Welcome to Learning @ ISB!

Welcome to the learning at ISB blog! We’ve been pretty quiet the last 2 years, but we’re back and excited to continue sharing learning at its best at ISB.

At least twice per month, we’ll be publishing posts written by ISB educators sharing their thoughts & reflections on learning. Have an idea for a guest post? Let us know! Want to get inspiration delivered to your inbox? Enter your email on the right to subscribe! [Make sure to keep an eye on your ‘Other’ inbox tab for the emails!]

Have thoughts about something you read on this blog? We love comments! Feel free to leave your thoughts here or come chat with us in person.

As we relaunch this blog, we wanted to introduce Learning at its Best and our principles & approaches of learning. You probably have one of these posters up in your classroom or have seen them around the school. All of our blog posts will be written through these lenses. Want to dive deeper into one area? Check out the categories on the right to begin exploring!

Learning at its Best

ISB’s principles of learning provide a research-based foundation for how students learn best and insight into what makes our learning environments most effective. ISB’s Learning Principles are based on Tripod’s 7C framework of effective teaching: Care, Challenge, Confer, Clarify, Captivate, Consolidate, Collaborate, Classroom Management.

The approaches of learning are integral to how we design learning experiences at ISB, guiding our instructional practices.

Social-Emotional Learning – Research shows that explicitly teaching social and emotional skills increases student well-being, enhances positive behavior, reduces crises, and enhances academic achievement. A focus on social-emotional learning also creates a safe, positive school culture. At ISB, we prioritize building relationships and want every student to feel cared for every day. Our Social-Emotional Framework supports students in developing self-awareness, self-management, social and cultural competence, nurturing relationships, and taking purposeful action.

Personalized Learning – At ISB, we believe in a progressively learner-driven model of personalized learning to facilitate student ownership of the learning process and provide student voice and choice in their learning. We empower students to build strong relationships, leverage their interests, and assess their strengths and areas for growth to engage in deep, relevant learning.

Service Learning – Service Learning is infused into the curriculum and across the co-curricular program at ISB. It is a relevant learning journey that integrates meaningful action with instruction and reflection. We believe that Service Learning develops compassion and empathy, strengthens communities, and nurtures a global mindset.

C6 Biliteracy Instructional Framework – The community at ISB is culturally & linguistically diverse, and we aim to serve our emergent bilingual and multilingual students so that they are able to access grade-level standards regardless of language proficiency. The C6 Biliteracy Instructional Framework supports faculty in creating culturally responsive lessons that celebrate the diversity of our students.

Inquiry Pathway – At ISB, we empower students to ask questions, think critically, and reflect. Based on provocations and real-world phenomenon, students see & think, wonder & question, investigate & explore, make meaning & find patterns, and explain & construct arguments.

Design Process – Solutions to the problems of the world do not exist in silos and neither should learning. Students at ISB are given the opportunity to use design-thinking to create connections between traditional curricular areas and build empathy while solving real-world, authentic problems.

We hope you’re as excited as we are for this blog to be active again! Next week, keep your eyes open for a post from Angie (MS/HS Math Instructional Coach) with a focus on Challenge. Even better, get her post delivered to your email as soon as it’s published by subscribing on the right! After you subscribe, look in your email to confirm your subscription.

The “Why” of Professional Learning Blogs

So we’ve started blogging our professional learning journeys, but why? 
21st Century Learners
A report from The Institute for the Future, claims that emerging technologies like augmented and virtual reality, artificial intelligence, big data, cloud computing and the Internet of Things (IoT), are going to completely transform the workplace by 2030 (2017). This change is happening so quickly that an estimated 85 percent of the jobs that will make up the future workforce are yet to been invented (IFF, 2017). In light of such rapid change, preparing students for specific careers is of decreasing value, and the role of teachers becomes increasingly more challenging given the constantly changing landscape. The nature of innovation also suggests that most students can expect to change jobs several times throughout their career (Harper, 2018) making it imperative that education prepares them with the skills required for success. With this being said, no longer is it sufficient for us, as educators, to simply explain our subject-matter well, rather, we must motivate students to learn which requires us to take on new roles – challenger, activator, facilitator, coach, mentor and reflector of students’ learning processes (Vermont, 2014). These challenging and complex roles we face require us to be able to reflect critically. 
Reflective Practice & Metacognition
John Dewey’s book How We Think (1933) is widely accepted as the origin of the concept of reflective thinking as a key component of learning. In his later work, Dewey emphasised the importance of reflective thinking in teachers, discriminating between routine and reflective action (Dewey, 1933 in Liu, 2015). Reflection plays an important role in developing our metacognitive skills which can facilitate both formal and informal learning. 
The theory suggests that metacognition consists of two processes:

  1. the knowledge of cognition – knowledge of the factors that influence performance and the strategies used for learning
  2. the regulation of cognition – setting goals, planning, monitoring and controlling learning, and assessing the results and strategies used 

