As the year begins, I wish ISM students, parents, and staff a wonderful school year.
I hope that Mainfranken’s summer weather has given you all the opportunity to rest, relax, recharge, and spend time with family and friends. As we settle into our schools and learning spaces, I am excited for the coming school year and the engaging and innovative education opportunities ahead.
Healthy relationships and a strong sense of connectedness are key to student learning success.
In 2019-20, when ISM created our new Vision and Mission statements, an essential driver of our work was articulated as our Principles of Learning. Those between our school communities, our students, our staff, and the people of our learning community.
New Staff in Primary School
Each year brings positive change. This includes three additions to our staff. We are delighted to welcome a new grade 2 teacher Ms. Moira Litchfield! Ms. Moi originally from Australia joins ISM from her previous post as the Learning Design team G1-2 Cohort Leader at the VERSO International School, Bangkok. Ms. Moi brings a solid skill-set, extensive experience and she fosters an agentic approach to meeting children’s learning needs. We are fortunate to have a brand new Art team as we welcome Ms. Fiona McGowan as our new Music teacher for grades 1-5 and Ms. Tina Phenix who will be our grade 5 Art Teacher. Welcome, Ms. Moi, Ms. McGowan, and Ms. Phenix to our Primary School!
ISM Primary Homeroom Programme 2021-2022
Homeroom teachers provide pastoral care, guidance, and direct instruction for the students in their homeroom class. They are the first point of contact for parents who require assistance and guidance. For the academic year 2020-2021, ISM will introduce a Homeroom Programme designed specifically for each individual school level from Grades 1 through 12. Each school will have a Homeroom Programme that consists of a morning session for each day of the week and up to 4 sessions within the course of the week, depending on the grade level.
ISM Cultural Celebrations
All students in all grade levels will participate in ISM Cultural Celebrations which have been allocated to different Homeroom classes. Each Homeroom class will lead activities for their celebration with support from any other teacher or class who would like to volunteer.
Morning Homeroom Session: Primary School
All students start their school day in their homeroom class at 8:15 am. All primary students are welcome to enter the schoolyard from 8:00 am onwards. Attendance will be taken by the Homeroom teacher at the start of each day during the Homeroom period using Managebac. Attendance is taken before 8:30 am and the office is informed of any unexpected absences via email. If a student leaves school during the day, the time and reason for the absence are recorded in Managebac.
The 15 minute homeroom period at the start of the day from Monday to Friday provides a range of opportunities for our students. The precise structure and content of this time will obviously differ in the different grades.
There is a range of overarching goals for this time that apply throughout the whole school:
- Prepare students for the day/week, take attendance, deliver notices and other business, help students to organise themselves and their learning
- Reflect on the day/week and integrate a regular process of portfolio building and reflection throughout the year.
- Social/Community development thereby helping students to develop their own identity, break barriers and address issues and concerns
- Support the in-class development of the ATL’s (Approaches to Learning)
The morning session of the ISM Homeroom Programme (8:15am – 8:30am) will include the following:
Primary School: Choose, Act, Reflect, Engage (CARE) to provide students with agency over aspects of their learning; Information on the weekly sessions for Genius Hour/Personal Inquiry.
Afternoon Homeroom Sessions: Primary school
This year will be introducing STEAM (Science. Technology, Engineering, Art, and Math) and CRAFT to our Primary school students. Primary students in Grades 1 through 5 are with their Homeroom teacher for most of the day, however, included in the schedule are weekly sessions that are to be devoted to offering a balanced, holistic curriculum that takes into consideration the nature of the full-day program, academic rigor, and includes the ISM principles of learning and the IB ATL skills. These sessions take place Monday through Thursday and have been included to give students an opportunity to have agency over their learning. Students will be rotating between the different strands on a daily basis. During these sessions, students will follow the Genius Hour Programme and take part in STEAM and CRAFT activities. Our STEAM sessions include the content from our units of inquiry and ideas developed by the Boston Museum of Science, Engineering is Elementary (EiE), as well as Technology in Action units that integrate engineering design, technology, robotics, and coding. Our vision is to support students as they learn and apply the engineering design process within STEAM and across all content areas. The engineering design process includes the following actions: ask, imagine, plan, create, improve, and use empathy.
