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September 2015 | Issue 72 ÂŁ6 US$12 Free to IB World Schools @IBWorldmag

The magazine of the International Baccalaureate

The classroom of the future Educators and students explain how technology will shape learning

Illustration by Susan Park, IB Diploma Programme student at Discovery College, Hong Kong

Welcome to the world of the IB

Welcome to the September 2015 issue of IB World, the official magazine of the International Baccalaureate


he programmes of the International Baccalaureate have a long-standing reputation for their academic and personal rigour, challenging students to excel in their studies and in their personal growth, and develop a lifelong thirst for learning. The IB aspires to help schools develop well-rounded students who respond to challenges with optimism and open minds, are confident in their own identities, make ethical decisions, join with others in celebrating our common humanity and are prepared to apply what they learn in realworld, complex situations. We now work with over 4,000 schools (both state and privately funded) that share our commitment to international education. More than one million

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students in 149 countries study our four programmes, which are designed to: • help students develop the attitudes and skills they need for both academic and personal success • be student-centred, promoting personal challenge • offer a broad curriculum with significant content • explore globally significant ideas and issues The Primary Years Programme (PYP) For students aged 3 to 12 years, the PYP focuses on the development of the whole child as an inquirer, both in the classroom and in the world outside. The Middle Years Programme (MYP) For pupils aged 11 to 16, the MYP provides a framework of academic

challenge that encourages students to embrace and understand the connections between traditional subjects and the real world. The IB Diploma Programme (DP) For students aged 16 to 19, this is an academically challenging programme with final examinations that prepare students for success at university and beyond. The IB Career-related Programme (CP) For students aged 16 to 19, the CP consists of DP courses studied alongside a unique CP core. The CP is designed to increase access to an IB education and provides a flexible learning framework tailored by the school to meet the needs of their students and the wider community.

IB World Editor Sophie-Marie Odum IB Editors Jenan Al-haddad, Freddie Oomkens Staff Writer Hayley Kirton Production Editors Sarah Dyson, Stephanie Wilkinson Designers Chris Barker, Richard Walker Picture Editor Dominique Campbell Senior Account Manager Steph Allister Account Director Justine Loehry Group Art Director Martin Tullett Group Production Manager Trevor Simpson Senior Editor Robert Jeffery Editorial Director Simon Kanter Managing Director, Haymarket Network Andrew Taplin Reproduction Haymarket Pre-press Printed by Stephens & George, UK Published on behalf of IB by Haymarket Network, Teddington Studios, Broom Road, Teddington, Middlesex TW11 9BE, UK Tel +44 (0)208 267 5000 Cover illustration Susan Park, DP student, Discovery College, Hong Kong

© International Baccalaureate Organization 2015. No part of this publication may be copied or reproduced without prior permission of the publisher. Every care has been taken in the preparation of this magazine, but neither Haymarket Network nor the International Baccalaureate can be held responsible for the accuracy of the information therein, or any consequence arising from it. Views expressed by contributors may not reflect the views of Haymarket Network or the International Baccalaureate. The advertisement of products and services does not imply endorsement by either Haymarket Network or the IB. Prices and offers are correct at time of going to press and subject to change. All offers are subject to manufacturer’s terms and conditions.

how the PYP encourages self-efficacy and proactive learning?

Researchers from George Mason University, Virginia, US, conducted a multi-phase study to investigate the self-efficacy and self-regulatory skills of PYP students in the US, particularly in relation to mathematics. The study also explored the extent to which teacher practices encouraged this. They used interviews, classroom observation and surveys as part of their research and found that: Goal setting, monitoring, collaboration and reflection are beneficial self-regulatory practices that supported student learning. ● High achievers engaged in more strategic thinking before, during and after mathematical problem-solving tasks than average and low achievers. ● Mathematical instruction needs to focus on real-life application in order to improve motivation and achievement. ●

Find the research summary at:

International Baccalaureate ® | Baccalaureate International ® | Bachillerato Internacional ®

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Contents September 2015

2030 cover competition Students were asked to imagine what the classroom will look like in 2030 to win a spot on this issue’s front cover. Take a look at some of the other amazing entries (pictured right and on page 11). See Editor’s letter (page 4) for more information.


Also in this issue

4 NEWS Looking forward to the new PYP; IB’s expansion in Africa; and the latest on MYP eAssessments


33 INSIGHT Is there a viable alternative to letter grades? Two IB educators share their views

11 COVER SPECIAL TECHNOLOGY Using digital technology in the classroom is one of the most exciting – yet controversial – of topics. Stand by for some inspiring insights and experiences from a range of teachers, students and other education experts

34 COMMUNITY IB students help protect endangered species in the rainforest; and share culture and music in an international exchange

22 NATURAL DISASTERS How do you carry on teaching when the world is falling down around you? IB educators share their stories of dealing with the unstoppable force of nature

38 ALUMNA Former IB Diploma Programme student Jessica Misener on how her IB-acquired skills helped her to land her dream job

28 RETAINING TALENT Holding onto great teachers can be a challenge for international schools. IB World considers the best ways to keep top talent 30 THE TEACHER OF TOMORROW Thomas Frey takes IB World on a virtual journey to the classroom of the future

Competition entries

From top (above) Noel Malik, grade 3 student at Lahore Grammar School Defence, Pakistan


AFP/Getty Images; AF archive/Alamy



IB World Schools from 20 countries feature in this issue of IB World. To appear in the next issue...

email, Tweet @IBWorldmag or write to IB World, Haymarket Network, Teddington Studios, Broom Road, Teddington, Middlesex, TW11 9BE, UK

Sarthak Rathi, PYP student at Choithram International, India Alee Domingue, DP student at Imagine International Academy, North Texas, US Holly Askew, year 5 student at Ashburton Borough School, New Zealand IBWorld 3

Editor’s letter Back in June, IB World magazine took to social media and invited IB students to illustrate what the classroom will look like in 2030 for our front cover. This was to coincide with our technology special on page 11.


Students far and wide got involved, sending drawings, paintings and collages. The effort that went into each and every single illustration was astounding. It was difficult to select just one for the cover. Well done to DP student Susan Park from Discovery College, Hong Kong, whose illustration we chose for its impressive level of detail. Susan believes the biggest technological advancement will be using 3D projectors as learning tools. Susan is not alone with this prediction as, according to futurist Thomas Frey (page 30), this is the future. To see more submissions, check out our new Instagram page @IBWorldMag. But even without technology, schools will ensure learning doesn’t stop, even in the most devastating of circumstances, as we learn on page 22. Sophie-Marie Odum, Editor

How to subscribe You can save 75% on the cover price of IB World with a bulk subscription of 50 copies – or 16% with a single subscription costing UK£15 or US$30. To find out more, visit or call +44 (0)1795 592 981. To advertise in IB World, contact

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Young learners will soon be able to get stuck in to the new PYP

What next for PYP?

The revised PYP will respond to feedback from consultation with schools, as well as advances in educational thinking and practice that have taken place since its launch


ollowing the first comprehensive review of the PYP, schools can soon expect to see a number of changes, which will reflect the educational advances that have taken place since its introduction in 1997 as well as valuable feedback from schools. The revised programme will be published in 2018 but first teaching is yet to be announced. Teachers and students can expect more emphasis on the design of effective teaching and learning and greater clarity in how the PYP is explained. There will also be a fresh focus on student empowerment and the significance of the learning community. IB educators will notice that a number of gaps in the PYP have been addressed. The programme will expand the importance of leadership – including student leadership – and early years in the IB, play-based learning, wellbeing, additional language learning and multilingualism. Helen Barrett, Head of Programme Development, PYP, says: “We are working hard through this review to make sure that

the PYP is the best programme it can be – and that it remains the curriculum of choice for international primary education. We want to empower current and future generations of learners across the world to see the benefit of an IB education.” Over the coming months, the IB will be working closely with schools through focus groups at conferences and events, and online and face-to-face review groups, to help build PYP philosophy and principles into schools. In addition, the IB Professional Development team will work with educators to prepare them for enhancements in the curriculum. Ian Chambers, Regional Director, IB Asia Pacific, adds: “The PYP review will allow further opportunities for the IB to work with a more diverse group of schools and allow more students to benefit from an IB education in their formative years.” The revised PYP will recognize that students need to be equipped with the knowledge, skills, understanding and dispositions required for them to succeed in school and in life.

Project inspires the next generation of innovators MYP student creates educational building blocks that help users think in 3D

Following in the footsteps of Friedrich Fröebel – pioneer of the kindergarten system and inventor of educational blocks – an MYP student from Bali International School (BIS), Indonesia, has created Fibonacci blocks to help everyone learn about the golden ratio – the mathematical proportions used to create pyramids and the Taj Mahal. For his personal project, Luke Hamilton worked with local craftsmen to create a set of wooden blocks with dimensions linked to the Fibonacci Sequence. The idea was to help users think differently, in the same way that Fröebel Blocks helped teach young students to think in 3D. He explains: “My project was to create an educational but fun set of wooden building blocks that reflected mathematical concepts. They encourage people to visualize things in 3D, as well as design creations using the golden ratio.” “I wanted to make a product that could be used by any age group, anywhere in the world,” adds Luke. “I also included a booklet to explain how artists and architects have used mathematics to create beauty during ancient times and the Renaissance, for example.” Luke posted pictures of his project on Facebook and was so inundated with responses that he turned it into a business

Luke’s Fibonacci blocks have been a huge success

venture. He has set up a website where people can buy the blocks, and has even received a request from IKEA.The blocks have also attracted the interest of Virgin entrepreneur Richard Branson, who has taken a set to his Caribbean island. “Luke’s project was a big success at this year’s grade 10 personal project exhibition at BIS,” adds Monica Coburn, the school’s MYP Coordinator. “It not only says a lot about his creative thinking, transfer of knowledge and self-management skills but even more about his international mindedness, whereby he set his vision on designing a worldwide educational tool for any age group.”

Diploma Programme gets thumbs up DP is the best preparation for workplace and university, says UK admissions report Nearly 90 per cent of university admissions officers in Britain believe the IB Diploma Programme (DP) encourages independent inquiry “well” or “extremely well”. In addition, 18 per cent cite the programme as the best preparation to thrive at university, compared to A levels (8 per cent), and Scottish Highers (3 per cent), while 51 per cent rated the qualifications equally. The latest annual University Admissions Officers report, which explores views on the three main UK post-16 qualifications – A levels, DP and Scottish Highers – revealed the extent to which the three qualifications prepare students for the world of work. Skills best provided by the DP include workplace skills (57 per cent); selfmanagement skills (76 per cent); an ability to cope with pressure (72 per cent), and an entrepreneurial or positive approach to risk taking (23 per cent).

Dr Peter Fidczuk, IB Development and Recognition Manager, UK, says: “The figures in favour of the DP are striking. I am particularly pleased that the admissions officers recognize, by a very large margin, that the DP encourages independent inquiry as this is such an integral component of the programme.” Commissioned by ACS International Schools in partnership with the IB and the IB Schools and Colleges Association (IBSCA), the study was conducted among university admissions officers across 80 different universities and colleges. Jeremy Lewis, Head of School at ACS Egham, adds: “Over the past 10 years, we have seen the DP repeatedly outperform the other main qualifications. It is a challenging qualification but the results speak for themselves in terms of student readiness and ability to thrive at university and beyond.”

