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  • Writer's picturelaurawippell

10 activities to develop IB learner profile attributes

As IB language teachers, we are striving for our students to become effective communicators. But when was the last time you sat down and thought about how to develop all attributes of the IB learner profile in your classroom? It’s easier than you think. Read on for 10 English activity recommendations to develop every learner profile attribute.

#1 - Inquirers

In short, we want our students to be curious and ask questions. One of my favourite activities to do this is through the Question Formulation Technique, because when it comes to teenagers, we sometimes need to give them a little nudge to get those questions flowing. Check out this activity that will get your students asking questions about a global issue that isn’t going away.

#2 - Knowledgable

Highlighting issues of global significance is an important part of any IB subject. We can help our students develop their language skills and expand their knowledge base by exposing them to a variety of texts about global events and issues. Find out what Indonesia, Mexico, Nigeria and the US have in common by exploring this unit with your students.

#3 - Thinkers

How much thought do your students put in before sharing their details online? Have they considered the long-term outcomes of data sharing and their responsibilities in this area? This eye-opening speaking task about ChatGPT will have your students using their critical-thinking skills by reflecting on the privacy, ethics, and the weight of every word that they share with chatbots.

#4 - Communicators

Apart from expressing themselves, one important part of being a communicator is 'listening carefully to the perspectives of other individuals and groups.' (IBO, 2019). An activity where students are required to listen and then build on the ideas of others is a Socratic Seminar. Check out this resource for a socratic seminar, which includes sentence starters to help students build their vocabulary bank.

#5 - Principled

Being principled is about acting with concern for the 'dignity and rights of people everywhere.' (IBO, 2019). As we try to make progress towards being a more inclusive society, there is a long way to go in terms of how we view and treat elderly people. This listening comprehension activity will give your students food for thought on the treatment of elderly and those who suffer dementia. I can’t recommend this moving documentary enough!

#6 - Open-minded

As the IB states, when it comes to being open-minded, we strive to 'critically appreciate our own cultures and personal histories, as well as the values and traditions of others.' (2019)

I discovered the most heart-warming audio play on the histories of Filipino immigrants in Canada, and created a bundle based on implicit bias, as a means of exploring the cultures and experience of other people. Check it out here and learn more about this important minority group.

#7 - Caring

While being caring encompasses many things, the word that always comes to my mind is empathy. How often do your students walk a mile in the shoes of someone else? The War in Ukraine may be geographically confined to Europe, but its effects are global. Help students to build empathy with one of my most popular bundles, which is not designed to analyse the origins or effects of the war in Ukraine, but rather allow students to develop productive and receptive skills using authentic texts, and above all, build empathy.

#8 - Risk-takers

It seems that our students are constantly facing uncertainty in our complex world. Being a risk-taker means facing that uncertainty head-on, with 'forethought and determination.' (IBO, 2019) So when I’m feeling a little stressed about the current state of affairs, it can be comforting to turn to dystopian literature and see how characters faced uncertainty when their worlds ended.

The novel ‘Z for Zachariah’ has a strong female protagonist, who must make difficult decisions in order to survive after an apocalypse. In this resource, students develop their writing skills while considering different levels of uncertainty in the protagonist's world.

#9 - Balanced

When it comes to being balanced, it’s important to remember that we should not only reflect on our own well-being, but the well-being of others as well.

This resource will encourage students to think outside of the box when it comes to the well-being of… aliens! If aliens landed on earth, what treatment would they receive? Who would consider their well-being and welfare?

#10 - Reflective

How can we use the experiences of others to reflect on our own lives? Rather than giving you a typical plenary reflection activity, I’m sharing this resource, based on the graphic novel MAUS, which explores the experience of a Holocaust survivor. This assessment task follows the same structure as the English B HL Individual oral, where students analyse themes in a written extract, and complete a TOK reflection on how our memories shape us.

What other activities do you turn to when developing IB learner profile attributes? I’d love to hear your recommendations below!


IBO (2019). Language B guide: First assessment 2020

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