design and how to communicate it to teachers.  If you find any errors or problems with this document or the information it contains, please contact me at [email protected].


A Word of Encouragement:

The sense that I get from many MYP teachers (particularly new MYP teachers or those who have not yet been formally trained) is that IB Unit Design seems like a daunting task.  I want to share with you now, as we start, that it can indeed be a lot to take in, but that it is a rewarding process that will improve your teaching and the experience of your students in your classes.  If you’re willing - trust me when I say that this all can and does make sense if we’re willing to give ourselves time to process it and allow ourselves room for growth.


Unit Planner Templates

Here you can find links to blank IB MYP Unit Planners.  PLEASE don’t just try to fill them out without learning about the specific meanings of the parts - especially the first page.  The whole purpose of this document and resources is to help you slowly make sense of the whole thing!


The Four Parts to an IB MYP Unit:

There seem to essentially be four parts to building an MYP Unit Plan.  Some of these are more “IB Specific” and require more “specific training” than others.  Each of these four parts will be explained in more detail in the next section.

  1. Part 1: Identifying Information - This is fairly straightforward information, just information about who you are, what subject group your subject fits within, the name of the unit, and what year of the MYP you teach
  2. Part 2: Inquiry - This is far and away the part that confuses new IB teachers the most.  It is filled with specific vocabulary. It gets at the heart of what inquiry based teaching and learning look like.  It also gets into the concepts of our subject areas, which are specific terms both specific to our subject areas and shared with other areas.  This document will focus almost entirely on this portion of the unit planner and understanding each part.
  3. Part 3: Action - This section of the plan is where you’ll list the content you intend to teach in this unit, the learning experiences you plan to facilitate, teaching strategies you’ll use, how you’ll differentiate for students, and how you’ll assess students.  This is the portion of the unit plan that you may already “have done” from a previous year.  It makes sense to recycle a unit you’ve already used - but you’ll surely also find a number of ways to tweak your unit so that it fits better with all the work you did developing the inquiry portion in part 2.  Once you’ve made sense of part 2, part 3 (a modification of your previously developed units) will likely come naturally!
  4. Part 4: Reflection - Reflection is at the core of everything that we do in the IB.  This ongoing reflection by teachers, both independently and collaboratively, is key to developing as a teacher and growing successful lessons and units over time.