Expressing Ourselves Through Sign Language

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In our transdisciplinary theme, “How We Express Ourselves” with the central idea “A variety of signs and symbols facilitates communication,” the grade 3 students learned that communication takes place in many shapes and forms.  

Sign language was one of the specialized communication systems that the grade 3 students learned. The students were able to know that sign language is being used by deaf and mute people, and it helps them as well as their teachers to communicate effectively and efficiently. They also learned that sign language is a natural and beautiful language that can be shared in ways that foster understanding and respect, acts as a bridge between two people who speak different languages, and gives them a sense of empowerment because they are being able to communicate which then leads them to being happier. The most important thing that the students realized was learning sign language gives them a chance to empathize and show appreciation to others, particularly the deaf and mute people.

On February 13, 2017, excited voices echoed through the 5th floor foyer.  They were the voices of the students from Sekolah Santi Rama, a school in South Jakarta for the deaf and mute. The students smiled from ear to ear and couldn’t contain their excitement when they entered the grade 3 foyer. Upon entering one of the grade 3 classrooms, most of them said “Wow!” and they were pointing at the computers. Their eyes were wide open, wandering around the classroom.  

While doing the socialization, BINUS SCHOOL Simprug students found out that some of their visitors have cochlear implants and hearing aids while others can hardly hear at all. They also learned how their teachers manage to accommodate all of their students by alternating between the use of sign language and oral speech when giving instructions.

After the socialization, an activity on teaching sign language followed wherein the BINUS SCHOOL Simprug students learned some words in sign language to the delight of the children from Sekolah Santi Rama. Then, they were divided into groups: two Santi Rama students and three BINUS SCHOOL Simprug students per group. The students introduced themselves to each other. They pointed out where they live and their birthdays. The students also shared their hobbies using sign language. Afterwards, the children from Sekolah Santi Rama performed the song, “Twinkle-Twinkle Little Star” in sign language along with body language and gestures. The students from Sekolah Santi Rama also did a Balinese dance. They danced gracefully as if they were able to hear clearly the rhythm of the music. They also performed a skit about bullying.  The students from Sekolah Santi Rami put up amazing performances!

At the end of the visit, students had lunch provided by the grade 3 parents. They were also given gifts consisting of school bags and stationeries. The children accepted the gifts graciously and said they wanted to visit the school again.

When they left, our grade 3 students shared some of the challenges they experienced. “When they shared jokes and laughed, we were not able to understand them,” said Ryan Khullar, one of our grade 3 students. “When they asked us using sign language, we could not understand because their hands move too fast. We were not able to reply back. They might think that we were being rude,” shared Merry, another grade 3 student. “Today’s visit really touched my heart. We are thankful because we can hear,” grade 3 student Caroline Lee remarked.

This interactive visit was an eye opener for our students, who realized that they have the same interests as people with disabilities.  The visit also boosted the self-esteem of the children from Sekolah Santi Rama.

By Martha Carolina

Grade 3 Team Teacher



Class Dojo

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unnamedMedan Independent School has just finished our combined WASC/IB visit. I would like to congratulate my colleagues for a job well done and thank the Dunia members who participated in the visits. It was lovely to feel apart of the greater Indonesian IB community.

It is not always easy to show visiting bodies evidence of the learner profile, attitudes, communication and student work, however there was one tool that stood out above the rest: ClassDojo. 

This app and website are so integrated into the classrooms at MIS that ClassDojo came up in every accreditation meeting had over this week. ClassDojo is used for 1:1 parent communication, school wide information dissemination, specialist class collaboration, as well as student portfolios, learner profile tracking and behavior management all in one. I am proud to have been the ClassDojo Mentor for our school for the past year and a half and was amazed to see how many times it was mentioned in the accreditation meetings by students, staff and parents. 

