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ES Parent Bulletin Vol#2 2009 Sept 9

ES Parent Bulletin Vol#2 2009 Sept 9

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Published by: International School Manila on Sep 11, 2009
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09 September 2009Volume 02
ES PARENT BULLETIN
International School Manila
IMPORTANT DATES TO REMEMBER 
SEPT
10, 11 Faculty In-Service - No School for Students16, 23, 30Wednesday Morning Student Late Start @8.30am17 ES Parent Coffee @ 7.30am, Little Theatre
 
21 School Holiday for Eid-ul-Fitr - No School
had the opportunity over the past three weeks to get to know their students and we are ready to provide them with an excel-lent school year at ISM.Be Safe, Be Respectful and Be Responsible is a phrase we hope your children have told you about. We teach our students thesethree important concepts as the basis for our expectations of student behavior. Safety of our students is a priority for us. Withthis we have made some changes this year to improve our super-vision. We have moved Grade 2 from morning recess play timefor ECLC and Grade one with fewer children on the playground,and for lunch time we now have ECLC on their own and Gradeone on their own. We have already observed considerable differ-ence in student behavior, and their ability to finish eating. Bussupervision has also changed. In the past all bus supervisorswere organized by the bus company, but now each bus containsone of our own supervisors which we are working closely together with to ensure consistency of behavior on the bus and follow upwhen concerns arise.One of our beliefs, as articulated in our ISM mission statement, isthat we strive to “maintain a healthy balance in the time devoted to work, rest and recreation.” After a 7-hour school day studentsare involved in a variety of activities including first language learn-ing, instrument lessons and sports – all of which assist in the de-velopment of the whole child. At the completion of a long day, it is also essential for children to have time to relax, rest and havefun with family and friends. Equally so, it is important for chil-dren to have time to decide what they will do in their freetime. This helps them to become independent, creative and con-fident people.We are aware of the many different national approaches to, and opinions of, Elementary School homework. Current research fo-cuses on ensuring homework tasks are meaningful and connected to learning in the classroom, homework is not punitive, and is not assigned for the sake of providing students with busy work that does not have an impact on their overall learning.
 As such, it isour belief that homework should be purposeful, rele-vant to student learning, and at the same time recog-nize the importance of balance in our students’ lives.
 Reading is an important part of development for children in Ele-mentary School. Providing daily opportunities for students to read is essential in improving reading fluency and comprehension. Inaddition, it helps build vocabulary and develop writing skills.
Werecommend that children spend a minimum of fifteenminutes each day reading independently or with an
(Continued on page 2)
From the ES Administrationrom the ES Administration 
Dear Elementary School Parents,This coming Thursday September 17 we will have our firstof four elementary school parent coffees for the year. Thiswill take place at 7:30 in the Little Theater and will last onehour. This will be an opportunity for you to hear from usabout what is happening in the elementary school, and alsoto talk informally with us, and with other parents after ourpresentation. On the agenda for our first parent coffeewill be 1. Be Safe, Be Respectful, Be Responsible; 2. Home-work in Elementary School; 3. What makes us an Interna-tional school our focus on nurturing cultural diversity; and4. External testing. We hope you are able to make it, andfind the time useful.On August 25 and 26 we had our “Back to School Nights”and an opportunity for you to learn more about yourchild’s program for the school year. If you were unable tomake, or have not yet met your child’s teacher, please setup a time to come in. In the middle of October we willhave parent-teacher conferences which will be an opportu-nity for you to have a focused discussion with your child’steacher about the progress they are making.During “Back to School Night”, we also had the opportu-nity to speak with you in the Fine Arts Theater, and belowis the speeches that we gave:
Good evening parents and welcome to our 2009 Elementary “Back to School Night”. For those of you who don’t know me, Iam Simon Gillespie the Elementary School Principal, and I am joined this evening by Michael Rourke our Elementary School  Assistant Principal. We are excited to be a part of your chil-dren’s learning this school year and are impressed with how well everyone has settled back into the school year. Teachers have
 