School report

International School of Estonia, Estonia Founded 1995 Programmes PYP, IB Diploma Programme, and currently an MYP Candidate School Age range of students 3-20 Website For the past five years, the International School of Estonia has achieved a 100 per cent IB Diploma Programme pass rate, which it attributes to its ‘compassionate space’. Teachers offer a wide range of activities to help students achieve a balanced life. Described as ‘a tiny school noted for innovative practices’, ISE believes the best way to promote a balanced life is to lead by example: the Director teaches ashtanga yoga; the art teacher offers indoor archery, and the professor of chemistry provides tap and ballet classes. The school also serves free breakfast to staff and students to make sure they start the day properly. Director of the International School of Estonia, Kathleen Naglee, says: “Our approach is to help students learn how to find balance in their lives. We don’t pay lip service to this part of the IB Learner Profile, we live it every day. “Our compassionate space embraces 21st-century practices as a celebration of inquiry, creativity, collaboration, and diversity, and allows students to use the tools (technological or otherwise) to have meaningful and deep learning experiences. “We believe a balanced life is a combination of emotional, social, academic and physical wellbeing. Student activities, both in and out of the classroom, use this framework as a base for learning.” The Centre for Innovation in Education at Tallinn University, Estonia, chose ISE as an example to the nation. They now work together to offer high-tech laboratories for students and professional development for teachers. “We pay attention to a student’s ability to manage stress. It’s not unusual for teachers to counsel them about strategies in finding balance,” adds Naglee. “All older students know that I am here to help guide them and, on a bad day, a cup of tea and handful of nuts will be waiting for them in my office.” ISE helps students manage stress

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news GLOBAL ENGAGE How the IB community engages with global issues through inquiry, action, and critical reflection. Find resources and share your school’s story at

Many people with good intentions donate their money or time to orphanages that are run for profit, unaware that countless children are thereby forced to work, deprived of an education and alienated from family and the wider community. To raise awareness of this, the International School of The Hague (ISH), in The Netherlands, entered into a long-term sustainable partnership with Stahili Foundation ( This volunteer-driven NGO supports trafficked and vulnerable children in rural Kenya, working to give them the future that they deserve through education. Together, ISH and Stahili are fighting exploitation and poverty, and empowering students in The Hague and Kenya. CAS (Creativity, Activity, Service) students have worked hard, spreading the word about responsible social engagement. They raised over €13,000 through various events to support education opportunities through postsecondary school for children in Kenya. Positive change is already happening. At the Model United Nations at the ISH (MUNISH) in 2014, John Ndung’u, the first child rescued by Stahili, said to ISH’s Principal: “This is my first day wearing a suit. I am very thankful to Mr Butcher”.

In brief Latest appointment at IB James Monk (pictured right) is the new Head of IB Diploma Programme Development. Previously Head of Curriculum for

6 IBWorld September 2015

Students at the Ecole Ruban Vert, Gabon

IB set to expand further in Africa As international education looks set to grow at a phenomenal rate across Africa, IB staff and schools explain why the IB is gaining favour across the continent The number of international schools in Africa is set to double from 722 institutions to a possible 1,518 by 2025, according to a report by The International School Consultancy. Presently, 79 schools across 27 countries in Africa offer IB programmes, and this figure has grown by 23 per cent in the last three years. Recently, Braeburn College, in Nairobi, became the first school in the continent to offer the IB Career-Related Programme. Improving foreign expenditure in the area might be partly responsible for the promising progress. According to fDi Intelligence – a Financial Times group data division – Africa is the world’s fastest-growing region for foreign direct investment. “More and more businesses are coming to the continent,” says Adzo Ashie, IB Recognition and Development Manager for Africa. “Those businesses come with staff and their families and they are looking for a rigorous and

DP languages, Monk says: “I am honoured and humbled. When I reflect on how the DP was founded, the excellent work of my predecessors and the generations of students whose lives have been transformed by the programme, I realize the privilege and responsibility of this role to care for and promote the DP as the

high-quality international curriculum that also ensures geographic mobility.” “In this part of the world, it used to be mainly French companies with Frenchspeaking workers,” comments Jean-Luc Aupoix, Founding Director, Ecole Ruban Vert, Gabon, which will offer the IB Diploma Programme as of the next academic year. “Now there are more international companies, so children need an educational system that gives them skills to work internationally and be internationally minded.” The IB’s attitude towards holistic education, international mindedness and its academic rigour make it an attractive educational offering in Africa. “With the IB, you have all the ingredients of an education that promotes individual success at school and in life,” says Ashie. Aupoix adds: “The holistic approach speaks to people. They realize academics alone are not enough. Education needs to target the ‘whole person’, which has sparked interest in the IB in Africa.”

true gold standard of international education for students aged 16 to 19.” Although it’s early days, Monk is excited to get to work. He plans to develop the DP by emphasizing the IB mission and flexibility:“I would like to work with leaders in IB World Schools, higher education and industry to increase awareness of what makes the

David Ignazewski

Exploitation and education


John-David Bowman IB TOK and history Teacher, Westwood High School, Mesa, Arizona, USA

Students benefit from a more engaging examination experience

Tell us about your career… I have been teaching for about eight years now. During that time, I have taught a number of courses including IB history of the Americas. However, for seven amazing years I have also taught IB theory of knowledge. It has been incredibly rewarding. The style of the course, and the students who are a part of it, make it a truly wonderful experience. What are your main teaching challenges? Many of the teaching challenges are outside of the classroom. I happen to work in one of the states in America [Arizona], which has not made funding public education a priority. So, in comparison to the substantial economic constraints, I struggle to find any true challenges inside of my classroom. How do you inspire and challenge students? Any successful aspect of teaching comes down to relationships. I try to connect with my students on a human level and attempt to relate my passion for my subjects to them. With regard to challenging my students, I treat them like adults. My expectations for my high school students are the same expectations I have for my university students. What was your biggest teaching disaster? Maybe this is‘glass-half-full’, but I don't think I have experienced something in my classroom that I would label a‘disaster’. Of course, there are difficult discussions with parents or students, and sometimes a lesson doesn't go as well as planned but, overall, I love my job. What has been your proudest moment? I have many proud moments. Three years ago, three MYP students helped me to create a mentor programme for first and second graders at the local elementary school. Every graduation when I see these tremendous people about to embark on a new chapter of their lives, I feel so proud. I relish when former students come back and tell me about their accomplishments. What would you still like to achieve as a teacher? I want to keep learning and getting better at my profession. I also hope to be able to offer an IB political thought class in the next year or two.

DP unique,” he says.“Also, Chief Academic Officer David Hawley and I would like to explore how we can provide flexibility for schools who want to implement the programme.” First IB Heads World Conference For the first time, the IB is hosting the IB Heads World Conference, which

Coming to a screen near you: The MYP eAssessment movie The new on-screen examinations receive a touch of 'Hollywood' treatment What better way to understand the revised MYP eAssessment than to hear about the real experiences of those who took part in the live pilot? The IB has produced a four-minute video that shows MYP students, IB coordinators and heads of schools from China, Jordan, Spain, USA and Canada sharing their views on the eAssessment. This gives the IB community a better understanding of the exam’s benefits and what the digital platform is capable of. Providing fresh and honest comments, students were filmed directly after taking the eAssessment. One student said: “The best aspect was that it included every single skill that you have to perfect in order to complete the MYP.” Other comments included: “I feel like after taking numerous exams, where it’s just been multiple choice or a short answer required, it was fun being able to flesh out my ideas on the exam itself,” and

will run alongside the AEM (Africa, Europe, Middle East) regional conference, taking place from 29 October to 1 November 2015 at the World Forum, in The Hague, The Netherlands. The Conference is open to ‘heads of school’at IB World Schools or candidate schools.

“I really liked how I was being tested on my skills and not my ability to memorize.” The film also includes scenes of the exam in progress and screenshots of the examination questions. The switch to eAssessment represents an important step for the IB’s future and the organization believes the new format will allow educators to create more indepth and meaningful improvement plans for the future. More than 2,000 candidates from 68 schools took part in the May 2015 live pilot. The eAssessment takes two hours to complete. The registration deadline for the May 2016 assessment session is 20 October 2015. However, schools are required to register all students in MYP year 5 for (external) moderation of the personal project. The video can be accessed via the IB digital toolkit available on the IB website:

Each conference will have its own featured speakers, workshops and social activities, but will share keynote speakers and a networking area. To book, visit: What makes a great IB teacher? As the IB approaches its 50th anniversary in 2018, we want to

celebrate great teaching. IB World magazine wants to know what makes a great IB teacher. Are there particular qualities that makes a teacher exceptional? Or do you have an outstanding colleague you would like to tell us about? Or students, do you want to sing your teacher’s praises? Email your stories to

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For the IB Continuum

Try the New ManageBac this Fall 2015 REDESIGNED, INTEGRATED AND BETTER THAN EVER Learn more about some of our key updates in 2015.

New CAS Guide


Spanish languange

Redesigned activity portfolios & reflections with built-in support for the new 7 learning outcomes.

As the developer of the new e-Coursework system, we are delighted to finally offer integration from ManageBac for May 2016. Easily organize and submit portfolio coursework from ManageBac to EC3 without manually downloading and re-uploading files.

Full end-to-end Spanish translation of ManageBac including forms from the Handbook of Procedures.

Plus a few other key updates:

Collaborative unit planning Enhanced accordion style planner allows for collaborative real-time editing and improved resource & file sharing.

IB Student Registry Showcase ManageBac student portfolios to the world’s leading universities via a curated public profile. Browse over 200+ IB University recognition policies.

+1 866 297 7022

+44 208 133 7489

Email : Integrated Information Systems for International Education

LaunchPad Single-Sign-On Move seamlessly between ManageBac, OpenApply, Finalsite and our partner integrations.

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Selected materials for forward-thinking educators

Whole Novels for the Whole Class

Seymour: An Introduction


(Remain In Light)

By approaching novels as artistic works rather than tools for advancing basic literacy, students can form deep critical and analytical thinking skills, argues author Ariel Sacks. Aimed at MYP-aged students, this book is also a great guide for interdisciplinary learning, encouraging teachers to apply their knowledge to other areas of the curriculum.

Ethan Hawke documents the life and achievements of Professor Seymour Bernstein. An inspirational man, Bernstein began teaching piano in his teens. He later travelled the world playing at orchestra-level, and made a point of offering lessons and masterclasses to others on his journeys. This film intelligently examines the connection people have with their creative side.

The Leader in Me 2nd edition

Becoming a Reflective Teacher

(Simon & Schuster)

(Marzano Research)

Having sold 15 million copies worldwide, The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People is one of the most well known personal development books around. In this revised edition, the late Stephen R. Covey has applied those principles to education. This book aims to help teachers assist students in thinking critically and organizing their time productively, and contains examples of how other classrooms have put these ideas into practice.

