Authenticity is at the core of our practice at BISS, as we regularly design “real” learning experiences, instead of relying on hypothetical tasks or textbooks. In this way, our curriculum becomes relevant, complex and exciting.
Authenticity is often achieved by venturing off-campus to a professional industry (such as a medical lab – Gr 5, or an organic farm – Gr 3). We also utilise BISS experts (such as Mrs Burslem for experiments, or Mr Mac for robotics), and guest speakers (such as authors, doctors & professors, to connect their expertise to our inquiries). In Mathematics, children solve genuine problems (such as measuring the track – Kinder), rather than filling in worksheets.
Read on for the story of a wonderful “keep it real” math lesson!
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!
Last week, Grade 2 was outraged to discover that their baking had been stolen.
The thief left a footprint and carelessly dropped a few items, such as a scarf, coins and glasses. Clearly, the thief was in a hurry to flee the scene! Grade 2 quickly went to work. They photographed and bagged each piece of evidence, wrote detailed descriptions and inferred meaning from each clue.
For example, from one footprint, Kurtley inferred that the thief was an adult (after measuring the print’s length and width, and comparing it to her peers’ shoes), estimated the time of the crime (based on the dampness of the print), and made an informed prediction about the type of shoe and likely gender of its owner (based on the shape of the sole).
Read on to find out who committed the crime, how it was solved and most importantly…WHY all this drama is so powerful in education! Continue reading →
Let’s talk about homework in the Elementary School!
At BISS, we make evidence-based decisions about the education of your child. Research confirms that hours devoted to traditional homework do not improve achievement in the elementary years.
In fact, too much homework (or the wrong kind of homework) is actually detrimental to academic progress, as it causes stress, reduces motivation and consumes precious time which should be spent on brain-boosting activities (such as reading, research, play and conversation).
Therefore, homework at BISS is not “busy work”. It should not take hours nor cause tears at bedtime. Read more about our goals, grade-level examples and tips for parents. Continue reading →