Friday, September 23, 2016

Global-Mindedness Day, September 19th in Seisen Elementary

September 19th was a busy day of activities in Seisen Elementary for Global-Mindedness Day.

Students moved through four rotations in their House Teams and explored: 

  • How we're both connected yet diverse through art with Mr Hughes based on Mem Fox's beautiful book;'Whoever you are,
  • Various types of dance and instruments from around the world with Ms. Kampa, Ms. Mitsui and Ms. Handel Johnson 
  • Ways to highlight the host countries of our Elementary students while creating country reports with Ms. Ingrid, Ms. Lea and Mr. Towse (you'll be able to access these through QR codes on our stairwell soon!) 
  • Scenarios of how a Globally-Minded person might respond to a given situations with the grade 1 and 2 Homeroom Teachers and Teaching Assistants 
  • Games from Around the World with Grade 4 and 5 Homeroom Teachers
  •  The story of Elmer the Elephant told from a Globally-Mined and Non Globally-Minded perspective with the Grade 6 Teachers 
Teams also competed in a House Quiz based on the book - "If the World were A Village" by David J. Smith & Shelagh Armstrong, and the winners were Iwaki!

The finale to our day came with a gathering in the gym facilitated by the music department. Flags representing the 32 countries in our Elementary School were paraded and students sang: Dreams of Harmony, One Earth/One World and the Seisen Elementary song; We are One Family.

It's unusual to read about education today without encountering some reference to getting students ready for a highly competitive, globally connected knowledge economy which requires the acquisition of '21st Century Learning Skills.' This perspective emphasises that children's futures depend more than ever on their ability to communicate and work effectively across cultures, to navigate increasingly sophisticated technology, to adjust to rapid change and to help solve complex problems.

In the elementary, we want children to start thinking about the wider world not only to help prepare them for their futures but also importantly, that they might enjoy interacting with new friends and discovering new interests and perspectives from peers who may come from a different cultural background to their own. We understand that effective approaches to increasingly interconnected issues related to the environment, natural resources, the economy and peaceful co-existence will be centred around skills like collaboration, empathy, and effective communication (Sabet-Tavangar & Mladic-Morales, 2014). These skills are also those most needed for building peaceful and rewarding lives and are explicitly taught at Seisen throughout the Primary Years Program (PYP).

Global-Mindedness Day was our launch pad for exploring many of the concepts linked to the development of this rich and complex ideal this year.

Wednesday, September 21, 2016

Parents Day 2016 - An introduction to the PYP

We would like to thank everybody who attended our annual Parents' Day on Monday 19th September. Below are the slides from the Introduction to the PYP session.  If you would like further information on the PYP and how it is implemented at Seisen, please contact our PYP Coordinator, Michael Hughes at . You can also find more information on the IBO's PYP website.

You can also download all the learning outcomes for all grade levels by visiting the curriculum page of our school website here.

Thursday, September 15, 2016

A Busy Week Ahead!

Parents Day
Next week is a truly busy week at Seisen! On Monday 19th September we will be hosting our annual Parents' Day where you will be able to come and interact with your daughter's teachers and find out more about the teaching and learning happening in and out of the classrooms.

Homeroom presentations will begin at 2pm. There will be an introduction for parents new to to the PYP at 3pm in the Drama Room and the day will finish with a meeting for parents whose daughters will make their First Holy Communion this school year (April 2017).

Global Mindedness Day

Students' artwork (Grade 5) showing symbols of peace in the Cafeteria
Ms Diane has put together a thought-provoking display to get the students thinking about what it means to be globally-minded
The aim of the International Baccalaureate Primary Years Program (IB PYP) is to “develop internationally minded people who, recognizing their common humanity and shared guardianship of the plant, help to create a better and more peaceful world” (IB, 2007).

Next Wednesday, September 21st we will host a day focused on the development of Global-Mindedness in Seisen Elementary School. The day will start in each homeroom with a learning engagement designed to explore aspects of Global Mindedness. The girls will then join mixed-grade house teams to rotate through teacher-led activities throughout the day. Throughout this first unit of inquiry all grade levels have been inquiring into their central idea from a local and global perspective.  We look forward to this day giving student the chance to learn from each other and hope it will kick-start our aim for the year to raise awareness of global issues.

Refugees International Japan (RIJ)
To prepare the students for Global Mindedness Day we ill have a very special guest at Seisen on Tuesday 20th September to talk to Grades 4-6 about the current refugee crisis.  Jane Best OBE is the President and CEO of Refugees International Japan. On Parent's Day we encourage parents to learn more about RIJ by viewing the display in front of the Drama Room. There will be a number of items from the RIJ Refugee Collection. Also, come support Seisen students performing in the RIJ charity concert "Light up the Life of a Refugee Child" November 10th at the St. Mary's Auditorium.


Thursday, September 8, 2016

The Seisen Spirit

September 8th, 2016 was a very special birthday for a very special lady in the life of Seisen International School. Sr. Asuncion Lecubarri who was twice Head of School and served Seisen for more than 25 years turned 95!
Sr. Asuncion with Elementary School students
Students from Kindergarten, Elementary, Middle and High School gathered in the gym to mark this momentous day and to sing Happy Birthday to this lady of incredible strength, courage, love and conviction. Sr. Asuncion has touched so many lives in so very many ways. I don't know anyone whose had the privilege of meeting her who hasn't come away with some piece of advice, some words of wisdom or the suggestion of a task they might do! Suggestions always rooted and wrapped in love and accompanied by a smile.

