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Growing number of international schools introducing Middle Year students to new way of learning

Providing 11 to 14 year olds with an enriching and engaging learning experience, one that is relevant for the student and the location of the school, and one that can also be sustained through the oftentimes transitional faculty of many international schools, can be one of most difficult challenges for many schools. However, a growing number of international schools, including the Harrow International Schools, the International School of Bremen in Germany, The School of Research Science in UAE, the British Schools of America, and Beacon Academy in Indonesia think they have found the answer with the International Middle Years Curriculum.

It is a curriculum that is directly addressing the learning requirements of young teenagers says Executive Headmaster and Chief Operations Officer of Harrow International Schools, Mark Hensman. “We all know that learning for students needs to be more relevant and inquiry-based,” he says. “We also know that this applies in particular to the Key Stage 3 curriculum,” he adds. “The recent emergence of the International Middle Years Curriculum has therefore been a breath of fresh air and a relief for those who have been looking for a middle year’s curriculum which builds on the National Curriculum but takes it much further,” he continues. “For us in the Harrow International Schools, the International Middle Years Curriculum has been a great launching pad into ‘big ideas’ while remaining grounded in the National Curriculum.”

The students at The School of Research Science in Dubai are experiencing this first-hand. One recent IMYC unit (with its big idea that: ‘the desire to know more drives exploration and aspiration’) linked students’ learning to space exploration which involved a live web-chat with a member of The Mars Society in the USA (8 hours behind UAE time), who shared expertise and answered students’ questions. “The web-chat was a huge exploration for the school,” says Science learning in action with the IMYC at IS Bremen, Germanyteacher Ryan Ball. “The student’s liked talking with someone on the other side of the world who was a real expert. Anything like this, that is slightly different from the norm and very engaging, stays with them. The IMYC’s encouragement to use technology has really helped us to do exciting learning things like this. This is our second year of learning with the IMYC and we are seeing the students developing skills that we wanted them to have, for example, learning to work on a six week plan with a final outcome; standing up in front of peers to present their own ideas; improved listening skills; and the students making links and actively looking for links with other subject learning.”

At the International School of Bremen, teacher Martyn Robinson-Slater says: “Our students are becoming creative and innovative thinkers, developing an appreciation of others in society. They are also becoming reflective and independent learners, not only willing to take risks but also to manage these risks, so becoming effective communicators of information and knowledge. We can already see that the IMYC is preparing them well for the IB Diploma.”

Supporting a teenager’s learning needs

The International Middle Years Curriculum (IMYC) is a curriculum that has been designed to meet the very specific learning and developmental needs of 11 to 14 year olds. The work that went in to creating the IMYC involved several years of research with teachers, headteachers, children, parents, neuroscientists, psychologists and other experts of adolescents. It also drew on the experiences of its sister curriculum; the highly successful and rigorous International Primary Learning with the IMYC at Rainbow International SchoolCurriculum (IPC).

A crucial determining factor of the IMYC was one we all know, regardless of whether we’re teachers, parents or scientists; that adolescence is a tricky time for many students and adults to handle. One of the researchers whose work influenced the IMYC was Harry Chugani, a neurologist at Wayne State University in Detroit who sums up the state of many students during their middle years: “Adolescence is a time when brains are absorbing a huge amount, but also undergoing so many alterations that many things can go wrong,” he says. “The teenage years rival the terrible twos as a time of general brain discombobulation.”

It is this ‘fine tuning’ of the brain that influences how 11-14 year olds respond to the way they learn and the way they are taught. The very specific needs caused by this fine tuning are addressed and supported in the IMYC and by meeting these needs, the curriculum creates an enriching learning experience for students. At Rainbow International School in Seoul, South Korea, Principal Emin Huseynov says: “Before [learning with the IMYC], our students were using many resources in different classes but they were not able to link any of their subjects. It was a hard way for them to learn. Now with the IMYC it’s different, they make links to all their subjects so all the learning makes sense to them. Now the students are learning together, working as a team, they are learning to work out their problems together and learning from each other. They are happy, the behaviour is good, they are more engaged. They are getting hungry for more learning.”

The International Middle Years Curriculum is now being used by international schools in 18 different countries including those in Qatar, Oman, China, Indonesia, Costa Rica, Kenya, Thailand, Netherlands, Qatar and the USA as well as national schools and academies in the UK.

