Archive

Archive for the ‘Highlighted Articles’ Category

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

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.