By Ms. Heather Worley
The IB Learner Profile requires teachers and students to strive daily to embody many positive characteristics. However, for IB Diploma Programme (DP) students none are more important than being a balanced risk-taker. On many levels these two disparate characteristics challenge each other, which is precisely their value for a young learner. Our DP students consistently must force themselves outside of their academic comfort zones. No longer is their main goal to always identify one correct answer. A greater value is put on the defense of a claim and the ability to view a situation or concept from multiple perspectives. Often answers lack complete definity. Thus, the foundation of their understanding can feel as if it lacks stability. The strength of their responses depends on structure and appropriate skills of communication. Living academically in a space of wonder and abstract thought often leaves dedicated students feeling ungrounded. Oddly, the realization that intellectual curiosity and exploration is messy and usually nonlinear helps them to find their balance. There is a certain order to the chaos. The IB Approaches to Teaching and Learning support students as they develop the habits of mind and work to achieve mental balance amid so many daily challenges. Here’s what it looks like:
Ogden DP seniors are already beginning to prepare for their exams in May. They are collecting their shared knowledge in study guides, documents they can individually use to renew their comprehension of two years of content. Teachers are helping students to identify patterns in the subjects they’ve studied, so they can synthesize their knowledge and communicate it in a variety of ways. For example, in History, they are organizing the effects of the Mexican Revolution by tracing the positive and negative influences of each leader that followed the writing of Mexico’s new constitution. In Mathematics SL they are building study guides for a unit on vectors and writing their Internal Assessments. In Math SL, each student completes an independent investigation of a subject of interest through mathematical reasoning. Students are investigating subjects as different as the uses of the Chinese Remainder Theorem to the use of differential equations to compare the effects of multiple characteristics of geothermal wells. And seniors in Visual Arts, having just completed their first installation, are now busily creating and refining work around their self-identified theme for their Exhibition in the spring. Senior students demonstrate the skills they have developed throughout the program through a balance of assessments.
Ogden DP juniors are finding their groove in their classes. The first quarter is always an eye opening experience for juniors in the IB Diploma Programme. The intellectual demands and required time management skills test even the most diligent students. The opportunities for independent thinking also require a higher level of personal responsibility. To prepare students for long-term success in the program we start with direct teaching of self-management skills. In fact, much of the first semester in the Ogden Diploma Program is designed to support students through this academic transition to college level work. For example, in their Language and Literature course, students just finished a unit on the nuances of academic integrity. Now, they are beginning a unit on research methods by investigating a variety a perspectives on a social issues in order to write and deliver an argumentative speech. Additionally, in many of their classes, they have been working on goal setting and developing skills to achieve these goals. Students are learning new ways to take notes, and about requirements of essays in their various courses. Balance comes from developing positive learning habits and coping skills for stress management.
By Daniel Stone
Ogden’s Exploring Computer Science (ECS) class is in its second year, and the course is growing! Computer science courses have been identified across the country as being key to future success. In the STEM (science, technology, engineering, and mathematics) field, jobs are in computing account for 71% of new jobs, and computing occupations are largest source of all new wages in the U.S. (Source: Code.org) With computers shrinking in size and growing in number, it’s more important than ever for students to have a solid foundation in how computers work and are applied to solve problems.
Students practiced their skills to do everything from coordinating movement of objects in paths across the screen, to developing looped algorithms to code more efficiently, and even create their own games. Students collaborate to help each other, and challenge each other through games and other work that they do in the course.
Additionally, we have had the opportunity to connect one class of students with Big Brothers Big Sisters and provide mentors to students. Mentors are professionals from a variety of backgrounds, and they interact through an online social media platform and in a few in-person class visits through the year. Most mentoring is done as students work through an online curriculum that helps them consider college and career goals and what steps they need to take to achieve those goals.
Students will continue to practice coding and will soon start their own web design using Thimble, and then to more complex block-based programming in MIT’s Scratch coding environment. Ogden’s Exploring Computer Science course will help students understand computers and computational thinking to help them make the most of technology and get an edge in the pursuit of their hopes and dreams!
By Diploma Programme English Teacher Ms. Sara Eisenbaum
This week in my English classes we have the opportunity to work with the Writer’s Theatre. They approached me to bring our students to a matinee version of “The Importance of Being Earnest” by Oscar Wilde (1895). Eager to jump at the opportunity to bring learning to life, I happily accepted the invitation and am so happy that I did. Not only do we get to travel to see this play, but the company also has artists in residence who come to the schools to work with the students to engage them in dramatic expression and other significant concepts they will see in the play.
With high school students, it is hard to gauge what their reaction might be to having to act silly in front of their peers, but this was a smashing success. Students were able to warm up their bodies with stretching exercises, they practiced their speech with tongue twisters, they created puns that Oscar Wilde would approve of, and they used their bodies to create tableaus that represented what they were most excited to see in the play. At the end of the day as students were leaving the classroom and I overheard one student say to Mr. Garrett, “You should come back once a week!” This is what every teacher wishes for; students who engage in their learning with high regard and look forward to how it will push them to interact with the world around them. With our artist in residence we engaged in discussions of power ahead of seeing the play so that we could have an initial understanding of why Wilde was so fond of social commentary. The students will continue this critical thinking process after seeing the show as they regroup with Mr. Garrett and use their dramatic exercises to apply knowledge of their surroundings in 2017 to their initiation in a developing historical context.
In my English classes engaging with context is always at the forefront of our minds. If we are to help students to be ready to be productive global citizens, we need to expose them to the world around them. Venturing outside of the building, outside of the normal classroom confines, and outside of the assumed role of education is continuing to push students to not hold back or diminish their opportunities for learning and growth.
By MYP Coordinator Mr. William Campillo
As our students reach the end of the Middle Years Programme at Ogden, we begin the process of evaluating how well students have developed the knowledge, skills and understandings that will help prepare them for a life of learning, acting, and reflecting to make a better world.
The culminating learning experience for this phase of an IB students’ education comes in the form of a self-directed exploration in an area of personal interest. Over a six month period, beginning in October and continuing until March, every tenth grader will choose a topic, research the topic, and work toward a goal or outcome that connects their learning to the world around them.
This Personal Project requires students to self-evaluate their progress as they research a question and strive to meet a goal they have set for themselves. The personal project also provides an important indicator of how well we have prepared our students to be motivated lifelong learners. As the project nears the deadline students will produce a report describing the process and outcome of the project. These reports, along with evidence of the outcomes, are assessed internally by Ogden teachers and are also assessed externally by the IB to ensure a “globally-consistent standard of excellence”.
We are currently at the beginning stages of the project where students must make important decisions about topics and goals. Each student has been assigned a faculty project supervisor to help guide and advise them with selecting topics and setting appropriately challenging goals. The project supervisor has an important role in monitoring student progress toward their goals and ensuring that students complete all the required work of the project.
Supervisors will meet with students at least three times during the span of the project and guide the student through completion of three elements - the product or outcome, the process journal, and the final report. Upon completion of all projects, supervisors will standardize assessment for the project and scores will be sent to the International Baccalaureate Organization for moderation.
In mid-march we will ask students to present their work in an exhibition for the Ogden International community. The exhibition also serves as an example of personal project ideas for our current freshmen as they will soon be asked to go through the same process beginning in the fall of 2018.
This blog has contributions from a variety of faculty and staff at Ogden International.