Blogging facilitates a number of metacognitive strategies including the fostering of self-reflection, self-questioning, access to mentors, self-explanations while offering an authentic audience to which we can ask questions and gain feedback. 
Studies have shown that learners often show an increase in self-confidence when they build metacognitive skills (Hacker, 2009) which leads to improved self-efficacy, motivation and learning success which is exactly what we, as educators, require in this forever changing educational paradigm. Whether it’s educators blogging about their professional growth or students blogging their learning journeys, the intention is the same – reflection and growth. When we curate artefacts and reflect on ourselves as learners, making connections from year-to-year, we develop our metacognitive ability. Our blogs provide a space to build a collection of reflective pieces that richly represents us, as learners, and provides authentic evidence of learning. 
Skill Development & Collaboration
Alongside our development as reflective learners, we are also developing 21st Century skills around web authoring and publishing, in the same way, we expect of our students. Within your blog, you can include text, images, videos and links to external sites as evidence to support your ideas. Considering the challenges associated with working in different divisions, the professional blogging network offers a place for us to connect as a professional learning community. The online community supports opportunities for collaborative learning that enriches learning performance, both for individual knowledge construction and group knowledge sharing (Shih-Hsien, 2009). By commenting on the posts of others, with feedback and questions, we spark further thinking and analysis to support critical reflection. 
So Why Blog?
Dewey (1933) insists that if we want to ensure our experience is educative, it is necessary to support ongoing growth as a process of continuing new inquiry. Blogging our professional learning journey encourages us to step back, reflect critically, and analyse our efforts while the community challenges us to be more thoughtful and mindful of our work. These processes prepare us to think reflectively and critically to foster continued professional growth. “To be a professional is not to have all the answers. Rather, a professional is someone who can reflect on tentative solutions, collaborate with others on the possible avenues available, and risk making mistakes because mistakes are an inevitable part of building new roads” (Lester & Mayher, 1987).

  • Dewey, J. (1933). How we think, New York: DC Heath
  • Hacker, Douglas J., John Dunlosky and Arthur C. Graesser (Eds.). Handbook of Metacognition in Education, 2009.
  • Harper, A. (2018). New approaches needed to prepare students for unknown careers. Retrieved December 11, 2018, from https://www.educationdive.com/news/new-approaches-needed- to-prepare-students-for-unknown-careers/529604/  
  • Institute For The Future. (n.d.). (2017) Retrieved from http://www.iftf.org/humanmachinepartnerships/
  • Lester, N. B., & Mayher, J. S. (1987). Critical professional inquiry. English Education, 19 (4), 198–210. 
  • Liu, K. (2015). Critical reflection as a framework for transformative learning in teacher education. Educational Review, 67(2), 135–157.
  • Shih-Hsien, Y. (2009). Using blogs to enhance critical reflection and community of practice. Journal of Educational Technology & Society, 12(2), 11-1. Retrieved from https://search-proquest-com.proxy18.noblenet.org/docview/1287038236?accountid=43872
  • Vermont, J. D. (2014). Teacher Learning and Professional Development. In S. Krolak-Schwerdt, S. Glock, & M. Böhmer (Eds.), Teachers’ Professional Development: Assesment, Training, and Learning (pp. 79–95). Rotterdam, Boston, Taipei: Sense Publishers. 

Thinking About Beginnings…and Return of the Bad Bloggers!

We used to blog…how many of us can say that?  This is very much true for the OOL (and me personally as I seem to have abandoned my personal blog about the time I joined ISB!).  But like many bloggers, we are back with a renewed commitment to blogging and sharing.  We are committed to improving our blogging and sharing on the #learnisb blog.  Mostly we share articles, great work going on in the school, thoughts about what we are reading, resources etc.  We also maintain a pretty up to date calendar for professional learning for both ISB and for the region, listing various workshop and conferences around Asia that you might be of interest.
So…our goal is to do better this year! Let’s see how we do…
(adapted from an earlier post in Aug. 2015)
The start of a new school year is always a good time to think about the beginnings our community is experiencing. As an international school we have beginning on multiple levels.  There are new colleagues beginning their ISB experience, new students experiencing Beijing for the first time, new administrators working through the complexities of a large organization and all of us in our various years of service at ISB have new students, and sometimes new classes.
The ASCD Educational Leadership magazine in April of 2011 wrote about the academic and social/emotional transitions for children at various ages or points in their academic lives.  As we get ready for our first full week of school, these ideas about beginnings are sure to resonate with some. There is a little something for everyone.
Please note: to access these articles you will need the ASCD log-in information that was sent in the email about this blog post.
Happy reading.
Are We Paving Paradise -Kindergarten 
Supporting Early School Success
The Ups and Downs of Third Grade
Leap into Fourth Grade
Demystifying the Adolescent Brain
Moving Up to the Middle
Middle Years: Girls Leading Outwards
Rally Behind At-Risk Freshman
High School and Beyond: Fighting College Craziness
And here is a little bonus article I ran across this week….6 Questions to Ask your Students on Day One.
Have a great start to the new school year!

