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.
- MS PE /Exercise: School is working with MS/HS PE teacher towards a written PE curriculum. This does not mean that all lesson plans will be written and shared with parents. School is also looking at ways to optimize opportunities for physical activity during the day that can be offered to the kids. Tournaments are being organized during recess in MHS.
- Math Textbook Update: Why do we have Australian textbooks for Math? BFIS chose the current textbook with four criteria in mind: English language, adequate preparation for IB program in 11th grade, international nomenclature (metric, not American Standard), and available in Europe. There was not an appropriate American textbook fitting all three criteria.
- SFL 2012-2013: International Students will have the opportunity to work on Spanish language skills using Rosetta Stone program on school computers. More information to follow.
International Food Fair is Friday, May 18th
- Why don’t we provide free bracelets to volunteers? Financially, we can’t afford to give free bracelets to the hundred plus people who volunteer at IFF. At the same time, trying to award limited number of bracelets to smaller tables was complicated by issues of uneven expenses, effort, and numbers of volunteers. Last year, after much open debate, the community voted to discontinue the policy of free bracelets for volunteers. Ultimately, each country must decide for themselves whether or not to participate.
- Help for Small Countries: Small countries with limited volunteers may want to consider sharing a table with neighboring countries in the region or focusing on a single food or dish, rather than presenting a banquet.
- GUEST WORKER program, in which we can provide volunteers for a shift, enabling countries with one or two volunteers to enjoy the fair for a time.
- In collaboration with ES music teacher, IFF entertainment will showcase more international acts with link to country traditions. Please recruit your fellow citizen performers now!
New IFF ideas for consideration by the PTA:
- Sign-in table for Last Minute Volunteers,
- “International table” for those parents that want to bring in one dish, but are not affiliated with a country table. This table would still need a captain to work.
- Better communication from PTA that this is not a PTA funded event, but parents are paying for food etc.
- Increasing prices at bar as a substitute for free bracelets.
- Reminding countries to bring a trashcan if they want—ease of cleaning up and school supplies are always limited!
New Discussion Items:
- If you have a suggestion for outside speakers/authors/participants, please pass the name and description on to the PTA. PTA will send it on to appropriate department.
- Children not allowed to play tag on the playground anymore. Can alternative way of playing tag be found? To be logged in the PCL.
- If you would like to get more involved with BFIS, please consider helping out with the PTA Board. We are always in search of fresh perspectives and helpful, organized people!
- PE Update: Mr. Salach has been seriously ill, but returned this week. He is working with administration to revise curriculum, grading rubric, and drills.
- School is taking a look at diverse ways to support student study skills/organization skills for next school year.
- In 2012-2013 school year, school will be launching the use of Rosetta Stone during one study hall per week in Grades 6-10. This is in reaction to international parent requests for more Spanish reinforcement. The fluency level of students will be considered on a case-by-case basis.
- Summer building projects are still being developed.
- Math: Monica Neagoy will continue working with teachers and staff. There will be three different math levels beginning in 6th grade.
- Math Textbook: School adopted a new series a few years ago, in preparation for the adoption of the IB program. There were unable to find an American textbook series that adequately prepared for IB and used appropriate international nomenclature.
- Basketball tournament will take place week Wed., May 2–Friday, May 4.
- Bullying: Zero tolerance policy in place. School works with students to distinguish between minor and major problems, and to identify cyber-bullying. Students need to come to the school administrators immediately so that they can handle the problem.
Open Discussion Items:
- 8th Grade Graduation: Friday, June 8th: Ceremony on campus, followed by wine, pica-pica. All students will present a poem, there will be one student speaker. Rain plan is being developed.
- 8th Grade Trip to Mallorca, Late May/Early June: General permission slips have been sent home in the advisory folders so that school can plan for number. Not all students are eligible to go, although school is trying to help students re-earn the privilege. School will clarify how much money the 8th Graders need to raise via bake sales etc.
MS/HS Liaison Meeting: March 22, 2012
Issues Raised by Mr. Santos:
- Thursday, March 29th General Strike (including transportation). School is planning to organize carpools for teachers. Will not be a normal day, because will be a high absentee rate for teachers and students. Ultimately, it up to the individual families about how to get to school.
