Frequently Asked Questions

IMYM Model

The IMYM model can be visualized as interaction among teachers, curriculum, and Information and Communication Technology (ICT) in support of student learning.

I. The Model

What are the components of the IMYM model?

The IMYM model involves both pedagogical components and an extensive learning community.

The pedagogical components of the IMYM model include

  • interdisciplinary instruction
  • collaborative learning
  • integration of technology
  • professional development
  • implementing change

The learning community involved in the IMYM model includes

  • Manitoba Education and Early Childhood Learning
  • school division/district superintendents
  • technology coordinators and technicians
  • school administrators
  • teams of teachers
  • students
What do we know about how the IMYM model changes teaching and learning?

What we continue to learn about how the IMYM model changes teaching and learning comes directly from our IMYM students, parents, teachers and administrators

  • students demonstrate how they thrive because of their increased responsibility and how experiencing success improves their self-esteem as learners and moves their motivation to the intrinsic level
  • parents are impressed with their children's academic and technological achievements and with their ability to work collaboratively
  • teachers testify that changes in their professional practice rejuvenate their love of teaching and that the integration of technology with interdisciplinary instruction reaches more of their students
  • administrators observe the transfer of teaching and learning skills from the IMYM model to other classrooms in their schools
Why did Manitoba Education and Early Childhood Learning develop the IMYM model?

Manitoba Education and Early Childhood Learning has developed the IMYM model to demonstrate how integrating technology with interdisciplinary collaborative learning can support the unique needs of the middle years student. When the IMYM Project began, Manitoba schools did not necessarily have reliable Internet access and most classrooms did not have computers (computers were mostly in labs). Often, teachers were teaching under conditions that did not facilitate their use of constructivist interdisciplinary strategies. Junior High School timetables fractured the school day (especially in grades 7 and 8), while subject specialists taught individual subjects. In addition, students were expected to acquire most information and communication technology skills and competencies during their middle years. All these conditions made it challenging for Manitoba middle years teachers to integrate technology as a foundation skill in their classrooms.

Anne Perner, IMYM Parent: "There are fewer teachers per class with the IMYM middle years model than there would be in a traditional junior high program with lots of specialists. Since it takes a while for most students to get used to each teacher and a teacher to each student, it is easier for the IMYM teacher to know every student as a whole person. This relationship is very important at the middle years."

What is Constructivism in the IMYM model?

Constructivism is a concept that has many different definitions and can take many different forms. In the IMYM model, we have 'constructed' a simple definition that can be operationalized in the IMYM classroom. IMYM views constructivism as a way of thinking about learning that influences what is taught and how it is taught. It is a philosophy that supports moving from a teacher-centered classroom to a student-centered classroom in ways that are based on research into how students learn. In short, constructivism engages students through the use of ideas, materials, and tools (such as ICT) that are set in real-world contexts to create deep conceptual understanding. In an IMYM classroom students construct their own knowledge, teachers cannot simply give knowledge to them. Teachers can, however, create learning environments where knowledge construction can take place.

Who should be on our school team when we implement the IMYM model?

The collaboration of a team approach can result in a commitment to school growth and systemic change beyond the scope of the IMYM classroom. Schools successful in implementing the IMYM model form a team that may include

  • teaching team - provides instructional support to students by integrating technology with learning experiences using collaborative learning strategies
  • principal - provides administrative support, instructional leadership, and common planning time for the teaching team (ensures that no more than two teachers teach the four core subjects to a group of students)
  • divisional technology trainer - provides training to the teacher(s) on the operating system, the classroom/school network, and word processing, spreadsheet, and database applications as required
  • divisional technology coordinator - acquires the necessary hardware and software for the IMYM classroom and supervises the technician
  • divisional technician - provides troubleshooting assistance to the classroom
  • superintendent - ensures continuation and extension of the IMYM model within the division by providing opportunities for teachers to share professional learning through modeling and mentoring

Cathy Holmes, IMYM Resource Teacher: "What is so exciting about the IMYM model from an administrator's perspective is the awesome opportunity it offers us to integrate technology into the curriculum on a daily basis. One of the first indicators that we noticed was the level of engagement that the students brought to the IMYM classroom. Starting in October, you could see students arriving before school in the morning and begging to stay later in the day to finish some of the work they were doing. So, right away, the payback was a group of students that was on task. The quality of the conversations that took place in the classroom was amazing. That was something that we hadn't expected to see so quickly. Plus, from a staff point of view, the different ways of looking at assessment that the IMYM teachers experimented with is something that the whole staff has benefited from. Thanks to IMYM, our school has been able to bring a whole different perspective to the way that we assess."

