Keeping it Real: Authentic Math

FullSizeRender 59Authenticity 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!

 
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Skeletons on Campus: Action in the PYP

IMG_4774 2This 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.
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BISS Baby coming soon!

BISS BabyA baby bump is certainly a provocation for inquiry! BISS students have watched Wu Laoshi’s pregnancy with growing fascination. In the final week, Grade 3 asked thoughtful questions about her new role as a mother. This dialogue is part of a year-long inquiry into celebrations. Guided by Ms Bernadette, students have studied celebrations of meaning to the class in real-time, including Chinese New Year, Diwali and Thanksgiving. Stay tuned here for conceptual understandings and culminating reflections.

Best wishes, Wu Laoshi!  We have enjoyed celebrating this milestone with you, and can’t wait to meet the newest member of our BISS community!

PYP Exhibition 2016

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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?

Have you met Simon?

IMG_3755This Grade 3 student can solve Rubik’s Cubes of all sizes, shapes and complexities in seconds.

His talent amazed and delighted his friends, when he demonstrated it as part of a home learning task. Since then, Simon has taught patterning, logic, algorithms and manual dexterity to his classmates so they, too, have become successful 3D puzzlers.

Mathematics is a child-centred, diverse and always engaging experience in Grade 3! Thanks Simon and Ms Bernadette!

Planning in the PYP

This Saturday, teachers came to school for a whole day of thinking, working and learning together! Our focus was Mathematics, as we planned Number and Pattern inquiries to be taught developmentally across the school.

IMG_5271We drew on research from all around the world to consider how the foundations of number, place value, operations (+, -. x, /), fractions and patterns can best be introduced, explored and extended on a continuum from Pre-K to Grade 5.  Most of this learning will occur outside our Programme of Inquiry, in the form of stand-alone math units. We spent a lot of time planning rich provocations, assessments and questions to ensure conceptual understanding and fluency of skill are achieved by our students.

 

Huge thanks to Ms Lara, our ES Mathematics Coordinator, who has led this curriculum development cycle, with extensive research, planning and coaching, over a period of 2 years. We are proud of the strong foundational Mathematics programme at BISS.

Crime Scene Investigation Beijing

IMG_22421 crime. 4 suspects. 24 diligent detectives.

This is the case of the missing gingerbread men.

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!
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Move over, Ms O’Dwyer!

Kindergarten stepped into the principal’s role last week while Ms O’Dwyer was away.

As part of an inquiry into how schools function, Kindergarten took advantage of Ms O’Dwyer’s absence to take charge of BISS!  Dressed in a jacket and pearls, they took their job very seriously! They sat up at the desk, solved important problems and typed on the computer.  Watch some of the best principals in BISS history explain their duties!

Their comments show an understanding of the interconnectedness of roles within human systems, and an awareness of life beyond their own class experiences.

Thanks for taking the lead, Kinder! Our school was in safe hands, indeed!

The Curiosity Curriculum

DSC04037Children are innately curious! From birth, they watch, listen, taste and touch the world around them. As oral language develops, toddlers ask up to 300 questions per day.

At BISS, we capitalise on curiosity by keeping questions at the centre of our curriculum. Children stay motivated as their own wonderings drive personally relevant learning at school.

 

In each Unit of Inquiry, students’ questions direct the teacher’s preparation of resources, content and experiences. The teacher guides skill development and broader conceptual understanding; however, children retain great control over the direction, depth and diversity of content they explore.

Read more about the curiosity explosion in Grade 3 this week!

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