29 May 2013

Inquiring with a novel: Kensuke's Kingdom

No school year should go by without a class spending quality time with a novel. It could be in the form of a read aloud, literature circles, or independent reading and reflection. I like to use a blend of several approaches.

The first challenge is to select a great book. As an inquiry-based classroom, I thought it's critical that the novel we read together be directly related to our current theme and preferably to our central idea. We had been inquiring into children's opportunities and challenges. After discussions with colleagues, I thought Kensuke's Kingdom would be a perfect fit.

21 May 2013

Undokai - Demonstrating the Importance of PE

One unique feature the international school in which I teach is our relationship with the Japanese public school whose campus we share. The students regularly engage in exchange activities and we are currently preparing for the annual sports festival, Undokai (運動会).

14 May 2013

Learning Creative Learning - Summative Reflection

At the close of the MIT Media Lab 'Learning Creative Learning' Course, I've been enjoying organizing my thoughts to write this summative reflection. I took the course as an elementary school teacher looking to expand my approaches to teaching and learning, so most of what I took from it is what I can apply to my profession, although my experiences were not limited to the classroom-related.

Introduction to MOOCs
This was my first Massive Open Online Course. I was most impressed by the lack of deadlines. I could complete reading and watch class session videos at my own pace, yet the imminence of the live sessions helped me to maintain a reasonable schedule. Despite not being required, I sincerely looked forward to watching each session video each week, diligently read assignments, and felt odd pangs of guilt when I fell behind.

05 May 2013

Super-curricular activity - 日本舞踊 - Traditional Japanese Dance

Yesterday afternoon, my wife and I took an excursion to the National Theater of Japan to see one of my fourth grade students participate in a Nihon Buyo recital. I was impressed by the quality of the production and enjoyed it very much.

Not my student. There was no photography allowed in the theater.

I was reminded how much there is to learn and do outside of school and inspired to motivate my students (as well as myself) to get more involved in extra-curricular activities.

Or, instead of 'extra-curricular', how about 'super-curricular'?

02 May 2013

Global Collaboration - Friends in Distant Lands

Our current Unit of Inquiry, on the theme of "Sharing the Planet", focuses on children's rights, risks, opportunities, and challenges. To make the unit action-oriented, we are taking a project-based approach with the goal of helping children.
To broaden our perspective and practice effective digital communication, we are collaborating with other classes in India, Canada, and Hong Kong. Because we are following our own inquiries, the key to collaboration thus far has been sharing reflections and student work.
Posters about the importance of not wasting food.
I think it's important for the collaboration to be uncontrived. Each class should be at liberty to pursue their inquiries independently, utilizing each others' ideas, artifacts, and resources to achieve the service goals determined by the students.