More information about the International Middle Years Curriculum is available at www.greatlearning.com/imyc

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Highlighted Article: An educator shares about his over 20 years of experience working at and with international schools (Part 1)

 An educator shares about his experiences working over 20 years in and with international schools (Part 1)

I began teaching a long time ago, in a brand new high school, 35km south east of Melbourne, Australia. I was trained as a Science and Mathematics teacher, but, over the years, I’ve taught just about everything except Art – it has really helped to give me an understanding of how young people learn. I worked in secondary schools around Melbourne for a while, and had a stint as a government curriculum consultant in my district.

A friend had induced my former wife and I to go on a group tour to Bali, the first time I had been overseas (like many, many Australians). We then visited the same friend when she went to work in Penang, and then I was fortunate to be part of a trip to Los Angeles and Brazil through Rotary.

My former spotted an advertisement in the paper for Hiroshima International School. I applied, and got the job as the teacher of 25 grade 6 to 10 students. At that time, the school was in the process of planning a move from a small warehouse in the inner suburbs to a new school further out. We had two small children, and lived in a house about 1km up the hill (and there are plenty of them in Japan) from the school.

Living in Japan was wonderful, and we had a lot of amazing experiences. We made friends with our neighbours, even though only one of them spoke English, and we spoke virtually no Japanese. Everyone we met was very friendly. We returned to Melbourne after one year and resumed a normal suburban existence.

My true international career began much later, when things weren’t going that well in my life. I went to an information night for a recruiting agent. It was mentioned that Bali International School needed an IT person, so I went home, adjusted my CV accordingly, and got the job. I worked with some very talented teachers in a small school, and met my wife, Helen, there. During my fourth year, things didn’t quite go to plan, and I found myself helping a friend establish a small school, which became an economic casualty of the Bali bombing. It was at B.I.S. that I first became involved with the International Baccalaureate, through the Middle Years Programme. I really liked it, because it was in line with what we had been doing in secondary schools back in Australia. Bali was a good place to live, and we all worked hard and partied hard.

Helen and I found jobs at Sekolah Ciputra, in Surabaya. I was running their new international program, out of Melbourne, with 12 students out of 90 in Grade 12. Helen was a classroom teacher, but, during the break, successfully applied for the position of Elementary Principal. By the end of the first year, I found myself as Secondary Principal. We were there for seven years, and turned it into an excellent 3-programme IB school. A major factor was the professional development that we did with our colleagues every week. It was very difficult at first, because we were foreigners who were really changing the paradigms, but we persevered and still keep in touch with many of our Indonesian colleagues.

The school was in a large estate on the western outskirts of the city, and we had a great lifestyle, Golf, on a fabulous course, was part of the contracts, and we often hacked our way around. We could go for bicycle ride out through the villages on the weekends and there was enough to do in the city to keep us occupied.

Stay tuned next month for the 2nd part of this article.  In the meantime, make sure the check out Andrew’s website which tells more about the services he currently offers to international schools.

Professional Development Opportunities for International School Educators in Europe

Chapters International – Learning Abroad

The following is a list of upcoming workshops in Europe:

The Emerging Culture of Teaching and Learning
By  Alan November
22nd – 23rd September, 2012, Luxembourg
Price: Euro 575
Our schools are at the beginning of a historic transition from paper as the dominant storage and retrieval media to digital. The traditional technology planning approach of bolting technology on top of the current design of school will only yield marginal results. Contrast this “$1,000 pencil” approach with the kinds of skills that are highly valued in the global economy…Read more about this PD opportunity here.

Concept Based Curriculum and Instruction for The Thinking Classroom
By Dr . Lynn Erickson
29th – 30th September 2012, Cyprus
Price: Euro 575
Lynn Erickson expands our understanding of the conceptual level of knowledge, thinking, and understanding. In this highly interactive session, Dr. Erickson will challenge your mind as she contrasts a three-dimensional concept-based curriculum and instruction model with the worn out two-dimensional coverage model…Read more about this PD opportunity here.