CRAFT focuses on integrating aesthetics, studio art, collaboration, and fine motor skills development in an engaging, creative, and imaginative environment. These projects and the subsequent discussions incorporate art and craft with our Programme Of Inquiry allowing our students to experience an integrated learning environment. In addition, the ISM Digital Citizenship Program is built as part of our STEAM and library activities and will play a significant role in developing our understanding of academic integrity, library skills, and research skills. Primary school teachers will use Be Internet Awesome in collaboration with ISTE standards and the Common Sense Education program.
Language Learning Support
ELL at ISM Primary School Grade 1
In Grade 1 the early language development of students, whether they are native speakers or learning English as an additional language, are closely aligned. As a result, the support for non-native speakers of English is provided through differentiation provided by the class teacher.
ELL at ISM Primary School Grades 2-5
The ELL program at ISM strives to provide our English Language Learners with the skills, strategies, content knowledge and practice, which are necessary to be successful learners of English both academically and socially in the school environment. The ELL teacher works collaboratively with classroom teachers to ensure that the individual needs of students are met. ELL students acquire the skills and knowledge to be successful at their required grade level. At ISM, we recognize the importance of our students’ mother tongues and we believe that home language development supports English language learning success. We, therefore, encourage our students to develop and maintain their mother tongue languages at home.
The aim of the ELL program is to:
- Promote ELL student learning by facilitating their full and equitable access to the curriculum
- Provide an optimum environment for learning language
- Support ELL students’ transition to our school culture
- Enable students to participate successfully in all school activities
- Develop students’ language proficiency skills in the areas of listening, speaking, reading and writing
- Build the students’ confidence in using English both in and outside of the classroom
The language development of students in the ELL program is continuously monitored. Students learn language in a safe and nurturing environment in which language is easily accessible. Students receive support in small group pull-out instruction and/or in-class support, in which the ELL specialist co-teaches lessons or provides in-class small group guidance or one-on-one support, when necessary.
Levels of Support in the Primary School
In Primary School there are two levels of ELL support;
All students in Grades 1 to 5 who speak at home a language other than English are tested upon entry with the (Placement Test) to assess their English language proficiency.
Students whose proficiency levels are at CEFR level A1 (Breakthrough) will receive withdrawal lessons up to 5 times a week from the ELL integrator for an intensive ELL period. As the student progresses to A1 Beginner students will receive withdrawal lessons 1-3 times a week from the ELL integrator. Students at CEFR level A2-B2 will receive differentiated in-class support 1-3 times a week from the ELL integrator. The Homeroom teachers will also work closely with the ELL integrator and other teachers to ensure that work is differentiated for students’ language needs.
Learning Support Specialist
Alongside the homeroom teachers, the school Learning Support Specialist will also be available to support in cases of individual need or to develop group sessions as part of the program when necessary.
PYP Evaluation Visit
PYP Evaluation visit is scheduled for November 10 – 12, 2021. We have submitted our self-study to the IB and are now entering the final phases of this process. Now the school’s evidence is evaluated by IB staff or educators who are trained for this role. They will read all of the evidence submitted by the school. In addition, all PYP schools receive an evaluation visit. An IB evaluation team of 2–3 IB staff or educators will visit the school to confirm the evidence submitted in the self-study. Due to the pandemic, this visit is planned to be a virtual visit. I will be informing you in detail later on in early October.
The visit is an opportunity for the IB team to:
- verify the evidence provided with the self-study
- view additional evidence, such as samples of student work and written curriculum
- have a first-hand look at the school.
Visitors will meet with teachers, school leaders, students, parents, and members of the governing body, as well as observe classes and view the school facilities. The organization and expectations are similar to the verification visit that is part of the IB authorization process. The aim of the visit is to confirm the effectiveness of the programme implemented by the school as described in the school’s self-study. The process does not appraise or assess individual teachers or school leaders.
We are very excited about this opportunity to receive feedback from our experienced colleagues as it is a literal way to live our mission statement: