The Middle Years Program at Desert Academy


"I have always been a supporter of the International Baccalaureate. It is a thoughtful and genuinely intellectual curriculum with an unusually high degree of integrity and connectedness. There is no other curriculum anywhere that does a superior job of both educating students and inspiring a true and broad-based love of learning." —William Shain, Dean of Undergraduate Admissions, Vanderbilt University

What is the Middle Years Program?

The IB Middle Years Program (MYP) is designed for students between the ages of 11 and 16, grades 6 through 10. The IB MYP provides academic challenge and develops the life skills appropriate to this age group. The program model shows a holistic framework for international education in which learning transcends the boundaries of traditional disciplines by fostering interdisciplinary understanding. Through the MYP, our students become independent learners who can recognize relationships between academic subjects and the outside world, adapt to new situations and solve real-life, real-world problems.

Learning in the MYP is
•   student-centered
•   anchored in concepts
•   embedded in relevant global contexts
•   developing approaches to teaching and learning
•   promoting responsible action and service learning
•   promoting independent projects

within and across subject disciplines

Understanding Concepts

The understanding of concepts is developed in the Middle Years and Diploma Programs through the subject disciplines. Concept-based learning focuses on powerful organizing ideas that have relevance within and across subject areas. They extend beyond national and cultural boundaries, help to integrate learning, add coherence to the curriculum, deepen disciplinary understanding, build students’ capacity to engage with complex ideas and allow transfer of learning to new contexts.

The Curriculum in the Middle Years Program

The Middle Years Programme (MYP) has been designed as a coherent and comprehensive curriculum framework that provides academic challenge and develops life skills for students from the ages of 11 to 16. (IB)

The curriculum at Desert Academy is a school-developed framework of knowledge, concepts and skills that is aligned with IB’s expectations for written, taught, and assessed curriculum. We systematically review, develop and refine our curriculum within each subject-group. Through backwards curriculum design we ensure that our students are well prepared for the rigor of the DP curriculum.  

In the MYP, teaching and learning are organized into eight subject groups. For more information about each individual subject-group, please see the MYP subject-briefs  here.
●    Language and Literature (English)
●    Language Acquisition (French or Spanish)
●    Individuals and Societies (Humanities)
●    Sciences
●    Mathematics
●    Design
●    Arts (Visual and Performing)
●    Physical and Health Education

In 6th, 7th, and 8th grade, students take 8 courses, one from each of the subject groups. In grade 9 and 10, students continue their studies in Language and Literature, Language Acquisition, Individual and Societies, Science, and Math. In addition, students choose one or two courses from among Design, Arts and Physical and Health Education.

Throughout the curriculum, students will also experience connections between subjects through interdisciplinary units.

For more information about each individual subject-group, please see the MYP subject-briefs above.



At the core of the MYP at Desert are the school and IB mission and the IB Learner Profile together with Approaches to learning skills. The focus of approaches to learning skills (general skills that help students “learn how to learn”) is on helping students to develop the self-knowledge and skills they need to enjoy a lifetime of learning. Students will explore questions such as: How do I learn best? How do I know? and How do I communicate my understanding? Students learn to observe their own learning styles, including how they work in groups, communicate ideas, perceive themselves and their interactions with others, as well as their levels of information literacy. Approaches to learning skills is addressed in each class, at every level and is also focus of our Advisory program.

Service as Action

Service learning in the local and global community. At Desert Academy, Promoting Awareness With Service (PAWS) program addresses the service as action requirement.

Personal Project

The Personal Project is the culminating Middle Years Programme (MYP) project. It is a yearlong project, introduced to grade 9 during the fourth quarter and ending in 10th grade at the conclusion of the third quarter. In the project, students apply the knowledge and skills that they have acquired throughout the MYP program while developing a personal interest. The student’s advisor is also the student’s Personal Project supervisor and students receive support throughout the Personal Project process during advisory. The project is assessed against four specific Personal Project assessment criteria: Investigating, Planning, Taking Action, and Reflecting. An external validation of Personal Project grades is mandatory for all MYP schools and each year, the IB moderates a sample of Personal Projects from all MYP programs. At Desert Academy, students are awarded a pass or fail for their project which is recorded on the student’s transcript. 

The Personal Project has three components: 

  • a personal project product or outcome

  • a process journal documenting the inquiry and execution of the student’s product or outcome

  • a personal project report explaining what was done and learned

Assessment in MYP

Assessment plays a crucial role in the learning process in the MYP and the most important aim of MYP assessment is to support and encourage student learning. The MYP assessment model is criterion-related and distinct criteria are developed by IB for each subject-group. Assessing students against criteria is helpful because the student knows before attempting the work what needs to be done to reach a high level. It also helps teachers clarify and express their expectations about assignments in a way that students can understand. The strength of this model is that students are assessed for what they can do, rather than being ranked against each other. Students receive feedback on their performance based on the criteria level descriptors. Both formative and summative assessments are used at Desert Academy and assessments are communicated via our online recording and reporting system “ManageBac”. For more information about assessment in the MYP, please see our assessment policy.


Middle Years Program at Desert Academy
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