Professional Learning Reflection and Looking to Next Year

Ah planning, lots of it is going on right now in the OOL to prepare for next year, from action plans to professional learning we are looking forward to 2016-2017. Please stop by anytime to ask us about any of the below information or share other exciting learning opportunities in the region.
Wednesday Reflection
First and foremost, thank you for participating in the Professional Learning Survey about Wednesdays for this year.  We take your feedback seriously and are in the process of disaggregating data and going over it in each school. What is clear from the overall results is we continue to struggle to strike the balance many people are looking for on Wednesday time.  Our focus this year has been to try and give more time back to departments and carve out time for vertical work, and though there is recognition of that effort it is clear we have room to grow in shaping perceptions of Wednesday time.  We will continue to think about how we can improve and maximize the time on Wednesday and again, thank you for your feedback.
Professional Learning Next Year
We have been working with several consultants to support our school-wide work to bring in new standards and support our move to Standards-based Grading and Reporting.  Highlights for next year include:

  • ISB will host a Math Specialist in International School (MSIS) 2 year cohort with Erma Anderson starting in February 2017. Erma will return April with Steve Leinwand who for a few additional days will work with teachers in Learning Labs to observe the Mathematical Practices.  Erma will return in 2017-2018 to conduct the other three MSIS sessions…maybe we will be able to bring Steve back!
  • Paul Andersen will be with us in September to support our work K-12 with NGSS.  Paul has been working with several other international schools in the region and is sure to push our thinking and understanding of NGSS.
  • We have invited Jose Medina with the Center for Applied Linguistics to offer a EAL training for interested teachers.  We are still working on dates, however we are looking at two weekend trainings, one first semester and one second semester. He will train interested teachers in the SIOP model which is a planning process to put language objectives at the center of instructional planning.  Good for all kids, a must for EAL learners.
  • Tom Schimmer the assessment guru will be here for two weeks in November to support our standards-based assessment work. He will be working with all sections of the school
  • Tania Lattanzio will be hosted by ISB as an EARCOS Weekend Workshop, Oct. 29th and 30th. She will be exploring the role of inquiry as a shift from more traditional pedagogy.
  • Microsoft Office 365 Weekend Workshop – we are working with 21st Century Learning to host a January workshop dedicated to thriving in an Office 365 environment. Look for more information as we have plans confirmed next year.

We will continue to seek opportunities around our new ELA standards as we go through the year and identify other learning experiences supportive of our school-wide goals.
Please be sure to check the #learnisb calendar as we update this regularly with not only ISB PL, but regional professional learning opportunities. There is a lot on offer in this region and this can be your one-stop shopping portal.

Bang for Blogs

Post by: Pim Arora
At ISB, all middle and high school students have WordPress blogs.  In the elementary school, upper elementary students also use WordPress, while younger students utilize private blogs as an online portfolio.  This format allows parents to see their child’s development over the course of the year.  The school places an emphasis on students using blogs creatively to showcase their learning. However, we also want to ensure that they are using these online tools safely. The ISB Publications Protocol outlines privacy policies and blogging expectations for both students and teachers.

In the middle school, blogs are a great way for students and teachers to connect. It can serve as the hub of the class.

Teachers can use a blog to provide clarification on assignments, as a place for students to submit work, as a way to communicate updates or reminders for parents and students, and as a place for students to peer review work. This Edudemic  article details additional ways teachers can use blogging in their classrooms. Just recently, a student in our 8th grade student tagged an author in her blog and the author responded to the student’s post. This was a great surprise to the class and a awesome example to the other students to get active on their blogs.

As students move into high school, they may want to use the blog to “brand” themselves or as a place to showcase their work.  Blogs can be a repository for many things: writing, art, music, and/or multimedia presentations.  Online portfolios like this can be helpful when applying to colleges or universities.  Access to a student’s blog allows admissions representatives to get a much more comprehensive view of the student. Screen Shot 2015-12-04 at 14.17.00 After a student leaves ISB, he/she can migrate their work from the WordPress blog to a new platform to ensure ongoing access.

Blogs aren’t just for students. In addition to the ways that teachers can use blogs in the classroom, there are many other personal and professional ways to utilize blogging. Just as students can use a blog to showcase their work when applying to university, teachers can also use blogs when recruiting.  By uploading sample assignments, classroom videos and other artifacts, teachers are able to provide potential employers with a realistic view of their teaching style and expertise.  Blogging is also an easy way to connect with like-minded individuals or learn more about the latest innovations in your field. Finally, a personal blog is a super way for expats to document their adventures and share these experiences with far flung friends and family.
Some tips for blogging include:

  • Blog as yourself or take on a consistent character
  • Blog responsibly, this a live publication
  • Blog regularly
  • Share your blog on social media
  • Use correct grammar in your creative writing
  • Know your audience

References to popular student and teacher blogs:

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