I am attending the International Baccalaureate Global Conference in Hong Kong this week. It has been energizing to connect with old friends and new in the IB World. I hope to do a couple of blog posts from the conference to help me reflect and act upon my learning from the conference.
Yesterday I attended a presentation by teachers from Discovery College, an English Schools Foundation school located near Disney Land here on Lantau Island. The title was “Building International-mindedness thru Locally-grounded Interdisciplinary Studies”. Their “Big Week” initiative is an off-timetable, week-long MYP Interdisciplinary Unit (IDU) for all MYP students from Year 1 to 5. Big Week involves the students proposing Big Ideas to solve Big Problems. All units focused on understanding their local environment and culture better, the dynamic islands of Hong Kong. I was impressed with the amount of planning it took to make this a reality. Besides sending teachers to official IB IDU workshops and inviting an expert of problem-based learning Harvard’s Project Zero, they devoted a couple of days of in-service planning. The time invested paid off as they have a newly established tradition that just needs some tweaks now.
A big benefit was raising awareness of local customs, cultures, pride and community members seeing parts of Hong Kong they have not done so. In reflecting upon the projects they value learning over assessment, there are no inquiries less rigorous than others, avoid contrived links and not to have an exhibition overload. Finally, it is not about ticking boxes for accreditation, but authenticity in teaching and learning.
The second workshop I attended was put on by the International Diagnostic and Admissions Test (IDAT). This is a new company that produces admissions tests K-12 that international schools can use to determine classroom readiness. Leading the workshop was Heidi Reid, principal of Times Academy in Sydney.
For some of the nuts & bolts of the test are as follows:
- 4 sections, math, English, character (attitudes) and global knowledge (science/history/geography) – students can study for the fourth section, and this evaluates their test preparation
- test is renewed every 3 months; outside validation;
- cost is between $330 – $270 USD; parents can take it, lower price for bulk testing in schools
This test might help our school decide on borderline students. We spend much time discussing students and perhaps this test could