Tuesday, October 20, 2015

Todos Juntos

Picture our school courtyard completely full with 300 students and all their teachers. It is a sea of black and red as students show their Imagine International Academy of North Texas school spirit.  The oldest students are sitting in the back, with the youngest up in front.  Kindergarten, First, and Second grades meet together, followed by Third, Fourth, and Fifth grade a bit later.  It’s a tight fit, but the atmosphere is calm and respectful with clear excitement. 

October 7 marked the beginning of a new tradition in the Primary Years Programme (PYP), as we held our first Todos Juntos gathering.  In Spanish, Todos Juntos means all together and the goal of these gatherings is for students to come together as a learning community in order to share, reflect, and appreciate everything that is being learned in the PYP.

Todos Juntos begins with a welcome song students learned in Musical Theater. It is powerful to see all our learners singing as one.  One by one the grade levels come up to talk a little bit about what they have been doing during their units of inquiry.  This is not a performance, but rather an informal sharing.  It is hard to believe 320 people could be a small group, but it feels intimate, like a family around the dinner table sharing about their day.

Kindergarteners recited an echo poem all together, shared different ways they were learners, and proudly showed off artwork posted on signposts.  First grade led us in patriotic songs.  Second grade explained their central idea using kid words and told about a lemonade stand to raise money for books to teach classmates how they impact the ocean.  Third grade taught us more about Helen Keller and shared how eating blindfolded helped them to wonder just what her life was like.  Fourth grade defined effort and perseverance then compared comments that showed growth and fixed mindsets.  And Fifth grade rocked the house with a rap version of the water cycle that got everybody moving.  Students listened in rapt attention as each grade shared about their learning then enthusiastically responded with our appreciation chant, “Hey, hey!  Ho, ho!  ---- Grade, way to go!  Hey, hey!  Ho, ho!  ---- Grade, way to go!” 

Todos Juntos ended 30 minutes after it had begun with our closing song then everyone returned to class.  Younger students heard about activities to which they can look forward and older students were reminded of their time in earlier grades.  Connections were made, IB learning was honored, and hopefully new inquiries have begun.

Later that day I heard students and teachers already brainstorming ideas for ways they might share at our next Todos Juntos.  I am bursting with pride for all the amazing IB learners we have here at Imagine, both students and teachers.  Who knows what they can do all together?  I can’t wait to find out.

We’re here to ask big questions
Through hard work and reflection
Working all together
We might just change the world.
Justice!  Integrity, Fun!
It can be done!

Holly Baker
Primary Years Programme Coordinator

Todos Juntos is held once a quarter for PYP students and teachers in an intimate, casual atmosphere.  Please be sure to ask your children about it and give them the memorable experience of coming home to tell you all the news.

Wednesday, September 23, 2015

Did you you know about the Student Aide Program?

One of the many things I enjoy about Imagine International Academy is the Student Aide Program for MYP students. The Student Aide Program invites students to apply to be an aide to a classroom teacher or other staff member on campus. This semester student aides can be found in the PYP classroom, the library, the front office, and more. 

The work I do for the teachers includes tutoring students, making copies, even cutting out d├ęcor for the walls. I have been a Student Aide in the kindergarten, and it really is a wonderful experience. Learning about what goes on in the classroom was something I very much treasured. This is an experience where students can practice leadership skills while working with the younger students, as well as one where they can practice being an assistant while helping the teacher with their work. I really appreciate this opportunity-I have learned so much and had a wonderful experience as a Student Aide. 

Amelia Kimball
MYP Student
Imagine International Academy of North Texas

Victoria Hinnant, student aide in the library.

Friday, September 4, 2015

Senior Year Advice for Future Classes - from Someone Who Knows!

Senior year means a lot of different things to a lot of different people, but to most it means stress, lots of stress. In the Fall, seniors have to worry about the Common App and their college essays. It is the last time to take the SATS/ACTS and Subject Tests. And in the Spring, we have the most fun of all: the dreaded IB exams looming over us. Senior year for Imagine International Academy’s first graduating class can seem over-whelming at times, but it is also going to be one of the most exciting years of our high school career. Hopefully by the time it is all over, not only will we have accomplished a lot and feel more secure about our future plans, but we will have set the standard for subsequent Imagine International Academy graduates. 

But being the first at anything has its drawbacks. As a student of the first graduating class, I did not have the advantage of learning from other people’s mistakes and receiving help from older students. So Juniors, Sophomores, and Freshmen listen up! Here are six things I wish I knew before senior year: 

  1. Become list makers: 
    You have to have a college list. You need to know where you're going to apply and why. What makes these schools the best fit for you above all others? What is the average class size? Are they located in rural, suburban, or metropolitan areas? Do they have the majors/minors you are interested in? What about study abroad and work study programs? Make a chart comparing the loan and scholarship policies, average GPA, and standardized test scores. This will make your life so much easier when it comes time to apply.