Effective and purposeful reflection is necessary in order to progress professional practice, writes Robert J Marzano – and in this book he crafts a compendium of 270 reflection strategies. Through the self-auditing survey, he helps teachers to identify problem areas in order to improve, and also outlines how to use data to develop practice. This accessible and applicable work – part of the Classroom Strategies series –

seeks to energize the passion and practice of its readers. Steve Jobs (Universal Pictures)

This film is the latest to follow the life and achievements of the charismatic late co-founder of Apple – a company that has shaped today’s digital landscape. It explores issues such as work-life balance and the dangers of pursuing a single goal at the expense of everything else. The acclaimed cast and crew include director Danny Boyle, Kate Winslet and Michael Fassbender as Jobs. Visible Learning for Teachers: Maximizing Impact on Learning (Routledge)

John Hattie has furthered his Visible Learning edition from 2008 to bring new concepts to teachers. Using extensive research, he outlines ways in which we can improve learning and how to implement the Visible Learning principles. The lesson preparation examples,

Designing new learning experiences Conference helps educators develop sustainable change for students The disruptive nature of technology is giving teachers the tools to create a personalized educational experience for students anytime, anywhere. The Innovate 2015 Conference – organized by an IB World School in Brazil – aimed to help educators prepare for, and take full advantage of, these changes. In March, more than 400 educators from all over the world gathered at Graded:The American School of São Paulo to discuss design thinking, project-based learning, blended learning and gamification. The idea of the international conference was to ‘re-imagine school’ and create spaces where students own

exercises and case studies as well as step-by-step guidance, make this book a valuable addition to any teacher’s toolbox.

Softwaring Hard (Porcovete Pictures)

IT has long suffered from a rather geeky and uncool reputation. Softwaring Hard challenges negative perceptions and lifts the lid on what it is actually like to work in a modern STEM profession. Alex Pop’s documentary is filmed across 13 different countries, offering a real global insight. Next Goal Wins (Icon)

Exploring what you can discover about yourself when you persevere through tough times, this documentary reveals how the national soccer team of American Samoa went from being known as one of the weakest football teams in the world to qualifying for the 2014 FIFA World Cup.

Innovate speakers inspired debate and collaboration

their learning and are engaged in an education that is authentic, connected, and has the possibility of making a positive impact on the world. During lectures and workshops, speakers Suzie Boss, Joey Lee, Ewan McIntosh, Scott McLeod and Mike Anderson shared how they are experimenting with new models. Participants were given ideas for how to make changes in their own schools. Lee, who discussed game principles and gamification tools for education, said: “I’ve never seen a group of educators so engaged and passionate about designing learning experiences through innovative approaches.” To find out more visit

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technology We asked students to show us what the classroom will look like in 2030. For more on the competition see Editor’s letter (page 4) or follow us on Instagram: @IBWorldMag.

Is technology taking over teaching? Digital advances have changed the way teachers lead their classrooms, but scepticism around it may be growing

o pens, paper and chalkboards have a place in the modern-day classroom? The digital technology debate is affecting every school around the world. While there is still some resistance to it, it’s hard to deny that technology allows for effective community-building, collaborative learning and continued exploration outside of the classroom. E-learning has made further education a possibility for millions of people in parts of the world where a classroom is inaccessible. Earlier this year, the IB completed a study which examined how digital technology is being used in its UK schools to support teaching and learning in the IB Diploma Programme curriculum areas of

mathematics and sciences. In the study, entitled The integration of technology in the International Baccalaureate Diploma Programme, 38 per cent of teachers reported digitally communicating with students weekly, and the same number occasionally used technology to collect feedback and/or assess students’ learning. The IB supports the use of technology in the classroom and highlights areas where more innovative development might be possible, such as collaborative learning, inquiry-based learning and gaming. And as students are more likely to express themselves through texts and tweets, schools must find a way to keep up with this new tech-savvy generation. However, there is a downside: are students and teachers becoming too reliant on technology? How do educators

maintain a student’s attention when the latest app is seemingly more interesting than what’s happening in the real world? Technology also has its limits. It can’t relate to students on a personal level and is prone to technical problems. Over the following pages, IB World magazine explores how technology improves teaching and learning, as the IB community and well-known educators share their experiences and practical tips for integrating technology with great pedagogy. We also examine the controversial idea of whether a teacher’s expertise will still be needed in the digital age – and how schools are doing all they can to ensure teachers’ roles and skillsets evolve to reflect the need to curate knowledge and act as a guide for students as technology advances.

From left (above) Vladislav Den, MYP student, Canadian International School, Singapore. Fiona Hales, year 5 student, Ashburton Borough School, New Zealand. Cynthia Song, DP student, Richard Montgomery High School, US. Aryan Jain, PYP student at Choithram International, India. Sannidhi Bhootra, MYP student, Choithram International, India. Yuna Mori, PYP student, Canadian International School, Singapore. Caitlin Stewart, year 5 student, Ashburton Borough School, New Zealand. IBWorld 11

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Manag ing

The collaborative culture at Nexus enables students to ask each other for help

AS EASY AS ICT More than a third of children under a year old use smartphones and tablets. How can PYP teachers manage this new generation of tech-savvy students?

orget using a smartphone as a teething toy.These days, toddlers are more likely to use one to take a selfie. Research shows that 36 per cent of babies under the age of one have scrolled down a screen, 15 per cent have used apps, and 12 per cent have played video games.The study, First Exposure and Use of Mobile Media inYoung Children, also reveals that 26 per cent of two-year-olds and 38 per cent of four-year-olds use devices for at least an hour a day. As a result of this exposure to technology, students are entering the PYP with more experience than ever, but some are more knowledgeable than others. How can teachers help those who are less aware, while supporting the tech geniuses of the future? PYP TeacherYuniarti Santosa, from the International School Ruhr, Germany, has noticed a change in how students use technology during her teaching career. “A few students may be more confident when working with technology and they need to continue to be challenged, while others need more support in developing their technology skills,” she says. At Nexus International School in Singapore, students take a collaborative approach. PYP Teacher Stephanie Thompson says: “While a teacher can assist students, building a supportive classroom culture that enables them to ask for help from each other is just as effective.” Thompson focuses on an open learning environment and her students have even taken on the role of ‘teacher’ a few times. “Being open to learning from anyone is important,” she explains. “The students in my class have given workshops to teachers and teaching assistants on using technology.” Contrary to the belief that technology can stunt early learning, Santosa says it helps 12 IBWorld September 2015

develop students’ basic skills. “When they have a chance to play spelling games on the internet, their writing and spelling skills improve. Some students find writing stories on paper challenging but they enjoy writing stories online,” she says. “And audiovisual media such asYouTube can make learning more interesting, as film and music helps to engage the students.” Educational apps enhance learning Lead author of the study Dr Hilda Kabali, from the Pediatrics department at Einstein Medical Center, Philadelphia, USA, says that while more research is needed to understand the effects of mobile device use on pre-school children, educational apps can be helpful: “They provide opportunities for educational material for young children which may help to enhance their school readiness.” But Santosa hasn’t ditched the whiteboard and markers just yet. She only uses technology when there is a connection to the learning and inquiry. “Students need to understand what responsible digital citizenship means,” she says. As technology evolves, it will play a huge role in the development of lifelong learners, according to Thompson. “Technology will continue to shape the way PYP students learn by enabling them to communicate in more creative ways, connect with experts and take action through connecting with the world beyond their classrooms,” she says. To keep up and help manage varying abilities within the classroom, Dr Kabali urges teachers to continually update their own learning. “Teachers should continue to be leaders. They need to familiarize themselves with new technology, know what is available, and know their effect on learning, social interaction, posture, vision and behaviour. Then they can more effectively guide students and their parents,” she says.

“When we use technology we are risk-taking as we are trying new things. We used Google Hangouts to contact a volcanologist to learn more about what they do. I was surprised that they don’t just work in a lab – they go on expeditions to study volcanoes in Hawaii, Italy and South America. We also made a video about Nepal’s earthquake victims and were excited when people commented on our blog.” Raphael Mazur, PYP student, Nexus International School, Singapore

Technology helps us find information to complete homework projects – it helped me realize that reptiles are dangerous! I can get more information on the computer and it’s faster than writing everything down on paper. Lulsa Delgado Cruz, PYP student at the International School Ruhr, Germany

We took photos illustrating Singaporean culture and sent them to people in New Zealand for a children’s photography exhibition. We also Skyped a class in Christchurch to find out about the earthquakes that happened there. Maya, PYP student, Nexus International School, Singapore

Technology gives me access to information about things like people, animals and trees. I learn better and it helps give me confidence. Jule Essing, PYP student at the International School Ruhr, Germany



m i fi c a ti o n

Minecraft has proved popular with students

FROM LEARNER TO LEADER Chuck Berman/Getty Images Illustrations Tim Biddle, Lettering Dilruba Tayfun

Two experts explain how technology can give students ownership of their studies

reating your own project feels fantastic – and knowing you’re the master of how everything turns out is a powerful feeling. Wouldn’t it be wonderful to give students that same feeling of power with their learning? Thanks to technology, this is now easier than ever for lots of students to achieve. How to play the game Research by the Pew Internet & American Life Project estimates that 97 per cent of US teenagers play computer games. It seems only logical to harness this tendency to help students further their learning, too. From Minecraft to Kerbal Space Program, video games in the classroom are becoming increasingly popular. A survey by the USbased Games and Learning Publishing Council discovered that 55 per cent of

teachers incorporate games into lessons at least once a week. It’s not without merit – researchers at The Education Arcade at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology have found that regular game players are risk-takers and exhibit persistence, attention to detail and problem-solving skills. Johan Brand, co-founder of game-based learning programme Kahoot! explains how the platform aims to help teachers engage students in the classroom. “We don’t normally get to play games in the classroom,” he says. “Suddenly, you’re allowed to play in a way which furthers knowledge. It can create a very expressive teaching environment – and transforms the student from a learner to a leader,” he adds. Games often provide a flexible learning platform too, meaning teachers can employ them in a way that best suits their class. Brand thinks the key is encouraging students to use their imagination. “Many students learn by being curious, and in turn teachers can learn a lot about their students by what they ask,” he says. “If you’re using Kahoot! to create an engaging environment, you are setting students on a path to find out more.” Ultimately, Brand thinks game-based learning’s popularity is only natural. “We’re born with play as a language to help us learn. It’s something we share with other animals.” Turning education on its head Meanwhile, flipped learning, where class materials are studied at home and homework-style activities are completed during lesson time, is also becoming more popular. “It’s a simple idea which just makes sense. Especially now videos can be produced so easily and you can share them on sites likeYouTube, it’s very straightforward to film your lessons and then distribute them to your students” says Jon Bergmann, co-founder of The Flipped Learning Network, a website which provides educators with skills and resources to successfully flip their classrooms. Bergmann believes one of flipped learning’s greatest benefits is that it enables students to gain control of their studies. “Those stop and rewind buttons are powerful,” he explains. “In a traditional classroom, students have to comprehend the subject at the teacher’s pace.With a video, if

“Flipping truly represents the inquiry-based approach. It encourages students to delve deeper into concepts and explore ideas, and enables them to become more knowledgeable. This way, I have more time to do activities which encourage openmindedness and communication.” April Gudenrath, DP literature and TOK Teacher, Discovery Canyon Campus, USA

“I’ve used games for teaching over the past year and I’ve noticed a big difference in my students. Their academic performance has improved, they retain facts better and the level of questioning in my classroom has increased. Games allow students to learn at their own pace and provide a safe environment where they are more willing to take risks.” Elani McDonald, DP Teacher at Halcyon London International School, UK

