Month: November 2016

Framing questions to enhance student learning

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As part of our professional development at BINUS SCHOOL Simprug at the beginning of the academic year, we invited trainers from Australia to visit and share some of their experiences with us. The topics covered were framing questions and cooperative learning. Though we were implementing most of these in our teaching and learning already, fine-tuning and knowing the nuances to maximize active participation from our students, as well as balancing safe classrooms and accountability, were the highlights.

I am sure most of us must be wondering why framing questions is one of the basic skills a teacher should possess. Basically, questioning is a methodology that most teachers use to recapitulate and gauge student understanding. By framing questions, we encourage active participation of all students and maximize the learning that takes place in the classroom.

Most teachers may have experience with avoidance tactics from students when questions are posed to them. This is generally to hide their embarrassment in case the answer is wrong. By giving ‘wait time’, students’ thinking tends to shift from covert to being overt.

Let’s now see the characteristics of an unframed question and a framed question.binus-1Unframed questions do not provide students with the ‘wait time’ and this mostly leads to the same three or four students responding to the teacher’s questions. The fear of failure also affects the confidence of our students. On the other hand, framing questions allows the use of ‘wait time’, providing opportunities to rehearse within the safety of one’s mind, or with partners before sharing publicly, and leads to active participation and a safe classroom.


Studies reveal that when students have time to think and share with partners before sharing to the class, they are more likely to feel secure and experience success.

Active participation by students can be seen when students feel safe and their self-esteem is maintained by demonstrating involvement in the thinking and learning process.  

When teachers apply the skill of framing questions, students feel safe and are more involved in their learning.

By Sujatha Sreenivasan

Grade 4 Level Head and Class Teacher

BINUS SCHOOL Simprug, South Jakarta


An Effective Inquiry Leads to Purposeful Student Initiated Action

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In the PYP, it is believed that education must extend beyond the intellectual to include not only socially responsible attitudes, but also thoughtful and appropriate action (Making the PYP Happen, 2007).

During the last unit of inquiry, under the transdisciplinary theme ‘How We Organize Ourselves’, and the central idea of ‘Communities provide services designed to meet people’s needs’, the Year 3 students of Tunas Muda School Meruya were given the opportunity to engage in a purposeful and beneficial inquiry process. To begin with, they watched The Country Mouse and The Town Mouse, a short animated movie about life in the city and in the village. Through this activity, we triggered the students’ interest and had the chance to assess their prior knowledge. They read books and watched videos to find out more about the differences between urban, suburban and rural areas.

After that, they observed the area where they live to identify services provided around them, and what other services they would like to have. They also reflected on how they could help to make their neighbourhood a better place to live. As a result, most of the students would like to have a greener area and wanted to be involved in making it happen. They also interviewed their parents about why they chose to live in the area where they live now.

Furthermore, they went on an excursion to Kidzania to find out what it takes and how it feels to provide services for other people. Through the excursion, they gained a lot of knowledge and experienced what it was like to serve others. Students have shown greater appreciation to community helpers, such as police officers, doctors, nurses, shopkeepers, and online shop couriers since this experience. One of their ways to sort out their findings from the excursion was by making pop-up art about community helpers and what they do.

In order to develop a deeper understanding about the importance of community service, they were inspired to contribute in their own school community. They walked around the school to identify how they could help to make their school an even better place and came up with various interesting plans which they put into action during the last week of the unit. At the same time, the students were observed as part of their summative assessment to measure their understanding of the unit. They served our school community by supervising other students while playing in the soccer field and basketball court; supervising the students having lunch in our indoor playing area; helping the librarians to tidy up the books in the PYP library; assisting the Year 3 teachers in their classroom; and conducting a mini concert to raise funds to buy plants to be put in our school canteen and our indoor playing area.

We were very pleased to see that all Year 3 students enjoyed providing a service to their school community. Based on their reflections, we can see that they have tried their best to become IB learners, they have exhibited various learner profile attributes and developed their knowledge and skills. This, in turn allowed them to organize themselves and take action. Overall, it was a simple, meaningful and memorable unit of inquiry which has led them to act!

Astriyani Ginting, Year 3 Leading Class Teacher

Tunas Muda School Meruya, Jakarta

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Celebration of Unity in Diversity

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The world celebrates “United Nations Day” every October 24 to honor the commendable work done by the United Nations. This day is also celebrated as Internationalism Day. All over the world, several organisations, especially schools, use this opportunity to spread the message of peace, harmony and unity in diversity.

We, at BINUS SCHOOL Simprug, also commemorated this special event with a week-long celebration. Our PYP students celebrated Literacy and Internationalism Week from October 28 to November 4. The various activities which were planned for this event  promoted both literacy and international-mindedness.

Our week started with an ‘around the world display’. Each grade level were assigned a region. Each class then chose a country from that region and decorated their door and outside display boards. Artifacts, clothes, flags, information about that country, etc. were used as displays and on one chosen day, all PYP students were encouraged to visit the other grade levels to learn about different countries and cultures. This was also the day when our parents generously provided us with country-specific finger food. What a day of fun and festivities it was!

