Dear Junior School Parents,
May 1998, University of Bordeaux, France. Me, seated in a large room with hundreds of students. Guy Brousseau, the leading researcher in the central field of mathematics education in France suddenly appeared in front of us, joining our teacher for one memorable demonstration of how we learn mathematics. But while many expected him to dive into his Theory of Didactical Situations in Mathematics or his "Paradox of devolution", he played a game with us: "La course à 20" ("Counting to 20"), a counting game to play with a partner:
- The object of the game is to be the first one to say "20".
- The first person can start at "1" or "2".
- Each person may add 1 or 2 to the last number that the other person said.
- For example, if the first person says "1", then the second person could say "2" or "3".
- Whoever says "20" wins the game.
Even when you are a 23-year-old student, playing a game at school is very exciting, even more, when during the previous lesson you were lectured on Ludwig Wittgenstein and his Tractatus Philosophicus. After observing a few students trying, without any luck, to win the game against Guy Brousseau, I realized the concept behind the game and so, the winning strategy. I raised my hand with excitement. As he probably intuited from my eagerness the fact that "I got it", he did not let me start and so he won... He knew, as I did, which number we must start with to win no matter what.
The Mathematical Concept behind this game is division. And even though at 23 years old I was able to recognize it through observing the game, as a Junior School student I would have probably failed to learn through the example. I have played this game in every school where I have taught and only at UNIS did a student come to me 24 hours after playing the game to tell me: "I got it, this is a division". He impressed me.
A researcher in 2010 studied the impact of an inquiry-based approach to learning versus a more traditional approach with a group of 207 students while trying to develop the winning strategy for the game "Counting to 20".
- For the first group, 5 sections of 106 students, the teacher organized a few games with a few of the students while the others observed. He then asked directed questions, ostentatiously to allow the emergence of the winning strategy or more directly describe it. The students "believed" the teacher and were not encouraged to question the validity of strategies he described, as the teacher is seen as "the expert".
- For the second group, 5 sections of 101 students, the teacher organized a learning environment which encouraged the students to
join a team, to collaborate, to share information, to search, to formulate hypothesis, to validate rules and to prove them. Students were encouraged to question strategies proposed by teammates.
Some interesting facts resulted from this research:
- The students in group 1 had better results on day 1. The teacher's legitimacy was very efficient to convince and force memorization of strategies.
- On day 2, results
for students in group 1 were dramatically lowering while students in group 2 were achieving better results.
- After 1 month, students in group 2 were more likely able to demonstrate evidence of a greater level of expertise in winning strategies compared to the majority of students in group 1.
Some conclusions of this research are:
- Traditional Teaching and Learning policies which support a traditional transmission of
the knowledge achieve a better result in the short-term, but as they are based on "belief" and "memorization" they are more likely to fail in the long term.
- The time we feel we may save by moving faster toward the "knowledge" is in fact lost.
Teaching Mathematics in an inquiry-based approach, as we are supporting it at UNIS, puts the concept first, before the algorithm, before the teacher's convincing expertise. Memorization is an important component of the learning process, but it can only come after the conceptualization - which requires the students to search, formulate, debate,
validate and prove their own theories and strategies.
Junior School Principal
Junior School Assistant Principal
IN THIS NEWSLETTER
- Math Corner by Rebecca Murry, Math Coach and Katie Langford, Curriculum Coordinator
- Agenda: Important Dates
- Photo Albums
- Student's Voice by Niko Imm, J2 student
- Adventure Time by Alison Qualter Berna and Charles Scott, JS Parents
- Learner Profile: Thinker by Erin M. Threlfall, Service Learning Coordinator
- Bit of News
It was great to see so many parents attending our math Parent Coffee last week. We hope the presentation gave you a brief overview of the CGC, and a look at the pedagogy and content your children learn as well as a brief look at math anxiety. A copy of the presentation is attached to this newsletter where you will find links to articles that you might find supportive when helping your child at home. We look forward to seeing you at our next Parent Coffee!