Students from KG, ES, MS and HS gather to wish Sr. Asuncion a Happy Birthday!
Sr. Asuncion is loved from the four corners of the world. But why are so many of us in awe and admiration of her and quite frankly, in love with her? Sr. Asuncion for many of us is Seisen, she embodies the Seisen spirit - she's a model and reflection of the type of learner and individual Seisen hopes to help create.

Our current Head of School, Ms. Colette Rogers pointed out to the girls assembled in the gym yesterday the links betweens Sr. Asuncion's own life and the Seisen Learner Profile (our ultimate learning objectives). Sr. Asuncion is a communicator who speaks three languages and who has over 2,000 friends on Facebook! She's a risk-taker for believing in her dream of Seisen and helping to realise it in it's current location in Yoga, a religious woman who believes deeply in the power of God's love and who demonstrates great love, belief and interest in people. She's knowledgeable! Sr. Asuncion was a founding member of the Japan Council of International School, and a member of the (IB) and (EARCOS) boards. She's a thinker and the reason we have the IB at Seisen - she initially implemented the Diploma Program with just two students signed-up. Thankfully for the Elementary, she also supported the adoption of the IB PYP at Seisen.

Yesterday, Sr. Asuncion reminded the Seisen students that summer was over and that now was the time for them to study, to work hard so that they would help contribute to creating a better world. Guy Claxon (2015), Emeritus Professor of Learning Sciences at the University of Winchester reminds us of the importance of the approaches to learning students bring to and develop during learning engagements; attitudes such as enthusiasm, curiosity, commitment and confidence. These dispositions or learning behaviours help determine what use students will ultimately put their learning to.

We strive in the Elementary to create stimulating, warm and challenging learning environments in which these dispositions can grow. When I was a young teacher Sr. Asuncion was paying me to be a good Kindergarten Teacher, to teach the children about number, reading, writing, about the world. Then she told me what she considered my real job to love the children, to make them believe in themselves so they would go out into the world confidently and with love for others. She also told me it was a life's work and that I'd get it wrong sometimes. I'm still on that road of trying to get it right and I thank Sr. Asuncion for this never-ending dream and quest!
The Sisters with Ms. Rogers
With love from Seisen Elementary Sr. Asuncion for a Very Happy Birthday! We're working to try make your dream a reality! May you be united like the fingers on a hand - St. Raphaela Maria.

Thursday, September 1, 2016

Approaches to Teaching and Learning

John Hattie (2011) believes that teachers and students need to be able to answer three key questions to maximise growth and engagement in learning:

  • Where am I going?
  • How am I doing?
  • Where to next?

As part of the planning process at Seisen, teachers meet regularly to collaborate and discuss the possible learning outcomes of a unit of inquiry. Teachers need to know where the students are going with their learning before they plan the possible learning journeys or activities (Where am I going?). Most importantly they need to find out the students' current level of understanding so they can plan to address any misconceptions throughout the unit (How am I doing?  Where to next?).

Grade 2 homeroom teachers collaborating with the PYP Coordinator, the Media Centre teachers, the school Counsellor and the Visual Arts teacher for their current Who We Are unit of inquiry
All units of inquiry begin with provocations to get students thinking about the concepts being introduced and to allow them to make connections to previous learning and experiences.  Students are also give pre-assessment tasks.  These not only provide teachers with valuable feedback about each child's starting point for the unit, but they can also be accessed by students at different points throughout the unit to allow them to reflect on how their thinking has changed and developed. During subsequent collaborative planning meetings, teachers examine students' pre-assessments and plan possible next stages of learning to enable the students to progress to a deeper level of understanding.

You can see some good examples of recent pre-assessments below (click images to enlarge).  You can also visit our grade-level blogs to read more about them, such as these recent Grade 5 and Grade 6 blog posts.
Grade 5 provoked students' thoughts and questions with a Silent Conversation, where they asked the students to respond to images with their initial thoughts and questions.  This started conversations on the page and allowed teachers to join in, adding more questions to try and determine what the students were thinking. 
This Grade 4 Examples and Non-Examples task required students to take the examples and categorise them into 'IS EXPLORING' or 'IS NOT EXPLORING'.  If students were not sure, or if they needed more information, they placed the example in the middle category '?????'.  When all the cards were placed, it provoked a debate with students and got them identifying criteria for what exploring is.  This can be revisited at different points in the unit as thinking changes. What do you think - is watching an ant an example of exploring?
A simple way to pre-assess students' existing understanding is to define key terms in the unit's central idea.  Here is an example from the Grade 4 Multi-Faith class, where students discussed the key terms with partners then offered examples and explanations.  It will be interesting to see how their understanding develops throughout the unit. 
I See, I Think, I Wonder is a great pre-assessment or provocation technique that promotes observation and questioning as well as providing the teacher with valuable feedback about the students' current understanding.  Here, Ms. Diane has started her Grade 2 Self Portraits unit by asking students to respond to different artists' portraits. 
Asking children to make groups or categorise items gives an insight into their thinking.  Here, Grade 3 students have been asked to group different kinds of foods.  This allows teachers to identify whether students have misconceptions about the different kinds of foods and will allow them to plan inquiries to help students understand the scientific groupings of food. 

To see where these units of inquiry could go over the next several weeks, click on the links below and download the SOLO Taxonomy learning outcomes for each unit.  You can also take a hard copy from the display area next to the Cafeteria.