Tsukuba International School Report – October 2011

This month, we focused on being principled. Here is the definition of “principled” according to the International Baccalaureate.

We act with integrity and honesty, with a strong sense of fairness, justice and respect for the dignity of the individual, groups and communities. We take responsibility for our own actions and the consequences that accompany them.


Student Enrollment
As of October 31, 2011, we had 13 students in Tsukuba International Preschool, 54 students in our Primary Years Programme, and 16 students in our Middle Years Programme for a total of 85 students. The following nationalities are currently represented in our student body: Bangladesh, China, Greece, India, Japan, Korea, Malaysia, Nepal, Nigeria, Pakistan, Philippines, South Africa, Sweden, Thailand, United Kingdom, United States, and Vietnam.

PYP Units of Inquiry
The second unit (of six) started on October 14. Here are the new areas of study for each grade.

  • Grade 1 – How We Express Ourselves: Celebrations and traditions are important events for many families.
  • Grade 2 – How We Express Ourselves: Stories are a means of sharing people’s perspectives and understanding about the world.
  • Grade 3 – How We Organize Ourselves: Throughout time humans have used different bartering systems. They have had a large impact on human society.
  • Grade 4 – How the World Works: Weather patterns can change depending on the season and place. Humans have created ways of predicting these changes.
  • Grade 5 – How We Express Ourselves: Civilizations are continually changing. Older civilizations may be different, but they have commonalities with our own.

Bring Your Own Laptop
As there is an overwhelming demand for the computers in the library, especially amongst the older students, we believe that it will benefit the students in Grades 5, 6, 7, 8, and 9 to bring their own computers (laptops) to school. Therefore, for this academic year (2011-12), we are implementing a pilot project called “BYOL” (Bring Your Own Laptop) at TIS to test the feasibility and advantages of running a “one student, one laptop” (or 1:1) program at TIS in the future. We have asked parents of students in Grades 5 to 9 to supply their children with laptops at some point between November 1, 2011 (at the earliest) and January 5, 2012 (at the latest). After testing this program for this school year, we will make a decision about whether students will continue to bring their own laptops or if the school will need to provide laptops to the students (funded either through a “technology fee” or a separate fundraising program). We recommended that parents try to find a used/secondhand laptop for their children rather than buying a new one for this purpose. As this is a pilot project, we do not want to cause parents undue financial burden while we test out this program.

Online Learning
In addition to using the internet for inquiry and research, our students are now making use of the following three sites.
Edmodo – This is a social network for children. It allows students of a particular school to interact with each other and with teachers in a safe virtual environment.
RAZ-Kids – This site includes a huge number of books for children to listen to and read. Students can record their reading so teachers can keep track of their progress. This site is a valuable tool for students to practice their reading, speaking, and listening skills.
Mathletics – This site has a huge variety of math activities for children of all ages. Students can compete against other students from around the world at any time of the day.

Grade 2 Puppet Shows
Grade 2 students hosted a puppet show in their classroom on October 5. The topic of the show was “Conflict Resolution”. Students gave many short performances that they had written and staged individually and in pairs. They reflected on the process afterwards to decide whether they had handled conflict within their teams appropriately.


School Tours, Open School Day, Parent Circle
We held our School Tours (for prospective parents) on October 12 and the Open School Day and the Parent Circle (for parents of current TIS students) on October 11. At the Parent Circle, we discussed what to do about future options for our junior high school students, and the possibility of holding a Greek cooking class as a fundraiser.


Professional Development of Teaching Staff
On October 1 and 2, Ms. Peggy Marsh (Grade 2, PYP Coordinator), Ms. Nagakura (Grade 3), and Mr. Okyne (Grade 4) attended the Kathy Short Workshop at Nagoya International School.

On October 8, some mentor teachers from a local international school came to our school to coach our teachers in inquiry-based learning techniques.

On October 13, our staff participated in a first aid course that focused on treating wounds and muscular-skeletal injuries. The course was taught by the Tsukuba Fire Department.

On October 14, Mrs. Dianne Suzuki (Grade 1), Ms. Rio Nagakura (Grade 3), Mr. Stephen Okyne (Grade 4), and Mr. Jordan Breithaupt (Grade 5) attended a PYP Job-Alike with a focus on teaching literacy at Seisen International School in Tokyo.

Professional Networking
On October 1, Mrs. Joanne Handa (administrator) and Ms. Shaney Crawford (Principal) attended the JCIS Business Manager’s Meeting at Nagoya International School.

On October 23, Ms. Shaney Crawford (Principal) attended a meeting about Tsukuba’s new bylaws. She participated in a group discussion about ways to make Tsukuba more international.


PYP Authorization Visit
On October 20 and 21, two representatives of the International Baccalaureate Organization visited Tsukuba International School to evaluate our progress in implementing the Primary Years Programme of the IB. We should receive the report of this visit within about one month. If we are successful, we will become an IB World School authorized to offer the Primary Years Programme (PYP). (We will continue to be a candidate school for the Middle Years Programme.)

Fall Festival
On October 26, we held our annual Fall Festival. The themes for the day were cooperation and creativity. We started off the day with a creative costume contest. Almost all of our students and staff came to school dressed up as something or someone else. It was a very fun day to be at school. In addition, the students created party games and activities to share with each other. Finally, in the afternoon, we held our first ever house league games. The students were divided into their houses (Archimedes, Einstein, Galileo, Newton) for the first time and competed against each other in a variety of fun events. The students will continue to compete against each other throughout the year, and the winning house will receive the Kano Cup in June.

We received a very much-need photocopier from a local business that was replacing its copier. This new (or, new to us) copier allows us to copy in colour and do double-side prints. We can also scan documents up to A3 size. This new piece of equipment is already in very heavy use.


Here is what we have in store for the future.


Learner Profile Focus: Reflective

November 2 – Open School Day, Parent Circle
November 3 – School Holiday (National Holiday)
November 21 & 22 – PYP in-School Workshop for teachers, School Holiday
November 23 – School Holiday (National Holiday)
November 28 – Classroom Spelling Bees
November 30 – First Term Ends, Report Cards

If you have any questions about this report, please feel free to contact us.