This is the story of inquiry at its very best. One afternoon, while playing in the garden, a group of students uncovered an old bone fragment. Bypassing their elementary teachers (who were clearly unqualified!), the children burst into Mrs Burslem’s Biology Lab and announced, “We’ve made an important discovery!” Mrs Burslem immediately left her staff meeting and spent the afternoon inspecting, discussing and validating the students’ find.
The next day, the area was cordoned off with a child-made sign heralding an “Archaeological Site”, grid lines were marked, shovels found for efficient digging, brushes used for cleaning and scientific diagrams drawn to document each new discovery.
As the days went on, archaeology fever took hold of the school! Students from Kindergarten to Grade 5 joined the dig, gathering at recess and lunchtime to continue their work.
What a powerful Exhibition! Grade 5 provoked us all to think about the Earth, our responsibility as humans, and the importance of conflict resolution.
We are extremely proud of their commitment, independence, collaboration, communication, and deep analysis of local and global problems related to Sharing the Planet.
Thanks to the whole ES teaching team for investing in this inquiry: Mr Hawke (Gr 5), Ms Jennifer (PYP Coordinator), Ms Vicky (EA), Mr Dopart (ESOL), Mr Mac (E-Learning), Wu Laoshi and Li Laoshi (Chinese), Miss Collins and Miss Tracy (Art), Miss Carolina (Music), Mr T. and Mr. Leo (PE), Ms Atkins (SS Drama), Ms Lara, Ms Inna, Ms Annie & Ms Bernadette (Mentors) …who ALL ensured that skills were honed and concepts explored at deeper & deeper levels, transcending schedules and subjects.
Through their presentations, performances & action, Grade 5 assured us that they are peace-makers, change-makers and custodians of a brighter, better planet.
And now..how will we respond to their challenge?
Authentic Learning in a Responsive School
As part of an inquiry into persuasive texts, Grade 2 wrote letters to the principal, requesting improvements to BISS. The most common demand from our 7-year-old learners was an extension to daily playtime. Not convinced by writing alone, Ms O’Dwyer went to battle. She faced off against Grade 2 in a public debate at assembly.
Grade 2 presented four strong arguments: play helps us make friends; play teaches us to be caring; play is a form of exercise, which makes our bodies healthy; play helps us concentrate and learn in class. They added examples and explanation to support each argument. Despite Ms O’Dwyer’s best efforts to rebut and defend instructional time, it was to no avail. Judged by Elementary School “clap-o-meter”, the deafening applause from 160 students made Grade 2 the clear winner!
Read on to find out what happens next!
CONNECTIVITY is the new LITERACY.
In 2016, it’s not enough for our children to be able to read and write.
Effective communication is the ability to create of a powerful message AND project it to a global audience.
At BISS, we teach students to create text in many forms (written, verbal, images, films). They learn to write accurately for different purposes, using rhetorical and persuasive devices, and applying contrast, balance and multi-media techniques to enhance their message. They learn to make decisions about “temporary & private” vs. “public & permanent”, by considering the content, audience and intent of their message.
We also teach students to use networking tools such as blogs, Twitter, WeChat, Facebook, Vines, Instagram. (Or more often, the children teach us!) Actually, the tool is not important. The digital landscape is ever-changing. By next year, this list will be different. Remember MySpace?
However, by embracing social media in our classrooms, we have a very important goal. We support students to build learning networks.
Read on about the power of connectivity for 21st Century learners.