  1. Think outside the box:
    Not all "name brand"schools, no matter how famous and prestigious, are going to be the right place for everyone. Some of the best schools are not Ivies. Please, please remember that your self worth does not depend on getting into an Ivy League school. Some people thrive in those types of environments and others do not. What matters is what you do and how hard you work once you get there, not how big people's eyes get when you say your college name.

  1. Make summer plans early:
    If you have a favorite school, see if they offer any summer programs. Getting into a school’s summer program does not necessarily mean that you will be accepted into their college, but it’s a fantastic opportunity to get a feel for that school's environment. A college will be your home during some of the most influential and important years of your life, so choose wisely. Getting accepted into a program doesn't guarantee anything- but it doesn't look too shabby on your resume either.

  1. Get those standardizes tests out of the way:
    Finish your ACT or SAT by the end of junior year. Unless you really need to pull up those numbers for super scoring, June should be the last time you take it. Start early in your Junior year. It will make life so much easier when you get to Senior year and IB exams start smacking you on the head.

  1. Pay attention to the Common App opening dates:
    Start your Common App essays in August when it first come out. Try to get them finalized before school starts. If this was the only tip I could list here, this would be it. Please, please do this. You will save yourself many a late night. Once the mad dash for senior year begins, the clock starts ticking faster and faster.

  1. Build your resume early:
    Keep a resume of your extra-curriculars, awards, and volunteer activities starting your freshmen year. When you apply, you have to submit a resume of pretty much everything you've ever done in your high school career. Keep a log of everything, and you can filter through it when it comes time to apply.

For me and my peers, Senior year holds a lot of promise and stress. But hopefully, these stress busting tips will make it just a little bit easier for the next group of upcoming graduates. Are you listening? 

Mara Efimov
DP Student
Class of 2016

Saturday, August 15, 2015

Here We Go! Surviving IB (tips for newbies and reminders for non-newbies...)

August 17th. It’s here. Gone are the days of sleeping in and sun-bathing. Well, for now at least. As Shakespeare once said in some sonnet or another, “summer’s lease hath all too short a date.” The 2015-2016 school year is about to be in full-swing, and for those who are new to MYP or DP, lab-reports, service hours, and literature essays can be a lot to take in all at once. The academic stress paired with the nuisance of being an angsty teenager is tough to tackle. So, to ensure that the new academic school year doesn’t hit you like a ton of bricks (or rather, a ton of books… Don’t you just LOVE IB English?!), I have composed a list of 10 tips that just might prove essential to your survival. 

  1. Utilize Managebac. It’s the easiest way to keep track of your assignments and upcoming important dates. Get in the habit of checking it regularly, because your teachers use it to send students messages as well as to post assignments.
  2. Get enough sleep. I know your mom has probably told you a thousand times, but it’s true- a sleep deprived teen is one-part human, two-part zombie. Your brain can’t think unless it’s well-rested.
  3. Keep a snack on you. An 8-hour school day can be exhausting, and a boost of energy can make it a lot easier to get through. But, think trail-mix or energy bars, not Cheez-its. (Trail mix is rich in fiber, so it’ll keep you full and give you an energy boost. Chips, on the other hand, will make your energy levels plummet and you’ll be left feeling sleepy rather than studious.)
  4. Opt for e-books. If your teacher will let you, purchase your class reading electronically. Not only will it be less of a hassle to keep track of, but an e-book will also be easier to annotate and highlight. Plus, you’ll save yourself (or your parents) the trip to the book store. 
  5. Take advantage of study hall and free time. Use your time wisely. Every task you finish at school becomes one less thing to worry about at home. 
  6. Do your work for you, not for a grade. Although it can be easy to forget, the objective of your classwork is for you to actually learn. Don’t do things solely because they’ll be graded. Focus on actually comprehending the material. With that in mind, you should do your work even when it’s not graded. Formative assignments may seem unnecessary, but more times than not, they’ll teach you what you need to know for your assignments that are graded. 
  7. Participate in class. IB is all about oral discussions! Socratic seminars and guided class conversations are the best way to communicate ideas and see other people’s perspectives. Plus, being proficient in oral skills will help you a lot down the road- job interviews, public speeches, and performances will become a lot easier.
  8. Join a club. You’ll meet like-minded people, get cool experience doing something you’re interested in, and have something to add to your college application when the time comes.
  9. Make your service hours count. Volunteer hours are required for every MYP and DP student, and you might as well do something that actually makes an impact. Walking the neighbor’s dog and raking the lawn are both great, but there are better ways to rack up hours. If you love horses, volunteer to brush horses at a local barn. If you want to be a doctor or nurse someday, sign up to help out at the hospital. You have to do it, so you might as well make it matter. 
  10. Make time for yourself. Your mental health is the most important thing at the end of the day, so treat yourself well. Give yourself time to relax! As a full-time IB student, there’s no doubt you need some.