How can I visit an IMYM classroom?

Following their first year, IMYM teachers share their technical and pedagogical expertise with colleagues through classroom visitations, modeling of technology-integrated instructional strategies, sharing sessions, workshops, websites, and mentoring. This sharing of expertise facilitates implementation and growth of the IMYM model in their school, their school division, and across the province. Contact Cheryl Prokopanko to arrange a classroom visitation.

Joe Pearn, IMYM Principal: "One of the benefits of implementing the IMYM model in our school is the influence it has had on the rest of our teachers. We see IMYM as being a model that will help other teachers to become involved in integrating technology in their classroom practice. When it comes to attitudes about technology, the IMYM model has gone a long way in our school to creating a positive attitude. In the community, parents see this as a positive initiative; they've been very interested in what is going on here. Parents of children in the IMYM classroom felt that their children received an additional benefit from the educational system."

How is the IMYM model continuing to expand in Manitoba?

We found that due to the efficacy of the model, IMYM has become well entrenched in the province of Manitoba. It continues to expand, as more than 150 teachers model the IMYM approach within over 100 schools across every region of our province.

The increased availability of broadband networks throughout Manitoba has increased the capacity of schools to apply technology-assisted instructional strategies. This has, in turn, increased interest in the IMYM model as teachers search for pedagogically-sound methodologies for integrating technology.

Through sharing of their professional growth experiences, IMYM teachers are mentoring their colleagues in a grassroots way through email, electronic work samples, and classroom web sites. In addition, many IMYM teachers have taken on technology training and coordinating roles in their schools and school divisions. Supportive administrators of IMYM schools are showing leadership in facilitating expansion of the model within their schools, while school division superintendents are mandating the implementation of the IMYM model across their school divisions.

What are the results of the action research on the IMYM model?

The research component of IMYM took four school years, one for each of the middle years, grades 5 to 8. Action research strategies were often used to evaluate aspects of the IMYM model. It was also evaluated by an external research agency, the Canadian company Proactive Information Services Inc. An executive summary of the Proactive report can be found at

This report outlines findings on

  • implementation factors
  • impact on instructional practice
  • impact on students

There are also follow-up reports published on the IMYM website for each grade level.

What are the challenges and opportunities of the IMYM model?

Not every middle years school in Manitoba has the local expertise to implement the IMYM model. Because of the skills they have acquired, IMYM teachers are in position to take advantage of other professional opportunities. Once they leave, the technology-enriched IMYM classroom may be left without a knowledgeable professional.

Students leave the IMYM classroom with a high level of technology skills, and competencies in collaborative learning. As they graduate from middle years, the high schools can be unprepared to offer them opportunities to utilize their abilities. There must be curricular changes and changes in instructional methodologies implemented in the senior years to take advantage of increased student technology capabilities and collaborative learning skills.

II. Teachers

How will implementing the IMYM model change the way I teach?

IMYM teachers learn to adjust the balance between

  • explicit and indirect instruction
  • interactive and independent learning
  • vicarious and direct experiences
  • teacher and student choices
  • teacher and self/peer assessment
  • teacher and student talk

They gradually assume the roles of co-learners and co-investigators with their students, of facilitators, and of coaches who are there at just the right time to ask the thought-provoking question that moves student thinking and learning to a higher level. IMYM teachers set up interactive classrooms, and provide the scaffolds that support their own learning. In their IMYM classroom,

  • teachers activate prior knowledge
  • students actively acquire new knowledge, skills, and attitudes and develop meaning connections
  • students apply their new knowledge structure in real world contexts
  • teachers assess student ability to communicate and demonstrate their new knowledge through authentic assessment

