Curriculum: Week of February 10, 2013

What’s Happening:

  • Find literacy support materials created by Susanna Davie on the AIS Atlas system using the Browse tab. Choose a unit from the list. Within the unit planner scroll down to the Resources section to find documents such as Cornell note template, Making Inferences, and Research Report Writing Checklist.

    Browse to Literacy Resources in Atlas

    Browse to Literacy Resources in Atlas

  • Atlas Webinars are available for free! Learn more about the Atlas system and its capabilities. If you are interested in the following topics, let me know as I have links with passwords to these recorded webinars:

    • PYP in Atlas
    • Introduction of IB Analytics
    • Eliminating Redundancies in the Curriculum
  • NESA Spring Educators Conference! It’s time to start planning to attend the NESA Spring Educators Conference in Bangkok, Thailand. The conference takes place (April 5 – 8, 2013) during AIS’ Spring Break (April 5 –  13). This is a great opportunity to do some professional development and get some rest and relaxation by the pool or on a beach. The early bird registration deadline is March 1, 2013.
  • The Learning Institute at The American Institute in London provides an exciting professional development opportunity for teachers and school administrators. World-renowned educational specialists will share their expertise from June 19 – 21, 2013. Some of the experts include: Carol Ann Tomlinson (differentiation), Jeff Utecht (technology integration), and Dr. Ron Ritchhart (culture of thinking). There is a 10% group discount when 3 or more people from the same school register. Follow the link above for more details.

Share what is happening in your classroom! How are you using iPads to extend learning in your classroom? How are you making curriculum come alive for your students? Please let me know so that I can share what is happening and provide you the support you need for success.

Guest authors are encouraged to submit their thoughts and ideas for Curriculum Weekley to me via email (

21st Century Thought of the Week: Interdisciplinary

THIMUN: Interdisciplinary learning in actionToGa Wanderings

THIMUN: Interdisciplinary learning in action
ToGa Wanderings

From January27 to February 1, over 3,500 high school students from all corners of theglobe gathered for the 45th  annual THIMUN conference. This conference is a five-day simulation of the United Nations where students act as ambassadors representing various UN countries, NGOs, etc. In these roles, students participate in policy debate, lobby and merge resolutions on real world geo-political issues, and, finally, debate and vote on resolutions.

Model United Nations is an academic club that develops core personal skills while preparing participants for global citizenship. Through research and debate, students increase their knowledge base of the world and global issues while honing values and strengthening their moral backbones as they come to terms with “what is fair.” It is not uncommon to overhear passionate conversations amongst these young idealists, many of whom will go on to study International Relations, Global Politics, and World Studies at the university level.

On Thursday morning of the THIMUN conference, MUN directors were invited to the neighboring IB Global Center  Africa/Europe/Middle East for a morning of presentations and discussions about how MUN and an IB World School are a natural fit. Interdisciplinary is the key concept that connects MUN and the IB Programmes. Politics are dynamic and often require a multidisciplinary approach to even begin to understand an issue.  For example, in order to better understand terrorism one might want to examine psychology, economics, and religion, in addition to political background.

The interdisciplinary curricular connections of the Diploma Programme and their articulation into the university-level study of International Relations were addressed by Dr. Islam Qasem, Head of International Relations at Webster University in Leiden, The Netherlands. Dr. Qasem highlighted the importance for students entering university to be able to approach subject areas with an interdisciplinary focus. History class is no longer simply the study of past historical events, rather a student may need to consider the social sciences (human rights), natural sciences (climate change), biology (global health epidemics), or computer science (cyber terrorism). According to Dr. Qasem, the most successful students will enter university courses ready to participate in discussions and simulations, and will be ready to solve problems. Those expecting to just “sit-and-get” will find an International Relations program of study challenging. Students with strong communication and presentation skills will experience high levels of engagement.

Cross-curricular, interdisciplinary, multidisciplinary, and transdisciplinary are all synonymous terms that get at the heart of the International Baccalaureate programmes. Through six PYP transdisciplinary themes, MYP interdisciplinary units (IDUs), and the DP theory of knowledge (TOK) course, educators at AIS encourage students to make connections across traditional academic subjects and to the real world. The integration of skills such as critical thinking, problem solving and communication into the teaching of core academic subjects such as English, reading or language arts, world languages, arts, mathematics, economics, science, and humanities aim to meet the new demands of the 21st century. Though there are timeless skills and knowledge important for success in any age what was needed to be a skilled person in 19th century agrarian society differs dramatically from the expertise needed to be a well-educated and capable 21st century citizen (including brain power and using digital tools).

Educators need to move away from the traditional methods of teaching and bring into the classroom new and innovative approaches to teach  content and life skills. It is important to utilize a variety of techniques for students to build their own understanding through real world applications and interactions with their peers in group activities. “To be productive contributors to society in our 21st century, you need to be able to quickly learn the core content of a field of knowledge while also mastering a broad portfolio of essentials in learning, innovation, technology, and careers skills needed for work and life” (Trilling & Fadel, 2009, p16). Through the interdisciplinary teaching of the IB programmes, teachers are preparing students for the jobs that have not yet been created, for the new products that have not yet been invented, and for the new skills to build towards creativity and innovation.

Article(s) of the Week:

App of the Week:



  • What does it do? Instagram is a fast, beautiful and fun way to share your photos with friends and family. Take a picture, choose a filter to transform its look and feel, then post to Instagram. Share to Facebook, Twitter, and Tumblr too – it’s as easy as pie. It’s photo sharing, reinvented.
  • How can it be used to support learning? The blog post Using Instagram to Encourage Writing in Kindergarten outlines the use of Instagram (an app that is not currently on AIS iPads). Instagram could also be a great tool/strategy in a 2nd language classroom to build and practice vocabulary. I also follow people on Instagram who write lines of poetry or prose to accompany their photos. This is an idea that could be adapted to a creative writing unit or a thinking activity where students visually represent a few lines of prose or poetry in a photo that they set up and take themselves.

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Blog of the Week:

Getting Smart is a community passionate about innovations in learning. A community who believes the shift to personal digital learning holds promise for improved student achievement in the developed world and access to quality education in the emerging economy–for the first time we have a chance to provide a quality education to every young person on the planet! The Getting Smart blog attempts to accelerate and improve the shift to digital learning. Blog topics cover important events, trends, products, books, and reports.