Teaching and Learning through Inquiry
by Kath Murdoch
24th – 25th November 2012, Istanbul
Price: USD 720
In this practical workshop, participants have the opportunity to clarify their understanding of what it really means to use an inquiry based approach to teaching and learning in the primary/elementary classroom.  Over two interactive days, teachers examine the essential elements of inquiry and how these elements can be ‘brought to life’ through quality planning, use of materials, choice of teaching strategies and interactions with students…Read more about this PD opportunity here.

Standard Based Grading and Reporting by Ken O Conor
1st – 2nd December 2012, Warsaw
Price: Euro 500
Day 1:
Nothing really changes until the grade book and the report card changes.”
Curriculum, instruction, and assessment have increasingly become standards-based but parallel changes in grading and reporting have been slow, especially in middle and high schools.
Day 2:
“Nothing really changes until the grade book and the report card changes.” Curriculum, instruction, and assessment have increasingly become standards-based but parallel changes in grading and reporting have been slow, especially in middle and high schools. This session will include a review of eight guidelines for grading and will focus on guidelines for standards-based reporting…Read more about this PD opportunity here.

Creating a  Culture of Thinking
Creating  Places where Thinking is Valued Visible by Dr Ron Richhart
13th – 14th April 2013, Florence
Price: USD 750
The Cultures of Thinking Project is a global initiative under the direction of Dr. Ron Ritchhart, a Principal Investigator and Senior Research Associate at Project Zero, Harvard Graduate School of Education.  Learning is a product of thinking.  If we want our students to learn well and develop understanding, we must create cultures of thinking that actively engage students in thinking on an ongoing basis…Read more about this PD opportunity here.

For more information about these workshop contact:
Shonal Agarwal
CEO
Chapters International
Email: shonal@chaptersinternational.com
chaptersinternational@gmail.com

Website: www.chaptersinternational.com

Highlighted Article: 12 Reasons Community Service Should Be Required in International Schools

For most people, volunteering is an extra; something that’s nice to do, but not absolutely necessary. Although plenty of students do community service, the number of students who volunteer is dropping at a rapid rate. Consider this: college student volunteerism peaked in 2004 at 31.2%, and in 2010, got down to 26.1%. Nearly three-fourths of students are missing out on an incredibly enriching experience that can benefit them not just personally, but professionally as well. Why is this such a big deal? Read on to understand 12 reasons why community service is so vital to student success, and why volunteering should be required in schools.

  1. Service learning has been associated with academic gain:

    Students who participate in community service learning tend to do better in school. It’s believed that community service is somewhat of a missing link for students, giving them the chance to apply what they’ve learned in the classroom to real human needs. Volunteering is a great way to follow up on and supplement subjects that have been covered in the classroom.

  2. Students often experience an increased sense of self-efficacy:

    Students who do community service work learn that they can actually make a difference with what they do. This helps students better understand their own competence, leading to more self-confidence and a can-do attitude that can spread to their work and academic pursuits.

  3. Students who participate in community service are more likely to grow up to become voters:

    Youths who take part in volunteering activities become more involved in their communities, and as a result, tend to care more about what happens in those communities. Often, students who have participated in community service will grow up to become young voters and remain involved in their communities throughout their lives.

  4. Community service is a great problem-solving skill builder:

    Students participating in community service are often faced with challenges and tough problems to tackle. By working through them as a volunteer, they learn how to better solve problems, and enjoy the satisfaction of overcoming a hurdle.

  5. Volunteering has health benefits:

    Creating a lifelong habit of community service can help students become more healthy over the course of a lifetime. Research has shown that individuals who participate in volunteering have better physical and mental health than those who do not, especially among adults aged 65 or older.

  6. Volunteering makes students more attractive to potential employers:

    Taking part in community service teaches students skills that are valuable to employers, like problem solving, teamwork, and the ability to follow instructions. Volunteering is especially valuable when it is related to a student’s future career.

  7. Students can enjoy excellent networking opportunities:

    Community service opens students up to a wealth of networking opportunities, allowing them to build new relationships within their community as they contribute. Students can meet new people, work with new organizations, and strengthen their ties to the community.

  8. Students find a sense of responsibility and pride:

    As students work within their community, they learn that they can be responsible for making great things happen. This helps to build a sense of responsibility in students, and a sense of pride when they see what they’ve done is actually helping others.

