Teaching Our Learners HOW to Think Not WHAT to Think
During the Professional Learning days this week, our faculty worked collaboratively on the many matters that arose during the self-study last year, ahead of our re-accreditation visit by MSA (Middle States Association) and CIS (Council of International Schools) next March. There were also sessions that focused on refining strong pedagogical practices. One such session centered around how best to strengthen inquiry-based learning through visible thinking. The strategy of visible thinking improves deep learning through inquiry, with a focus on HOW to think as opposed to WHAT to think. This approach, which is at the center of the IB curriculum framework, is already commonplace at AISL and indeed many parents have commented that this approach is why their children study at this school.
Teaching Children How to Think not What to Think is a crucial skill and the very nature of education in the 21st Century in our world today. Enjoy the article.
And To Consider
How Joy Works
You could not stop it
if you tried--
how this blessing
begins to sing
every time it sees
how it turns itself
merely at the mention
of your name.
It is simply
how joy works,
going out to you
when you least expect,
running up to meet you
when you had not thought
- Jan Richardson
Wishing you all a peaceful weekend.
Dr. Oli Tooher-Hancock
American International School
AISL has adopted the Association of International Schools in Africa (AISA) Child Protection Personal Safety Curriculum. This curriculum is a research-based initiative designed especially for international school students.
This program will include age-appropriate information about maintaining personal safety and raising awareness about physical abuse, emotional abuse, sexual abuse, and neglect for all students in Grades 6-12. These classes are a core element of AISL’s plan to protect our students’ right to be safe.
These lessons will be led by Ms. Driekie Smith (Gr6-10) and will be held over the next several weeks. In each grade, the following key concepts and skills will be addressed:
IDENTIFY - Students will learn how to identify safe and unsafe situations
ACCESS - Students will learn how to access support structures
ACT - Students will learn how to act to stay safe
VALUE - Students will learn how to value themselves and others
Your child will receive a range of exercises to be completed at school. Please use this opportunity to engage in meaningful conversation regarding protection with your child. Children are more likely to use safety rules when they have multiple opportunities to practice and talk about the topic with their parents and family. You play an essential role in helping your child know how to stay safe!
For more information, please feel free to contact Ms. Smith.
Mrs. Driekie Smith
AISL Secondary School Counselor
Our Personal and Social Education (PSE) curriculum supports our students in developing their social and emotional well-being and is part of the Advisory program and classroom lessons. Our Grade 11-12 students have the following PSE lessons planned during Advisory lessons:
Quarter 1 - Grade 12
Love, Marriage and Lifetime Commitments
Reproductive and Sexual Anatomy and Physiology
Human Sexual Response and Sexual Dysfunction
Sexuality, Meida, and the Arts
Quarter 1 - Grade 11
Sexual decision-making, sexual communication, relationship assertiveness and negotiation
Parents can reinforce learning at home by sharing what they know about these subjects. They can share their family’s, culture’s, and religion’s perspective on these aspects of Personal and Social Education.
If you would like your child to opt out of any of these lessons, just send an e-mail to your child’s Advisor and make sure your child knows. If you have any questions, you can contact your child’s Advisor.
The listed PSE lessons will be led by our Advisors, Counselor, and Biology teachers.
Our Personal and Social Education curriculum integrates the IB’s beliefs about PSE together with the Guidelines for Comprehensive Sexuality Education 3rd Edition from the Sexuality-Information and Education Council of the United States in order to provide a well-balanced program for our students. You can find our Personal and Social Education Handbook here.
Our advisory programme is developing this year. We are committed to creating an even more wholesome and cohesive curriculum that will nurture our students’ ATL skills and international mindedness.
We are excited about what is to come and will keep our community informed about all the new and exciting activities on the way.
(Please note: these are programs provided and administered by entities outside of AISL. If you are interested in participating, or have any questions, please direct your correspondence to the sponsoring institution)
Future Doctors Program by Harvard Student Agencies:
Duration: 2 weekends (over 9 days)
Fees: USD 240
Program Start Date - 18th September 2021
Program details here.
Apply now here.
Harvard Student Agencies Young Leaders in Entrepreneurship and Innovation:
Duration: 2 weekends over 9 Days
Fees: USD 240
Program Start Date - 18th September 2021
Program details here.