John Loochuk, IMYM teacher: "The most important area of professional growth that I experienced as I implemented the IMYM model was in learning how to give up some of the power in my classroom. As a teacher, you're used to being at the front of the room, teaching your lesson, giving your notes. Usually you are doing the demonstrations and the students are sitting at their desks working. Even when they're performing a science experiment or working with math manipulatives, there is a certain amount of direct instruction that is given. The IMYM model is a lot more student led, where the students are doing more of the work while the teacher is helping groups with any problems, or asking guiding questions to promote discussion. It's also a letting-go process for a teacher when you have to trust the students to do the work and to be able to lead themselves. And that's one of the great things about integrating the technology. It brought out a lot of the content in science, social studies and language arts in an interdisciplinary way. You might think that technology would be just a lot of bells and whistles. However, I found that the content came along and that the students were enjoying learning more when they were applying it to something in the real world than when they were just reading about it in a textbook."

Which of my characteristics as a teacher will be beneficial as I implement the IMYM model?

The IMYM model has been tried in every geographic region of Manitoba, in over 100 schools, in English, French Immersion, and Français programs of study. IMYM schools are located in a variety of inner-city, suburban, and rural locations. Successful IMYM schools and teachers have been shown to possess

  • experience with interdisciplinary instruction
  • experience with collaborative learning strategies
  • experience with differentiating instruction
  • interest in using information and communication technology in the classroom
  • interest in implementing constructivist and active learning strategies
  • willingness to implement a middle years approach at grades 5-8
  • willingness to share new learning with colleagues through mentoring and collaboration
What pedagogical skills will I need to implement the IMYM model?

IMYM teachers experience most success if they are interested in learning to use teaching strategies that are constructivist and that employ collaborative learning. Over the course of their professional learning, we have observed movement of IMYM teachers toward the constructivist end of that spectrum. To make optimum use of the technology and to encourage independent learning in the IMYM classroom, teachers use a learning centre approach. IMYM teachers use a rubric to self-assess their pedagogical skills.

Cathy Caron, IMYM Teacher: "Last year I didn't even know how to turn a computer on and my approach was essentially teacher-directed. And now, I look at my students and I say to them, 'I'd never teach any other way. This is wonderful.' And they look at me and say, 'We've learned so much. Do you know what we can do? Come here! Come here!' It is so exciting and so overwhelming… I'm not a first-year teacher… But I think that IMYM is one of the most exciting changes that could have happened to my teaching practice. We've all been talking about collaborative learning, students constructing knowledge, and differentiating our instructional strategies. In the IMYM model these are all combined, along with the technology; and they are all nicely integrated."

Rudy Nikkel, IMYM Teacher: "I come from teaching 21 years in a very structured, teacher-directed classroom. I've learned and grown a lot professionally. Applying the IMYM model freed me to help students who were having difficulty because the rest of the class was actively engaged in something useful and meaningful and they weren't just working ahead, being done, and possibly wasting their time."

Self-assessment of your pedagogical skills will help you to set goals and to choose professional learning opportunities that match your needs as you implement the IMYM model. We have seen significant growth in teachers' pedagogical skills after they have participated in IMYM professional development activities.

How long will it take for me to be comfortable with the IMYM model?

We all learn and change at different rates. However, we have observed generally that there are five stages through which most IMYM teachers pass.

  • Entry stage - experiencing frustration and anxiety; replicating traditional instructional and learning activities using technology
  • Adoption stage - using technology to support an established teacher-directed instructional format
  • Adaptation stage - increasing student involvement, responsibility, creating knowledge; new teaching style emerges
  • Appropriation stage - developing new instructional patterns built on a collaborative interdisciplinary concept-based approach
  • Invention stage- creating an entirely new learning environment in the classroom

Louise Moreau, IMYM Teacher: "This is my third year with IMYM8/MINI8, and each year has presented new challenges. The most frustrating challenge is when equipment or network systems are not functioning and I have to wait for a technician to repair/replace them in order to get things up and running. However, I have learned that having a good backup system, such as another computer room or a stand-alone printer not on a network system, worked very well in saving time.

