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International Spanish Academy

The International School’s TIS News * SPRING 2011

TIS becomes Confucius Classroom On April 15 TIS was one of eleven Oregon schools to become a “Confucius Classroom”, designated by the Chinese government-affiliated Hanban Chinese Language Council. OregonLive.com reported that about 300 people attended the ceremony, welcoming a 41-person Chinese delegation. “The inaugural ceremony was beautiful and the students from TIS were the highlights and focus at the event,” said Meiru Liu, Director of the Confucius Institute at Portland State University. “We appreciate all the great support from administrators, teachers and students from TIS who helped make the event so successful!” The Chinese delegation included Madam Liu Yandong, State Councilor of the People’s Republic of China. According to Hanban news, TIS fourth grader Eliot “presented flowers to Liu Yandong and greeted her in clear, fluent Chinese.”

“Children like Eliot are of vital significance to SinoAmerican friendship,” observed Liu Yandong.

5th grade students experience life and conduct research in Spain, China, Japan 24 students attend school abroad for 10th annual Capstone trip For Spanish fifth grader Finn, “it’s important to get to know people in other countries, to know what their life is like, what they eat, when they eat, what they like to play - so you’re not thinking some sort of stereotype. Also, if you want to get a job in another country, it will be easier if you have traveled and know what it’s like.” Finn was one of 15 students who went to Spain in March for the two week TIS Capstone Study Abroad program. As the school celebrates its 20th anniversary, Capstone marks its tenth year of enriching the student

experience at TIS. The travel concept was first tested at TIS in 1995, when Head of School Lucy Portela took a small group of 3rd grade students and parent chaperones to Monterey, California. The students spent a week visiting a Spanish speaking school and participated in many activities including viewing the butterfly migration. In 2001 the Capstone Study Abroad program started officially when three Japanese track students and one fifth grade teacher went to Japan for 10 days. Students visited Osaka, Kobe, Kyoto, and Nara City with home-stays in each location.

This year, in addition to Finn and his classmates, seven fifth grade students went to China, and two went to Japan. The students attended school and lived with host families or in school dormitories for one week, then spent another week visiting cultural and historical sites with their teacher and parent chaperones. “I think [this kind of experience] is important because when we go to China we learn about China’s culture, and we can see what actually goes on in China,” said Theo after his Capstone trip in March. “Instead of just reading about it in books, we got to feel it and see it - and I think that really makes a continued on next page


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Fifth graders travel abroad - continued from the front page big difference.” China traveler Kieran also appreciated the first hand experience. “The food there is different than the Chinese food we make here. I’ve been trying to eat the Chinese food here for a long time, and I still don’t like it. I hadn’t even heard of red bean paste dumplings, and I like red bean paste!” The mission of the TIS Capstone program is to provide study abroad experience to accentuate and enrich the language and cultural proficiency students acquire at The International School. During the Capstone trip, students validate and apply their language proficiency, world knowledge, and cultural understanding through first hand experiences and real world application. Capstone also provides an important opportunity for socialemotional growth. Ten- and elevenyear-olds learn a lot about their own maturity and personal skills by living away from their family for a week absorbed in another language and culture. Fifth grader Brian was surprised at how easy it was to feel at home in Spain. “It was very different than I imagined it. I thought it would be a lot harder going to the host families,

but it was really easy.” Reflecting on his Spanish Capstone, Alexander said, “Actually I didn’t have any problems communicating. Their accent is a little different so that was a little tough to get used to, but after awhile I got it.” Katie had a similar experience in China, “It was actually pretty easy to understand their Chinese. Some of them talked with kind of a twist, but they were really nice and it wasn’t that hard to understand.” Several of the children felt that the complete immersion of being abroad helped bring their language to the next level. Kyle liked that on his Japan trip, “there wasn’t anyone telling me that I had to speak Japanese and not to use English like we’re told at school. It was just that if I spoke English, I would be surrounded by a lot of blank stares. I really had to use my Japanese to be understood.” Alexander learned the same thing in Spain. “You can’t just ask for everything in English. You’re relying on the language, therefore you learn and understand it a lot better because your life depends on it right now.” Students use primary research to compare cultures This year Capstone took on a whole new meaning as it was combined with the school’s first annual International

Baccalaureate (IB) exhibition. For most IB units of study, the teachers provide a central idea and lines of inquiry to define the scope of the lesson. The teacher arranges learning activities and develops an end-of-unit assessment. In contrast, the exhibition is an individual or group inquiry that starts from personal interest and extends into real world local and global issues. The exhibition inquiry requires students to show an understanding of the main IB concepts: form, function, causation, change, connection, perspective, responsibility, and reflection. Students must use skills from all five areas: social, research, self management, communication, and thinking. In keeping with the IB belief that students should have ownership for their learning, the fifth graders are involved in all stages of planning their work. They choose an issue to study, and, with the help of their teacher, the students define the learning outcomes, the learning activities, and the assessment. At TIS, Capstone provided a natural platform for the fifth grade exhibition work. The theme of study was “Who we are,” and the central idea was: “Shared beliefs and values influence people’s everyday lives.” To delve into that central idea, each student or small group of students continued on the next page


