Friday, June 7, 2013

Sunburn in London?

Wow. This week has been the most amazing experience! I consider myself so lucky to be able to be apart of the amazing community at ICS. It truly is a wonderful working community.

Tuesday was my first full day of work and we had a great time in Year 4. During maths (yes maths! I'm not sure why the extra 's' is added here, but I figure I must get into the habit) we worked on fractions. We had three groups each working with a teacher. My group was doing a worksheet on parts of a whole. They did problems such as, what is 1/3 of 15? We used blocks to model the first few, demonstrating how many blocks we needed and how many groups, etc. It was amazing to watch them begin to relate such simple fractions to multiplication and division and knowing that I helped them do that!

I also got to work in a small group during writing. The ELL group that I worked with on Monday got to work with me again and we used their netbooks to help us translate and learn. A note on the netbooks - each student is given a netbook to use in the classroom! They come with them charged everyday and use them to create power points, word documents and more. They are also very skilled at using Google translate to help them with English.

During the day, we also went outside for PE. We got to walk across the street to Regent's Park where years three, four, and five have PE. Dani, the PE teacher is wonderful! She does a fantastic job with the kids and they love her. Interns go with their class for PE so I enjoyed watching their class. They had so much fun playing tag and capture the flag. To my surprise, I got home from work on Tuesday with sunburn! Just being out in the beautiful weather during the breaks and PE that day got me some sunburn. I never would have thought sunburn was something I should prepare for this summer!

On Wednesday my Year four class went on a three day field trip to Folly Farm near Bristol. For most of the kids, it was their first time on a farm so I think it was a great experience. I'll get to hear all about it on Monday, and I'm looking forward to it. One of the teachers kept a blog with pictures of the kids, so it was great to keep updated on what they were doing!

Since my class was on a field trip I was lucky enough to be put in Year 1! This is the equivalent of kindergarten in the US although I have to say, these kids are so advanced, it feels more like second grade. As I have mentioned previously, ICS follows the IB curriculum which follows units of inquiry in their learning. For example, the year one class is finishing up their unit of inquiry on sharing the planet. The central idea for this unit is: There are a variety of plants in the environment that we can use and appreciate. They key concepts they worked on were: connection, perspective and responsibility. The lines of inquiry were characteristics of plants, plants as a source of food, and conservation of the environment. They also focused on conservation, and living things. Around the room there are many charts and graphic organizers demonstrating what they have learned about plants and the steps they took to get there. They also have a lovely little garden outside where they have been planting seeds through out the unit! To put it in perspective again, these are 5 and 6 year olds observing, writing, drawing and really thinking about plants. Their level of thinking is marvelous. They all are writing and reading as well. I thought I was a pretty good reader growing up, but I had nothing on these kids. They're fantastic, and most are bilingual as well.

I got the opportunity to become very involved with the class. I got my own group every time we did stations and I also got to read to them a few times. They amazed me more and more every day. My favorite part of working with them was really seeing the IB curriculum at work. Gina, their teacher, was wonderfully accepting and took the time to let me see student work, books she uses and explain to me more about the PYP (Primary Years Program). I learned that the PYP is very focused on student led discovery and going along with that, about student reflection and observation. PYP teaches the students to be thinkers on their own. When they brought their plants in to make observations, they knew what to look for whether it was a new bud, some new leaves, a change in color and so on. PYP is also big on developing childrens' home language as well as English. Gina mentioned it is difficult to do so with the large amounts of languages spoken at the school (I believe we counted 10 only in year one) but they do try to include it however they can. I got to speak with two students about their development of Hebrew. They both speak it very well and are learning how to write it. They read a book to me that they made with a tutor about being friends with a dinosaur. It was so much fun to talk with them!
They even made me designs with their name in English and Hebrew. I was so proud of them.

After school today I got to sit in on a meeting of the school's literacy council. They recently sent out a survey to the staff about the reading and writing in their classes and how the newly implemented strategies were working. They took the results and made suggestions for next year including teacher led workshops and so on. After the meeting I got to chat with them about the programs they use and how it works. They are very integrated with the units of inquiry which works great in the classroom! I also got to look at a 'report' on one of the year one students. Instead of report cards, teachers give anecdotal notes on each student in each category, each unit of inquiry, maths, language, and so on. It focuses more on growth than anything else but also includes a category of what will need to be worked on for the following year which will allow students to work a little over the summer. I loved the positive messages written in the reports!

I just wrote a novel so I'm sorry this post is so long. I absolutely loved my first week and can't wait for more adventures to come!


  1. Thanks for sharing Alyssa! I can hear that you're loving every minute. I'm looking forward to next week! Have a great weekend. Love Aunt Karen xo

  2. Alyssa, this sounds so great! So happy you are having a meaningful experience.