If you are looking for a great resource for all the aforementioned assets to your classroom look no further. is a place you can go for that. The parents enjoy their own private Facebook like feed to help them feel connected to their child during the day. Class dojo also has a series of videos on: The Growth Mindset, Perseverance and Empathy. All of these resources are completely free and I am serious that they helped in our IB and WASC accreditation visits exponentially. If you have any questions about Class Dojo or are having difficulty setting it up at your school please email me. 

Rachel Wayne 

Let’s Do Business!

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In the How We Organize Ourselves unit, Year 3 students in Sekolah Cikal learn how the connection between supply and demand creates space for economic activities. At the beginning of the unit, students explored the difference between wants and needs, and identified them by cutting and pasting some pictures from old magazines.

Experiential Learning

As the unit goes, students learned that money plays an important part in economic activities. People use money to pay for the things that they need. One way that most people get money is by earning it. Therefore, the students did some experiential learning by having a proper two-hours job during the weekend, in their family or relatives’ business. In this project, they earned some amount of money based on the prior agreement between the school, students, parents, and other parties involved. Through this activity, the students learned to recognize work as a means for earning money, to be responsible for the work that they do, and learned to manage the money that they have earned.

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The Y3 experiential learning project received positive feed backs from parents. Parents praised that their children have better responsibility towards money, now that the children know what it takes to earn money on their own.


After the students do the experiential learning, it’s time to decide what they are going to do with the money. In our culture, money is one of the resources that we can save, spend, or donate. The students have their choices, and they decided to spend some of their salary as business capital. They will learn to be producers and sell their products on Y3 Market Day at Sekolah Cikal. The money raised in this Market Day will be donated to an elderly home in East Jakarta.

Market Survey

As the first step of being a producer, the students conduct a market survey around the school’s community. The purpose of this survey is to know what goods or services that they will sell based on the market’s interest, to know how much price should be given for their products, and to know what materials or colours that the customers prefer.

Students are then divided into groups, based on their interests and skills. Those who like to cook will be chefs, and produce some food and beverages. While other students who love arts will decorate some stationery and create their own accessories. There were also some other students who decided to provide services in games, karaoke or photo booth for the customers.

Guest Speaker and Workshops

To help students practice their skills as producers, we invited a guest speaker and conducted some workshops. The guest speaker taught them how to run business from home. The students also had a chance to learn to paint some decorative cans. Later, these cans will be given to the elderly community as a bucket to keep their personal toiletries.

Aside from the guest speaker, students then had some workshops to learn how to produce their own food, beverages, accessories or stationery that they will sell during Y3 Market Day.

In the above pictures, teachers showed the students how to make spaghetti, egg sandwich, banana pancakes and strawberry milkshake.

Students who love arts worked to produce their own necklaces, headband, hair tie, or decorated some notebooks with guidance from the teachers.

During the workshop, the students took notes on the ingredients or materials needed, the steps of making the product, and also the price for the ingredients or materials. Knowing the price for all the ingredients or materials is an important step for them to decide the price of their products later on. They learn that they have to set a higher price for their products in order to earn some profits from the business.


Now, it’s time to promote the products! Y3 students visited some classes to promote the upcoming event Y3 Market Day. They informed other students and teachers about the types of products or services that they will sell and also the price range for each product. They also informed that the money raised in this event will be used to buy some goods and toiletries needed by an elderly home in Jakarta.

A day or two days before the event, the students divided some responsibilities among themselves, such as, who will be the cashier, who will be the chef, or who will be the marketing to invite buyers to visit their booths and buy their products. Also, they decided on who will bring stove, frying pan, pot, or other kitchen utensils, as well as the tablecloth and tray to display the products.


The Market Day

Finally, the D day! Y3 Market Day started at 9 o’clock. So, from 7.30 in the morning, the students have gathered in the ‘production room’ where the class has been set up as a kitchen to produce the food and beverages. The students started preparing their products. Some of them blended the milk, ice cream, and strawberries to make milkshake and poured it into plastic cups. Some others helped to wash the tomatoes needed to make spaghetti sauce, while other students grated some cheese for the burritos filling. They also put the egg, tomatoes, and cheese in between sliced of bread to make some sandwiches.

