More Playtime for BISS?

Gr 2 Debate

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!
Continue reading

She’s back!

                                                                     Jacqueline Harvey’s Virtual Visit


Random House Australia

Four months ago, best-selling author Jacqueline Harvey travelled to Beijing to conduct research for her next book, Alice-Miranda in China. She made a special visit to BISS, where the children shared their experiences of life in China, and suggested plotlines for her next story.

This week, Jacqueline Harvey checked in via Skype to share her progress. She showed her half-finished manuscript (already over 100 pages!), explained her gruelling schedule (7am – 6pm on writing days), and read funny excerpts aloud. We were among the first people in the world to access this sneak preview!

Read on for more details of her virtual visit. (Original image from Random House Australia).

Continue reading

Jacqueline Harvey asks for ideas!

IMG_6622Jacqueline Harvey is working hard on her new book about Alice-Miranda in China. She is home in Australia doing lots of thinking, planning, writing and re-writing sections of the story.

And now…she needs some help!

Jacqueline Harvey would like to ask BISS students to be her consultants.

That means, she wants your ideas, to help her make decisions for the story.


Jacqueline Harvey says:  I’ve been writing about a Chinese family with the surname Wang. There’s a grandma, a grandpa, an eldest son and a youngest son (and the sons’ wives). They are a very good family, except one of the wives might be a baddie! The family owns an amazing Acrobatic Troupe in Beijing. In the story, they are going to sell the Acrobatic Troupe and use the money to open a school, just like BISS! The school will be called The Bright Star Academy.


  1.  Can you help me think of a fantastic name for the Acrobatic Troupe?  It can’t be The Beijing Acrobats. It has to be more exciting.  Can you think of a name that has something to do with stars? Are there any English or Chinese words that have a meaning related to stars? Can you suggest a name for the acrobatic troupe?

2. Do you have an Ayi? One of the children in my story will have an Ayi. Can you tell me how your Ayi helps you and your family?  What kind of relationship do you have with your Ayi?

If you’d like to give Jacqueline Harvey some ideas, please leave a reply.

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!
Continue reading

Blossoming Writers

FullSizeRenderJanuary is break-through month in the Elementary School!

We’ve been astounded by the quality of writing pouring out of our students this month.

Pre-K children have become fascinated by text. They are making meaningful marks, writing words and covering their drawings with labels. Grade 1 students are producing full paragraphs and original, interesting stories. Tae Yeon (Grade 1T) is up to his third installment of a hilarious super-hero series! Grade 2 students are writing well-structured, vivid narratives. Grades 3 & 5 have become independent, prolific bloggers, using this platform to record and reflect on their experiences.

With a strong language programme and expert teachers, some children are becoming authors for the first time, while others are working hard to enhance the quality or clarify of their expression. Parents, please join us in feeling proud! At next week’s Parent/Teacher conferences, be sure to take a peek at your child’s journal or portfolio. Join our online writing community, by adding your comments to student blogs (in any language). At home, encourage your child to keep writing! Shopping lists, WeChat messages, birthday cards and family blogs are great authentic writing activities.

It is a joy to see our students blossoming into skillful, independent writers – and we’re only halfway through the year!

BISS Tweets for Humanity

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.

FullSizeRender 21At 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.
Continue reading

Best-selling Author Visits BISS

IMG_6674Best-selling children’s book author, Jacqueline Harvey, visited BISS this week.

Her Alice-Miranda and Clementine Rose series have taken the world by storm. This week marks the 1 millionth copy sold of Alice-Miranda at School and the launch of a television series.

A talented presenter and former teacher, she captivated our students with hilarious tales of her childhood and career. She encouraged all children to be storytellers who embrace feedback to improve their own writing.


Read on for more pictures, video and news from her exciting visit!

Continue reading