  9. Community service brings learning beyond the classroom:

    Volunteering allows students to take what they’ve learned and apply it beyond the classroom. This offers the opportunity for enrichment and a great way for them to see how concepts they’ve learned work in the real world.

  10. Volunteering offers an opportunity for skill building:

    Participating in community service allows students to build upon their existing skill sets. As students work in a real-life setting, they can use volunteering projects to explore and improve upon existing skills. Students can explore potential careers and find out what they need to develop in order to work in the field.

  11. Volunteering may lead to scholarships:

    Students who participate in volunteering opportunities may be able to find more scholarships than they would without such experience. As community service offers students a way to build their network, they’ll be creating connections with more people who can write letters of recommendation, and often, certain community service organizations offer their own scholarship opportunities.

  12. Volunteering is one big team building opportunity:

    As students work in community service programs, they’ll learn how to better work in teams. Often, students will also learn to develop leadership skills as well. This is valuable not just for schoolwork, but for higher education, careers, and further community involvement.

    Shared by Helene Schmidt at onlinecollege.org

Highlighted Article: Michael Pohl is Thinking Education … Are you?

Michael Pohl  is  Thinking Education … Are you?

With more than twenty years classroom teaching experience behind him, Michael now runs training and development sessions for classroom teachers in thinking skills and also in how to best meet the learning needs of gifted students in inclusive classrooms. He has run over 1800 workshops on the teaching of thinking for teachers and Principals in China, Taiwan Saudi Arabia, Spain, Vienna, Malaysia, Hong Kong, Singapore, and across both  New Zealand and Australia.

A former member of the World Council for Gifted and Talented Children, Michael regularly presents at local, national and international conferences on issues concerning giftedness, creativity and thinking.

With a Masters Degree in Gifted Education and formal qualifications in Adult Training, Michael is the Director of Thinking Education, currently working with many schools in diverse contexts on an on-going basis, returning many times to work with teachers as as they create a culture of thinking in their classrooms. He has worked in complex secondary settings in inner metropolitan settings, to remote schools in outback Australia, with clusters of schools in Wellington NZ,  to International schools across Asia and in Europe.

Amongst his recent publications are books on the teaching of complex thinking, models and strategies for teaching and learning, inquiry-based instruction, another on a whole-school approach to the explicit teaching of thinking skills, books for the middle years of schooling and for teachers concerning the education of gifted students and numerous articles for national and international journals concerned with Gifted Education.

All are available from the Thinking Education website.

Michael currently has an on-going relationship with The Alice Smith School in Kuala Lumpur and the International European School in Taiwan and is due to revisit both in 2012.

Should you be interested in having Michael work with your school, or present to a local or regional conference, please feel free to contact him via the website at http://www.thinking.education.com.au or simply email at mpohl@thinkingeducation.com.au

Highlighted article: Which languages are the hardest to learn?

A look at which languages are easiest and most difficult for English speakers to pick up.

“The foreign service institute of the United States Department of State compiles learning expectations for many languages based on the amount of time it takes a native English speaker to achieve speaking and reading proficiency.

Each learner is different.

The time it takes to learn a language depends on a number of factors:

• How complex the language is.
• How close the new language is to your native language or the other languages you know.
• How many hours each week you devote to learning the language.
• The language learning resources available to you.
• You motivation.”

(The website divides up a number of language by Easy, Medium and Hard)

(Images taken from the voxy.com website)

So which country do you live in? What language do they speak there?

There are international school teachers in all easy, medium and hard language-countries.  Is this a deciding factor when you decide whether to accept a position or not or do you actually seek out the challenge to live in one of the countries that speaks one of the “hard” languages?  I actually know some international school teachers that struggle a lot of the learning of one of the “easy” languages.  I also know some international school teachers that don’t struggle at all to learn one of the “hardest” languages.  I guess it does go back to the five factors discussed in the article.  The biggest fact I have seen is the motivation factor.  Having the motivation and confidence to learn an easy, medium or hard language is the key to language learning success!

We have a topic called “Languages of the host city and the level of English spoken there.” in the City Section on the school profile pages on our website.  Members are encouraged to share what they know about the language of the host country.

Highlighted article: Why for-profit schools can be good.

We found are recently released article about the topic all international school teachers are talking about: for-profit international schools and non-profit international schools.

