A PUBLIC CHARTER SCHOOL K-8
- a) Integrated/Interdisciplinary Teaching: Integrated teaching makes learning come alive for students by generating interest, curiosity, and motivation to make a difference. Instead of teaching each discipline separately, teachers at BIS will unite subjects by a common theme of study. Each class will be studying a certain topic and integrating this topic into all of their subjects. Teachers will teach the required standards, but through meaningful units of study. Three main integrated units will be covered per year, with the middle unit being a whole school unit where all classes are studying about the same issue. This will provide room for multi-age collaboration between students, build school community, and increase teacher collaboration. The Council of Chief State School Officers (CCSSO), via their sponsored studies, recognized the effectiveness of Integrated Teaching (also known as Interdisciplinary Teaching) to deliver curriculum, resulting in higher levels of academic achievement for all students (Jacobs, 2010).
- b) Project-Based Learning (PBL): Students will synthesize their knowledge in multi-disciplinary collaborative projects with local and global significance. BIS projects allow students to engage in real-world learning and gain valuable 21st century skills. Students will participate in various projects involving multi-disciplinary studies for each unit. Within each unit of study, students will be assessed based on their performance (demonstrated skills or mastery of content learned). Each project in PBL will have goals, outcomes and measures that are aligned with relevant academic standards. Teachers and students together will design rubrics for the evaluation of projects, based on BIS Academic Standards.
- Projects will serve a purpose beyond being just a class requirement and will involve real world audiences such as experts from the field, scientists, and professionals as well as parents, friends, and school community members. This allows students to present and share their work and learning for a purpose beyond solely presentation and evaluation. The value of PBL is immeasurable in that it provides students with mastery level real-world learning and a synthesis of 21st century skills that will enable them to be successful in their future careers (Bloom, 2010).
- c) Student-centered: Student–centered classrooms involve the students as leaders in their education. In a student-centered learning environment, students are involved in creating the class guidelines, designing the curricular activities, and solving issues as they come up. It is the students who are coming up with the ideas. This technique creates high levels of student engagement, and empowers students to create the educational environment they most desire. It motivates students to strive to meet their goals and promotes creativity, leadership, and responsibility (Bloom, 2010).
- The BIS Program revolves around its students, as they are the central point of the program. Students have choices regarding their learning environment, their work, and their activities. Yes, they are going to learn the standards, but there are many ways to do that. Our Electives program provides for student choice and interest as well as a promotion of community as students form multi-age groups in their classes of choice. This approach engages all learners as active participants in their education, and empowers them as leaders.
- d) Team planning time: Research supports that teachers who plan together, teach better “Teach less, teach more” is a common saying in the International Schools Network meaning that teachers who spend more time collaborating with their peers and planning together are more likely to be effective in their teaching (TELL Survey results, 2014). BIS will utilize flexible and creative scheduling to allow instructional planning time (both team and individual time) daily. Teachers will have at least 75 minutes a day for planning when students are in the electives, specials, or PBL learning blocks. Whole school staff meetings will be scheduled once a week on early release days for school wide planning. The nature of our program requires team teaching and collaboration as we will create our units of study, designed with our students’ needs in mind.
- e) Learning Blocks: BIS will divide the day into “Learning Blocks” which are longer periods of instruction (typically 75-90 minutes). This allows teachers to provide students multi-disciplinary studies, project-based learning, and most important of all, deeper learning of skills and content. Less time is lost in transition between multiple short subject periods, and fragmented compartmentalized schedules. Teachers and students can focus on the theme of study and have time for direct instruction and appropriate learning activities. Differentiated instruction is only possible when teachers have time to work with individual students and small groups.
- f) International Education/ Global Competence Based Education- Our staff will be trained through the work of Dr. Veronica Boix Mansilla of Project Zero, Harvard University. She is the author of Preparing our Youth to Engage with the World, 2013. “Global Competence” is definted as the ability to understand and act on issues of global significance. Not only do will we teach students about the world and global issues, we also will inspire them to make a difference through their beliefs, action, and work. The goals of tolerance and mutual respect of all people are inherent to all international schools. We will also participate in professional development opportunities with Seattle Public International Schools. Teachers will focus on global competence when planning units of study.
