2013

New Curriculum at The Berlin British School

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.

PYP-model-2012_Sept-20121

                  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!
http://www.durchdiestadt.de/touren/Berlin/Charlottenburg/BerlinBritishSchool/#p=scene_sc17

Pumpkins

Example of a student’s fantastic art work! 

Classroom (1)

Our Classroom! 

Classroom (2)

Our Classroom! 

Classroom (3)

Our Classroom! 

Miss Anderla AT THE TOP

It’s important to take time to travel and immerse yourself in the
culture! I climbed to the top of The Victory Column! 

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4 thoughts on “New Curriculum at The Berlin British School

  1. I know what you mean! Time has gone by so fast, its unbelievable.

    You are absolutely right about the art and creativity. It is all about engagement and fun. I have seen that with my students, which are grade 5 and grade 6. Even though they are growing taller and very capable of many things, they are still kids inside those bodies.

    I like how the curriculum encourages students to become independent thinkers and take responsibility for their own learning. Those are great life skills for young children to develop.

    The Units of Inquiry school-wide topic sounds very interesting. It sounds like a great program to incorporate world issues. Along with becoming critical thinkers and developing high order of thinking skills. That is always a challenge in lesson planning.

    Your school sounds very involved with programs and clubs that students really enjoy and like you said take pride in. That is always the best to see. I love seeing students enjoy what they do and take ownership and pride. Not all schools offer that and then you can lose that motivation and drive around the school, which in end hurts the school community.

    Good luck with your lesson plans! You do have a challenge but honestly it is better for the students and will help you grow as a teacher. So like they say in Australia “Good on you!”

  2. Brittany,

    I totally agree with the comment you made regarding art and creativity and how it should be incorporated into student’s learning more often. The Halloween activity pictures you posted look like great activities. In New Zealand, the high school curriculum also has art/creativity as part of the required assessments given to students in an assessment called “Static Images”. These images could be to recreate the cover of a book or film or to promote a scene from it. They are then marked based on use of color, angle, dimension, contrast, figurative language, ideas as well as AIDA (Attention – to a certain image, Interest – can the audience relate to it, Desire – makes you want to read/see it, and Action – actually going and acting on the desire). I have also been incorporating art/creativity into my units/lessons. Some of the things I have done include a three-week short story unit focusing on unique and fully developed ideas, developing characters, developing conflict/plot, attention-getters/resolution, and voice/word choice using show versus tell. I didn’t specify a word/page length because I didn’t want to limit their creative ability and I wasn’t disappointed by their final stories as every single short story had a completely different story to tell. I would happily read many of these stories aloud. In my creative writing unit with another class, I have done activities where they need to write a 6 word memoir with images and explain how it relates to their life or asking them to trace their hand, put one characteristic of themselves in each finger and then choose one to write about. Though many of these activities are simple, they really have worked well in terms of engaging students, especially high school students in writing.

    I also enjoyed reading about Units of Inquiry (UNI). I think this is really awesome how they have this as a totally separate class. It is really valuable for students to be learning about the world and global events, but to learn about it at the primary level really gets them interested early on. What kinds of activities do they do in those classes to make it interesting to younger students or are they just familiar enough with the process that they are interested all on their own?

    • Your art and creativity lessons and ideas are awesome! If the students enjoy what they are working on, and are “allowed” to make it their own, I noticed they really take their time, work the entire time, and put a lot of thought into their work! It is fantastic!

      Our Unit of Inquiry this term has been about festivals- around the world! We have focused on our own family traditions, celebrations, and festivals. Then we have shared within our class- learning more about each other and our own cultures within our room! Now we are focusing on festivals during the winter season- many that we are familiar with, but others that most students do not know much about… so they research and we do projects pertaining to each of these! 🙂 They are very interested in learning about one another, and other cultural celebrations! It’s very exciting.

  3. Brittany,

    What we called interdisciplinary or your description of transdisciplinary curriculum has always excited me as an instructor. Frankly it was one of the reasons I was attracted to teaching at the middle level rather than high school as I saw the various instructors more in tune with one another’s curriculum. You are learning so much!

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