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.