Yesterday the kids at Nagoya International School in ELC (Early Learning Center) through grade 4 didn’t have school, instead they participated in student led conferences. Now, as a parent who has been through conferences both with and without children present, I assumed this was going to be a chaotic disaster. However, I was *amazed* at the preparations the students did, and how smooth the process was.
Isaac’s was first from 12:45-2:00. During the conferences there were high school students watching siblings in the library, which made it super easy for the families. Isaac and I entered his classroom, and without any direction, he took me through it!
Isaac had recently done a project on Global Warming (Japan knows this isn’t a myth) so he started his conference by recreating an island of paper, a glacier of ice cubes and global warming using saran wrap. While that warmed, he showed me the rest of his work.
To teach me about monarchy versus democracy he had me build a tower the way I saw fit (which was poor, I am NOT the engineer in the family), and then we talked about how we should vote on it and work together to make a better tower. Even though I understand monarchy and democracy, this was a neat analogy I had never thought of before! (Isaac took pictures of me)
He took me through his writing portfolio which showed how he is learning to slow down and take his time writing to make his writing more legible. It’s, uh, still a work in progress. He also really needs to focus on spelling, although neither Nathaniel or I can spell either so. . . .
I got to see his Japanese folder where he has learned how to order food at a restaurant, and his colors and seasons. I’m super impressed with their reading and writing abilities in Japanese! I also really liked this assessment in his workbook.
On their online school program (called Haiku) he showed me his portfolio. It included the maths (that’s what they say here, maths. . . I love it!) he’s working on, as well as a few projects he’s been working on in their ecosystem Unit of Inquiry. He’s very interested in deadly fungi right now, and he did a lot of research, created slides and even cited his sources! It was a really neat presentation.
The entire time, his teacher sat at her desk grading papers and answering occasional questions. I was able to ask Isaac questions about his work, his classroom and his school community in an environment where he was actually ready to have a conversation and answer them with more than 1 word! We talked about his strengths (math, reading and science) and his areas that could use work (Japanese and writing) and I really to got to SEE what he does all day in school. The students chose what work they showed their parents, there were no assigned items they had to show us, just the stipulation that they show us something from each subject. There were only 4 students per classroom at a time, so even though other people were having their conferences at the same time, we weren’t disturbed by them.
At the end of the conference, we saw how as the ice had melted, the water level had risen and his island was destroyed!
AND it took the whole hour and 15 minutes, but it was AMAZING. I really couldn’t believe how mature Isaac was about the whole thing, and how excited he was to share with me! I thanked his teacher as we left and she thanked me for sharing Isaac with her. SNIFF.
I swapped kids in the library, and took Rosie with me to her room. I was excited to see how 2nd graders handled this same assignment. Again, I was AMAZED at the preparation of the students. At the students’ request, Mr. Charlie had put an itinerary up on the board and set a timer to help students stay on track.
Rosie and I started with reading where she has just started excelling this year (Thanks Mrs. Cole!). We snuggled up in a chair and she read me pages, and then we discussed each page, and she told me what the adjectives were, and I wrote them down for her. We talked about how we know what adjectives are, and what verbs are because she understands verbs better 😉
Then we moved to a table and she interviewed me using this guide the students had created together earlier in the week:
Rosie asked me “Mom, in your opinion, which is better: giraffes or hippopotamuses?”
HOLY TOUGH QUESTION BATMAN. I mean, really, they’re both so great. . . I did choose giraffes, but it was a struggle. She wrote the whole thing down as she asked me the leading questions, and this girl can spell!! And her hand writing is great too! I was so proud of her.
For math, she taught me 2 games: Fraction Bingo and Math Pirate. She won both, but I liked her enthusiasm seeing as she doesn’t really care for math.
For her Unit of Inquiry project, she had created a board game:
We played and I WON!! HAH EAT THAT ROSIE! OH sorry, that was inappropriate.
She showed me the pulp paper they made in art:
And I saw her Japanese workbook too.
This is one of the many encouraging signs in her classroom:
I LOVE NIS. We are very lucky to be here. I know some families don’t find the experience as great, but it’s a perfect fit for our kids and has really helped with our transition. I’m so glad it has worked out as well it has!
Plus she rocked this outfit all day yesterday:
Until Jammie time:
Today was a lazy day. We moped around the house, and I took a nap. Nathaniel ran a few errands, and I ran a few errands too. I picked up this cold medicine for me:
which combines Western and Eastern medicine. I’ll let you know how it works!
There was ACTUAL thunder today you guys! Apparently this is really rare here, and we got to hear it! I was so excited.
We are, for the most part, packed up and ready to hit Tokyo tomorrow. I’m not sure that tomorrow will really be an Explore Japan Sunday, but it promises to have something fun I’m sure. Plus all week we’ll be exploring in and around Tokyo!
Now I have to go drink my Brunette Being Tipsy.