The staff at International School Community have experience working at both types of international schools and there are definitely important factors to consider and common experiences that we have shared. There are both negatives and positives to consider when you are about to sign a contract to work at a for-profit schools, but we must note that not all for-profit schools are the same.

“GEMS schools director: “We don’t care about profit”

A senior executive at leading private schools group GEMS Education has denied that the firm is motivated by profit.

“Our chairman Sunny Varkey doesn’t care about profit,” Raminder Vig, director of schools at GEMS UK told EducationInvestor. “He actually gives money away.”

Vig was speaking as the group embarks upon a major expansion of its UK schools business.

GEMS currently runs 10 schools in the UK, but it acquired these schools from other operators, rather than creating them from scratch. It now plans to open six new schools over the next two years, and promises that they will charge more competitive fees than many existing private schools.

The group plans to open the first of the new schools, in Hounslow, west London, this September.

Vig says the group yet to make a profit in the UK.

Vig’s comments represent an apparent shift in emphasis from comments made by other GEMS executives in the past, which have tended to call on the government to make it easier to make a profit in the UK schools market.

In 2009, the firm’s then chief executive Anders Hultin warned that the Conservative’s proposed free school programme would fail, if private firms weren’t allowed to run schools for a profit.

His successor Zenna Atkins, who spent seven weeks as chief executive of GEMS UK, made similar comments to the Sunday Telegraph when she took the job in autumn 2010.

“Currently the private sector, if you’re running a school, has to set up a charitable vehicle to do that and that seems to be an unnecessary level of bureaucracy,” she told the paper.”

Out of the 1209 international schools listed on www.internationalschoolcommunity.com 489 are for-profit and 720 are non-profit schools.  If you prefer to work at a non-profit international school, it looks like you are in luck as they are currently in the majority on our website!  There are many placement companies out there right now that have made a prediction indicating that for-profit international schools will be the way of the future.  In turn, we might see the number of for-profit schools rising.

What is your experience working at for-profit international schools?  Please share your questions and concerns by leaving a comment.

Schools around the world get chance to sing in global recording

An exciting global singing project has been announced. The project is called Voices around the World and the aim is for young people all over the world to learn and participate in a global recording of a song called Building Our Own Future. The song has been written by UK singer/songwriter Howard Jones.

Schools and youth choirs are being encouraged to create their own recording of the song so that it can then be included in a mass world-wide recording which will be released as a single in December.

Vocals, choir parts and backing music is all available free of charge and easily accessible to schools and groups on the Voices Around the World website page at www.wave7music.co.uk . Details of how to submit a recording, simply by uploading it to the website, are also available. The single, which will be released in December, will include the voices of hundreds if not thousands of children from schools and groups all over the world.

Grazebrook Primary School in Hackney, London is one school already in rehearsal. “We love a good sing song,” says Headteacher, Michelle Thomas. “And being part of a global recording is incredibly exciting for us all. It’s a thrilling collaboration and we can’t wait to hear the mass recording knowing that we’re a part of it.”

Howard Jones explains the song: “This song is about the potential within all of us to create our own unique future, and taking on the responsibility for the happiness of ourselves and our fellow human beings.” He’s sent a message to the schools already participating in the project saying: “It is amazing to hear that you have been learning to sing Building Our Own Future in many countries around the world. I hope you are enjoying singing the song and I can’t wait to hear you all.”

The International Primary Curriculum and the British Council are two organisations already involved and are encouraging the schools around the world that they work with to participate. Organiser Laurie Lewin says “It’s a collaborative project on a global scale aimed at linking the voices of young people everywhere.”

Recordings of Building Our Own Future by schools and choirs need to be submitted by 18th July. You can listen to a version of the song and find out more information on the Voices Around the World website page at http://www.wave7music.co.uk  or at www.youtube.com/watch?v=mWnnHj8OgPY

Highlighted article: American teacher killed at international school in Iraq’s Kurdistan

Recently, we found this article about some shocking news of an intenraitonal school teacher being killed by one of their students at an international school in Iraq.  Check out the details of the event below:

“An American teacher was shot dead Thursday by his Kurdish student at an American international school in Iraq’s semi-autonomous region of Kurdistan, a Kurdish official said.

“Bayad Talabani, a Kurdish student at an American international school in the city of Sulaimaniyah, shot dead his American teacher before he shot himself,” Zana Mohammed Salih, the mayor of the city, told reporters.