The first day of this week-long event saw a Costume Parade. All our students dressed up in different national costumes. This event took place in each grade level, and  students, as expected, shared interesting information about their chosen costume.

The next day saw several different activities. Grades 1-3 had mural painting, t-shirt painting and banner making with the theme, ‘One World’. Grades 4-5 students wrote free verse poems on the same theme.

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November 1 was a day dedicated to promoting literacy. Our EY students started the day with ‘buddy reading’ with their Grade 5 brothers and sisters. Grade 1 students did buddy reading among their four classes. Grades 2 and 3 had a storytelling competition. Two students per class in Grades 2 and 3 participated in the storytelling with their stories from around the world.  Grades 4 and 5 had a poster-making competition with the theme ‘Unity in Diversity’.

Mid-week saw our weekly PYP assembly when we honoured the winners of the various activities. Winners for the best class display were announced during the assembly, which ended with a song rendered by our dear teachers and dedicated to our students.

November 3 was our chosen day to visit the various country displays. Several students and teachers had dressed up in the national costume of their country or the colours of its flag. The hours of the day went fast as we all were busy visiting countries, appreciating different cultures and sampling delicious food. Our Grade 1 teachers were innovative and prepared ‘passports’ for their students who went to several countries and got their passports stamped.

The finale of this weeklong celebration was storytelling by parents – mothers and fathers from the early years and elementary. In the past, we have had our parents volunteering as storytellers. However, this time it was different. It had to be. After all, we were celebrating Internationalism Week. We had storytelling by parents not just in Bahasa Indonesia and English but in five more languages representing the mother tongues of our diverse student population. We had storytelling in Chinese, Malay, Hindi, Korean and French. This activity gave us an opportunity to promote the use of our students’ mother tongue. Our enthusiastic parents had prepared slide presentations, came dressed in costumes and brought along props to fully engage our young listeners. Kudos to our volunteer moms and dads!

The event was a huge success. The entire PYP team geared up and worked extremely hard for the entire week – planning, preparing, conducting, and celebrating all the activities. The positive feedback this event has received has ensured it will now become a part of our school’s annual calendar.

By: Priyanka Patni

Grade 3 Level Head and Class Teacher


Being a Better Player and Better Person

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meh.jpgBeing a winner is a dream many boys and girls strive to achieve. They will try their very best to win in every game they play, during an inter-school competition, PE class or even on the playground. Mentari School Jakarta students are no exception. As a result, good manners are often neglected, as the excitement of scoring a goal and the euphoria of winning takes over. They forget to “think before they act”, leading to accusations of being a ‘show-off’ and to hurt feelings.

Being IB learners, we teach our students to be balanced and well-rounded. Thus, students not just learn the physical skills of a sport, but the social skills necessary to be a true winner, on and off the court. Emotions run high during PE class, ranging from tears being shed after losing a match or getting mad at an opponent for “cheating”. Therefore, learning about the PYP attitudes plays a major role during PE classes. The attitudes of cooperation and respect, and the importance of sportsmanship are emphasized daily.

What Is Sportsmanship?

Sportsmanship is defined as:

  • playing fair
  • following the rules of the game
  • respecting the jjudgementof referees and officials
  • treating opponents with respect

Yet learning about sportsmanship begins even before PE class. The IB learner profile attribute, ‘principled’ teaches MSJ students the good habits of “playing fair” and “following the rules of the game”. Being open-minded teaches students to respect jjudgementsmade by referees and officials. The attitudes of respect and tolerance teach students even before they play a game, to be polite and kind to others.

Some people define good sportsmanship as the “golden rule” of sports. Yet good sportsmanship is a by-product of the IB learner profile and PYP attitudes. When students apply the 10 attributes and 12 attitudes daily at school and at home, good sporstmanship naturally follows. It becomes easier for students to understand once they step on the court or play during recess time. There are fewer tears and more smiles for everyone.


PE Teacher

Mentari School Jakarta

Bringing Literacy and Internationalism to Young Minds

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We celebrated “Literacy and Internationalism Week” at our school from October 28 to November 4, 2016. The event involved parents, teachers, and students in the learning process as a whole school community. As the youngest students in the whole school, our Early Years 1 students also participated in this event. This year, every class represented a different country. Our EY 1 class represented Mexico.

We shared our own excitement about the event to show that it was not just a regular event. This helped our three to four year old students understand more about internationalism.

A week before the celebrations, we talked to the students about Mexico and the different things that represent the country. Together with their parents, students made objects representing Mexico, such as maracas, banderitas, pop-up cactus, small Mexican flags, and paper moustaches. The students also brought from home Mexican items such as rosaries, a guitar, and tortillas. The artifacts were displayed in front of our class door together with some other Mexican decorations that we made in class.