“I create videos to teach Spanish grammar so my class can access lessons throughout the year. ‘Flipping’in this way really links with the IB Learner Profile – and students are able to revisit the lessons and raise queries in the classroom the next day. It enables them to become more responsible for their education.” Lauren Raleigh, DP Spanish Teacher, Notre Dame Preparatory School, Michigan, USA

the lesson’s going too fast, you can pause it.” While videos seem part-and-parcel of flipped learning, Bergmann thinks other information sources are as effective. After all, the goal is to give students the option to pick how they learn best. “Students have more choice.They choose when, where and how they consume the content,” he says. Because teachers are no longer spending their valuable class-time lecturing, it allows them more time to work with their students as individuals, to understand exactly where each student is struggling. “You can deliver just what that child needs,” says Bergmann. Teachers shouldn’t just stop at flipping learning, as Bergmann suggests: “People should investigate deeper and explore different pedagogies like project-based learning, inquiry-based learning and all these kinds of things that research has proven to be beneficial.” IBWorld 13

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“TECHNOLOGY DOESN’T CHANGE ANYTHING” Teacher and author Jordan Shapiro says technology isn’t revolutionizing education, it’s just reinventing it

The Boston Globe/Getty Images, Jeroen Bouman

I hope technology won’t take over from teaching. When technology works well in the classroom, it does so because it doesn’t really change anything. It just allows teachers to do the things we already do, but in an easier and more streamlined way. There’s a debate over standardized testing in the US. But the ongoing improvements in technology and game-based learning will make that conversation obsolete. Instead of Almost 70 per cent of UK end-of-year assessments, teachers secondary schools now will be able to constantly assess use tablet computers students with the help of metrics and performance analytics throughout the year. Most teachers are positive about technology because they’ve always used it. They understand the importance Video games should be included in of playing games as part of learning – video every teacher’s repertoire. I love the games help make teaching easier, quicker idea that we set up certain challenges and and more effective. students can then experiment, play around and explore ways to overcome that It’s all about balance. To avoid students challenge. IB World Schools use a mix of becoming completely absorbed in learning – including game-based lessons technology, teachers need to demonstrate – and that’s my hope for every school. to students how magical and beautiful the Games are an exceptional tool, but I’m real world is. Then they wouldn’t want to spend all of their time on a computer. IB against the word ‘gamification.’ Often teachers know how to make real life more when people talk about gamification they interesting. Students explore the world are referring to gaining badges, stars and around them in multiple ways and think coins but that’s just the same as referring about how they can make their mark. to ‘school years’ or the grade system. I’m pushing for learning in a more ‘game-like’ Technology allows teachers to get to way. Through playful exploration, students can learn complex things more quickly and know their students on a deeper level. teachers can make the aim of the game If we gathered data from every student about understanding the subject. who uses a tablet to do his or her schoolwork, the information would be invaluable. For example, Google knows “If we gathered data so much about how people browse the web and can constantly adjust search from every student results to ensure greater accuracy. who uses a tablet, When the education sector starts collecting and analysing this kind of ‘big data’, the information we are going to see an exponential would be invaluable” jump in the quality of education.

I wouldn’t call what we are experiencing in schools a ‘technology revolution’ but rather an ‘information revolution’, in terms of access to people and data. The information revolution has challenged previous perceptions of what is possible. We can now interact with people around the world and bring learning alive in the classroom in markedly different ways. Both teachers and students now have access to a wide range of new tools with which to learn, communicate, teach and share first-hand resources. The information revolution gives IB teachers and administrators freedom to innovate and experiment on a worldwide scale. The only limitations are your imagination, mindset and computing infrastructure – in terms of access to the internet, new technology, equipment and IT support. How does a teacher construct a lesson with students who are experienced in online exploration and techniques but need guidance on knowledge construction and academic protocols, such as the ones the IB advocates via our academic honesty policy? One answer is validation of information sources – this is a role for both teacher and student. Adults should avoid the slippery slope of abdication of responsibility, assuming that acquiring information from the internet equates learning. At the moment, we bring the IB community together through social media but the possibilities are endless. I envision an e-world where our teachers from around the globe will be able to connect and share resources, truly bringing international education into their classrooms via the IB world. In addition, we’ve been investing in digitizing our exam production and marking processes, and created MYP eAssessments, which we successfully piloted in May 2015. With regards to the other areas, we aim to ramp up quickly. I’m a technology advocate and I can’t wait to see the IB morph into a digital enterprise, using data we have gathered to be more helpful to improving teaching and learning in our community. Siva Kumari welcomes the age of information IBWorld 15


w m uch i



The ubiquitous blackboard

The overhead projector arrives

Schools have been using technology for decades but, in the new digital age, where do teachers draw the line, asks Sophie-Marie Odum

ngry Birds or algebra? Candy Crush or chemistry? One of the biggest challenges educators face in a 21st-century classroom is the battle for student attention. As the technology available to students continues to evolve and the virtual world appears more ‘fun’ than a 2D classroom, teachers can find it an uphill struggle to win their students’ attention. But, while some schools spend thousands on installing state-of-the-art technology in order to increase learning opportunities, not all of them have the resources to keep up – and some may suggest it is unwise to even try. In 2006, the not-for-profit organization One Laptop Per Child was set up. It envisioned a digital utopia where all students over six years old, worldwide, would own their own laptops. Children with limited financial resources would have the power to go online and educate themselves. Today, around 25 million laptops later, the project is considered by many to have failed in its mission. The bespoke machines have struggled to keep up with the pace of change and ended up costing more than was promised. Critics have also complained that the laptops themselves were used more for play than for schoolwork. This is an accusation often levelled at technology, which has also been blamed for sidelining handwritten work and affecting social interaction skills, as well as being a distraction. But, as it becomes increasingly central to education, many students are dependent on it – inside and out of the classroom – raising the question: does it help or hinder the learning process? 16 IBWorld September 2015


PC use grows at home as IT is taught in schools

1990s 1990s

Laptops become increasingly common

The reliance on technology “Some students feel that when access to the internet is not possible, learning stops,” says Marie Killory, DP biology and TOK Teacher at North Atlanta High School, US. “The tendency to Google everything makes learning shallow.” Nnenna Umelloh, formerly an IB Diploma Programme student at Plano East Senior High School, Texas, agrees: “Some students rely on technology to give them an opinion instead of their own mind, which can be dangerous. Some do not know how to think independently, analyse content critically and use technology as a resource to improve their understanding of the world around them.” Susan Pinker, psychologist and author of TheVillage Effect, says that when students – and teachers – are too reliant on technology, it affects how often they make eye contact, an essential skill for building trust, healthy relationships and career success. “Looking at people’s faces allows us to read emotion and intention in the

Interactive whiteboards

other person – psychologists call it ‘mindreading’,” she explains. “This is an essential social skill, and one which requires practice and, early in childhood, social types of play. “There has never been a successful leader, doctor, nurse, lawyer, professor or teacher, who hasn’t developed superb ‘mind-reading’ skills. If we want students to develop empathy, along with the skills necessary to work in groups, then screenbased activities must be balanced with opportunities to communicate face-to-face.” Retaining information Although technology allows people to do more tasks simultaneously, this can have a negative impact on information retention. According to researchers, multitasking is bad for cognitive work and can have negative long-term effects on long-term human memory. Pinker says: “So far, research has not shown any upside to multitasking. It detracts from learning and memory, and reduces efficiency, because every time you

Press Association Images, REX Shutterstock, Alamy, 123 RF






technology The ballpoint pen controversially starts school

young children is linked to unhappiness and poor school achievement. Students who felt closely connected to parents, friends and teachers, and spent time with them face-to-face, felt most happy.



1960s Language classes use audio technology Televison introduced as an educational aid 1970s


Calculators enter the classroom


VCRs popular with students and staff


Students own tablets and smartphones

see robots Could we soon ? om ro ss in the cla

switch between activities you lose time and focus in the transition. As a result, educators are starting to ask people to turn in or turn off their smartphones before classes. If you don’t want your taxi driver to be texting, then you shouldn’t permit your child to be multitasking in the classroom or while doing homework.” Killory encourages her students to take notes by hand. “I teach students to trust their own ability to retain information. I insist on them hand writing observational notes in their laboratory books. If they don’t develop the habit of reflective thinking, instead of just reacting and recording, it makes learning more shallow.”

“When students are distracted by their devices, the mood in the room changes – it is less collegial and engaging”

Striking a balance Educators need to strike the right balance between incorporating devices into lessons when necessary and keeping students focused on the task at hand. Killory centres her teaching around discussions, which increases engagement. “We have a lot of fun in class when the phones aren’t out. When students are distracted by their devices, the mood in the room changes – it is less collegial and engaging.” She also makes the topics relatable to everyday life. “Biochemistry has a basis for all sorts of aspects of biology. For example, I’ll ask students, ‘how does your body digest your lunch?’” “Students also use whiteboards at their desk,” continues Killory. “Having students write out processes on large sheets of paper allows them to see that learning does not stop at their fingertips.” In TheVillage Effect, Pinker notes a study, which suggests that heavy media use, and the playing of computer games, in

Social media use The ways in which students interact with their friends and peers on social media have changed immeasurably. But, in a virtual reality, where hundreds of online friends can post idealized, digital personas, and exaggerated status updates, students can feel excluded, as Pinker notes. If not monitored, this can lead to cyberbullying. Killory has noticed the knock-on effect in the classroom, she says: “The current popularity of Instagram and Yik Yak means that some students are anticipating social commentary instead of fully paying attention. Instilling the habit of reflecting on what was learned in class is harder now that the fear of missing out rattles through their lives on an hourly basis.” But Nnenna doesn’t blame technology. “Technology is not the problem. I would not have made it through the IB Diploma Programme without it,” she says. “The biggest problem students have is with selfdiscipline. Most students do not know how to use technology efficiently to help them learn. It is a matter of utilizing their resources wisely.” Question your choices Killory recognizes the positives that technology brings to the classroom, especially how it can nurture global connections. “As much as I railed against smartphones, there are some excellent apps on phones that are incredibly useful in science,” she says. “Social media has its positives too, like being able to connect with experts. Class discussions and study groups are easier with technology. “My students can readily share work with classmates and across the globe with other IB students. They set up international study groups in preparation for exams, which was pretty amazing.” Although the possibilities are endless and technology can amplify whatever pedagogical capacity is already there, Killory believes that scepticism around technology is still necessary. She says: “There are so many quick-fix solutions to education that scepticism about technology is a must.” “Technology is fantastic and embracing it is a good thing, but it shouldn’t necessarily be a juggernaut that dictates the learning process,” continues Killory. “Don’t discount seemingly ‘old school’ methods just because the latest technology is flashy and modern. Just as a teacher should ask students to develop a questioning attitude, it is paramount for teachers to question their choices too.” IBWorld 17

S o cial





WHAT’S TRENDING IN THE CLASSROOM? Six IB teachers explain how they have integrated social media into their lessons to make them more engaging and relatable

Gone are the days when mobile devices were banned from classrooms, “nor should we want them to be,” says IB Diploma Programme mathematics Teacher John Chase. At Richard Montgomery High School, Maryland, USA, Chase encourages his students to use Twitter to access a wider mathematics community. They have connected with famous mathematicians such as James Tanton (pictured), who recently visited the school to deliver a series of lessons, entitled ‘Exploding Dots’. “I post articles or fun problems on Twitter. Students are exposed to the most current conversations happening in mathematics. They can talk with me and well-known mathematicians.” Chase also has a blog and a

mathematics department YouTube channel, allowing him to ‘flip’ his classes when needs be. “This is a great resource if students are absent, or if they just want to get the material a second time at their own pace. We’ll do a fun activity in class and their homework will be to watch the video.” Twitter has improved Chase’s teaching in practical ways, too. “I’ve borrowed great problems, prompts and activities for my own classroom. I provide fresh experiences and I’m adapting my practices on a daily basis.” “I don’t run out of great ideas when there are so many flowing freely from the online mathematics community,” adds Chase.