Talabani was seriously wounded and was transported to a hospital in the city located some 350 km north of Baghdad, Salih said.

Iraqi security forces sealed off the scene and launched an investigation into the incident, Salih added.

The school is one of several international schools that offer high-quality foreign-style education in English language in Kurdistan region.

The incident is the first of its kind in Iraq’s Kurdistan, as the region enjoyed stability unlike other parts of Iraq which were engulfed by violence and sectarian strife since the U.S.-led invasion in 2003.”

Even though it is important to consider the stability of the local government when accepting an international school teaching position, situations like this one could truly happen at any international school and in any country.  It is very sad and unfortunate about this tragic occurrence in Iraq.

We have 3 international schools listed in Iraq on International School Community.  They are:

Ihsan Dogramaci Bilkent Erbil College (14 Comments)
American International School in Kurdistan (0 Comments)
Sarwaran International School (0 Comments)

The number of children at international schools reaches 3 million!

The latest figures published by ISC Research show that the number of children attending the world’s international schools has passed three million. This is phenomenal growth in just ten years. In 2002 there were one million international school students. It is this increasing demand for places which is driving the rapid expansion of international schools worldwide; a trend that ISC Research predicts will continue for the foreseeable future.

Ten years ago, the typical international school student was from an expatriate family. Today, that student is from a local family. The number of expatriate children attending international schools has not decreased, indeed there are many more . What has changed is the recognition by local families that international schools are a means of advancing to further education at some of the world’s best universities. “Parents of the next generation are looking towards international schools to satisfy the need for critical thinking rather than learning by rote,” says Clive Pierrepont, Director of Communications at Taaleem which owns and manages 13 schools in Dubai and Abu Dhabi. “The parents clearly see international schools as a route through for university opportunities.” It is this recognition, coupled with increased income, which is making attendance at an international school a real possibility for the wealthier local families. Today 80% of students at international schools are local children.

In a number of cities, this demand from both expat and local families, is outstripping supply. Hong Kong, Dubai, Abu Dhabi and Doha all have significant problems. So much so, that many relocating expats with families are now demanding security of their school places before accepting new placements. In certain locations, it is the availability of good school places that is driving job decisions by expats rather than salaries and destinations. As a result of this demand, a number of countries are actively encouraging the growth of international schools including China, India, Malaysia, Korea, and the UAE.

International schools are typically fee-paying schools that deliver the curriculum wholly or partly in English (outside an English-speaking country). The good quality of learning at international schools is recognised the world over. Many of these schools follow, to a large extent, the English National Curriculum. Others deliver such highly respected international curricula as the International Baccalaureate and the International Primary Curriculum. Others deliver alternative national curricula such as American or Dutch. The best international schools have extremely good reputations, are accredited, and are used as models by national schools the world over.

ISC Research, the organisation that researches and analyses data on international schools worldwide predicts that the number of students in international schools will reach six million in another ten years and that the number of international schools will increase from 6,000 today to 10,000.

Managing Director of ISC Research, Nicholas Brummitt, says “The international school market has become big business. There are now a number of highly respected, multinational groups of schools driving growth forward. Examples of these are Taaleem with schools throughout the UAE and partnerships in other Middle East countries, WCL with schools in the US and Qatar, Nord Anglia with schools in China and Europe, Cognita with schools in the UK, Europe and Asia, ESOL with schools in a number of Middle East countries, Yew Chung Education Foundation with schools in Hong Kong, China and the US, and GEMS with schools in many parts of the world.  Most of these groups are expanding aggressively, either by buying existing schools, expanding current operations, or building new schools. There are also schools with campuses in several countries. These include a number of UK private schools with international operations such as Harrow (in Beijing, Bangkok with a third school in Hong Kong  opening in September this year) and Dulwich which has schools in China and is opening several more in Asia over the next few years.”

For more information about the international schools market visit www.iscresearch.com. ISC Research is the only organisation that supplies data and market analyses covering all the world’s English-medium international schools; data that it has been tracking for over twenty years. The latest market updates plus individual school information, news, statistical overviews, and country reports are all available from ISC Research.

For more information about what it is like to work at many of these international schools, make sure to visit www.internationschoolcommunity.com