09 September 2009Elementary School Parent Bulletin2
From the ES Administrationrom the ES Administration 
adult in their first or second language.
At each gradelevel (ECLC to Grade Four) a home reading program is in placeto support this important aspect of learning. Students are re-quired to log their reading and complete an assigned task (suchas a reading reflection in a reading journal).In addition to our home reading program, there may be timeswhen other homework tasks are assigned. These assignmentsare designed for a purpose to support and reinforce learning inthe classroom, and may not be assigned every evening. As students begin their transition to Middle School in GradeFour, they will begin to prepare for different expectations of homework.Our approach to homework is based on the following premise:1. Homework is given to support work, projects and researchundertaken during the school day. It is connected to what is happening in the classroom and has a distinct purpose.2. Some homework projects may be open-ended: a researchassignment, an art project or a survey that may be com-pleted over several nights.3. Homework is what the child does, not the parent or thecaregiver. It is for discussion, but the child is responsiblefor completing it.4. Homework time for Elementary Students should, under nocircumstances, become stressful. It is a time for childrenand parents to share discussions on school work and school life in general.5. If family commitments do not allow time for homework, anote to the teacher explaining this will be sufficient.If you have questions about the individual homework needs of  your child, please discuss these with your child’s class teacher.Communication with you is important to us. We have devised anumber of different strategies for communicating with you on aregular basis, not only about school events, but more impor-tantly the learning that is happening in your child’s class-room. This year we will continue with our grade level newslet-ters the first Friday of the month, Elementary School Parent Bulletins the second and last Friday of the month, and Individual Classroom newsletters the third Friday of the month. We arecurrently looking at ways to further develop our individual class-room newsletters in the form of blogs which a team of teachersare working on right now and which we will share with youmore about later in the term. We will continue with our report cards at the end of each semester, parent conferences in Octo-ber, and student led conferences in March. At any time if youneed more information, have questions, problems or concerns,
(Continued from page 1)
please speak to your child’s class teacher, they are open to find-ing a suitable time to meet with you. Michael and I are alsoavailable and look forward to speaking with as many of you aswe can over the course of the school year.I will now turn it over to Michael who is going to give an over-view of our curriculum framework.Hello everyone and thank you for coming to our Back to School Night! My name is Michael Rourke for those people I haven’t  yet met, and as Simon mentioned, I am the Elementary Assis-tant Principal. I am an ISM parent myself with two children herein the Elementary (and one a few years away from being eligi-ble…)I wanted to talk to you this evening, just to give a brief overview of our curriculum framework. I encourage you to ask questionsof your child’s classroom and specialist teachers about what ishappening in the ES in terms of teaching and learning. Equally, Ican be contacted should you have any queries at any timeabout our curriculum and how it is implemented.Our Elementary School is in a constant process of developing and refining the framework for how we deliver our curriculum.Through our planning, we identify 
what
the learning is that weare intending for our students. From Preschool to Grade 4 wework with integrated units of inquiry (where the skills and con-cepts from more than one subject area are taught within thecontext of a meaningful, culturally inclusive unit of work). Inaddition, we use what we term ‘stand alone’ units of work.The units of inquiry address ideas that are concept based asopposed to content based. For example, the balance of naturein Grade 2, where we live influences how we live in Grade 3 and the effects of human migration in Grade 4. They contain under-standings that are relevant, have significant meaning, and areengaging for kids. This quarter, our second graders will be learn-ing about the interconnectedness of organisms and their envi-ronments and about how changes in one part of the system will affect other parts of the system. The third grade children will beinvestigating the notion of geographical location – how we rep-resent it and how we adapt to it. Grade 4 meanwhile will beginthe year by looking at how migration affects individuals, familiesand cultures. I was fortunate enough to be in two Grade 4 class-rooms this morning to hear teachers talking about their ownfamily history ‘migration stories’ as part of a rotation betweenthe classes. The children were using listening and note-taking skills, as well as synthesizing and organizing ideas. What I wasmost impressed with however, was their ability to make connec-tions between the different stories they heard and to recognizethat the ripple effect of someone’s great, great grandfather moving at the age of 18 from one country to another to seek abetter life, is still being felt today. I was able to see that thestudents were making these connections because of the ques-
(Continued on page 3)
 