To apply, click here.
Harvard Student Agencies program on Scholars in Communication:
Duration: 4 weeks (only Saturdays);
Fees: USD 250
Program Start Date: 18th September 2021
Eligibility: Grades 7-12
Program details here.
To Apply Click Here
The Center for Sustainable Development & Global Competitiveness (CSDGC) at Stanford University,
The Center for Sustainable Development & Global Competitiveness (CSDGC) at Stanford University, in collaboration with Learn with Leaders, has announced the winter edition (October – December 2021) for its sustainability and development program for high school students (grades 8-12).
There will be limited spots, and a small group of young learners from all across the world will be selected for participation. The summer edition of the program had 34 students across 15 countries.
New Ideas from the Inside – Stanford Environmental & Water Studies Scholars Program’ offered by the Center for Sustainable Development & Global Competitiveness (CSDGC) at Stanford University.
We only select a small cohort of students globally for this program
In this program, speakers from the Stanford SEWSS Scholars Program community all over the world will share their insights and experiences. The program promotes multidisciplinary exploration through connections with real-world practitioners.
Students undertake two creative thinking assignments with the professor as part of the program.
This program includes:
We are offering a special fee waiver scholarship to early applicants.
Program Start Date – 16th October 2021
Duration – 8 weeks (Only Saturdays)
Mode – Video Conferencing
Early Application Deadline: 30th September 2021
Program Fee for Early Applicants: USD 1000
Regular Program Fee – USD 1210
To Apply, Click Here.
During the teacher professional development days on Monday and Tuesday, teachers engaged in a two hour workshop on Visible Thinking. This is a Harvard initiative called Project Zero that enables teachers to build thinking dispositions in their students. Nelson Goodman founded the program at Harvard in 1967. David Perkins, Howard Gardener (Multiple intelligences), Ron Howard and Shari Tishman, Daniel Wilson and Mark Church are other names involved in this initiative. When planning ‘learning experiences’, teachers link the objectives to thinking moves they want their student to make. Then teachers (sometimes in collaboration with students) find a routine that will promote the thinking move. As students become more familiar with the thinking moves and routines, the hope is that they start using them automatically in order to access deep thinking.. Here is the link to the Project Zero website for more information.
Our Visible Thinking Journey at AISL
Our journey here at AISL with Visible Thinking began in 2010 when the then director Chris Muller agreed to two teachers attending an institute at Harvard. This was instigated by one of the teachers Laura Manni who had completed a masters at Cambridge in the ‘art of questions’. She was particularly interested in the more thoughtful question or routinely asked question the researchers at Harvard were promoting. Instead of asking students ‘why?’ they were asking students ‘what makes you say that?’ This small change solicits deeper thinking and responses.
So, Susan Lacy, the DP Literature teacher and Laura Manni, the Preschool teacher spent two weeks at Harvard and came back to immediately put into practice what they had learnt. They reached out to other teachers on their return and fortunately we are a school of early adopters! Teachers observed lessons to see how Laura and Susan were using the routines and began to adopt and adapt them for themselves
AISL in the spirit of making sure that we continue to support good pedagogical practice sent three teachers in 2011 to London to a Visible Thinking conference where they heard some educational greats including David Perkins and Howard Gardener. They came back to AISL enthused and shared enthusiastically with their colleagues what they had learnt. We have had 4 whole, part school trainings with Mark Church and other researchers. Our own teachers have led a number of Visible Thinking workshops representing the school at the ISAZ International Schools Association of Zambia) conference, AISA (The Association of International Schools in Africa) twice, in Amsterdam at a CASIE conference (Routines in the Language and Literature classroom), in Ghana on behalf of AISA at Lincoln community school (An introduction to Visible Thinking) at a two day institute there. We have also had an article published in the AISA magazine on Visible Thinking. Teachers have twice been involved in Professional book clubs to study Making Thinking Visible and The 8 Cultural Forces of a Thinking Classroom. As you can see we are enormously committed here at AISL to improving the learning of our students. We are hoping to start another book club soon using the latest book about Visible Thinking: The Power of Visible Thinking.
We host three to six Parent Information Sessions each month to support our parents in understanding what their children are learning and how to support them at home.
