Archive for May, 2012

As good as it gets

Written by Lila Jorge. Posted in Administration, Elementary School, ES Principal

The children are snoring and that means we have had an action packed day! Since arriving this morning we have managed to go for a great hike through the hills, play outside near la masia, enjoy some wonderful read alouds and a movie, have two fantastic meals and complete an evening scavenger hunt with flashlights. What could be better?

Tomorrow we will be packing up and heading back to Barcelona. If tomorrow is anything like today, we will most surely end on a high note!

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ES Room Parent/Duval May Meeting

Written by edpta. Posted in elementary

Open Issues:

Why do we have two math consultants?  Erma Anderson is sent by the Office of Overseas Schools and AERO (American Education Reaches Out) (basically, the US State Department), and Monica Neagoy is hired privately by BFIS.  Both educators have the same philosophy and have been working primarily with teachers.

Will we get any feedback from the professional math consultants?  Erma has been visiting BFIS for years now, and she reports that she is seeing progression in how we are getting kids and parents to think about math learning.  We are analyzing our progress based on the standards and on the developmental appropriateness of lessons.

ISA Assessment Tests:  Benchmark for how we are performing against other comparable International schools.  No one assessment can paint a complete picture—BFIS uses multiple assessments to try and paint a more rounded, complete picture.

Why are we devaluing the importance of multiplication tables?  Teachers do not focus entirely on the multiplication facts, because they don’t children to think that the essence of multiplication is memorization.  The primary focus is on conceptual understanding.   However, many parents miss having the practice—knowing the facts is an additional tool that might help children to build a strong foundation.  Can we make sure there is a balance?

Can you explain the circular strands of the 4-Square/5-Square homework?  Yes, there are multiple strands of math that students focus on throughout the year, rather than focusing on one concept/one month.  This means that multiple concepts are reviewed constantly.

Pre-K/Nursery Concerns Regarding Parking:  Parents of the youngest kids don’t feel that it is developmentally appropriate to let the kids hop out alone at the upper gate.

Is there a possibility of enlarging the drop-off area?  Without official permission, we are limited in our ability to block off a large area—we do what we can with cones and our two teacher supervisors.

Is there a possibility of opening the green gate at the bottom of the hill?  We recognize that for people that park on the lower end, walking to the upper gate is very difficult, particularly when cars are congesting the sidewalk.  The problem with the lower gate is that cars will then stop by the lower gate to drop off kids, and then reverse in a three-point turn to leave the area.  It is simply not safe to leave the bottom green gate open as an option.  We cannot retrain our drivers and we have to be responsible for our children.

So what do we do?  We suggest that parents use the new primary entrance on Pasatge Bagas I Tores, between the ES and MS/HS.  It is one-block further, or an extra TWO minute drive to go up and around. Pasatge Bagas I Tores is less congested with a wider sidewalk.

Could staggered start times be considered?  A later start time would be challenging, as we would run into Oak House traffic.  Early childcare on the patio is another solution for the preschool parents, enabling them to arrive earlier.

What is the balance between play and academics?  Future Kindergarten parents are anxious about the balance between open-ended, creative play and academic play, inside vs. outside play. School is extremely conscious of the need for developmentally appropriate balance to aid academic learning.

Could there be an option of a part-time day for the nursery/Pre-K kids?  Traditionally in Spain, the days are long for the littlest kids.  There are childcare, timing, curriculum, inclusion, financial, and facilities issues.  This is a logistically extremely complicated matter and it is not on the table at this time.

What is going on with Spelling?  How is spelling taught?  Why is this not consistent between grade levels?  Studies show that weekly spelling quizzes do not improve spelling strategies in a meaningful way.   Memorization rewards good memorizers and rewards kids with good visual memory.   Can this be better differentiated? This is being differentiated, since spelling activities are taking place within the classroom, during small reading groups.  Can this be even further differentiated?  This is an evolving issue.

Rocks are not a viable substitute for soccer balls.   Either the school needs to provide balls or the school needs to step in and stop kids from playing soccer with rocks.

International Food Fest Parent Profile

Written by theresapta. Posted in frontpage

Welcome to our third Parent Profile to announce the upcoming,  annual BFIS International Food Fair, our famous food-fest meant to showcase all the wonderful cultural diversity here at BFIS!