Well, that’s all I have for you. Take this advice as lightly or seriously as you please, and just remember that there is light at the end of the dark, dark tunnel that is IB.  Good luck and happy studying! 

Sabrina Bhargava

DP Student
Grade 11

Friday, May 29, 2015

The Itch is Here

It starts in the bottom of my foot as I’m sitting in math class and paying more attention to the clock than my teacher. It moves its way up my leg, my spine, the top of my neck, until it possesses me entirely. It is the itch that shows up right around this time every year, preventing me from thinking of anything other than the warm glow of the sun, the hours that are soon to be spent poolside, the taste of the first sweet watermelon of the summer.  

Every day becomes another big red X on my countdown until June 4, 2015. Every homework assignment becomes an inconvenience, the roadblock keeping me from sleeping in till mid-afternoon. Every school cafeteria lunch becomes soggy cardboard, so clearly lacking the juicy flavor of hamburgers hot off the grill. 

It’s agonizing, tormenting, excruciating. I know, I know. One thing is apparent in every student in mid-May; we are all itching for summertime, sleeping in, and sitting by the pool. Finally, no more deadlines to meet, no more antagonizing assignments looming ahead. No more 7:30 AM chaos to find your tie and pack your lunch, no more hours spent in tutoring before school. Summer couldn’t come faster, I know. 

But before you pack up the backpacks and retire the plaid, remember one thing: summer can either be the most productive or unproductive time of the year, and it would probably be in your best interest if it was the former. Yes, relaxing is paramount for IB students, especially since extra hours of sleep are few and far-between during the school year. But summer is also the perfect time to tackle new projects and do activities that peak your interests. For MYP and DP students, summer is the perfect time to do things that there’s no time for between the months of late-August to early-June. 

This summer, I challenge you to set goals for yourself. Make yourself a bucket-list of things you want to do this summer, and then make them happen. Don’t let every day pass you by while you’re asleep until 2 PM. Learn to play the viola. Volunteer at the animal shelter. (This is for you, DP students.. Those CAS volunteer hours aren’t going to earn themselves….) Take a class at the community college. Sit down with Rosetta-Stone and teach yourself colloquial Japanese. And if you’re a sophomore or junior this year, get to know your SAT textbook a little better. C’mon- at least open the book.

Summer can easily slip through your fingers if every day is spent with Netflix in your bed. So wake up a little earlier, spend more time outside, and do something productive. This can be painting your room, taking a ballet summer camp, learning to skateboard, anything that will leave you with a sense of accomplishment. This summer, consume infinite ice-cream cones, watch the sunrise at least once, don’t forget to apply sunscreen, and make the most of your summer by doing something worth mentioning. 

Now, when we’re back on campus come August and your friend asks you, “so what did you do this summer?”, you’ll have something worth sharing to say.

Sabrina Bhargava
MYP Student 
Grade 10

Friday, January 30, 2015

With Spring fast approaching, it is an excellent time to plan for outdoor physical activities. Shake off that winter slow-down, and get out and get moving.  Some examples to get you moving:
  • Start slowly with some brisk walking sessions 3-5 times per week.  Then, if you are able, increase the intensity by jogging.
  • You can do some calisthenics (static and dynamic stretching), to help loosen up those muscles that have gotten tight over the winter months.
  • If you want to take it up even another notch, seek the assistance of a personal trainer, and really get moving.
Whatever you enjoy doing that will get your body moving, just do it.  The key is to get in a routine, be consistent, and be determined in your active lifestyle! It doesn't take long to get in the habit!  So, get out and get moving! Your body will thank you for it!

Coach Buckles
Athletics Director/PE Teacher
Imagine International Academy of North Texas

Friday, January 16, 2015

Doing Nothing is Something

This week in 10th grade English class we read an article by Anna Quindlen from Newsweek which provided an interesting outlook: doing nothing at all is actually one of the most productive and stimulating things we can do for our minds. In a world in which adults and children alike run tirelessly from one scheduled activity to the next, it’s a rare occurrence to have a moment to just sit, breathe, and do nothing. 

Our overscheduled lives have gotten to the point that parents find themselves having to schedule times for unscheduled time; we struggle to find a time when we can take a break from soccer practice and debate club, turn off our phones, and just be alone with ourselves and our families. The structured lifestyles that children lead, following the footsteps of their parents, are really starting to stunt creativity; psychological research shows that it is actually when we are “doing nothing” that we think most freely and creatively. 

The entire article provides an interesting perspective that many of us don’t really think about when we are running from school to basketball practice to youth group: one of the best things you can do for yourself and your own peace of mind, is nothing at all. 

So clear your schedule for a couple of hours next week. Make it a point to disconnect yourself from the rest of the world, and surely you’ll find an opportunity to reconnect with yourself. 

Sabrina Bhargava
MYP Student
Grade 10