Friday, February 24, 2017

Crunch Time!

As a DP Higher Level and Standard Level Biology Teacher, I have a front row seat to see my students respond to crunch time. This is the time of the year that we all (students, teachers, and the Admin) know is coming and have been preparing for over the past 2 years.

For myself, this is the time I start to make sure that the coursework is complete, all topics have been covered, making sure that my students have access to all the resources that they need to prepare for the IB assessments, making sure their Internal Assessments and Extended Essays are graded and turned in and my prayers for all of my students get intensified. 

It is beautiful to watch students who have paced themselves well throughout the two years as they gain confidence and the support their peers. They now work as a team and not as individuals, they become leaders. Each one taking the lead in the area they are most confident in. These are the students who were engaged in the process of learning, engaged in the process of investigation (which is what their Internal Assessments and Extended Essays are), engaged in the process of building knowledge (which is how most of the coursework is set up, one topic leading into another) and not just learning for the sake of the test. 

At the same time, it is so hard to watch students who were not engaged in this process of the IB Diploma crumble under pressure. These students realize the amount of work that is due at crunch time. The amount of material they need to master before the IB exams seems insurmountable to them. Some of these students look for the ways out, they cannot fathom the idea that there is no way out of this. They had committed to the IB Diploma Programme two years ago and that commitment demands that they are ready for every assessment that the IB throws at them. 

The joy and pride that I have seen in some of my students on their graduation are earned through hard work, dedication, and engagement in the process. And I get the privilege to watch them grow from overwhelmed, confused, awkward, juniors into confident, proud, and successful young men and women and more importantly: truly global citizens. I wish to see that same joy and pride in all my students. 

Hannah Nayakanti
DP Biology and ESS teacher  

Monday, January 2, 2017

As we wrapped up 2016, the school participated in our annual Day of Service on November 16. Students engaged in a variety of service projects helping to support a number of agencies in the area. The school also was a recipient of the students' energy as members of the MYP community built new play equipment for the school.

Enjoy the following description of the effort, written by Coach Ortiz.

November 16, 2016, Imagine International Academy of North Texas’s Day of Service, was a day marked with sweat and straining muscles for several of our Grade 9 and Grade 10 students.  The project was to build a 9-Square in the Air station to provide hours of fun to the student body for use during flex time.  

The students broke down into teams to dig a three-foot hole in hard Texas dirt (clay), erect a ten-foot, 6x6 wood post and cement the posts into the ground.  We had 16 teams of students working simultaneously to complete the project in the shortened half-day schedule.  The students worked together in a positive, productive and encouraging manner to complete the structure on time.  

Since the phenomenal work of Grades 9 and 10 has been complete, the 9-Square in the Air has enjoyed an abundance of energetic students playing the highly enjoyable game every single flex time period.  It will be enjoyed by student for years to come.  Thank you Grades 9 and 10 for giving Imagine your community service time and work.

Coach Ortiz

Thursday, November 10, 2016

Taking Action

There is much to be done, but each of us can do our part and it will help!  An important part of the International Baccalaureate program is the Action Cycle, through which students experience taking action and making choices.

In second grade, we have been learning about how our actions and choices shape the future in our current unit of inquiry, Sharing the Planet.  One way to help students start thinking about their choices is to get them doing something that will lead to a change or make an impact. 

Second graders were given a homework assignment in which they were asked to choose an action that they can do, repeat, observe and reflect upon their action. They were given about 3 weeks to complete the action cycle.  They had to turn in a log of each time they took action to record the date, the time, the place and most importantly what the impact was of their action. They also documented their action with photographs or drawings.

Just this week, students presented their actions to the class and reflected on their action.  Our students have taken some incredible actions and have made impacts in their communities.  Shaurya Kolla in Mrs. Wood’s class made a pledge to plant more trees, and he asked others at Imagine to also take the same pledge.   He also created a video showing how he is doing his part to conserve natural resources and challenges others to do the same!

Through their action plan homework, all second graders were able to experience how their actions shape the future.  We hope that our students will remember this unit and will continue taking actions that make our world a better place!
                                                                                                                                                                  Kristy Coleman
Grade 2



Friday, November 4, 2016

Vitamin N = Nature: the Kindergarten Garden

Picture a parade of Imagine IB Learners, our Kindergarteners, at the beginning of October, with containers of herbs, flowers, and various vegetables in hand, excitedly marching down the hall toward our courtyard door leading to the picket-fenced Kindergarten garden.  “Planting Day” is finally here and so exciting as our 5- and 6-year-old students dig holes and carefully place plants in, cover them and pat down the soil, or take a firm hold of the hose to water the plants now settling into each of our three 4’x4’ raised beds.  Of course, this scene is not complete without several students noticing and delighting at the discovery of ants and butterflies, others chasing each other in the warm sun, and teachers reassuring concerned students that everyone will get a turn!