“INSTAGRAM HELPS TO IMMERSE STUDENTS IN SPANISH” It’s not easy to get a 17-year-old to sit down and watch the evening news, let alone in a different language, but one DP Spanish Teacher has found an exciting way to encourage them. Ciara Newby at The British International School of Chicago, USA, suggests that students follow Spanish soccer stars, actors and singers on Instagram. They also follow BBC Mundo (Spanish for BBC World), which features news and videos, helping students keep up-to-date with current affairs. At the start of each lesson, students have five minutes to read or watch the updates on BBC Mundo and look at their Instagram feed. They are then quizzed about what they’ve learned via Kahoot! where students answer

the multiple-choice questions using their smartphones or iPads. “This really engages them and allows them to quickly evaluate what they’ve learned,” says Newby. “Students are aware of what’s happening and can really immerse themselves in Spanish.” It’s been a successful way to get a new language into students’ subconscious. “Learning a foreign language, especially with the IB, is not just about the language skills, it’s about developing the qualities we talk about in the IB Learner Profile, such as being open minded and questioning things,” says Newby. “Using Instagram leads to some great debates in class and it has certainly ignited a curiosity in them, and an interest in what is going on in the rest of the world.”

“TWITTER OFFERS INSTANT ONLINE REVISION CLASSES” The IB Diploma Programme geography department at King Edward’s Witley, UK, has embraced social media, encouraging a valuable exchange of information and resources between students and teachers. At the start of the course, all students are encouraged to follow the Head of Department’s account to ensure they have access to anything posted. “There is a constant flow of up-to-date and specifically referenced material that can be accessed in lessons via retweeting, or downloaded and emailed to students,” says Deputy Head (Academic) James Hole. 18 IBWorld September 2015

Social media has also been useful for examinations. “When an examination falls at the start of term, it is impractical to offer a revision session,” says Hole. “However, the head of department bases himself on Twitter for an hour and answers specific questions as soon as they are posed. This has obvious applications for IB revision sessions too.” Twitter also serves as a‘chat room’for teachers at King Edward’s Witley, where teaching materials can be exchanged. Teachers feel supported as they can share information. “This allows for a free flow of ideas, which has proved to be invaluable,” says Hole.


“OUR VIRTUAL CLASSROOM HELPED US COLLABORATE” A website connected two MYP Year 5 classes on different continents when they came together to create a successful unit on the literature of World War I. Students at Carrollwood Day School (CDS) in the US and the International School of Dusseldorf (ISD) in Germany shared ideas, poems and field trips, creating a virtual classroom. CDS MYP English Teacher Philip Dailey says: “One day it occurred to me that we teachers know so much, we have so many good lessons, and yet we are so alone in our classrooms. That is how the idea came about.” The students first met in real-time via Skype before creating a website with Google Sites, called ‘A Study of The Great War, to help create a more peaceful world through international understanding’. They shared videos, read poems and had access to class

exercises where students could add their comments. ISD MYP Coordinator, Laura Maly-Schmidt, says: “Students enjoyed analysing poetry together with CDS students and were excited to receive feedback. They found things they hadn’t thought of before. The idea of having a wider audience than just people in our classroom motivated students.” The schools also shared experiences. CDS hosted a presentation where members of the US Army spoke about their military experiences and answered questions from students at both schools. ISD also travelled from Germany to Ypres, Belgium, to visit WWI battlegrounds, trenches and museums and made videos to show CDS students in the States. “The aim was to take them on a virtual field trip,” adds Maly-Schmidt.

“I CAN OFFER COUNSELLING OVER FACEBOOK” These days, Facebook groups exist for every topic imaginable and, in the case of Seppo Linnaranta, Guidance Counsellor at Tampereen Iyseon Iukio, Finland, that includes guidance counselling. “I’ll share newsworthy resources, such as working-life trends that are outside the curriculum,” he explains. “I wouldn’t have time to cover this material in lessons, but I feel it is beneficial to them.” But it’s not just Facebook Linnaranta has been using. “Because my younger students use WhatsApp a lot, I’ve set up a group of about 20 students on there who I need to speak to regularly,” he says. Although there is a plethora of social media platforms available, for now Linnaranta will

stick with Facebook. He says: “I’m not planning on joining other sites such as Instagram, Vimeo or YouTube anytime soon – I currently do not have the resources to record videos but may do in the future.” Although Linnaranta is enjoying exploring social media, he still believes there’s a place for classroom learning: “Social media will never replace faceto-face interaction with teachers, but it presents another option for passing on information quickly and efficiently. When we’re collaborating on team projects, I can also track their progress and offer advice.”

While social media is a fun way to learn, it needs to be managed correctly. Here are some tips to ensure it remains safe and educational: Be aware of age restrictions The minimum age to open an account on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, Pinterest, Tumblr and Snapchat is 13. For Vine and Yik Yak it’s 17. YouTube and Kik require account holders to be 18, but 13-year-olds can sign up with parental permission. Issue guidelines “Having clear guidelines on when students are allowed to have phones out is important,” says Newby. While Chase uses the following principles: Is the use of a device helping us learn and is it showing respect? Bring in the experts King Edward’s Witley invited an e-safety expert to speak to students and staff about responsible internet usage. In the 20 minutes that followed, there was a spike in access to Facebook privacy settings. Keep training updated As technology evolves, regular refresher training for all teachers can keep staff aware of the potential dangers that the internet can pose. Impose time limits “If students are given specific time limits and know they are going to be quizzed on what they have learned at the end, they are more likely to use their time wisely,” says Newby.

“STUDENTS CREATED A ‘TWEET WALL’” When the political protests in Turkey started in spring 2013, Richard Royal, former MYP Projects Coordinator, Bavarian International School, Germany, recognized a precious opportunity for students to get involved. As part of an inquiry into the concept of continuity and change, he decided to ask his students to investigate why people protest, using Twitter to search for the answers. “The projects I’d previously set my MYP students as a social studies teacher were often based on past events, yet here was a social movement which was developing in real time,” he explains. “I was aware of what people were posting online about the event so I decided to teach my class the benefits of using Twitter as a search engine.”

Keeping students safe and focused

Primed with a few core search terms, Royal’s class trawled Twitter for stories coming out of the protests. From there, they created a ‘tweet wall’ in the classroom, displaying the messages they had found. “The students discovered that thousands of voices sit behind every story,” Royal says. “Rather than observing events from the top down, they embraced the idea that history is a construct of many different interpretations.” Royal believes that social media will play a large part in the future of learning. “It is a tool where people can learn a lot,” he says. “Teachers need to accept that this is where students consume much of their media.”

Use school resources Using school property rather than personal phones can help avoid inappropriate use. “There is also less peer pressure on students to buy the latest technology,” says Newby. Educate students Andrew Day, Chair of King Edward’s Witley e-safety group, says: “It’s not about blocking websites but about educating students to use their judgment when deciding what to access and to consider future implications when posting online.” IBWorld 19

best lesson My

HOW TO CREATE MEMORABLE CLASSES Three teachers and their students across the IB programmes share how technology has made their lessons unforgettable

STUDENTS EXPERIENCED OMANI CULTURE USING SKYPE Kiaran Beck, PYP Teacher, Borman Elementary, Texas, USA As the class had already been studying the holidays, they came to the lesson prepared with plenty of questions to ask. They also asked lots of questions about Omani customs and were fascinated to learn about how the Islamic religion fits so closely with Omani’s daily lives, not just the holidays they were studying. They also found the time differences fascinating, asking why it was dark there when it was only 8am here. Our Jordanian student was even able to have a conversation with them in “A Skype education Arabic, which account is free to set up the rest of the class loved and it allows you to and were very connect internationally” encouraging and


My students were researching celebrations from around the world. One of my students is from Jordan, so we decided to study the Middle Eastern holidays of Eid al-Fitr and Eid al-Adha. I knew a couple in Oman so, as our IB Coordinator had recently received a grant to buy webcams, I decided to organize a Skype session with them. A Skype education account is free to set up and it allows you to connect with anyone internationally, so it was very cost effective to do.

20 IBWorld September 2015

excited to discover her ‘hidden talent’. Since doing this, I have tried to integrate technology into lessons so my students can experience culture firsthand rather than being passively exposed to the information. I am always looking for people to connect with through Skype and share their talents with my class. I would encourage other teachers to think about any international friends they have who would be open to sharing insights into their cultures. is a great resource for connecting teachers through Skype. Plus, it’s very easy to use. I was lucky enough to use a separate webcam but you could also use a laptop’s built-in camera.

TRISTAN MALOCK, GRADE 5 STUDENT My favourite part was seeing what it was like in Oman and asking questions. We got to ask questions about whatever we wanted and we got more information than in a book.

KALYN CARDONA, GRADE 5 STUDENT My favourite part was when they got to tell us about what they do, what they eat, and answered the questions we had. This was different from reading about it in a book because a book leaves us with unanswered questions. Seeing them helped us answer our questions and get to learn more about Oman.

Poll Everywhere



Not a dedicated education tool, but this can be used to create quick surveys and polls for students.

Students will think this is nothing more than a fun game, but it will teach them useful algebra skills.

For everybody who has ever wondered ‘why?’, this fun website answers sciencerelated questions.


GIRLSONLY CODING CLUB NURTURED LEADERSHIP SKILLS Ruth Eichholtz, DP mathematics Teacher, The York School, Ontario, Canada


AP/Press Association Images; Nicholas Jardeleza

Arif Minhal, former MYP-DP Teacher of humanities and history, Choithram International, India My fellow teachers and I used iTunes U to help organize lessons for my MYP class, and I found it to be a great experience for everybody involved. After creating an Apple account, we set up a new course on the iTunes U system and the school ICT team then helped students sign up. As the students joined the course, they received an overview of what they would be studying throughout the year. They also had access to a folder with general information and guides about that particular subject, and a folder dedicated to assignments and homework. We were really fortunate at Choithram International in that everybody had an iPad to work on, so everybody could access iTunes U whenever they needed to. iTunes U also has a discussion button, which loads a virtual forum for a particular assignment or homework task for students to complete. This enabled group discussion, deeper inquiry and collaborative problem solving. Keeping students virtually connected was particularly helpful during their winter break project, where they studied a topic of their choice based on tradition and culture. We posted the instructions and a selection of shared resources they could use onto iTunes U, so everybody had an easy reference point to find out what was

App brings classes together

required of them. It also gave them a platform to collaborate, which was essential, considering this was a team assignment. Each member of the group was able to keep track of what information they were gathering and reflect on how it related to the topic. Using iTunes U made the winter break project really straightforward for the students to complete. All they had to do was connect to the internet and everything was there for them. Having this technology made the collaboration seamless, allowing the students to really focus on and go deeper into the inquiry.


iTunes U enabled us to come together on the project, despite being miles away from each other. The software helped us complete our work without too much stress, which would have stopped us from enjoying our vacations!

