I still can not believe that my stay here in Berlin is already over half way over!
I am enjoying Berlin very much, and I am enjoying my time in the classroom even more! I have been gradually becoming the role of teacher by planning more lessons for additional subjects. The students are so eager and excited to learn, it makes teaching even more enjoyable! Last week I taught the students about possessive nouns, apostrophes, and planned an art lesson. The art project coincided with the Halloween festivities during the afternoon. While dressed up as zombies, witches, and pirates- the children made pumpkins by gluing construction paper strips into a spheres. They turned out better than I could have expected! Working with younger students has made me realize how important it is to incorporate art and creativity with lessons, as much as possible. Not only with younger students, but older students as well!
The Berlin British School is currently in the transitional phase of their curriculum. Together, the staff at the Early Years, Primary, and Secondary schools are working to alter older curriculum and implement the new Primary Years Progamme (PYP) curriculum at the Primary School site. This curriculum is designed especially for students ages 3 to 12. The PYP was created to address students’ academic, social, and emotional well-being. The curriculum encourages students to become independent thinkers, and take responsibility for their own learning. The PYP encourages student’s to learn about the world and it’s function, understanding, and being able to function comfortably within. The PYP is not just curriculum, but helps students establish a foundation of personal values and international mindedness. An aim of the PYP is to create a transdisciplinary curriculum that is engaging, challenging, and relevant for learners in the 3-12 age range.
The Primary Years Programme Model
I have enjoyed the school-wide topic, the Units of Inquiry (UOI). The UOI is a special “subject/class” of its own. It has designated instructional time, just like the other core subjects, in every teacher’s class timetable. The purpose of the UOI is for students to inquire and learn about globally significant issues. Each UOI addresses a central idea that directly relates with the transdisciplinary theme. I believe that transdisciplinary learning is crucial. Students who are critical thinkers and make connections between subject matter become mindful thinkers outside of the classroom as well. This only strengthens their skills to use their knowledge to recognize other perspectives, evaluate information, and make better, more well-informed decisions that not only impact themselves but the community as well.
With all of this information in mind, teachers create lessons that allow opportunity for students to be critical thinkers. There are higher order thinking questions being asked, research about topics of interest, and collaboration among students. The connections between subject matter is really highlighted within lessons. The teachers mindfully plan lessons where connections between new (an existing) skills and/or information is present. I find it fantastic to see how often the teachers do this! The young students I am working with have learned so much, and make these types of connections, without hardly an extra effort. They do not even notice when they are doing so because this is the schools ever day practice. I am always amazed when a student raises his or her hand and says, “Miss Anderla, this makes me think of… or this reminds me of… or I know this from…” The PYP and UOI together creates a strong foundation for student learning, both in and outside of the classroom. The students are not only active within the classroom, but many students are members of lunch or after school clubs and take pride in playing musical instruments. There are clubs during part of the lunch break. There are also clubs after school, one of which I spent Thursday’s after school with, Samba Club!
The bar is set pretty high, but I am enjoying the challenge of “thinking outside the box” when creating lessons. I am working to incorporate more hands on learning and art within my lessons. Creativity is important, but we easily forget that children need this time! Hands on learning is crucial to inquiry learning. Because of this, I am planning future lessons with higher order thinking skills in mind!
Take a virtual tour of the Berlin British Schools!
Example of a student’s fantastic art work!
It’s important to take time to travel and immerse yourself in the
culture! I climbed to the top of The Victory Column!