- g) Global Community Service Based Learning/Sister Schools Project: Students will be involved in real world projects that benefit their local and global community and reinforce content and skills learned in the classroom. BIS has a sister school in Autlan, Mexico. All students and teachers will be paired up with a classmate/teacher in Mexico to collaborate and communicate with throughout the year. The Middle School participates in an exchange program with our sister school. To increase their cultural and language competencies, our students will spend one week in Mexico and participate with students in various service-based learning projects tied to our curricular goals and objectives. The following year, students from Autlan, Mexico will visit BIS as part of this cultural exchange. They will do homestays with our students and families and participate in service based-learning projects in Bend, together with BIS students. The Director is securing private funding for this part of the project.
- Since 1992, we have seen a 110% increase in jobs tied to international trade. This means that more than one out of every five jobs requires international skills (Source American Community Survey, 2007-2011). How are we preparing our students to meet the needs of our ever-changing global economy? Twenty-one of the top twenty-five industrialized countries begin language instruction in elementary school. BIS plans to join this successful educational approach. Unfortunately, less than 2% of Oregon students take part in study abroad programs. Please refer to this Global Oregon Data to see the current need for international education and cultural exchange.
- h) Differentiated Instruction- With small classes and a focus on student achievement and progress, teachers will differentiate instruction and learning activities to meet individual student needs. For example: Our Singapore Math curriculum allows students, after completing a lesson, to advance and apply the concepts, or receive additional review and support, depending on student need. Students can also advance to the next level, if they demonstrate appropriate skill through leveled assessments. Teachers will plan projects and activities for the levels of ALL students in their classes.
- i) Spanish Immersion Program- Students will benefit from having part of their day taught in Spanish. This is the World Languages piece of the international curriculum and it will benefit both English and Spanish speakers.
- j) Community Involvement: Our school will have a strong sense of community and belonging among students, staff, parents, and our local and global community. We will have numerous school wide activities and studies that promote unity and cooperation.
- k) STEAM: There will be a curricular focus on science, technology, engineering, the arts, and mathematics. Through the connection of the above subjects, the common element of problem solving is emphasized, allowing students to discover, explore and apply critical thinking skills as they learn. STEAM learning is service- based, involving local research, non-profit, and environmental organizations. Community experts are involved in the curriculum, and students participate in meaningful projects and hands-on experiments that benefit our local and global community. Environmental studies and sustainability are an important part of our school as we plan on being a Green Ribbon School! Being an international school allows us to focus on the fact that all people around the world inhabit and must share our Earth, and build awareness on strategies to preserve our planet.
- l) Inquiry Based Approach: All teachers will use the inquiry approach to teaching by using essential questions to generate student interest and help guide students to develop their own important questions regarding units of study. The Inquiry Based Approach incorporates the following steps in teaching: questioning, planning, researching, creating, improving (reflection), presenting. The teacher guides students through these steps during unit studies. Successful proven international education programs utilize this teaching method (i.e.: International Baccalaureate Program).
Bend International School will provide training and professional development on all teaching techniques and methods. Start-up charter school funds solicited from the U.S. Department of Education will be used for this purpose. The Director will serve as a mentor and guide for all staff, to facilitate and ensure the proper use of BIS teaching methodologies. Bend International School has done extensive research regarding international and national curriculum and teaching methods. Studies have been reviewed from the Asia Society, Project Zero at Harvard University (2014), and the International Strategy from the U.S. Department of Education, (2012). There are many similarities between the higher achieving countries, including Singapore, Finland, Australia, Canada, and Hong Kong. Being an international school, we have selected to use similar curriculum and teaching methods as these internationally benchmarked countries. In conclusion, listed below is a brief summary of similarities of these successful educational techniques, which will be implemented in BIS.
- Teachers have planning time to collaborate together and design lessons
- High standards (less quantity, more quality; deeper learning , i.e.: CCSS)
- Self- initiated work (student choice and student-centered education)
- Project Based Learning (PBL)- Projects are multi-disciplinary with a global focus
- Students use higher level thinking skills (compare, analyze, explain)
- Inquiry in every field (Inquiry Based Learning)
- Reflection (students reflect on what they’ve done and how to improve it on their own)
- Science is a process of inquiry and investigation- Students do experiments and know how to carry out the scientific process
- Integrated Studies- Subjects are linked together through a common theme