Releasing my IB Physics & IB Mathematics Standards

Our school is in its first year of official IB DP accreditation. This happened after a year of intense preparation and a school visit last March. In preparation for this, all of us planning to teach IB courses the next year had to create a full course outline with details of how we would work through the full curriculum over the two years prior to students taking IB exams.

One of the difficulties I had in piecing together my official course outline for my IB mathematics and IB physics courses was a lack of examples. There are outlines out there, but they were either for the old version of the course (pre-2012) or from before the new style of IB visitation. The IB course documents do have a good amount of detail on what will be assessed, but not the extent to which it will be assessed. The math outline has example problems in the outline which are helpful, but this does not exist for every course objective. The physics outline also has some helpful details, but it is incomplete.

The only way I’ve found to fill in the missing elements is to communicate directly with other teachers with more experience and understanding of IB assessment items. While some of this has been through official channels (i.e. the OCC forums), most has been through my email and Twitter contacts. Their help has been incredible, and I appreciate it immensely.

At the end of the first semester for Mathematics SL, Mathematics HL (one combined class for both), and Physics SL/HL (currently only SL topics for the first semester), I now have the full set of standards that I’ve used for these courses in my standards based grading (SBG) implementation. I hope these get shared and accessed as a starting point for other teachers that might find them useful.

For my combined Mathematics SL/HL class:
Topics 1 – 2, IB Mathematics SL/HL

For my combined Physics SL/HL class:
Topics 1 – 2, IB Physics SL/HL

The third column in these spreadsheets has the heading ‘IB XXXX Learning Objective’ – these indicate the connection between the unit standard (e.g. Standard 3.1 is standard 1 of unit 3) to the IB Curriculum Standard (e.g. 2.3 is Topic 2, content item #3). Some of these have sub-indices that correspond with the item in the list of understandings in the IB document. IB Mathematics SL objective 1.3.2 refers to IB Topic 1, content item #3, sub-topic item #2.

If you need more guidance there, please let me know.

If you are a new IB Mathematics/Physics teacher accessing these…

…please understand that this is my first year doing the IB curriculum. There will be mistakes here. In some cases, I also know that I’ll be doing things differently in the future. If these are helpful, great. If not, check the OCC forums or teacher provided resources for more materials that might be helpful.

If you are an experienced IB Mathematics/Physics teacher accessing these…

…I’d love to get your feedback given your experience. What am I missing? What do I emphasize that I shouldn’t? What are the unspoken elements of the curriculum that I might not be aware of as a first year? Let me know. I’d love it if you could give me the information you wish you had (or may have had) to be maximally successful.

I’ve benefited quite a bit from sharing my materials and getting feedback from people around the world. I’ve also gotten some great help from other teachers that have shared their resources. Consider this instance of sharing to be another attempt to pay that assistance forward.

2 thoughts on “Releasing my IB Physics & IB Mathematics Standards

  1. Hi Evan,

    I had a look at the Google document you posted through the OCC link. I am a second year IB teacher, although it’s my first year doing IB Physics. We also teach in HL/SL combined classes.

    The document didn’t have any physics, but it looks very similar to our Schemes of Work (SOW). There are two schools of thought in organizing the HL material – mix or wait. I mix the HL topics into the class as they come along as we have found that students are extremely busy and stressed first semester of grade 12, which is when you would be doing all of the HL material. It does serve as a good review as you do many topics quickly, but only the HL students would be getting that review and the SL students twiddle their thumbs and forget so much over those months. We are currently in Topic 4 (waves).

    I would also caution you about monitoring every student on every standard. Unless you only have 2 students in your class, this will get very time consuming. IB teachers are EXTREMELY busy all the time, as I’m sure you’re finding out! Each topic contains multiple outcomes, so you would need to label each section of the test with the outcome (yet the paper 2 questions will cover multiple, mixed, outcomes) and search through the test to see if they could answer multiple questions on that outcome correctly. If you’re going to do it, send the sheet to the kids and make them do it themselves – it would be a good learning/studying tool anyway.

    It also looks like you re-wrote the standards to be in the “I can…” form with multiple standards mixed in each one. I’m not sure how it works in Math, but in Physics the students can understand the outcomes in the guide and use those directly. I tend to put the outcomes for today’s lesson right in the lesson ppt (copied directly from the guide), then pdf the ppt and place online for the students.


    1. Hi Anne,

      Thanks for the detailed suggestions. I’ll be doing the HL material in physics beginning with this semester, including one period per two week cycle that’s on HL only material. I originally planned to push off the HL material because I wasn’t sure who was signing up for physics, and whether students would need a semester to decide their HL commitment. Luckily, that hasn’t been an issue. I’m going to be mixing it as much as I can with the SL material. I have one student at the HL level, so it’s not a huge stretch. We are starting semester 2 with gravity, (with the HL student doing some work with gravitational PE and orbits), and then beginning waves.

      I’ve also found some ways to make it easier to monitor students on individual standards without going crazy. It’s through some spreadsheet magic that I just learned about this semester. I wrote about it a while ago here:

      As for the last thing you said about the students interacting directly with the curriculum documents, I would have agreed with you up to the point when I actually worked directly with my students to do so. None of them are native English speakers – intermediate level on the ESOL spectrum at best. The language of the exam and the curriculum documents are too complex for them without a bit of scaffolding to help them out. This is something I’m going to put more time into moving forward so that it isn’t an issue. I’ll definitely take your advice and put the vocabulary in the objectives for each lesson though.

      Thanks for the help!

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