Book Creator


iTunes or Google Play

Turn your students into authors using this app, which allows users to create eBooks and PDFs.

As an IB Diploma Programme mathematics Teacher, I am always looking for new ways to engage girls in the STEM disciplines. I was approached by a female student who wanted to study programming. Since our school doesn’t offer computer sciences at IB Diploma Programme level, I decided to start a girls-only coding club called GirlTech, as girls had previously been intimidated by mixed groups. In the first year, 13 students joined the club! At GirlTech, the students learn coding, serve as active leaders within our school community and network with female professionals in STEM careers. The mentorship element is designed to give students an idea of the diverse career opportunities existing in these fields. At The York School, we’re fortunate enough to have an alumna who is now employed by technology company Google and she put us in touch with the local offices. The Google staff were incredible mentors to the girls during our visit. Throughout the day, they were introduced to many female software engineers and managers, hearing about their career paths, courses of study, job responsibilities and daily work lives. They participated in a workshop on sorting algorithms, and had an extensive Q&A session with managers and software

Free to use for teachers, this website makes it easier to communicate with students and parents.

developers. We also got a tour of the offices at the end of the day. Inspired by our visit to Google, our students came up with an idea for an app. So far, they have outlined their initial scope of work, and have started on the initial design. We plan to continue the project into the autumn, with hopes to launch the app in the 2015-16 academic year.

Girls-only coding clubs encourage STEM uptake


Google does things differently. From the basketball court to the free food, we found Google to be a playful work environment which supported a balanced lifestyle. Google appeared to be not just investing in their product, but the people who worked there, fostering a sense of community which inspired employees to live happier and more productive work lives. Overall, being at Google challenged our perceptions of what a work environment was, and gave us new ideas for what a work environment could be.

Endless Alphabet Google Play or iTunes

Aimed at younger PYP students, this app teaches children basic literacy using lovable animated monsters.

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natural disasters

How does a school recover from this? Mark Edward Harris/Getty Images

When disaster strikes, schools must return to normal as quickly as possible or risk devastating damage to educational outcomes, as IB teachers explain...

22 IBWorld September 2015


ives put at risk and homes, communities and classrooms destroyed – the consequences of a natural disaster can last for many years. But it’s not just a case of putting books back on shelves and repairing the damage. In the case of the 2015 Nepal earthquakes, the entire education system is now in jeopardy, as over 4,000 schools need rebuilding. In the aftermath of 2005’s Hurricane Katrina in the United States and the 2010 earthquake in Haiti, educational facilities were completely destroyed. And the trauma of the experience means many people are still recovering emotionally. Sadly, these are just a small number of catastrophic events that have caused damage and devastation throughout the world recently.

Since 1990, natural disasters have affected approximately 217 million people each year and there were three times as many natural disasters between 2000 and 2009 compared to 20 years previously, a fact attributed by many to climate change and the consequences of global warming. But education can’t wait, as Japan has demonstrated. After the massive earthquake there in 2011, classrooms reopened and lessons started a week later. Earlier this year, in Nepal, students continued with their studies in makeshift classrooms a month after the earthquakes hit. From tsunamis to tornadoes, and floods to earthquakes, over the next few pages, we hear the stories of five educators, and their students, who have witnessed first-hand, the disruption natural disasters can bring. IBWorld 23

natural disasters

INTERNATIONAL SCHOOL BANGKOK, THAILAND FLOODS 2011 Chris Tananone, Global Citizenship Coordinator, says: “The school leadership team were really on top of the situation. We monitored the floods from the start, putting sandbags around the ground floor entrances. “When the floods actually hit, the school was shut, but many of our staff and families were affected and had to move out of their homes. The school had to stay closed for the following week, so we implemented online learning to make sure the students didn’t fall behind. We also cancelled some training days because we needed to make up for the teaching days that had been missed. “Luckily, the school remained dry. However, when we returned to school, we had to arrange transportation for those students and teachers who lived in badly flooded areas, because we wanted to minimize absences. We also donated cleaning supplies and equipment to staff members who needed them.

“But what amazed me was how our school came together to reach out to the wider community. We raised almost 1 million Thai baht (US$ 29,274) in donations. With some of that money, we purchased relief supplies, which the students then distributed to those in need. Overall, they delivered more than 7,000 bags of relief supplies and more than 5,000 bottles of clean water. “The rest of the money was put towards the Local Schools Recovery Project, where we

worked with charity Habitat for Humanity Thailand to help rebuild three nearby schools which were badly affected. A total of 154 students, teachers and parents participated in the project and the weather was hot – everyone was exhausted by the end of each day. But the work was necessary and satisfying.”

on his way home to the coast to tell his family that he had been accepted into a top university. “Once basic infrastructure was restored, classes resumed a month later and missed lessons were made up by taking a month from our summer break. “Our year 12 students were sent to Hawaii for three months, as part of a foreign language course, where they studied English and Hawaiian culture, with a focus on addressing post traumatic stress disorder. Since then, we have regularly sent students to Hawaii to focus on international mindedness.” IB Diploma Programme student Linna Loh says: “I was in 6th grade in Oregon, USA, when

the earthquake happened, but many of my relatives lived in Ishinomaki, a city right on the coast. My uncle told us about the earthquake and said he couldn’t find my grandma. The next morning, my parents told me we were going to Japan to help. I didn’t know when we’d return. “We drove around delivering food and water supplies to people in need. We took a risk because there was a gasoline shortage all over Japan at the time. Now whenever I face a conflict of any kind, I remind myself that almost anything is possible. “My grandmother was found dead 13 days later. She was in a car with two colleagues when they were hit by the tsunami.”

DP Coordinator James Dochtermann says: “It was a sunny day in early spring and we were nearly at the end of our school year. The 9.0 magnitude earthquake struck at 2:46 in the afternoon and lasted a terrifying three minutes. Desks, chairs and equipment were thrown all over the place. “A snow squall hit the area about an hour later and temperatures dropped. We were instantly cut off from electricity, water and, in most cases, communications. Some students and staff spent the night at school as it was structurally secure. Our other campus suffered severe damage and had to be abandoned. “In terms of lives lost, compared to some other schools in the area, we were lucky. Sadly, though, we lost one of our graduating students that afternoon. When the tsunami hit he was 24 IBWorld September 2015

AP/Press Association Images


natural disasters


Dr April Miller, DP Coordinator, says: “At around 11am, we were told to leave the school because of a potentially dangerous weather pattern coming through. At 4pm, I saw a television broadcast of a tornado hitting the university which is about 50 miles south of us. Twenty minutes later, we lost the TV signal as the storm came through the town. “Although we lost power for a day, the school itself was not hit. However, one of the

Cort Weber, DP economics and TOK Teacher at Westwood International School (WIS) in Botswana, recalls reading a Facebook account of the disaster written by a former colleague in Nepal: “‘The damage from the earthquake is so huge’, wrote Heather Farish of Lincoln School of Kathmandu, Nepal. ‘Over 98 per cent of houses are gone and not livable at all. The Bachhaladevi Secondary School is totally ruined. Three lives were lost from this village and 28 died from the next.’ She visited the village on April 30, between the two earthquakes, which measured 7.8 and 7.3 on the Richter scale. “Many in the international community will recognize what it is like to have more than one ‘home’. Nepal is one of mine after spending four years teaching at the Lincoln School. My heart broke when I read about the devastation. UNICEF estimates that, while teaching is taking place in Nepal, there are still 985,000 children who have not been able to return to school. “Lincoln has since mobilized local resources to get high priority goods like rice, oil, salt, tarps and blankets to villages. I have also used the news as case studies for our IB economics class at WIS, where I currently teach. I set up the ‘Teach Economics with Nepal’ website to compile lessons with economic issues around development, remittances, foreign aid, currencies and put them in the context of the earthquake and subsequent relief efforts. “This idea arose after a class discussion about where our responsibility as a citizen begins and ends in the face of a distant disaster. A student pointed out that although he does feel a sense of responsibility and probably would help, he doesn’t feel any urgency or see a clear way to make a positive change. “If we teachers can present a compelling, urgent case for action while covering elements of our syllabus, we just might inspire students to take action and make genuine CAS connections.”

“A student had her family sucked out of their house by the tornado and distributed around the neighbourhood” neighbourhoods where many of our students lived was totally devastated. The news reported that 300 people died and many more were injured. Luckily, we didn’t have any student deaths or injuries, but some had their homes completely destroyed. “A week after the outbreak, our IB Diploma Programme exams were due to start and we weren’t sure what our situation was going to be like. We had a very shaky start, but we managed. The IB helped us get a plan in place and worked with us throughout the situation. “The emotional impact of the event was really hard. While one of our students was helping a clean-up crew, he had the unfortunate experience of finding a body. Another had her family sucked out of their house by the tornado and distributed around the neighbourhood. They were fine, apart from some broken bones. Thankfully, because we’re a small school, the students and teachers have a good relationship and they felt they could talk if they needed to. “Our students wanted to do something to help their classmates. We made a list of those who had been impacted by the storm and we brought in canned food. It became like a little shopping centre for those in need.” 26 IBWorld September 2015

DOBBS FERRY HIGH SCHOOL, NY, USA HURRICANE SANDY 2012 Marion Halberg, DP Coordinator, and John J Falino, Principal, explain: “It’s hard to prepare for a hurricane. There are things you can do and there are things you just have to cross your fingers for and hope for the best. “Our power went out pretty early on. Although a few people had generators, you were hard pressed finding somewhere that did have power. We had cell phones but, of course, you need power to charge those. Everything energy related became premium. “The school was closed for a week. Even though our school was one of the first places in our town to get power back, we were advised not to let the students come to school, because a lot of trees were down and live wires were lying in the streets. Most of our students walk to school so it wouldn’t have been safe. “In its wake, Hurricane Sandy left over US$50 billion worth of property damage and more than 200 fatalities. We had students whose homes were severely damaged and students who were dealing with trauma, both emotional and physical. We started to wonder how we were going to make sure these students were safe. They’re just children, and the storm made them feel powerless. “Thankfully, we have a strong counselling department, who were able to provide support and, because the school is quite small, we were able to keep an eye on those students who were in need of help. “The one thing that was really nice was that the students took it upon themselves to raise money and help different charities. A lot of them were volunteering on the shore to clean up or gathering food and supplies to send to those in need. Perhaps it was because the IB has taught them to think and act globally.

