There’s a lot of jargon in the IB. That’s one reason why I started this blog – I felt like I was getting avalanched by the amount of terminology we had to memorize. Back then, I was doing both PYP and MYP, and so I had to learn the LP and the TDS of the UOI plus the AOIs, etc.  Over the years, I’ve caught up with the words. (I can’t believe I’ve been doing MYP Music for 12 years now!!) Unfortunately, I can get blasé about some aspects, and that’s why attending workshops is so rejuvenating. Case in point – Command Terms.

Sure. I knew what command terms were. I knew where to find them in the guide. But were they an every facet of my life? Not really. I’m at a school with an extremely high level of English-Language Learners. This week, a member of our Language B department asked us in a staff meeting to write our students’ greatest needs per subject. Our Visual Arts teachers wrote, “To write sentences.” We laughed, but they deadpanned us and said, “No. We are serious. These students can’t speak any English. We need them to start at the very beginning. What are English words? How do you put them together to make a simple sentence.”  So in light of this atmosphere, diving into the command terms seems a bit of a stretch goal. How do we get our ELL kids to explain rather than state when they can’t actually form sentences yet?  This opinion changed the first time I really, really thoroughly read the booklet, “Further Guidance for the PP – 2016.”  

We were marking Personal Projects and getting into our standardizing teams. Our MYP Coordinator printed and bound all the “Further Guidance for the PP – 2016” booklets and I was using mine to mark. (Side note: What an amazing book! I heart it!) For each descriptor, it listed the command term to be used.  If a student stated their goal, it was in the 1/2 band, it they outlined their goal, it was in the 3/4 band, and if they explained their goal, it was in the 5/6 or 7/8 bands. But what do these words mean? Well, under each strand’s rubric, there was a table defining the command terms. That was so incredibly helpful. I found myself marking weak students up and seemingly good students down, all based on command terms. As I read each paper, I kept asking myself, “Have they stated a goal with no – zero – details? Have they outlined a really simple goal with a few sentences? Have they explained their goal in good detail or excellent detail?” 

While my Command Terms revelation came with the Personal Project, I immediately started thinking about how this would translate into my classes as well. For example, let’s look at Criterion C.i, which is making a plan for an artistic intention. 

State: “My group will perform Riptide by Vance Joy.”  
Outline: “My group will perform Riptide by Vance Joy because the chords are easy to play. I will play piano. Nick will play guitar. Mandy will play drums.”
Explain: “My group will perform Riptide by Vance Joy. We chose this song because it’s very popular right now and we all liked it. The chords are pretty easy because there’s only three – C, G and Am. However, you have to use a capo and so our guitar player will need to practice using one.  We need to make sure that everyone in our group is playing in the same key. We’ve decided that I will play piano, Nick will play guitar, and Mandy will play drums.  I’m going to play the chords in the …”  etc.

I made decorative borders for my display boards from command terms. That way, they are easily accessible when I want to discuss them. I’m happy to share – just click on the link below.