Introduction to MAP Growth Assessments
Tuesday, September 21⋅9:00 – 10:00am
Tiyende Pamodzi Theater
This session will provide an overview of MAP Growth Assessments for students Grades 3-10. It will be particularly geared towards families whose child is taking a MAP Growth Assessment for the first time. Please join the Principals, Darlene Huson and Rick Odum, in the Tiyende Pamodzi Theater for this information session.
The Secondary Grade 6 - 10 MAP (Measures of Academic Progress) will take place in the mornings of the week of September 27 - October 1st. We highly recommend that if your child has not taken these tests before that you attend the Parent Information Session about MAP Growth Assessments on Tuesday, 21 September, from 09:00-10:00 in the Tiyende Pamodzi Theater. Please enter campus through the Secondary gate. This will be an overview of what the MAP Growth Assessments are and how we use the data to differentiate learning. It will be particularly geared towards families in G3-G10 whose child is taking MAP Growth Assessments for the first time.
So, as some of you may know, I am a big fan of American Football. Being from Texas, this is something of a cultural expectation, and one that I happily rise up to meet.
This past weekend I spent more than a fair amount of time watching college football. I watched traditional powerhouses plow over weaker opponents. I saw massive underdogs rise up to defeat traditional powers (who is Jacksonville State?). I also saw teams with amazing potential play horrendous football because they could not adjust to change. Unfortunately, this last example is best exemplified by my Texas A&M Aggies, but the season is still early.
What sports taught me is that “potential” only matters up until the game starts, and what happened when this game started? We were forced by an injury to pivot to a new situation, and adjust our plans to account for change. The big takeaway here is that you can have all the best individuals, with all the talent in the world. You can have the best plan, with contingencies mapped out in excruciating detail. You can have the best intentions, and security in your ethical correctness. None of that matters until you are expected to improvise in the face of the unexpected.
That is something we try to instill in our kids at AISL. It would be very straightforward to prepare them for their futures if this was 30 or 40 years ago. Things were more set then. Today we have to build in them the skills to quickly analyze and adapt to changing environments. One of the most prevalent cliches in education is that “we are preparing kids for jobs that don’t yet exist.” Too often this is interpreted as being simply a call for more STEAM education. That’s not how I read it.
The way I see it is that we need to prepare our kids to decode, interpret, analyze, plan and execute in the face of constant and unrelenting change, the pace of which accelerates as technology advances. That is what traditional education lacks, and the big advantage of the IB framework.
A few logistical items:
For further clarification please refer to the attendance policy in the Secondary Handbook.
Thanks to you all. AISL wouldn’t be the same without you. Have a great weekend!
Dr. Rick Odum
Preparations for the Primary Talent Show are underway and we are so excited! This year, we have 31 students who have created original performances. In the coming days, there will be two rehearsals in the theater so that the students will be prepared for the final performance.
On the performance day, which will be Friday, 24 September at 11:00, we would like to invite one parent per performer to join us physically in the audience in the Tiyende Pamodzi Theater. For the remaining audience members, we will live stream the event for everyone to see. The link will be shared soon. We are so grateful to be able to “revive” one of our favourite performing arts events at AISL!
For any final questions pertaining to the Primary Talent Show, please contact Natalie Coombs at email@example.com. Thank you.
The PE swimming unit will begin on Monday, 4 October 2021 and will end on Friday, 10 December, 2021. Please take note that students from KG-G5 will swim twice every week during their regular PE days/times according to the class schedule. ELC students, on the other hand, will be split into two groups with one group swimming while the other group has a dry PE lesson. This will alternate each week.
For swimming, please pack the following in a small bag (remembering that all items need to be labeled)
Swimsuit (girls required to wear one-piece suits)
Swim cap - a MUST have for all students
Goggles (optional) only IF they are certain they will use them
No flotation devices are necessary
Students must come dressed in their PE uniform and appropriate shoes even if they are swimming during the lesson. This is so that they are ready to participate in a dry PE lesson in the event that swimming is canceled (e.g. due to weather conditions).
For any information/queries regarding swimming please send an email to firstname.lastname@example.org.
The Leopard's Tale is our main medium to keep our families informed on such things as the day to day happenings on campus, after school activities, summaries of any arts and sports events, helpful resources, and important dates and reminders.
Parent Information Sessions
Here are the upcoming sessions – all parents are welcome and encouraged to attend: