Look… I wish I could tell you that all students happily embrace the Personal Project. Some of them do! For some of them, the Personal Project is a life-altering project. I saw a student do a PP on conducting and then go on to be the full time conductor of the school’s Advanced Orchestra. I saw a student, worried about what to become when he grows up, do a project on career choices and discover that careers rarely come in straight lines; for him, the revelation caused a paradigm shift. I saw a student display deep empathy and love for her father by building prosthetics that emulate Parkinson’s Disease.  I’ve also seen students who didn’t care and who barely etched out a pass. 

For all students, full documentation in ManageBac is essential. It keeps all stakeholders fully aware of a student’s progress. The student post their to-do-lists, upload journal extracts, write their Academic Honesty states, complete their inquiry statements, etc., in ManageBac. The supervisor ‘flips their flags’ and writes feedback and meeting minutes in the notes section. The MYP Coordinator can go into every child’s ManageBac for instead check-ins. Best of all, parents have full access and so know exactly what is going on.  

The Front Page

First of all, I always ensure that every student has completed their inquiry question and global contexts. This has three purposes:

  1. The inquiry question helps cement the idea that the Personal Project is about learning first and creating a product second.
  2. It gives an overview on the front page for the PP Coordinator (me) and the MYP Coordinator. We can quickly scroll through and see what everybody’s doing. Also, it helps with planning the Exhibition floor plan because we can see what everybody’s doing for creating table labels, spreading out topics, etc.
  3. Lastly, this area populates ManageBac’s Report Card feature, so it’s best to fill in the inquiry question at the beginning so it doesn’t get forgotten at the end.

The To-Do-List

The To-Do-List is helpful as a two-way conversation between the student and their supervisor. Some students use the to-do-list for themselves, checking off their tasks methodically until the very end. Some students who struggle with self-management benefit from their supervisor dropping in suggested errands, such as meeting with them before the second Academic Honesty statement is due.

Project Documents

Students submit only one draft before their final report is due. In the meantime, we have students post their interim work on ManageBac. This has three purposes:

  1. It helps to make the overall task more manageable (not so scary!) to have tiny deadlines for Criteria A, B, and C before the only draft comes in.
  2. Having anything uploaded helps with accountability and increases the paper trail. At any time, the PP and/or MYP Coordinator can pop into a student’s area and take a look at how they are doing. In the same fashion, a teacher can say to the parents, “Well, your child did submit Criterion A with no literature review.”
  3. It acts as a backup. Over the years, students have panicked when their laptops died and they lost everything… oh… except their PP sections were already uploaded to ManageBac. RELIEF!

Notes & Interviews

Unfortunately, the Notes & Interviews section of ManageBac is probably the single most important section available. When you have a highly engaged student, you won’t have many notes. Just general feedback, like, “Thank you for submitting your Criterion A on time. I am looking forward to our next meeting this Friday lunch 1.”  However, students who struggle with self-management may extra scaffolding support. This means extra emails home. This means extra notes in the note section.  If you have a student with 4 or 5 pages of notes & interviews, you know you’ve done your due diligence in supporting them and communicating with the parents.

Academic Honesty Reflections

Do yourself a huge favour and get the Academic Honesty statements in as soon as they are due. In the past, we would chase struggling students for their interim criteria submissions and worry about the Academic Honesty statements later. The problem was that we were asking students to remember conversations that happened months previously. The PP paperwork became much more manageable and efficient when we set strict deadlines. 

Criterion A needs to be uploaded to ManageBac on this date with your first Academic Honesty statement. 

Your proof of product needs to be uploaded to ManageBac on this date with your second Academic Honesty statement.

Your final report needs to be uploaded to ManageBac on this date with your third Academic Honesty statement.

The end result? The day after the final deadline, we had the final reports in DOCX & PDF, proof of product files, and all three Academic Honesty statements. Everything ready for internal standardisation. Neatly packaged. Perfectly organised for the standardizing teams.

Ah… organisation… I love it…