The PTA wants to celebrate those parents who give unfailingly and unselfishly to the BFIS community,  so to that end,  we would like to profile some of the amazing BFIS parents who make IFF possible. This column is our tribute to them!

Our third parent profile is an interview with Angelika Rank, this year´s  Country Captain for the German table. Angelika is the busy mom of two children who go to BFIS, Maike in the 11th grade and Mark in the sixth grade.

Angelika atended her first IFF event the year her children joined BFIS. “It was a very nice experience and this is the reason I decided to participate. I´ve done so every year since!”

We asked Angelika what  she especially liked about the IFF. She told us that the IFF “truly represents the international feeling of the school. This is the one event where we can come together, share, have fun and enjoy the cultural mix of our school.  It is really enriching. This is what I like most about it. It represents what is unique about this school, and why we have our children here and not somewhere else.”

Angelika told us that this year the German table would be set up and run by 5 families  who will  work together. “We will get together a menu of little meatballs called Fleischküchle / Fleischfrikadellen, sauerkraut, different typical salads, and several kinds of sweets, as Germany is famous for its cakes and tarts.  Before we had the interview for this column, Angelika told us that she had just received an  email from another  family saying they would like to participate so there were still some more surprises to work out as well!

The PTA  asked Angelika if she had any advice for parents who might like to participate.  This is what she told us:

  1. Get involved!  It´s worth it! Talk to  your room parent, any member of the PTA  or a fellow countryman  and let them know you are interested.
  2. If you can´t find anyone with which to set up a table and you´d like to bring a plate of food, do what I did for a few years. One year I joined the Bruno Fasi table and I learned alot about the culture and food of this country.  It was really great and last year, I helped out at the Senegal table. There are just so many different ways to participate.
  3. If your favourite hobby  is  not cooking, there are lots of other ways you can get involved.

Thanks  Angelika!

If you would like to get involved with this year´s International Food Fest, send us an email or click on the button above at the top left hand corner just below Volunteers and let us know!

N-3rd Grade Mathematics

Written by Kili Lay. Posted in Elementary School, Kili Lay

What is mathematics? “A way of thinking” – Erma Anderson, May 4, 2012 at the BFIS Parent Workshop

Research by Asia Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC) found that the content of mathematics is the same around the world. They then turned their research to the difference in high performing and low performing students. They found the difference between these groups of students was linked to instruction – high performers were taught that mathematics is like a map, a tool to help you problem solve and figure out the many ways to get from one point to another point. Low performers on the other hand were given a set of directions to be followed step by step, sequentially, without seeing the bigger picture of how everything is connected.

The focus of this workshop was how to help your young child develop their own mathematical road map and support the learning that is taking place in the classroom.

Erma shared what were the key areas your child should be “fluent” by the end of that grade level. Fluent was defined as “efficient, accurate, and flexible”.

Another exciting day!

Written by Lila Jorge. Posted in Administration, Elementary School, ES Principal

Yesterday was another exciting day for the kids to say the least.  In addition to the academic workshops, we also managed to squeeze in time for ice skating, a scavenger hunt through the town and, of course, a dance to cap off the night!

Showing off our moves!

This morning the students will have the opportunity to present different aspects of what they learned over the past few days and put some closure to the experience.  Speaking with the teachers yesterday, all of us have been extremely happy with our decision to come to Campus Cerdanya.  From the kindness of the activity leaders to the quality of the food and facilities, we could not have asked for more and we look forward to returning in the future!

Having a blast in Puigcerdà

Written by Lila Jorge. Posted in Administration, Elementary School, ES Principal

Our first day was a huge success and we are excited to keep the momentum moving forward. As expected, the academic learning has been around science and technology with children conducting video interviews about environmental awareness and experimenting with robotics. Most importantly, the kids have had time to connect with one another and grow closer as an upper elementary community.

For curious readers out there, yes, the students got lots of sleep last night! Despite the excitement the kids were ready for bed after a very full day. It’s a good thing they are well rested as we’re about to have breakfast and begin another 14-hour day of fun and learning!

Sunrise in Puigcerdà