Exploring 21st Century Learning/Global Competencies Through an IB Lens

Area(s) of Focus: curriculum
Division(s): Intermediate, Junior
Level(s): Grade 6, Grade 7, Grade 8

As a team, we explored the links between our board’s Global Competency framework, the Ministry’s 21st Century Competencies and Transferable Skills, and our school’s IB Global Contexts and IB Approaches to Learning.

As lead teachers in an IB dual language track middle school, we endeavoured to collaborate and explore the integration of Global Competencies into our IB programming/curriculum. Our teacher team consisted of teachers from both the English and French language track programs, as well as teachers representing grades 6 to 8. We believed that our board’s desire to include Global Competencies within our instructional day is a natural fit for our team to explore as we are an IB school and these new competencies are closely related to the IB Global Contexts or IB Approaches to Learning. As a team, we looked to support each other learning about our board’s Global Competencies, the Ministry’s Transferable Skills initiative and how our provincial report card may change, how we might integrate these topics into our programming/teaching, how we might pair the Competencies with areas within our IB programming, and how to share the learning with all teachers in our school.

Team Members

  • Candice Masci

    Toronto District School Board

  • Chris Matte

    Toronto District School Board

  • Darcy McLean

    Toronto District School Board

  • Jessica Cullimore

    Toronto District School Board

Professional Learning Goals

  • We worked collaboratively as a dual language track leadership team
  • We learned about our board’s Global Competencies and their reasoning about their importance in student development
  • We learned about the Ministry’s Transferable Skills initiative (21st Century Competencies) and the proposed integration of these skills into the new provincial report card (replaced the current “Learning Skills” section)
  • We learned about the connections between TDSB’s Global Competencies and the IB Global Contexts (and all other relevant frameworks)

Activities and Resources

  • We explored our board’s Global Competencies through a professional learning session and online materials, and their reasoning about their importance in student development
  • We explored the Ministry’s Transferable Skills initiative (21st Century Competencies) through reading professional resources releases by the Ministry and by reading material about the proposed integration of these skills into the new provincial report card (replaced the current “Learning Skills” section)
  • We utilized the knowledge of support staff (such as the school’s instructional coach) when sourcing school board/Ministry materials to explore the future direction of these initiatives
  • We explored the connections between TDSB’s Global Competencies and the IB Global Contexts by creating a graphic organizing chart that makes natural connections between the two frameworks – we also expanded this to include the Ministry’s Transferable Skills, 21st Century Competencies and IB Approaches to Learning (this resource will support other teachers’ learning in the school to see the connection between these skills and in the future we will be able to share it with our parent community)
  • We explored high-yield strategies that would allow for deeper conversations and integration of the Global Competencies into MYP programming
  • We created resources that infuse Global Competencies into the resources we may use in class/MYP programming

Unexpected Challenges

During the course of our project we experienced a number of challenges we needed to work through:

  • A lack of supply teachers picking up jobs for release time (solution – classes were collapsed/integrated or prep time was borrowed from other teachers and prep payback was given on another day)
  • The school received notice that they would be having an IB evaluation team visiting the school for a formal evaluation visit. This caused a tremendous amount of stress for staff and an unexpected number of additional release days for teachers to revise their common grade team long-range plans/course assessment maps.
  • Another challenge was the shifting timelines from the Ministry in terms of rolling out the new report card and support materials for their new 21st Century Competencies/Transferable Skills Initiative. Also the change in labelling what these skills/competencies will be referred to or what they consist of has been difficult.
  • Finally, we recognized the need to start the project earlier. We’d like for the OTF grant project timelines to be moved up (e.g., proposals due second week in September and notification to be received by end of September). This would allow teams to collaborate from October to April and then wrap up earlier (before staff models change/school trips/EQAO and supply teachers become impossible to get).

Enhancing Student Learning and Development

Our project enhanced student learning and development because our final conclusion about linking the board Global Competencies with Ministry and MYP initiatives is that, regardless of the wording used, our students are learning about these skills and actively using them to complete their Community Service projects – which benefits their lives and the greater community.

When students are completing their Community Service projects, they are more engaged in the projects because they directly relate to real-life self-selected projects. Students see greater connections between what they are learning in class and the world around them. This learning also relies more upon an inquiry-based approach to learning which students really enjoy.

Students will also have greater opportunity for self/peer assessment of how they are developing and displaying the Global Competencies/IB Global Contexts.


School Staff – Although we have shared our work informally with staff as our work progressed, we are planning to more formally share our work and findings with all staff during staff meetings in the autumn. This way, we can have depth, not breadth, with the conversation and teachers will feel knowledgeable about how to further explore any of the free materials on their own.

Administration – We have shared our findings with our administration and school leadership team, focusing on what all the frameworks look like and the links between them. We have also shared how what we are already doing through an IB lens links to the additional board and Ministry initiatives.

Parents/Community – We plan to share our findings with parents and community members in September during our curriculum night in order to keep them updated about what they are hearing in the news about Ministry or board changes and what the school is already doing.

Project Evaluation

Our project was a success because, in the end, our final conclusion about linking the board Global Competencies with Ministry and MYP Initiatives is that, regardless of the wording used, as teachers we are already teaching about these skills and actively embedding them in our lessons/projects – such as the Community Service project – which benefits student lives and the greater community.

We thought this project would help us to get a head start on the implementation process of the skills/competencies to be evaluated for the provincial elementary report card, but, with the roll-out of the report card pushed back, we no longer need to worry about the implementation process or how these new foci from our board and Ministry will impact the goals within our school. This will put teachers at ease and cause less stress when the roll-out actually happens. By learning about and linking the frameworks together, we are demonstrating how we are already being successful at teaching these skills/competencies to our students.