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Students conduct research to compare cultures - continued from the prior page chose a topic of personal interest such as transportation, fashion, food, free time or housing. The students designed surveys and conducted their own primary research with people they met on their Capstone trip. They then administered the same survey at home in Portland. Students used the data and their personal observations to compare and contrast Portland culture with the culture of their host country. The students wrote essays, created informational boards, and developed interactive presentations to share their research and conclusions with the school community. The students’ ability to discuss their findings and the findings of their classmates showed an understanding of and reflection about the factors that make up cultural norms. One group found that, “the kids in Hokkaido and kids in TIS have lots of similarities. What is unique about

Oregon Poet Laureate enchants TIS poets Oregon Poet Laureate Paulann Petersen visited TIS in April in honor of National Poetry Month. Forty students read their own poetry in English, Spanish, Chinese or Japanese. Students beamed as Ms. Petersen analyzed each poem and commented on the techniques they had used. The students asked Ms. Petersen to read some of her own poetry. She wasn’t prepared for that, but promised to bring some if we would invite her back next year.

the kids in Hokkaido is that they have time for calligraphy class, unicycle team, and drawing Manga during their free time.” Another group learned that the Spaniards they surveyed use more public transportation and drive cars with better gas mileage than their Portland friends. A third group learned that older people in China eat first, yet “like American children, children in China don’t like carrots, onions, vegetables or lettuce either.” The findings were exciting, but the most enduring lessons were in personal development. The students really saw that they can take ownership for their own learning. With guidance from teachers and parents, the students framed their own questions, figured out how to find answers, and put those answers into context for teaching others. “It seemed like such a huge project at first,” said Henry, a Spanish Track fifth grade student. “But I learned that even if a project seems really big, once you get started and you get into it, you can do it.”

Wine Tasting Over 100 people sipped, savored and socialized to benefit the TIS Library Media Center. Thanks to their support we raised an estimated $4,500. Thank you to all of our volunteers, supporting businesses and individual donors who made this a fun and beneficial event.

Arts Week TIS art and music specialists are hosting the school’s first ever “Arts Weeks” to celebrate student learning in fine arts and music.

Over 450 pieces of art - at least one from every TIS student in prek through 5th grade - are displayed in the school’s Stearns Hall from May 23 to June 3. The official art opening included a guided tour, cake and musical entertainment provide by a student ukelele group. As part of Arts Weeks, all lowk through fifth grader students are participating in “Music Share,” crossgrade gatherings where students share their music class accomplishments. Arts Weeks will culminate in the annual TIS Talent Show for which students had to post a video audition.


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Worm lesson teaches self-confidence It may seem like a stretch to say that worms can teach kids self-confidence, but the evidence is compelling. When teachers first brought out the worms, the room was quiet. Children looked at the dirt in front of them, unsure what to think. What is that? Dare I touch it? Is anyone else touching it? Oh, what is that in there? Soon curiosity took over. One child reached in, tentatively at first. He captured a wriggling little creature and proudly held it up, “Maestra, maestra, I found one!” In Teacher Mary’s class, the other children noted this success and focused back on their own piles of dirt. One by one they plucked up their courage and the room soon filled with squeals of excitement. Teacher Vicky put the worm bin on the table, where a little girl in a princess dress and crown was one of the most enthusiastic worm chasers. She kept trying to give worms to her friends, eventually convincing another little princess to at least take a look. Another girl put worms on her wrist and giggled with delight. One of the boys was just happy with the pursuit - he kept pulling out worms, laying them on the table, and going right back to get more. The tone in each classroom clearly evolved from cautious and uncertain to excited and engaged. The worms brought lessons in language (can you say “worm” in Chinese?), in science (see how worm bodies are divided into sections?), math (how many worms are there? where are there more worms?), and, yes, selfconfidence (I can do it!)

TIS in the news The International School was featured in many publications this spring, showcasing the school’s leadership in language immersion, community service, volunteerism, and travel abroad. See these articles and more at intlschool.org/newsclips/: ►► Chinese newspapers covered the TIS designation as a Confucius Classroom, with photos of TIS students ►► AARP highlighted grandparents volunteering at TIS

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OregonLive covered the TIS “Socks for Japan” fundraiser Portland Family featured TIS in its February “Getting Schooled” issue Portland Monthly featured TIS in its “Ultimate Guide to Private Schools” Xinhuanet and People’s Daily wrote about the TIS Capstone trip to China in March US China Press published an extensive video about TIS

Educating World Citizens since 1990 • International Baccalaureate World School Thriving in other cultures • Fluent in another language Engaged in math, science, social studies & arts • Confident & capable 025 SW Sherman Street, Portland, OR 97201 • 503-226-2496 • www.intlschool.org


TIS News - May 2011