Thursday, 21 March 2013

Year 6 Exhibition

What a fabulous Year 6 Exhibition we had last night! Our students were wonderfully articulate at presenting their learning and actions to a very large crowd of parents and extended family members.

Many people commented to me on the depth of knowledge and understanding our students displayed. They certainly demonstrated how important it is not to underestimate what children of this age can grasp. There was plenty of evidence of some pretty sophisticated understandings!

The Exhibition was also a great demonstration of how we as a school can pull together. Lots of staff from all across the school were involved as mentors and instructors, plenty of parents were involved with facilitating mini field trips and all of our students were able to be involved in a variety of ways.

I really like the move to global awareness and action as a part of our curriculum. I think that it is a powerful way to make a positive impact on our community and reflects the type of knowledge and understandings our students, who are the adults of the future, need!

Wednesday, 20 March 2013

Tarzan and Andy

It was a great experience yesterday, as a part of the Hong Kong International Young Readers' Festival, to take a group of students to listen to Andy Briggs, author of the 'Tarzan' series (he gained permission to update the stories) and screenwriter. Andy was very entertaining and engaging. Our students not only gained knowledge about jungle survival, they also gained ideas and inspiration for becoming the authors, song writers and screen writers of the future, and were told how important it was to have ideas and to follow them through, no matter your age.

I have always believed that it is important that we foster our children's ideas and interests from an early age. When my son was young, all he wanted to do was come home from school and get outside. He wanted to be in the garden, climbing trees, chopping at them (as a result, I never had sharp knives and no, he wasn't allowed them!) making huts, playing in the stream and he just loved being out in the fresh air and sunshine! Homework was never a priority and it was always a struggle to get him to complete it. Now, he is an adult and what is his profession? He is an arbourist who loves to work outside in the fresh air and sunshine, he climbs trees, uses chainsaws, prunes trees into shape...
His ten weekly spelling words never had a chance!

Wednesday, 13 March 2013

Chinese Open Day

It was great to see so many parents come along to our Chinese Open Day. I really appreciated the fact that this took time and commitment and so I was very glad to hear how beneficial it was for you to see what actually happens in a Chinese lesson.
I took both Cantonese and Mandarin lessons for a whole year. These were one on one lessons for an hour each week. It was unbelievably hard, I had nothing to 'hang' my learning on as no words in English sound similar as they do in say French or Spanish. I underestimated the commitment I needed to learn either language and certainly felt like a 'bad student' every time I went to lessons! This reinforced my belief that every student needs to feel that they can learn and a poor self image of themselves as a learner hinders achievement. I always just felt overwhelmed!
As a result, I am always in awe of our students who can read, write and speak Mandarin, but most impressively, understand what the teacher is saying- an experience I never had the pleasure of!

Friday, 8 March 2013

Mother tongue

It has been great to have various readers, both staff and parents come to read to the children in their native tongue this week.

I really enjoyed listening to the stories and found that I could understand the 'feeling' of the story through the reader's intonation and by looking at the pictures. Obviously, our students found this too, as the readers had an audience that extended beyond the native speakers of that language.

Sometimes, I am aware that for some families, it can be difficult to decide what language should be 'mother tongue'. For example, when the parents each have a different language and that is also different to the language spoken in the country in which they are living.

What I do know about this dilemma, is that it is important that children have a solid foundation in at least one language and that there is a strong model of that language in the home.

The term 'mother tongue' is often called this because it is the one learned from birth and is the one that the child first hears from their mother. The richness and quality of this language heard often, even before the child is verbal, makes this a strong base on which to build.

Thursday, 7 March 2013

Lights, camera...action!

The whole notion of action as a component of our curriculum is a relatively new one, one, that I might add, I think is fabulous! With our curriculum now being about concepts rather than content, the whole concept of being a socially aware, responsible global citizen is something that we all embrace and take seriously here at Bradbury.

Growing up in a relatively geographically isolated country, with a fairly limited ethnic range, in a time well before connectivity was a way of life, I was an an adult before I realised that there were different ways of looking at the world, that other ways of life and thought were as valid as my own and that my actions could be a part of a larger collective.

My country studies in primary school were limited to the flag, food, festivals, houses, maybe a bit about the geography, all pretty shallow really. They didn't help me make connections with, or find similarities to people who didn't look like me or speak my language. In fact, if anything, they served to emphasise our differences!

I really like the way our students are encouraged to look at the world beyond their own, to understand that there are other perspectives and ways of thinking and to think about how they can, through their actions, make our world so much better.

I think taking action is something we do really well here at Bradbury. Right now, with the Year 6 exhibition happening, there are lots of examples at a student level. At a community level, we can be proud of our soon- to-be-three Room to Read libraries built in a developing country. At a parent level, we have actions such as those of our Speech Therapist mums who recently screened many of our Year 1&2 students and donated all of the fees received, as well as many hours of their personal time to supporting one of our Bradbury dads who is waiting for a costly organ transplant.

There are many, many more examples, all of which makes me glad that we are extending our students' way of thinking beyond the shallow, into ways that make them tolerant, understanding and 'action taking' people. Much better than simply knowing a country's flag and food!

Friday, 1 March 2013

What a great Bradbury day!

One of the reasons I love my job is because it is so positive. Everyday I am surrounded by people who are doing wonderful things, are happy and who want to be there. I see smiles, laughter and people enjoying themselves.

Today was a wonderful example of this. My day started off visiting classrooms, where in 5H I enjoyed timing students as they completed their spelling task- then got them to repeat it, to see if they could beat their time. I was also in 3T where I was very proudly shown a poem about cheese, written for homework and brought to school to share, along with a sample for everyone!

Next, we had Alan Gibbons in to talk to us about his books, his life and about being an author. He was so funny and had us all, staff and students in stitches laughing at his stories.

In the afternoon, I watched a Year 6 Exhibition group talk to 3T about shark conservation and, being their mentor, I knew how much time, thought and preparation had gone into their presentation, which they did really well! !

Finally, we listened to a group of SIS students present to us about food wastage, including one ex pupil. It was wonderful for our students to catch a glimpse of high school life and for us to be impressed by articulate, confident and concerned young people.

It was one of those days where there was lots happening, everyone was engaged and it felt great to be a part of it! I enjoyed being involved with our students, as I always do- I'll catch up on my paperwork over the weekend!