Open Issues raised by MS/HS
- PE/Exercise Movement—how can we maximize student physical activity. PE? Written scope and sequence exists, online curriculum is under construction. There continues to be a concern over class teaching of skills, drills, scrimmage. School wants to optimize play areas for MS/HS, by making balls available and making play areas available. This can be difficult, since the patios are shared with elementary PE classes. Timing of PE program and patios is under discussion for next year. A basketball tournament is in the works for the spring.
- How has the 11/12th grade IB program affected 9/10th grades? IB Preparation in 9/10th grade has been happening for three years, curriculum and faculty have been laying the groundwork.
- Are group projects being used effectively? There are many group projects, which put a logistic burden on families. At the same time, there can be an unfair distribution of effort between strong/weak students.
- Major Test and Assessment Calendar: Teachers should be reminded about this!
Mr. Santos Raised the Following Issues:
Dutch Language Lessons:
- School is working on the possibility of starting an after-school tutoring program for NATIVE Dutch speakers on the grounds for interested students. Looking ahead, this might become an elective for NATIVE speakers. At this time, there are no plans to have Dutch as a second language offered.
- Will the 10th Grade Foreign Exchange Program with Bard (New York, USA) run in the 2012-2013 School Year? This issue is under discussion in the upcoming weeks. While it is a wonderful experience for the high-achieving students, it presents curriculum and staffing challenges.
- Are kids obsessively checking their PowerSchool grades? Teachers will take the Advisory period to educate kids about how/when the grades are entered, and how they will become more variable in the beginning of the semester with a small sampling.
- Are There Sometimes Different Expectations by Different Teachers for the Same Subjects? Because multiple teachers teach the same subject, there will always be small differences between classes and teaching styles. All students however deserve the opportunity to succeed and the opportunity to reach the same ultimate essential skill set. School encourages teachers of same subjects to collaborate, to stay consistent in major assignments, in final assessments, and in curriculum. An exception is in Math, where we have multiple math groups due to ability grouping, so the final assessments will not be identical. Another exception is that Unit tests on different days may have a dramatically different structure, in order to discourage sharing of answers.
- Studies show a link between exercise and academics–Are we maximizing play space for our MS/HS kids? Scheduling complicates MS/HS use of fields and patios. Parents requested that the school organize more informal events like the MS Soccer tournament—great for school spirit! Basketball shoot-outs, soccer, etc. Mr. Marks and Mr. Preston are interested in this area.
- PE Concerns: Students feel that they need more instruction and direction during PE lessons e.g. learning games rules, drills, etc….BFIS Administrators will follow up on this issue.
- Are Cell Phones Used During Exams? They are not allowed during class or during exams. During class, a teacher has the right to confiscate cell phones and keep them until the end of the day. Exams–teachers ask them to turn them off and turn them in. If a child is caught using a phone during an exam, the consequences are severe.
- Prom: Students want more of a traditional dance, less of a sit-down student banquet. Food (pica-pica) will be offered. Looking at Monte Carlo or 80’s Theme.
Meeting notes of Open PTA meeting on Friday, March 30th
PTA gave update on upcoming events:
- Teacher Appreciation on May 4th. PTA will arrange a gift for all faculty and staff. Parents are asked to bring in a treat for the teachers and to encourage their children to make a personal card/drawing for their teacher.
- International Food Fair on May 18th. An opportunity for countries to showcase food from their home country for the rest of the community to taste. Event is yet another way BFIS celebrates all the different cultures represented in our community. More communication to follow in the next few weeks.
- We discussed, in general terms, competitions at BFIS and how students are awarded for their efforts. It is often not clear to students (or parents) the criteria by which entries are judged. Is there a way to make competitions like the bookmark competition and the welcome sign competition less arbitrary? And would it be an option to have more awards given out than just 1st place in for example the science fair?
- The drug workshop that was organized recently was in Spanish. Many English speaking parents were sorry to have missed the opportunity. It would be very interested in having a similar workshop/presentation in English. This was discussed with Jeremy Marks who offered to host an evening; list of points of interest to be drawn up by PTA and parents.