Katie Langford, Curriculum Coordinator
Originally developed in the Netherlands, Realistic Mathematics 's domain-specific instruction theory is based on initiating the development of mathematical concepts, tools, and strategies, as a contextual situation in which students can at a next stage, apply their math knowledge into more formalized, generalized, and abstract forms (such as the algorithms or the "short-cuts"). The benefit of math discourse, debate, and having viable arguments are critical learning experiences that not only develop reasoning, but more importantly, pave the way for a child to develop higher order critical thinking skills so necessary for the current 21st century. Providing a rich learning environment that promotes intrinsic motivation not only ensures engagement but also prevents math anxiety is an educational priority. We not only want them to learn how to
solve number problems, but we also want them to transfer and apply these computational skills for life, no matter where they may find their passions. As we all know, math is everywhere, and we all live and breath it in our daily lives! Thank you for joining us to talk about math at UNIS!
Rebecca Murry, Math Coach
- Monday, December 4 – Photo Retake Day
- Monday, December 4 - Monday Winter After School Activities Begin
- Tuesday, December 5 - Tuesday Winter After School Activities Begin
- Wednesday, December 6 -
Wednesday Winter After School Activities Begin
- Thursday, December 7 - Thursday Winter After School Activities Begin
- Friday, December 8 - Friday Winter After School Activities Begin
- Wednesday, December 20 to Tuesday, January 2 - No Classes for Students - Winter Break
- Wednesday, January 3 - Classes
- Wednesday, January 3 - No Yellow School Bus
- Monday, January 15 - School Closed - MLK Day
- Monday, February 19 - Wednesday, February 21 - No Classes for Students - February Break
- Thursday, February 22 & Friday, February 23 – No Yellow Bus
In J2P we have been learning about the UN Convention on the Rights of the Child. The UN decided it was important to make sure kids have their rights met. Some of the rights include the right to a recognized name and nationality, the right to play, the right to education, the right to healthy food and clean water.
Yesterday my mum, Tina Imm, came to speak with J2P. She came because in her work she is part of the organization Beygood for Burundi. This is Beyonce's charity organization.
The people in Burundi have trouble getting water. They have to walk for 5 miles or more to get water. That is like walking from UNIS to past 110th street! The girls are mostly the ones who walk to get the water while the boys are in school. Then, after all the walking, the water they do manage to get actually is dirty. This is not healthy for
So my mum and her work team decided to give them closer and cleaner water by building wells. They also have tippy tops and fountains. This is fixing the problem in Burundi.
My mum told us we could now write notes to the children in Burundi so then they could feel happier and we could too. It was really fun having her in. It made feel good and happy.
From Niko Imm, J2Payne
The Adventures of Team See Possibilities & Buying Tooth Elephants in Bangkok
It was the first moment of downtime before we needed to continue on our tight agenda for Team See Possibilities' trip through China and Thailand, and all I thought about was taking a good long nap. But I loved Bangkok, a bustling city in the center of Asia offering magnificent Buddhist temples, delicious Thai cuisine and outstanding sky bars. I just couldn't close my eyes. In that very moment, I remembered hearing the voice of Danae at UNIS saying, "if any UNIS parent happens to pass through Bangkok, we can always use more
tooth elephants for the UNIS kids..."
And so I called Charles to propose an urban adventure. We had to find them.
A few days earlier, the two of us completed an epic 3-day endurance challenge over 100km of remote sections of The Great Wall of China. Together we guided our friend Dan Berlin, who is blind, on a multi-sport journey - cycling, trekking and kayaking - over unrestored remains of this iconic piece of history weaving like a snake through China's towering mountains. The steps and rocky terrain weren't easy, but the views were breathtaking. We felt simultaneously insignificant and connected with everything in the universe. We slept in tents in abandoned (and freezing!) watchtowers, stopping only to share meals with local villagers. Since we formed our nonprofit a few years ago, we have run across
the Grand Canyon and back in one day, ran the Inca Trail to Machu Picchu in 13 hours and climbed Mount Kilimanjaro in the dark in 2.5 days. This Great Wall challenge took us one step closer to achieving our goal - helping Dan make history on 7 continents in 7 years. Our hope? To highlight Dan's story as a way to inspire children with disabilities to focus on their abilities and to challenge their perceived limitations.