Press Association Images, Getty Images


The only series for MYP years 4&5 developed with the IB

To get a sneak preview of History, Physics and Spanish and learn more about the series visit

retaining talent

Unorthodox but unforgettable: Jack Black as the energetic ‘Mr Schneebly’in School of Rock

Accept no substitute – holding on to the best


hat makes a teacher stay at a particular school? Maybe it’s having the opportunity to develop talented students with creative projects, like ‘Mr Schneebly’ in School of Rock? Perhaps it’s being able to build a special bond with the children you see every day, like Miss Honey in Matilda? Or, could it be knowing that what you do is making an impact, not just on your class but on an entire community, like the eponymous sports teacher in Coach Carter? The question of how to retain the best talent is one that is close to the hearts of many IB World School leaders. Surely one of the greatest joys of working as an international school teacher is that ‘the world is your oyster.’Teachers can job-hop their way around the globe, sharing a wealth of cultural experience with classes as they go. It not only adds to their professional life, but can also be a rewarding personal endeavour. How can one school compete with that?

28 IBWorld September 2015

Warm welcome Convincing a teacher that your school is worth staying at can begin before they’re even on the payroll. To welcome new employees, The American School of Bombay (ASB), India, which has a predicted retention rate of 95 per cent over the next two years, runs a comprehensive orientation programme. “Supporting teachers from the start is really important,” says ASB’s Director of Educational Technology, Maggie Hos-McGrane. “We prioritize making sure that they are well looked after and can hit the ground running – starting day one without having to worry about things like where are they going to live, for example. “We invite new teachers over for five days in April, prior to the start of the school year. When they come to the school, they meet their colleagues and we give them a technology induction so they are familiar with our resources. We also bring

Embeth Davidtz (with Mara Wilson) as Miss Honey in Matilda

AF archive, Photo 12/Alamy, Moviestore/REX Shutterstock

IB World Schools are known for the quality of their teaching staff. Hayley Kirton investigates what schools do to keep them close

“Schools that promote lifelong learning and professional growth for teachers will establish a good reputation” them up to speed on the IB programmes and show them where they’re going to live. “Of course, teachers relocate from all over the world, which can be difficult, so we make sure they have outstanding support.” Professor Dan Cable, Professor of Organisational Behaviour, London Business School, UK, studied the orientation process at a large professional services firm. He discovered that when the organization encouraged new starters to discuss their strengths on their first day, and the company spent some time getting to know them, the new recruits were significantly more likely to still work for the company 18 months later. “Having people reflect on when they’re performing at their best makes them feel good, because they can think about how competent they are,” says Cable. Making an investment A generous remuneration package also has its appeal. A 2015 survey by the Association of Teachers and Lecturers (ATL), a UK union for education professionals, cited poor pay as one of the top reasons why teachers look elsewhere. But compensation doesn’t have to be financial. Although Brian Lalor, a primary years Teacher at PYP Candidate School

Samuel L Jackson’s tough-talking basketball trainer in Coach Carter

COMMITMENT THROUGH PROFESSIONAL GROWTH Anthony Tait, Director of Global Professional Development at the IB, explains how learning opportunities and training can attract and retain talent School leadership can inspire commitment by providing teachers with a well-defined professional development plan and by offering opportunities for growth. By the end of the year, the IB will launch a suite of five new workshops for aspiring leaders and managers in schools. One of these workshops, ‘Leading an effective professional learning community,’ investigates approaches to developing IB-focused professional learning communities within the school, promoting professional growth and helping retention. The IB also offers a huge range of faceto-face and online workshops that give educators exciting options for their professional development (PD) across the Xi’an Hi-Tech International School, China, could be earning more if he’d stayed in the engineering career he’d originally trained for, he values the annual leave his current contract provides. “The holiday offering at my current school is generous,” he says. “I really appreciate being able to spend more time with my daughter this summer.” But any benefits should be suitable for all, suggests Hos-McGrane: “A generic package may not fit the requirements of every teacher. A single person may have different needs than someone with a spouse, for example. A personalized benefits package allows your staff to choose the things that are really valuable to them.” Investing in development can also be an attractive benefit. A 2015 Issues in Educational Research paper suggests that increasing opportunities for employees to undertake professional development in areas of interest may help in retaining teachers, as it enhances personal fulfilment. Lalor is delighted with the training his school has offered so far. “I’ve already been to Macau, China, to the IB Conference –

Michelle Pfeiffer as an inspirational ex-marine in Dangerous Minds

programmes. We have webinars based around more condensed topic areas, such as instructional design, TOK and curriculum planning; and we are developing new e-learning tools, such as IB DP Advantage, to give teachers options for informal PD. Looking after teachers’ wellbeing is also important for retention. Having been an IB coordinator myself, I’ve seen how burnout can ruin the best of teachers. We offer a workshop called ‘Affective skills: Building a foundation for mindful living and learning’, which is appropriate for educators and students in all four IB programmes. A common goal of all IB World Schools is to improve the teaching, learning, experiences and outcomes for their students. The most effective way to do this is to promote lifelong learning and professional growth for teachers. Schools that address this, along with staff wellbeing, will establish a good reputation and ultimately retain excellent staff. and the workshops there provided me with an incredible training experience, not to mention the opportunity to network,” he says. “I feel a commitment to this school because of their investment in teachers.” Offering job flexibility is attractive too, and could be the answer for professionals who wish to travel and teach: “To encourage teachers to stay, one of the things we’re looking at is the idea of flexible contracts,” says Hos-McGrane. “A flexi-time contract may allow a teacher to work at our school for a set number of days. It could be that each individual might be employed by more than one school over the course of a year.” Support and collaboration But sometimes, the main reason staff stay or leave has nothing to do with an attractive salary or training programme. It is down to the people they work with. Paul Southwell, Head of Junior School at Radford College in Canberra, Australia, intends to stay in his role for the forseeable future because he’s surrounded by passionate and supportive co-workers. “We work as a team,” he says. “We are moving toward a greater understanding of ‘conversations’, ensuring we all have a voice. We are more of a group of friends at times, and a family at other times. We try to share when things work well – and when they don’t. We feel safe to make mistakes and we allow room to grow, being aware of our diversity and seeing each other as learners as well. It’s about differentiating our professional learning.” He adds: “You get a sense about a school as soon as you enter. And this group of people, they blow me away.” IBWorld 29


“Teachers will be able to take students out of the classroom and into a new world� 30 IBWorld September 2015

Thomas Frey

The teacher of tomorrow

iPads and 3D printers in the classroom are just the start – virtual reality headsets and microdegrees will transform learning, says futurist Thomas Frey. Sophie-Marie Odum finds out what this means for teachers


magine walking into your classroom and, instead of asking students to take out their textbooks, they put on virtual reality headsets as you travel back to 753BC to experience life as a Roman centurion. It’s not just a pipe dream, says Thomas Frey, Senior Futurist and Executive Director at the DaVinci Institute. Virtual reality headsets – complete with gloves that offer real-life tactile experiences – will transform every lesson into an unforgettable and enriching experience. “It’s more interesting and much more real,” says Frey. “With virtual reality, teachers will be able to take students out of the classroom and into a new world. History teachers will be able to replicate what it was like to live in the Roman Empire, while physics teachers will be able to transport students 100 years into the future.” This provides students with a fully immersive experience. “So much information can be conveyed at once – a single history class will be the equivalent of a college major in history.” Next-generation teachers Frey, and his ‘Board of Visionaries’ at the DaVinci Institute, provide original research identifying cultural, demographic, societal and economic shifts and translate these into strategies for the future. He fuels the debate of whether teachers will be needed in 10 years’ time as students can obtain most of the information they need from the internet, and educators are increasingly encouraging students to take ownership of their learning. “We’ll always need teachers,” says Frey, “but just not as many.There are some things that don’t need to be taught, as students can learn them on their own.” Sugata Mitra, Professor of Educational Technology at the School of Education, Communication and Language Sciences at Newcastle University, UK, agrees. His Hole-in-the-Wall experiment – which demonstrates that children in the rural slums of India can teach themselves how to use a computer – is a prime example. Mitra wants to build a ‘school in the clouds’, which will have teachers beamed in through Skype.This could greatly increase the number of children around the world who have access to education. “It makes good sense to find the very best teachers and pipe them into our classrooms,” says Frey.

“Students will be able to tap into both live and recorded streams of learning, at which point our current teachers will move into more of a coaching role, guiding students whenever they get stuck. AltSchool in California is already successfully using a version of this.” However, Frey admits that automated learning processes will never completely replace face-to-face interaction. “There is no one-size-fits-all form of education that is going to serve everything in the future.” Microschools and nanodegrees It’s hard to predict exactly what skill set students will need in the future. But with our increasing reliance on technology, coding will become a fundamental skill: “It is going to be as important as learning the alphabet,” says Frey. “Students will study a broader range of subjects.We’ll need resilient and adaptive learners with creative vision, big thinking and the ability to take risks – an attitude that the IB Learner Profile embodies.” Colleges and universities will need to make changes as the breadth of knowledge and information we are already exposed to through the internet will eliminate the need for four-year degrees, believes Frey. Microschools, which can teach core skills in two weeks and offer micro- and nanodegrees, are a growing trend in the US. Frey sees this becoming the norm as jobs will require people to gain specialized skills, much more quickly. “Universities currently set degrees in two- to fouryear blocks but this is far too long, ” says Frey. “Microdegrees can be based on 1,000 hours of learning. “The needs of the world are evolving quickly and a rapid formation of skills is required to match this.We’ve calculated that the average person in 2030 will reboot their skills approximately six times throughout their careers – shorter courses will enable this to happen.” It could be suggested that an increasing reliance on technology could stifle student creativity. However, Frey believes that if we don’t use it to its full potential, this will disadvantage students. “Technology can open up areas of your mind that you didn’t know existed,” he says. “Currently, we are very much 2D thinkers with classrooms and pens.This all limits creativity. A 3D environment can dramatically expand our creativity in unimaginable ways.” IBWorld 31



To grade or not to grade?

Illustration Tim Biddle

Are traditional letter grades the only way to measure progress? Two teachers share alternative methods of assessment Economist Charles Goodhart once said: “When a measure becomes a target it ceases to be a good measure.” I believe the same could apply to traditional A-F grades. I have not used letter grades in the classroom for years. Instead, I provide students with detailed feedback to measure progress. This allows more comprehensive learning and development, and fits within the IB Learner Profile – encouraging students to be well-rounded and inquisitive. Although students had become accustomed to receiving letter grades, they ultimately found the process liberating. I find that when students realize they have the time and space to make mistakes, they produce some very interesting work. I use a ‘summarize, explain, redirect, revise’ method of assessment: I start by summarizing the work, whether it’s a presentation or a written assignment; I then explain if I understand what the student is saying; redirect them to areas they could improve on; and invite them to revise their work. Narrative feedback is simply a conversation about a piece of work – but it’s also quite comprehensive. I make reference to standards, targets, benchmarks and key parts of the IB syllabus.

I still give my students grades for the ‘grade book’ too, but each one is a reflection of what they’ve learned in light of assessment objectives, combined with evidence of work in their portfolio. Narrative feedback is an applicable form of assessment in all disciplines, whether providing commentary on a student’s mathematical thinking or lab report, or examining claims made in light of textual evidence in language courses. It’s not worth trading authentic conversation and assessment for the narrow conception of a letter grade.