The highlights for me have been watching reluctant students flourish in the IMYM model. They go from being scared of making mistakes to discovering the joy of making one and then problem-solving to rectify or figure out the situation. Group work and cooperation amongst peers increased tremendously in this classroom setting. Parents loved coming in for the three way conferences in the fall to view their child's on-line portfolio in progress and IMYM allowed them to relax more and enjoy learning. As an IMYM teacher, I give up control of the classroom more. This has sometimes proven difficult with overbearing and non-focused students - but, on the other hand, I found that I was able to give them more individualized time while the other students were busy learning using the technology.

As I have had more experience with the IMYM model, teaching and learning has become more of a pleasure. I also find that a number of my colleagues seek out my assistance in developing collaborative learning experiences in middle years using technology as a tool. This has further enhanced my own professional learning."

III. Learners

How does the IMYM model support Middle Years learners and their teachers?

The IMYM model takes advantage of the unique needs and characteristics of the middle-years learner. Learning in a middle years classroom requires a unique classroom culture and climate. Middle years students are distinguished by special intellectual, moral, physical, emotional, and social characteristics that shape the way they learn. The methods, contexts, resources, and supports that middle years teachers choose are, in turn, determined by the needs of their students. We have designed the IMYM model to support the unique styles, attitudes, and pacing of middle years teachers and to keep the number of teachers of any one IMYM classroom to a minimum.

Can less successful learners benefit from the IMYM model?

IMYM students come from a variety of cultural backgrounds. There is a cross-section of students of every ability and attitude. Depending upon local conditions, IMYM classrooms have between 12 and 32 students and may be multi-age/multi-grade. Parents and teachers have told us that the IMYM model is also effective for less successful learners. These students demonstrate positive changes in attitude due to their ability to demonstrate their learning in alternative ways using information and communications technologies.

Anne Perner, IMYM Parent: "When I first heard about the IMYM model, I was really excited because I thought it was a great opportunity for the students. I have found that my son has really enjoyed the technology integrated interdisciplinary approach. His marks have definitely gone up this year. I think it's because he's enjoying the school year. Another thing that my son has been doing in the IMYM classroom, is collaborative learning -- working with other students, sharing different ideas, and putting the ideas of many students together. When you get out and get a job, you need to know how to work with people. It's a challenge and he's practicing that now in a non-threatening environment."

How will the IMYM model change the role of my students?

IMYM students and student groups are expected to assume progressively more responsibility for their learning, for acquiring and filtering information, and for collaborating as individuals and functioning in teams. This responsibility leads to independence as life-long learners and to the acquisition of the independent and teamwork skills required in the workforce.

Adam, IMYM Student: "I enjoy working in different groups. I also like to organize what our team does so that we can follow our plan and be more independent learners. When we get older, we know we will have to be more independent and not rely on our teacher to give us the answers. Using the technology was another one of my favourite parts of IMYM. I like using the video camera, digital camera, laptops, Internet, everything. Although we use the Internet to search for current information, we also have to analyze the information we find to see if it comes from a good source and is reliable. We're also learning how to use our time wisely, because we have to finish each module in one week. It helps us to learn to manage our time really well."

Why does the IMYM model use an interdisciplinary real-world approach?

Within the IMYM model, learning becomes increasingly meaningful for students as their teachers work with them to draw connections among interdependent subject areas. This assists students to think across subject areas in attempting to solve social and technological problems and to develop essential interdisciplinary understandings. Teachers found that implementing one of the sample IMYM interdisciplinary units invited changes in the structure and operation of their classroom.

Julie Cote-Marinelli, IMYM Teacher: "Through IMYM, we've been able to find really creative ways of integrating science, social studies, language arts, and math outcomes. Interdisciplinary instruction is so motivating that we intend to continually develop it over the next couple of years. Making connections has become a goal for our school now."

Will the IMYM model help me to differentiate instruction?