09 September 2009Elementary School Parent Bulletin3
From the ES Administrationrom the ES Administration 
tions they were asking their teachers, not by the answers they were giving to teachers’ questions.Both the units of inquiry and our ‘stand alone units’ house, or provide a framework for, the standards and indicators for differ-ent learning areas. These standards and indicators from Math,English, Science, Social Studies, Wellness, PE, IT, Music and Art,address skills and understandings which are measurable. For example, paragraph writing, counting by 5s or 7s, writing accu-rate sentences using possessive apostrophes, balancing on abeam, singing g b a, or using multimedia to present an idea.Incorporated into our teaching and learning program are what we call Transdisciplinary skills – things like Communication,Personal Management and Reflection, and Research skills suchas those used by the Fourth Graders I was with today. Theseskills, along with Dispositions, or how a child approaches his or her learning, form the basis of our units of inquiry in Preschool and ECLC. From Grade 1 to 4, the units becoming progressively more concerned with knowledge – moving toward more ab-stract concepts, such as discovery, biodiversity or human rights.These Transdisciplinary skills and Dispositions, which are in fact planned for, modeled, taught and assessed from Preschool toGrade 12, stem from our ISM school-wide goals. You may haveseen the posters around our school which talk about striving for example, to become ‘Inquiring and Reflective Problem Solvers. An inquiring mind is one that will approach an issue with won-der and curiosity but also have the skills in place to be creativein problem solving. When planning our teaching and learning, all teachers at ISM look at how they will know 
whether 
their stu-dents have learned what we intended. A year ago, a team of teachers and administrators, along with an internationally re-nowned educator by the name of Ms Bambi Betts, worked toproduce a document called the ISM Assessment Policy. Thisdocument, relevant for all teachers, students and parents at ISM, clearly defines our assessment practices. Together asteachers, it is our responsibility to work to collect evidence of theStandards and Indicators, Transdisciplinary Skills and Disposi-tions I just mentioned; we evaluate the evidence, provide timely feedback to students and communicate all this progress toward intended learning to parents. Students are included in the as-sessment process, they have opportunities to self assess, they have models provided for what is expected of them, and they have opportunities to revisit tasks in order to demonstrate what they have learned.Once we know WHAT we intend for our students to learn, and how we will find out WHETHER that learning is happening, wecan then focus on
how 
we will teach our students. Through guided inquiry, we build upon what children already know – 
(Continued from page 2)
different languages, different cultural contexts, different experi-ences – and encourage them to generate their own questionswithin the framework of the intended learning. Children arethen taught the skills and develop their understandings so that they can refine their questions and find out more. We promotereflection and give our children strategies for thinking about their learning. We encourage them to explore ideas from differ-ent perspectives – how might I feel about this if I didn’t speakEnglish as my first language or if I were born in another coun-try? How might a scientist look at this problem? Or what I ex-amined this through the lens of environmental sustainability? We ask them to not only appreciate others’ points of view but to actively seek them out. Being an inquirer sometimes meanscollaborating - with teachers, with peers, with parents. It may mean using different ways of learning and knowing – throughwords, images, movement, music or nature, or working alone,with others in large or small teams.One of the most significant things about providing an interna-tional education for our students is to give them access to acurriculum that values international-mindedness. By interna-tional-mindedness I don’t mean making flags or having food festivals, although these can be valuable and fun. I mean nurtur-ing the diversity that exists in our learning context and placing value on the relationship we have with our host culture of thePhilippines. I mean developing the attributes of a person whopossesses intercultural awareness, who is has well-developed skills in communication, the ability to feel empathy and thinkcritically about how and why we behave in certain ways.I’ll finish with a quote from a Canadian educator, Dr. IreneDavy, who in addressing the question of international-mindedness, refers to habits of mind, - which are the disposi-tions and skills I’ve mentioned :“Why is it important to foster international-mindedness in edu-cation?” because…“Children educated for tomorrow’s world must be equipped withthe habits of mind that allow them to act in meaningful ways,whether globally or locally.It is as important to understand the ‘other’s point of view’ as it is to understand one’s own.When we learn to view our world not as ‘us and them’ but as‘us and us’ we will come closer to finding fair and just solutionsto the issues facing humanity.~ [Dr. Irene Davy. Director, Sunnybrook School, Toronto.]
Yours in Education,
Simon Gillespie Michael Rourke
ES Principal ES Assistant Principal

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