Talking about Mexican food with the children Our Mexican displays in front of our class

Surprisingly, our Mexican display always caught the attention of our students and sparked their curiosity every time they entered the class. Right there and then, their learning was triggered and they became so interested, they wanted to learn more about Mexico.

Throughout the week, the students were engaged with different activities about Mexico. They enjoyed learning facts about Mexico, including the flag of Mexico, Mexican clothes, animals and plants found in Mexico, and famous food from Mexico. They made Mexican flags, cut pictures of Mexican animals, food, and clothes, made maracas, completed puzzles of sombreros and the Mexican flag, and tasted different food from Mexico and other countries.

The students also learned a Mexican song titled “La Cucaracha”. They all danced and had a lot of fun singing the song together. They also took part in a costume parade and strutted and sashayed their outfits in front of the judges. As the closing to this event, all Early Years students had fun playing with a piñata.  



Although the event is over, the students still remember the activities and things they learned about Mexico. They keep talking about our “Literacy and Internationalism Week”. As a student-initiated action, one child created her own lyrics to the tune of “La Cucaracha”. Some children have mentioned the Mexican creatures when they played with their toy animals. Others talked about outfits representing different countries when they saw pictures taken during the costume parade. The students also could remember the winners of the activities we had during the celebration week.

The activities we conducted during our “Literacy and Internationalism Week” nurtured the curiosity of our children and allowed them explore various countries, becoming more open-minded towards different cultures in the world.

By: Geertruida Maya and Atika Priska Gunawan

Early Years 1 Teachers

BINUS SCHOOL Simprug and

Food Tasting!

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In Indonesian studies class, Grade 2 students learned about coconut properties and their use in Indonesia as a connection to the unit, ‘How the World Works’ .

Coconut, as a connection to properties of materials, was chosen because Indonesians use all the parts of the coconut (from the root to the leaves) in cooking, as housing materials, musical instruments, decorations, medicine, etc.

As a part of our inquiry and as an opportunity to show our understanding, we invited the Bandung Independent School community to our Indonesian studies session on Tuesday 15th November.

This is the food made of coconut leaves for the ‘ketupat’ and the soup was made with coconut milk.


Joshua is showing his mum how to create decorations from the coconut leaves.


In Indonesian language class, Grade 2 students made connections to procedural texts by learning how to cook ‘Kue Bandros’. The meals were made from grated coconut and coconut milk, along with some other ingredients. Oliver and Joshua had an opportunity to explain their learning in Indonesian. They shared their insights with the parents and explained how they worked on these materials, used tools for cooking and the procedures of the cooking method.


We also invited Mr. Brooks, our Head of school, to taste some of the food and, of course, to see how Grade 2 students shared their learning and understanding.


Reading Festival

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It was a doctor who once said “The more that you read, the more things you will know. The more that you learn the more places you’ll go”. That was, of course, Dr Seuss in his wonderful book I Can Read with My Eyes Shut! Dr Seuss, also known as Theodor Seuss Geisel, was not a pediatrician, but he has had enormous impact on the health of millions of children. He did this by creating literature that was simultaneously wacky, inviting and subliminally educational.

The 2016 MISJ Reading Festival, with a theme of ‘Books Bring Stories to Life’, saw students and teachers celebrating literature during the week of November 8. The festival included a visit by a professional author, a poster making competition, fashion show and grade level activities that promote a love for reading.

On the first day, book characters came to life as students dressed up as their favorite characters. They sashayed down the catwalk during the fashion show to the applause and cheers of the school. The Grade 1 and 2 students were able to meet the author, Chandrewening, of the children’s books like Gloob and the Hari Pertama Sekolah Series. The students had fun hearing about her story and how she became an author.

On the second and third day, students wore their sleeping attire for Pajama Day and national costumes for United Nations Day. The Grade 1 students had Mystery Readers where they were able to hear stories in their respective classrooms. For Grade 2, they did Book Swapping, Grade 3 did Book Sharing and Grade 4 & 5 did Folk tales and Story Sharing. These activities definitely showed the students that books can come to life. To close the week, students wore their Halloween themed costume in school.

Did you catch the award winning performance of our very own MSJ faculty during this year’s ‘The Emperor’s New Hair’, based on the story ‘The Emperor’s New Clothes’? Once again the teachers made the school laugh out loud.

This week was also full of trivia and contests. The ‘Guess the Teacher Wall contest was a popular event, where the students had to guess 21 teachers hiding behind a book. The trivia was also a favorite where they had to guess which country Halloween originated from. The Digital Club also created their posters following the theme for this year. Congratulations to all the winners from this year’s Reading Festival.

This year’s Reading Festival was a joyous celebration of reading, one of many events that brought the MISJ community closer together. The involvement and support of everyone proves the positive impact reading has on a person’s life. We look forward to next year’s Reading Festival!

Jesca Lagman

Homeroom Teacher Grade 1

Mentari School Jakarta