Since returning to NYC, we have reflected on our time in Asia. The Great Wall challenge was epic. But the children we met with and spoke to in various schools for the blind in China and Thailand touched our hearts in a way that remains. Many of the children we met are not only blind and disabled but have also been abandoned. Thanks to UNICEF
Thailand for making these connections, supporting the national media effort and giving their time to our mission. We continue to raise money for these schools and we are determined to share their stories so they receive attention and support for their incredible work.
But as we sat in reflection, we realized that one of the most adventurous parts of our trip was our search for the UNIS tooth elephants! In those few hours of downtime, we pulled up the map sent to us by Danae and a kind, local Thai man immediately recognized the name of the market though he had no idea where to find our shop. Within minutes we found ourselves on a SkyTrain towards outer Bangkok, in search of the Chatuchak Market. Through weaving, crowded streets, dodging tuk-tuks, passing buckets
of fish, rabbits and turtles being sold on the sides of the streets, one shoe landing in a puddle of muck from a nearby restaurant, we asked about 15 people to help us find our destination. We turned left and right and right and left until finally we saw it... the JJ Mall. Inside we curved through narrow stalls, asking locals, counting shops, until finally...we found it! The Ahoy Thai Shop had a small glimmering golden tooth elephant hanging on its wall. After three hours of hilarious searching we excitedly explained to the woman why one elephant wouldn't be enough. She was in tears when we recounted how many UNIS children have coveted these Thai golden elephants over the years. How UNIS Junior School kids run to school the morning after losing their tooth so they can receive their special honor from the principal. She listened intently, honored that so many children would
cherish such a special Thai gift. She quickly gathered 200 elephants which made their way through security and now live safely with Danae, Pedon, Ms. Scullin and Mr. Vallet. 200 elephants waiting for a whole new set of children to lose their teeth and smile those adorable toothless smiles.
Alison Qualter Berna and Charles Scott, Junior School Parents
"This touched my heart and reminded me of the very special years I spent at UNIS and how much I learned from the students and staff during my time there. Golden tooth elephants are also alive and well at my school in Hong Kong and I am grateful for the joy and sense of wonder they embody."
Tonya Porter, Lower School Principal of the Chinese International School in Hong Kong, former UNIS Junior School Principal. She is the one who has introduced the golden tooth elephants at UNIS.
In November, the learner profile in focus was "Thinker". Erin M. Threlfall, our Service Learning Coordinator shares her ideas for developing the mindset of a THINKER.
"You can't be a creative thinker if you're not stimulating your mind, just as you
can't be an Olympic athlete if you don't train regularly." - Sir Ken Robinson
What does it mean to be a thinker? How does critical thinking connect to responsible action? What are the varying viewpoints on an important topic, and how do we weigh that in when making a decision? What does an ethical decision-making process look like? These are just a few of the questions that might arise as we nurture our students' abilities to be creative, critical thinkers.
As we strive to develop the attribute of THINKER within the UNIS learner, we may need to tap into the attitudes of curiosity, creativity, respect, confidence, and commitment. These attitudes
are all part of the Growth Mindset theory and connect well with our goal to develop independent life long learners. Key principles of growth mindset include knowing
about neuroplasticity, or the ability of the brain to grow; positive self-talk and encouraging others when they face challenges; persistence with repetitive practice; learning from mistakes, and being okay with making them; being open to taking on new challenges and being comfortable with not knowing or "cognitive dissonance."
As is made evident in the work of Harvard's Project Zero, the opportunity for creative expression and making thinking visible is also important in developing the dispositions of a thinker. When we empower students to think about their thinking and articulate their process, we help them to make connections to prior learning and take on new complex
UN CONNECTIONS: To link the THINKER attribute to the work of the UN, students can look at ways that the UN strives to meet the SDGs, as well as the work of the various divisions to take action on complex problems. Examining the UNDP Code of Ethics and debating issues around UN peacekeeping missions may help students see ways to make ethical decisions in their daily life.
Research (and personal experience) shows us that complex thinking happens best in safe and caring learning environments. When a student feels safe to make a mistake or experiment with how they express themselves, they will be better able to tackle complex problems and act with
confidence towards making the world a better place.
Erin M. Threlfall
Service Learning Coordinator
Thinking - Student's Project on a Metacognition Activity" - J3MS
"Everything is inside thinking" - Quote from a J3 Student
UNIS 70th Celebration on March 1, 2018
Save the date for the UNIS 70th Celebration on March 1, 2018. You can help us make this evening a success by donating auction items or by becoming a sponsor of this milestone celebration. For more information or to donate, please contact firstname.lastname@example.org.