Suggested instructional strategies in the IMYM model are differentiated to match the characteristics of the entire spectrum of middle years students. This differentiated instruction addresses students' varied approaches to learning and thinking, and takes multiple intelligences into consideration. IMYM learning experiences that integrate technology are designed to interface with many of the intelligences identified by Howard Gardner. In the IMYM model for example, student project-based learning that produces a multimedia or web-based product, such as an electronic portfolio, can incorporate elements of

  • text (verbal/linguistic)
  • illustration (visual/spatial)
  • sound (musical/rhythmic)
  • graphs (mathematical/logical)
  • video (body/kinesthetic) are developed by and for
  • individual work (intrapersonal/introspective) or
  • group work (interpersonal/social)

Erin, IMYM Student: "I enjoyed the IMYM program. It was a different experience for me working in groups, rather than having the teacher lecture all day while I copy down notes. IMYM made learning a lot more fun. My attention span is actually not that long but I was listening more and I feel great because I got better marks this year than last."

How will I assess my students in the IMYM model?

Assessment strategies form an ongoing integrated part of learning and teaching in the IMYM model. Assessment strategies use ICT to allow students to demonstrate what they know and are able to do in an authentic way. An example of an assessment strategy might be the use of presentation or web-authoring software to allow students to demonstrate their acquisition of new knowledge and skills to an authentic audience of their peers, teachers, parents, and other relevant individuals or groups in the community. IMYM teachers encourage student involvement in developing criteria and standards for assessment, and student engagement in conducting self and peer assessment activities. Each IMYM student creates an electronic portfolio of work samples that illustrate growth, or pride of accomplishment.

Bertha Davis, IMYM Teacher: "After my students wrote their tests or performed their assessment tasks, they said, 'Wow, we know way more than we thought we did.' Even though the questions and tasks were actually very high level. The IMYM model benefited more of my students than did traditional ways of learning due to all the hands-on learning and the problem-solving. My students were engaged in active learning, so that, when it came to the assessment, they were able to perform the tasks."

IV. Curriculum

How long does the IMYM model take?

IMYM teachers begin each school year with ongoing learning experiences that integrate technology with classroom routines such as Daily Edit, Reading Circle, and Journaling. Teachers then gradually introduce their students to collaborative learning and to information and communication technologies in the context of achieving core curricular outcomes. This is in preparation for beginning an interdisciplinary unit, based on broad concepts integrating English and French language arts, mathematics, science, and social studies outcomes. Once students have applied their technological and collaborative learning skills in an interdisciplinary setting, they are expected to apply these throughout the remainder of their studies and the school year. While collaborative learning in learning centres forms part of each day, teachers still need to provide direct instruction as required.

Dan Baker, IMYM Parent: "At the beginning of the year, my daughter was very hesitant to even touch the technology. But we found that, by January, she was using it so confidently. My wife and I are very pleased that all the multimedia in the IMYM classroom is used as a tool, rather than just learning how it works and the theory behind it. Working in a group setting also improved my daughter's interpersonal relationships with others. I find that, in the IMYM program, my daughter doesn't tend to just memorize a lot of things. She really understands the concepts and can explain them in her own words."

What are the concepts explored in the IMYM interdisciplinary units?

A team of practicing IMYM teachers developed each technology-integrated concept-based interdisciplinary unit to promote the use of information and communication technology to help students

  • achieve curricular outcomes
  • solve problems
  • improve their personal performance
  • synthesize and evaluate information
  • gain critical and abstract thinking skills
  • develop essential interdisciplinary understandings

Each comprehensive concept-based unit combines an interdisciplinary approach with the integration of ICT, focused on real-world contexts as follows

  • A Prairie Tour (grade 5)
  • Inventions, Innovations and Discoveries (grade 6)
  • Balance and Harmony (grade 7)
  • Systems and Interactions (grade 8)
Why does the IMYM model use collaborative learning?

Collaborative learning strategies form the foundation of the IMYM model. Teachers structure learning experiences so that students are able to practice the skills necessary to function in a variety of groups where they work together to acquire and share knowledge. These experiences allow students to develop the human relations and teamwork skills necessary for interdependent learning.

