I really enjoyed my first day at ISL today! I am working in a second grade classroom, and the 19 students in my class are from all over the world. There are students from the US, UK, Belgium, Turkey, France, Switzerland, and Japan, and those are only the students I got to speak to today! The students spend a part of the day in something called the “Mother Tongue” program, in which they have an hour of class in their native language. My favourite part of ISL is their curriculum structure. They use the International Baccalaureate program to frame their curriculum, from the primary school level all the way through their high school. Rather than teaching to specific standards, the IB program takes an inquiry-based approach to teaching and learning.
The unit that my class is currently in is framed around the statement, “our choices as consumers impact people and the environment.” Lessons about food miles, sweatshops, fair trade, and social justice are incorporated to help students understand the theme of the general statement. For example, today in class the students looked at pictures of people from different cultures gathering and making food. This sparked a discussion about where our food comes from and how far it travels to get to us. The whole lesson was very “BC.” I was so impressed by my second graders’ ability to have such a sophisticated conversation. Next week, my cooperating teacher will incorporate this theme into her math lessons, having her students create bar graphs for the distances different foods travel to the UK.
In addition to spending time in the classroom, I attended a second grade planning meeting. There is only one second grade classroom, so the meeting was composed of my cooperating teacher and the English language specialist. There are always aides in the classrooms to assist the English language learners at the school. My cooperating teacher told me that it is rare to only have a few English language learners, and that the 3 in her class is the smallest number she’s ever had. I am very interested to see how the global community at ISL enhances classroom conversation and student experiences. I am so excited about how my first day went, and I can’t wait to observe more lessons and get to know my students better!