Part of NIST’s vision is to provide individualised pathways to students as a way to personalise their educational experience, and to keep them engaged in the things that already inspire them. One way that Jenny Friedman, the Year 9 advisory team leader, has incorporated individualised learning in the Year 9 advisory program is by introducing an electives period every two weeks for Year 9 students. As a way to make this even more student-focused, the children had a say as to what electives were being offered to them, then teachers developed programs around the students’ passions and interests. Some of the units being offered include using Minecraft to make a scale model of the NIST campus, interactive fiction writing, cooking made easy, video game design and more. When asked what they think about electives, a student said they liked the format because it was more engaging, they liked the ability to choose things that interested them and they like that there was a large variety of options to choose from in a range of categories such as active, creative, etc. Programs like this help students find their passions or engage them in their passion during the normal school day, which keeps them engaged and excited about their learning.
The first week of September, all middle school students go off campus on action week trips. Then, during the last week of the calendar year, all middle school students at NIST participate in Action Week 2, which is an off-timetable week where students work on a week-long project. Each year level participates in different projects in each year level, making the week dynamic and engaging all throughout the NIST middle school experience.
Year 7 Innovation Week
In Year 7, all students choose an experience that they would like to explore and inquire into for the week. They come up with new innovations around their choice of machines, kindness, pollution, food and fairy tales. Students take action and create goals around these projects in groups of three to six. Collaboration is key to achieving their student-developed goals.
Year 8 “Who Are We?”
In Year 8, the week is all about investigating further into our guiding question, “Who are we?” and expanding this knowledge from our advisory classes and Year 8, to the broader NIST community. The students’ interview members of staff who work behind the scenes. These are people they may not interact with on a daily basis, but do contribute greatly to their time and experience at NIST. After the students get to know them, they decide on a way to share their story with the rest of the NIST community, creating a product for this staff member. Some choose to make documentaries or animations, while others create pieces of art, newspapers, podcasts, and we even had one group write and perform a song! All video work can be found at this YouTube playlist.
Year 9 “What’s Your Frog”
In year nine this year there was a new experience for the students where they determined their interests and passions, then develop a project around this. Some students decide to draw attention to inequality and poverty through slum photography projects, others are building care packs for children in detention centres, while some groups decided to create awareness around gender and sexuality equality plus many more wonderful ideas. This week students locked in their plan so they can be successful with their project by the end of the school year. They also took a field trip to different locations around the city to learn how people are working to help those in their small communities.
One of the best ways to learn is by getting hands-on experience and by learning from the experts, which is especially true in the world of music. The Year 10 Music class has recently learned about four different kinds of world music through a series of workshops led by their teachers and by guest presenters, including Khru Joe Watcharachotewisit and Mr. Josh Green. Khru Joe is a teaching assistant in Year 6 but is also an expert in Thai classical music.
In addition to leading the Music Academy, Mr. Josh has years of experience in teaching the percussion patterns from Latin American dance music. By learning through workshops, students were able to play the instruments from these styles of music while finding out about the patterns that are common to these styles. This project is a perfect example of leveraging the expertise in our community is another way we provide robust, inspiring, and innovative learning experiences for our students.
“Learning to write programs stretches your mind, helps you think better and creates a way of thinking about things that I think is helpful in all domains.”
– Bill Gates (founder of Microsoft)
It is with pride that we can say students themselves have taken the lead to engage and dispense their knowledge in a range of student-run coding ECA’s. The activities are Learning to Code with Java led by Year 12 student Sid Charaschanya and Machine Learning with Python led by Jason Yeon and Ken Ngampraserthsith also of Year 12. The ECA’s have garnered the interest of students and a few members of faculty and have a promising future for students learning from each other and extending their understanding of a variety of concepts. If students are interested in being a part of these innovative topics and approaches to education, they can find the Java-based ECA every Wednesday at 3:40pm in room 4502 and the Python-based ECA every Thursday at 3:40pm in room 4502.
This month, Mr. Cristóbal González took his Year 7 Spanish class on a tour of Madrid, without leaving the comfort of his own classroom, through the use of Virtual Reality (VR) and Google Cardboard. The students were learning Spanish vocabulary around cities and directions, so the tour was perfect to immerse them in this language and put it all in context.
The tour showed the students many famous sights in Madrid, with an oral tour in Spanish, so the students could look around and listen to an explanation of these famous places. Many students were standing up, looking around the city, commenting on the different landmarks and helping each other find the interesting features of the tour. As you can imagine, this was an extremely memorable learning experience for the students and another example of how our teachers at NIST are innovating the learning in their classroom.