Outside the production room, people have gathered around their booths. Some eager customers are waiting to be served. Students, teachers, and parents bought the food and beverages, stationery, and accessories from Y3 students. The students who acted as cashier took payment from the customers and gave change money when needed. Other students who acted as marketing invite buyers to buy the products in their booth, they even gave discount for the customers who bought more than one item. All of the goods are sold out in less than an hour, woohoo!!

1There were also some students who provide a photo booth for the customers who would like to take pictures with friends, by using the properties that the students have prepared earlier. Soon after the picture taking, the customers then received the photo that was taken by a polaroid camera. This booth was one of the most successful and famous booth during Market Day, and they earned the most money. Good job, boys!


All in all, this unit gave many new and valuable experiences for the students. They were so happy to be able to learn about economic activities in a fun and rewarding way as producers and sellers. They also developed the concept of earning money, buying, selling, promoting, and adjusting price related to supply and demand. In addition, the students learned how to organise their money by spending, saving, or donating for the ones in need.


This will always be the unit we all look forward to.

Nisa Herliana, Grade 3 Teacher, Sekolah Cikal Cilandak.

What’s Up with Water?

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Our Kinder 2 students have been engaged in the Unit of Inquiry on Water, which is under the transdisciplinary theme ‘Sharing the Planet’. It is very interesting to see that for the children, they could directly relate water to “fun”. However, different learning activities were prepared for them to explore the characteristics of water, where water comes from, and how water is used among others.

At the beginning of this Unit of Inquiry, the students had a really fun time doing a little experiment of making an ice candy. They were amused in observing how water can really change its form.  On the other hand, finding out about different sources of water led us to go on a field trip to some places around Batam where water can be found.


The place that made a strong impression on the children was their visit to ATB (Adhya Tirta Batam). ATB supplies water to the whole of Batam. They were intrigued to see a huge body of water which looked like a lake, but it was explained to us by the ATB staff that it is a dam. The trip made the students realise how water reaches their home through ATB’s services.

In addition, as the students looked into the function of water, they had the time to interview different people around the school to make them more knowledgeable about various uses of water.


The Unit of Inquiry on Water is not over yet, but letting the children understand the availability and importance of water around them is a meaningful experience.

By Nicolenia L. Casucian (, K2 Homeroom Teacher

Sekolah Global Indo-Asia (Batam)

The Big Ideas on Learning Centres

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You might be interested to know …the response of a child who is asked by his or her parents:


How might our kids respond?




This can be outrageously unfair especially considering the effort teachers have to make to plan and implement learning engagements with their students in every learning discipline. As an automatic response of parents, they tend to ask the teachers for the reasons why their children respond this way.

As teachers commit themselves to always taking parents’ inquiries as critical feedback on their teaching, they take the responsibility to further improve on their craft and most likely the questions in their  heads now would be:

  • Why can’t children explicitly explain to their parents the things they do in class?
  • How can I help my kids, from the class tasks, make meaning more relevant from their own perspective?

Inspired by reading the Book of Robyn and Jeni Wilson on “How to succeed with Learning Centres”, it is important that learning centres be planned and structured so student progress and participation is closely monitored by the teacher.

What is a learning centre?

  • A classroom that has been set up for learning centres is one in which a number of different activities are being done simultaneously by individual or small groups.
  • There is no one ‘right’ way to set up and run learning centres.
  • There is not a ‘fixed’ recipe for classroom organization.
  • The variations can be extensive and decisions about grouping and organization are best made by the classroom teacher – who knows the students and what is manageable within the constraints of specific classroom and school curriculum requirements.
  • Teachers can follow models that might suit a purpose within one classroom.

Learning centres:

  • Are not a total program;
  • Can be used in many ways in any subject area within an integrated curriculum topic;
  • Can be adapted for different levels and teaching styles;
  • Facilitate independent work but are far more than a free choice of activity for students;
  • Are driven by the purpose of the tasks and the context;
  • Can be teacher and/or student designed, selected and assessed.

