Wednesday, September 20, 2017

My Light Bulb Idea

I often get questions from students (and parents) asking what exactly needs to be done to get that elusive 6 or 7. This year, I came up with an I-get-it-now way to show my class just how it’s done.

After reviewing the rubric and discussing how the rubric works. I read the book Sylvia’s Spinach by Katherine Pryor to my class. This is a book about a girl whose class is going to grow a garden. Each student plants and cares for his or her assigned vegetable. Sylvia is given spinach to her dismay, but nurtures it until it finally grows. And though it is the last plant to sprout, it is one of the first to be ready to eat. Sylvia is so proud of her spinach that she decides to taste it and finds that she likes spinach. She likes it so much that she eagerly shares it with her family. After reading the book, we discussed what sort of grade Sylvia earned on her project. The kids had a great discussion on why she should get a 5 or 6.

Next, we watched a video about Katie Stagliano. When Katie was a third grader, her teacher assigned her class the project to grow a cabbage. Katie’s cabbage grew to an impressive forty pounds. Katie decided to donate her cabbage to help feed those in need. She also helped to serve the cabbage and found that it helped feed 275 people. Katie was so impressed by this that she decided to grow a garden so that she could feed even more people in her community. Seventeen-year-old Katie is now the founder of Katie’s Krops, a non-profit organization that offers grants to children around the country to grow crops in their community so the harvest can be donated locally. After watching the video, we discussed what grade Katie would receive on her project.

The kids could see the obvious distinctions between a 5 and a 7. They could see the difference between doing something well and completely and taking their learning beyond to make a global connection.

Sheri Thierry
Grade 4


Friday, September 15, 2017

Today, 125 Grade 3 Dragons and a handful of brave parents ventured to the Elm Fork Education Center on the UNT campus. 

We started the day seeing what kinds of invertebrates we could find in the creek. This was a "lay on your belly and scoop up the mud type of situation," which was met with enthusiasm from our students. We found all kinds of critters and 124 of our third graders did not fall in the creek! 

Next we headed inside to the Sky Theater and traveled through the solar system, learning about our neighbor planets. We have been learning a lot about  space in our classrooms recently, so the children were able to really make connections to their learning. 

I'm going to skip the part where the parents couldn't figure out the puzzles in the exhibit hall and needed the guide to show us the solutions. 

Our final destination was an architectural dig where the students learned about how digs are mapped out, how scientists document the finds, and what kinds of things qualify as artifacts. 

We returned tired and a bit dirty, but with some great memories and a new shirt for student number 125 (refer back to the part about the creek.)

Dawn Teders
Grade 3 Teacher

Monday, April 17, 2017

Spanish Language, the Class of 2017, and the DP Journey

As I teach our senior students, I can’t help but remember these same faces 5 years ago when the school opened. All excited and eager to learn, they were absorbing the Spanish numbers, alphabet, and vocabulary of this new (for most of them) language. I remember the excitement I felt when they created their first dialogue, wrote their first paragraph, and tried to express themselves in words that when connected together started to make comprehensible sentences. I remember their first Spanish play, first songs, first poems, and the first time they had to create a discussion without memorizing and preparing word by word what they wanted to say. Sometimes, we all laughed together about the sentences they were producing and sometimes I had to keep a straight face when what was said sounded so funny in the target language.  
So here I am today, teaching these same kids - but instead of practicing the Spanish alphabet, we are discussing poverty and human rights in the world - in Spanish! Instead of stuttering while naming objects in the classroom, we are having discussions on the role of technology in our lives. Instead of reading basic texts about likes and dislikes, we are reading extracts from newspapers, online articles and magazines. 
At the beginning of their journey, these students were dependent on their teachers, waiting to be taught. At the end of their journey, I see them confident, independent, and fully equipped to face and conquer the world. What Imagine gave them, from my teacher viewpoint, is not just knowledge but skills and tools to be global citizens in the world. After all, who of them will ever forget the IB learner profile of being an inquirer, communicator, knowledgeable, thinker, risk-taker, reflective, balanced, open minded, caring, and principled?
Imagine Seniors, there is nothing impossible for you! Go reach your dreams! You will be missed!

Viara Levterova
DP Spanish

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