J3 Trip to The Stowaway
On November 17, the entire J3 grade attended the world premier of Trusty Sidekick Theater Company's new play, The Stowaway, at Classic Stage Company. Not only did students get to experience the brand new play about bravery and courage and based on Shakespeare's works, but they also were joined by professional actors from CSC in the week before to engage in workshops about the show. Finally, the company of actors granted our group special permission to stay after the show and engage in a talkback and Q&A session.
Students were so inspired, they're even acting portions of the show back in their theatre classes.
NYC Theatre Happenings for Families: Mr. Dod's Curated List.
Junior and Middle School Theatre Teacher Jack Dod's list of interesting theatre shows and events for families can be found by clicking on the link below.
The Nightmare Before Christmas in Concert, Barclays Center
A reminder about the Morning Arrival Protocols
Please remember that Junior School opens for students at 8:20 am. Unaccompanied children who arrive between 8:00 am and 8:20 may play under JS staff supervision in our playground and will be led to class at 8:20.
Junior School children who are accompanied by an adult may go to the cafeteria or at 8:00 am may go to the Junior School Library. Please do not enter the library before 8:00 am and remember that there is no food or drink allowed in the library.
As the weather becomes cooler, please note that we follow the Department of Health guidelines for outdoor play so remember to dress children accordingly.
The New York City Department of Health Guidelines regarding outdoor play in cold weather states: "Children benefit from vigorous exercise and should be given the opportunity to play outside whenever possible. Unless it is snowing or there is ice on the playground low temperatures should not be a barrier to outside play, as long as children are appropriately dressed. The City's Health Department strongly encourages principals to maintain outdoor play periods on the vast majority of winter
Recommendations are as follows: If the wind chill factor is above 20 degrees, it is safe to play outside. If the wind chill factor is 0-20, outside play is advised provided that students are appropriately dressed and under observation to make sure that they are wearing their coats, hats, and gloves.
Illustration from the French book "La fille de neige - raconté par Robert Giraud, illustré par Hélène Muller"
PURCHASE YOUR SCHOOL PHOTOS FROM STOMPING GROUND
ORDER BY: TUESDAY, DECEMBER 5TH FOR FREE SHIPPING TO SCHOOL
Kerry Bate, JA student Parent approached last October their neighbors Jeff and Melissa Schecter, owner of the well known Dance and Theatre School ICANDOTHAT! about possibly
creating programs to offer to our students during our school holidays this December. See the flyer below and If you're interested email Jeff at email@example.com and say "I'M IN or I'M INTERESTED!".
Caregiver Access to UNIS
To give permission for a new caregiver to enter UNIS to pick up or drop your child, please log in to the UNIS Parent Portal (->My BackPack -> Settings -> My Profile -> Edit) and enter that caregiver's name as an Additional Contact in "My Profile" section in My Backpack. Click EDIT and scroll down to ADD as many Additional Contacts as you need. After you do that, your caregiver can have a UNIS ID made that will allow him/her access to the school to pick up and drop off.
In the interim, until the ID card is made, please have your caregiver be prepared to present a photo ID to Security at the front gate each day, along with this authorization form .
If your caregiver is temporary, or a visiting family member will be picking up or dropping off, please follow the same procedure (adding their name to your family profile and giving them this authorization form to present at the security
gate with a photo ID). However, in temporary situations, there is no need for a UNIS ID card to be issued.
In either case, in addition to your homeroom teacher, please email firstname.lastname@example.org and email@example.com in advance to alert the school that a new or temporary caregiver has permission to pick up your child, providing their full name and all dates and times that they will arrive. If the pick up will be after 2:55 because your child is in an after school activity, please also notify firstname.lastname@example.org, or email@example.com for athletics.
Updating Family Contact Info in the Parent Portal
Please review your family profile and contact information to ensure that your phone numbers and email addresses are up to date. All departments at UNIS, including the Nurse, rely on the information that you provide here to contact you. After logging in to the UNIS Parent Portal, you may review and update all of your family contact information by visiting ->My BackPack -> Settings -> My Profile -> Edit.