We are now nearing the end of our Cycles Unit of Inquiry, which entails studying various cycles of the earth, including the seasons, the moon, and life cycles of insects, spiders, beans, apples, frogs, butterflies, just to name a few.  One of the wonderful benefits of having our own garden is that it provides an extension environment for extended inquiry well after our official unit is over.  For instance, after our Pumpkin Day, when we had a variety of math investigations centered on pumpkins, one class carved the top out of their pumpkin, left all the seeds inside, filled it with soil, and set it in the garden…and will wait to see what happens!  Another class planted Indian corn in a container and now corn is growing…they plan to transplant the corn plant to the garden to watch what happens next.  The heartiest of the pinto and lima beans plants in plastic cups in the classroom will be transplanted into the garden, as well, to see if the whole life cycle of one seed can, indeed, produce new beans!  How powerful will it be to see a worksheet diagram of “the life cycle of a bean plant” come to life? How tasty will a salad be from our garden served at lunchtime by budding Kindergarten chefs?

Kindergarten literally means, “a garden for children,” and many studies show that giving children access to real gardens and green environments  significantly enhances their interest in learning and academic outcomes, their feelings of affinity toward their school, their creativity, and feelings of being responsible, proud, resourceful, and confident. 

Enjoy this resource:

Karen Ferguson
Kindergarten Teacher

Tuesday, October 18, 2016

The College Search

As an IB senior halfway through my first semester, I can share that college is something that’s been circling amongst my top priorities for a while now. I first started looking at colleges seriously about a year ago, upon which I quickly realized two things. One, I had a lot of things to think about. With over 4,168 recognized colleges and universities in America to choose from (not even including international universities) there is a lot of narrowing to be done. And two, I knew way less about the whole process than I thought I did.

For starters, applying to college is costly, not only financially (at $75 an app my original vague plan to just apply everywhere I was remotely interested in and consider my options later was wildly unfeasible), but time-consumingly as well. There were supplements to write, scholarships to be applied for, unique essay topics be thought of, resumes to craft, interviews to prepare for, recommendations to request, and overall a lot of tedious paperwork to be done. With all the effort it takes to apply genuinely to a school, putting some thought into what you’re looking for in a college (before worrying about what colleges are looking for in you) can really alleviate the process.

The first step when you’re considering any major life choice, whether it’s investigating potential careers or choosing a college, is to take a minute to reflect on yourself. While it might seem easier to pick the highest paying job or most prestigious school and work backwards, envisioning your future as a Harvard pre-med student, the truth everyone is different, and there’s no one-path-fits-all to be successful (or happy). As Howard Thurman once said (coincidentally also the prompt of an essay I recently wrote), “Don’t ask yourself what the world needs. Ask yourself what makes you come alive, and then go do that. Because what the world needs is people who have come alive.” Before considering schools take a minute to think about your strengths and your weaknesses; the things you’re more naturally good at and enjoy, and the things you might not be so good at, that you don’t like, or don’t have a passion for. School subjects are a good way to judge what you might be interested in pursuing in the future, but keep in mind there are also dozens of other subjects and professions out there that you might not have been exposed to yet. For many, undergraduate colleges can be a safe place to experiment in different fields, and discover more about the person you want to be, as an adult.

That’s not to say it isn’t valuable to have a plan for the future, and many also find it beneficial have a more specific idea of what they want to study and eventually pursue as a career. It’s important to consider this when looking at colleges; do you prefer large public schools with a variety of majors, smaller humanities-based liberal arts schools, pre-professional science and engineering schools, purely creative-focused art schools, trade schools, or a combination?

Financial considerations are also extremely important in determining what colleges and universities would best fit your specific situation. Need-based aid and merit aid, as well as federal or nonfederal loans, and outside scholarships, can all contribute to lowering the cost of attendance. Even if financial need is not one of your biggest priorities, it’s important to sit down with your parents or guardians sooner rather than later to make sure you’re all on the same page, so that you can all work together to make sure you have a list of colleges you both love, and are also realistic. Keep in mind as well that while in-state public universities are most often the least expensive immediate options, public schools in general do not always give the most scholarship money, and private schools, while appearing more expensive, often have a higher endowment and can therefore give equal or greater financial aid packages to students.

Other main aspects of colleges to think about include location (do you feel more comfortable in a rural, suburban, city, or other type of setting? How far from home do you want to be? Are there particular states you would like to live in?), size (both school and class size), class type (do you learn better in small discussion based classes, or larger lecture-based ones?), school culture (would you prefer a liberal, conservative, or equal leaning student body? How important is diversity or religious affiliation to you?), and national or regional rankings.

Overall, while portraying yourself in the best light possible in applications is important, the most important deciding factor when narrowing your college list is whether or not you know you can be happy and successful at a school. But when starting your college journey, remember- your future isn’t sealed by the school you choose, and no matter where you end up going everything will be okay. College is just one step in the grand scheme of things; you still have your whole life ahead of you.

Naomi Brady
Class of 2017

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