Pam Garnham, IMYM Teacher: "Some of our book-smart students initially had reservations about the IMYM approach, which has collaborative learning at its core. They felt that there might be other students riding on their coat tails as they reached for the stars. But they soon realized that group work doesn't mean that you do everything together, that you work for somebody else. It means that you divide the work, that you cooperate, and you compromise. Sometimes you work individually and sometimes you share information. They learned to acquire information together but learned that they, each individually, had to show that they could apply what they learned. I believe that the skills they learned during IMYM are essential skills that will stay with them throughout their lives."

V. Information and Communication Technology (ICT)

How will the IMYM model help me to integrate Technology as a Foundation Skill in my classroom?

The vision of technology as a foundation skill in Manitoba is that the use of information and communication technology (ICT) will help all students to

  • solve problems
  • improve their personal performance
  • gain the critical and abstract thinking skills necessary to become lifelong learners and contributing members of their communities

The IMYM model focuses on integrating technology as a tool within a concept-based, interdisciplinary approach using collaborative learning and best practice at the middle years. IMYM students learn to use, manage, and understand information and communication technologies by

  • using technology to structure inquiries, solve problems, and gather, organize, validate and communicate information on a local and global scale
  • managing technology through making creative, productive, and efficient technology choices for the tasks at hand
  • understanding technology and its role in society through reflecting upon the ethics and impact of its use, synthesizing new insights and making well-considered decisions as technologies evolve students develop
What technology should I consider for my IMYM classroom?

Teachers implementing the IMYM model determined that it was crucial, for just in time access, to have the technology, the students, and their teacher together in the IMYM classroom for the entire school day. Each IMYM classroom could consider technology such as

  • laptop and multimedia computers
  • large screen television or other projection system
  • Internet access
  • digital video camera or still camera
  • scanner
  • printer
  • VCR
  • CD burner
  • telephone
  • tool software for research and production
How will the IMYM model help me to use ICTs to promote the 3 "A"s of active learning?

ICTs are Information and Communication Technologies. In the IMYM model, instructional strategies are categorized as activating, acquiring, and applying.

  • Activating strategies use ICT to activate student prior knowledge. An example of an activating strategy is using concept-mapping software to brainstorm and organize student prior knowledge of a topic or concept.
  • Acquiring strategies use ICT to help students acquire new information and to filter and synthesize it. An example of an acquiring strategy is using various Internet search engines to refine students' search for information from general to specific and from inappropriate to germane.
  • Applying strategies use ICT to help students construct new knowledge. An example of an applying strategy is using spreadsheets to analyze primary data collected by students, to graph it, and to draw appropriate conclusions from the visualization.

Janet Dent, IMYM Teacher: "What surprised me was the quality of active learning that took place in our classroom… I'm thinking about my struggling learners…the children who are kinesthetic learners who learn by doing, by searching, by finding. They grew and their marks improved by about 10%."

What technical skills will I need to implement the IMYM model?

IMYM teachers represent the full spectrum of our teaching population, from first year teachers to those planning their retirement. They either teach all core subjects to their class, or they team-teach with another teacher. Teachers who commit to the IMYM model need a variety of professional learning experiences to develop both their technical and pedagogical skills. IMYM teachers use a rubric to self-assess their technical skills including

  • basic computer operation and use of educational software
  • using word processing to improve student writing
  • using concept-mapping to assess student conceptual understanding
  • using spreadsheets to improve student data analysis
  • database use
  • using a class web site to publish student work
  • using graphics to enhance student products
  • searching for information and teaching information literacy
  • conducting Internet research and using resource-based learning
  • using email for communication with students, parents, and colleagues
  • using hypermedia to improve student presentations
  • creating and editing video

Self-assessment of your technical skills will help you to set goals and to choose professional learning opportunities that match your needs as you implement the IMYM model. We have seen significant growth in teachers' technical skills after they have participated in IMYM professional development activities.

Louise Moreau, IMYM Teacher: "This year, using the IMYM model, I've been integrating the French language, the interdisciplinary curriculum, and the technology. The use of technology was something quite new to me. I received a laptop about a year ago and wasn't even sure how to turn it on. I've gone from that point to being able to learn, along with my students, how to produce and edit videos, and to create our own classroom web pages. My students are proud of their ability to move independently through the learning centres in our classroom. The learning in our classroom this year has been fabulous!"