Encouraged students to take action in their learning and explore their passion. Allowed students to start a running protest with grade 10 students over PET water bottles. Started with inquiry and led to effective action to stop PET water bottle sales and run a joint business.
New class reading areas this year and two special TCK speakers in the past. I wrote a grant for the PTSA to bring in recognized speakers on Third Culture Kids for students and parents. Over the course of several days, the speaker, TCK held workshops for 5th through 12th graders about who they are and giving them a language that’s in common. She talked with parents to much praise.
This year, I wrote a grant to bring in new reading spaces into our elementary classrooms. Space is tight in the classes, but enhancing reading spaces with pillows, rugs, private spaces–all decided upon by students and their teachers. Our classrooms are becoming more of a comfortable physical space where students can find their special learning spot. See the post about our trip to Ikea to make this happen.
One Day in School project:
This project was inspired by the One Day on Earth video compilation project that took place on November 11, 2011 and December 12, 2012. In that project, people from all over the world took photos and videos of something that happened on 11/11/11 and 12/12/12. 5B students at Yokohama International School took a video of their day, starting from the time they woke up to the time they went to sleep. Students from grade 5B took hundreds of photos and videos throughout the day of their different classes, recess, lunch, after school activities, etc… They then compressed the footage into a 3 1/2 minute video. We submitted the video to One Day on Earth both years and are anticipating the full documentary. Students were so excited by putting together their own movie, they wanted to ask the world for their videos. We did so during the 2011-2012 school year and continued in 2012-2013.
This all started when brainstorming at a workshop about authentic collaboration around the world. Some teachers from a school in China and two of us at Yokohama International School thought about how we could involve the students in real-life math but share that learning. What came out of that learning was the teapot project. My students explored package design, along with 3-D shapes, measurement and some nifty tech tools to come out with a teapot package that would be sent across the world. As it turned out, the teapots went north to Japan to Tohoku International School. However, through Twitter, the teapot package design project continued on through Indonesia, then to Hawaii and other places in the United States.
Why not collaborate about Math over Skype? With our collaboration on the teapot project, a fellow teacher from another international school and I decided to get some of our students together to work out a challenging math problem on Skype. We thought we would try some students who needed an extra challenge in Math from both of our classes. It worked out great, and we followed up several more times, the students enjoying the conversation, respectful and learning from each other.
An international event, World Read Aloud Day is to celebrate reading and bring awareness to the millions of people who can’t read and write. As reading coordinator, I brought this even to YIS for the first time and hosted a day of reading with guest readers, parents of different mother tongues reading in the classroom, and a book swap with donated money going toward Room to Read.
I’ve played soccer since I was 9, and I love it. Soccer or football is big in Japan, among boys. I tried to find an appropriate soccer program for my daughter, and for myself even, and nothing. At school, during recess, the boys would run to our turf to play soccer, and the girls would hold back. I asked them why, and they wanted to play just with girls. I started a girls elementary soccer after school program, and it’s been running strong over the past three years. This past season, we found another school to play against and entered a tournament in Tokyo. The girls move into Middle School more confident, and we have a lot of fun.
I have worked on magazines, yearbooks and was a reporter for a daily US paper when I first graduated from school. I think there should be some kind of magazine in schools, so I started one. The first year, our after school staff of elementary students, grades 4 and 5, came up with the name: Dragon’s Whisper. Now, once or twice a year, the magazine is published by students. They write the copy, take the pictures, decide on the content. It’s not overly “literary,” but it’s well done and student-run.