“When students realize they can make mistakes, they produce some very interesting work”

Instead of using letter grades, my class now focuses on celebrating achievement. Since making the change, I have noticed that my students have been freed up to research and read more widely. I help my class build critical thinking skills to avoid students getting into the habit of just memorizing key points without an understanding and then regurgitating these at exam time. I believe that such skills are developed gradually over time, particularly in more abstract subjects like TOK, so I regularly run a ‘pulse check’ to see how students are coming along. Instead of setting tests and exams, I assess students using a variety of methods.Through seminars, presentations and debates, I give detailed feedback with annotations and constructive criticism, depending on the objective. I also assess digital literacy skills – encouraging students to create blogs and learn how to find credible sources of information online. However, I do find that the use of grades is still ingrained in many students’ minds – and winning over parents can also be a challenge. Some parents are yet to see the value of a ‘gradeless’ classroom. Formative work in my class still counts towards a grade and ultimately improves students’ performance on graded tests. Grades are a culling method at the first stage of the college entrance exam process and, as long as colleges require qualifying marks, grades will remain a necessity. Grades are a great way of showing a student what level they’re performing at. But detailed feedback on assignments helps students understand why they got a particular grade and how they can build on their understanding. By Rajesh Kripalani, IB Diploma Programme

By Charles Gleek, IB global politics Instructor,

history and TOK Teacher at Fudan International

North Broward Preparatory School, Florida, US.

School, Shanghai, China

IBWorld 33


Presbyterian Ladies´ College, Melbourne, Australia

HOPE pulls off rainforest rescue Australian students take on big businesses in their quest to protect orangutans endangered by deforestation in Borneo


tudents at Presbyterian Ladies’ College (PLC) in Melbourne, Australia, are making an heroic stand against unethically sourced palm oil. What started as a CAS project has now become a successful schoolwide endeavour. As part of an IB biology class on the conservation of rainforests, years 11 and 12 IB Diploma Programme students learned about deforestation and the serious threat it poses to orangutans. On the island of Borneo, vast areas of land are being cleared to develop oil palm plantations. In the process, an estimated 1,000 to 5,000 orangutans are killed each year. Students decided to take action, launching a CAS project called HOPE (Help Orangutan Project Expansion).The girls wrote letters to large companies known

34 IBWorld September 2015

for using unsustainable palm oil, asking them to switch to sustainable oil and offer support to the animals that are being displaced.They also spoke to school canteen caterers about using alternative products. Through a bake sale and school donations, students raised over AU$800 for the BOS (Borneo Orangutan Survival) Foundation: AU$600 bought one hectare of land within Salat Island, Central Kalimantan; students adopted an orangutan called Hope for AU$100; and AU$113 helped fund the Samboja Lestari project, a sanctuary that provides a safe haven for rehabilitated orangutans. IB biology Teacher Annabel Henriques says: “As there are already many groups and organizations trying to help, we set up HOPE to support them.”

Adopted orangutan Hope; her new parents (above)

PLC’s environment group continues to contact companies and promote the cause with online surveys. To increase awareness, students also created posters and a website. “People often don’t realize the extent of the problem,” says Henriques. “Students were shocked by the number of products that contain palm oil. It can be found in a lot of confectionery.” Students applied this knowledge to their everyday lives. Rachel Smith, a year 12 DP student, says: “I am now more conscious of foods that contain palm oil and it has affected my shopping decisions.” Fellow student Anika Ilahee agrees: “I’m more aware of where food and cosmetics come from and will continue campaigning to persuade companies to change to sustainable palm oil, or to use alternatives.”

The American International School of Bucharest, Romania

Art will change the world How a group of PYP students in Romania are using art to promote activism

On tour from Canada to Cuba Music – the universal language – unites students with friends from across the world Most music and Spanish lovers would be excited to visit Cuba, a place rich in music and culture. But Aspengrove School also saw it as an opportunity to support fellow students and orphaned children during their stay. As part of the Aspengrove Cuba Music and Cultural Tour, students from grades 8-12 – from the school’s concert band and Spanish class – travelled to Havana to perform with local schools, and learn about the country’s music, language and culture. Prior to their departure, the students organized gifts to take out for their hosts in Cuba. Each student and teacher chaperone took 12lb (5.4kg) of donated items in their luggage, which included a keyboard, guitars, a bass and an amp for the music school; and clothing, toothpaste, soap and toys for the orphanage. Spanish Teacher Marleen Guffens says: “Our students immediately bonded with the children in the orphanage, teaching them how to play the recorder, as well as helping them with drawing and playing ball in the courtyard.When it was time to say goodbye, there were a few tears.” Grade 8 students and leaders in initiating and organizing the project, Alex Godfrey and Grace Elewonibi, felt their team demonstrated excellent organizational skills and exemplified many IB Learner Profile attributes. Alex says: “We told people where to drop off the gifts, and coordinated what each person would take. Once we got to Cuba, we had to let everyone know where each box was going. It tested our communication and organization skills.” Grace explains: “For most of the trip we were thinking about all the people and caring about how happy the orphanage and music school would be about our donations.When we realized the music school didn’t have washroom supplies, we put together a small supply bag for them.” This experience was a huge eye-opener for students. “They all really appreciated our simple gifts,” says Alex. “They used everything we gave them, including the bubble-wrap packaging.”

about either ‘The importance of action’ or ‘The process of the exhibition’. “The exhibition was a journey, where I found out lots about my topic, but also about myself ,” said PYP student Fabian Lea. “This was a wonderful experience for the students,” said Janice Myles, Elementary Service Learning Coordinator at the school. “They realized the true value of collaborating to tackle real-life problems with their collective talents. “I hope the students will apply what they learned from their exhibition to help them mature as responsible global citizens,” she added.

Raising awareness of the dangers of littering

Tashkent International School, Uzbekistan

Hands-on help in Sierra Leone In 2010, 3,580 children perished from malaria in Kissi Town refugee camp in Sierra Leone. Since then, students at Tashkent International School (TIS) have collected almost US$5,000 to help UK-based charity Project 3580 improve the lives of the refugees there. To raise funds, students organized competitions

Egg challenge helped raise funds

and challenges involving the whole school – and their efforts didn’t go unnoticed. TIS was given a US$1,000 service-learning award from the Central and Eastern European Schools Association, which they donated to Project 3580. In April 2014, their endeavours were brought to life when three MYP students – Kamila Salikhbaeva, Yoon Jeong Ahn and Michaela Kuschel – travelled to the refugee camp. Alongside their teacher, Mark Hughes, the team from TIS provided a much-needed helping hand. They painted a school and a police station, travelled to a

clinic to purchase essential medical supplies and played with the children, bringing a sense of fun to the camp. “It was unsettling how much help was evidently needed in many areas of the town, from the school to the police station,” says Michaela. “It was shocking to see a place so set back in time – it made us want to help them even more.” Unfortunately, an Ebola outbreak has prevented further trips to Sierra Leone, but the school remains passionate about its cause and will return as soon as it is safe to do so. This year, the students aim to raise at least US$3,500 for the camp. IBWorld 35

Erik Peterson

Aspengrove School, British Columbia, Canada

Science is often hailed as having the biggest potential to effect global change, but students at the American International School of Bucharest set out to prove that the arts also have a vital role to play. In their 2015 PYP exhibition – The Arts are a Powerful Tool for Activism – students linked their own personal interests with deeper, global issues. One student was fascinated by leatherback sea turtles but was saddened to discover they were endangered because they eat the plastic bags that are thrown into the ocean.To raise awareness, she built a sea turtle sculpture out of plastic bags and produced a short documentary about the impact of littering, encouraging classmates to buy reusable bags instead. Another student – who was amazed to learn that playing with Lego could help people with autism – set up a Lego therapy club for those with the condition. As part of their project preparation, the class also travelled to a nearby mountain resort for a three-day trip.Working in groups, they created a number of different campaigns and a pitch to present to teachers and fellow students

BSB was the obvious choice to prepare me for university in the UK. I am improving my English through the Language Immersion Programme while continuing to study Music and Higher Level Mathematics.” Junhee Jung (Senior student at BSB)

• 1,350 students from ages 1-18 years • 70 nati onalities • British-based curriculu m up to age 16 • Students aged 16-18 years - only school to offer A Levels, IB Dip loma and BTEC • French/English bilin gual for ages 4-14 years education available • Outstanding academi c results • Wide choice of extra-cu rricular activities

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Jessica Misener

Everything connected From academic to librarian to writer – one IB graduate explains how her interests have taken her full circle

“The seven-year-old me would be beside herself,” says Jessica Misener, as she considers her current role as Deputy Editorial Director at news and entertainment website BuzzFeed. “I wanted to be a writer from the age of six or seven,” she says. “I would spend hours furiously writing short stories in notebooks and making my mom read them. I was a voracious reader and loved everything about words, and I’m so lucky now to get to edit and write for a living.” Her love of learning also inspired Jessica to enroll in the IB Diploma Programme at Fort Myers High School, Florida, USA, where she studied art history, Spanish and English. “There’s a special camaraderie that comes with the pressure cooker environment of the IB,” she recalls. “My favourite part was watching classic movies in theory of knowledge (TOK) and discussing them afterwards – and then that blissful feeling after graduation when you’re actually clutching your diploma in your hands.”

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Jessica says she feels lucky to be working in her dream career

“The IB taught me how to think critically and tackle deadlines” But she walked away with more than a certificate. Jessica’s IB studies also provided her with valuable lifelong skills. “The IB taught me to think critically and how to tackle deadlines and colossal workloads under pressure,” she says. Before settling into journalism, Jessica explored a few other professional avenues. While studying journalism at college, she took a religious studies class to fulfil an academic requirement. She found herself “falling in love” with the study of the Bible, which eventually resulted in her receiving a Masters degree in

Religion and Classical Antiquity fromYale University, USA. “My plan after finishing my Masters was to do a PhD and become a professor,” she says. “I applied to some programs, but I didn’t get intoYale, which was my number one choice. That was a crossroads for me – did I love academic study enough to move to a new school and devote the next decade, and the rest of my life, to its pursuit?” Ultimately, Jessica decided to begin writing again. She took a position atYale’s rare book library and spent her evenings and weekends as a freelance writer, before securing a fulltime media role in NewYork. Her journalism career has proved equally diverse, and she’s covered an eclectic range of topics, including contributions to Rolling Stone and Cosmopolitan magazines.

For the last two years, Jessica has worked at BuzzFeed, known for its irreverent mix of humorous lists, celebrity gossip, picture stories and breaking news. She has experienced first-hand how technology shapes our world. “We’re undeniably more connected than ever, to the extent that social media is real-life communication: it’s not a cottage industry, nor in my view is it diminished in some way by the fact that we are communicating behind screens,” she says. “Facebook, Snapchat, Instagram: these things are the future of interpersonal interaction, so I see no need to decry them as modern scourges.” However, she’s wary that it can go too far: “I don’t think social media is a bad thing at all, but I do push back against the constant pressure to ‘share’ every detail of your life with a virtual audience. It turns relationships into performances, and intimate social settings into ‘see how cool my life is!’ placards,” she says. In her fast-changing environment, Jessica is unsure what the next 10 years holds. But, as long as she can have a daily positive impact on someone’s life, she knows she’s heading in the right direction: “Whether it’s by volunteering, listening or just writing something that makes people smile, I’ll feel satisfied,” she says. Join Jessica and fellow alumni in the IB alumni network. Visit its blog at to learn more about this growing community.

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