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The Role of the Student

  • Students are positioned at the centre of the learning;
  • Students take a very active role in the learning process and is not a passive recipient of information;
  • Students are more likely to be working with other classmates on tasks away from the direct instruction of the teacher;
  • Students need to take responsibility for their own learning needs;
  • They need to be able to access other students or resources to solve problems and complete their work;
  • Learning centres are based on the Constructivist Theory of Learning in which students use their skills to link new information to existing knowledge.

What do learning centres look like?

Learning centres look like different in different classrooms. These have been organised into four categories to help differentiate between and to assist in selection:

  • Independent Contract Work
  • Teachers have developed and negotiated a set of possible activities that could be done by students.
  • In conjunction with the teacher, the student identifies the tasks they will complete along with an agreed timeline.
  • A classroom operating on such system would look like a class full of independent workers
  • The teacher would be operating on a one-to-one basis
  • It may be appropriate for students to be given options to complete some tasks with a partner or small group
  • Alternatively, they may be required to complete their own work and consult with others.

Samples of Independent Contract Work

Sample #1


Sample #2

Rotational Tasks

  • This type of learning centre requires a set of tasks that will be undertaken by all members of the class on a rotational basis.
  • A specific time is set aside for groups to complete each task.
  • The rotation can occur in quick succession on one day – for example, each group completing four 15-minute tasks in a span of an hour.

Sample of Rotational Tasks


Multiple Choice tasks

  • Offering a number of prepared activities at one time where a number of different tasks may have been prepared and set up in different parts of the room.
  • Students can choose which tasks they will complete, knowing that they may not be able to complete them all.
  • Different tasks may be designed to cater for particular learning style preferences, for example, tasks that require musical skills or creative construction.
  • It is important for the teacher to monitor individuals and ensure that all modes are developed over time.
  • Encourage students to select from a full range of activities, rather than just those their strongest skills as preference.

Sample of Multiple Choice Tasks


Point System Tasks

  • This type of learning the student aims to complete activities worth a specified value.
  • The target value maybe determined by the teacher and/or student.
  • The teacher gives each task a value, for example, points score or star rating according to its complexity and time requirement.
  • They can cover a range of subject areas, they could be completed at various times during the day as negotiated by the teacher.
  • It is important to provide a selection of tasks in terms of content and complexity.
  • The tasks can be completed independently or cooperatively.


Samples of Point System Tasks

1.pngSample # 1

1.pngSample # 2

Various elements of each can be combined. For example, multiple choice activities can be used with a point system.

The Role of the Teacher

  • The role of a teacher within learning centres is not a fixed one, but it is central to effective learning.
  • The teacher cannot simply set the groups to work and then leave students to it.
  • The teacher is fundamental in planning, implementing and evaluating learning centres.
  • Like students, teachers will be active participants in the classrooms where learning centres operate.
  • Different types of learning centres call for different teaching skills and strategies.

The Teacher, as the Planner

  • The teacher needs to prepare for effective learning experiences. They need to cater for a range of learning styles, various levels of ability, effective use of available resources and different degrees of learner independence.
  • The teacher must align the activities offered in learning centres with the desired key understandings and outcomes of the curriculum, keeping in mind the specific needs of the students.
  • By systematically planning a range of learning centre activities, the teacher makes clear and comprehensive curriculum decisions.
  • This generates a natural flow and connectedness of learning.
  • One way to ensure that activities are meaningful, appropriate and closely linked to the major classroom objective is to plan using a proforma.

1.pngSample Planning Sheet for Teachers

The Teacher as the Teacher

  • This means that a teacher should work with groups or individuals to ask carefully considered questions so that students can develop their own understandings.
  • Learning centre tasks need to be designed so that students can be actively involved in constructing their own learning under the guidance of the teacher.
  • It may be that one of the groups is assigned as the ‘teaching group.’ This group works intensively with the teacher on the task. It is important that the rest of the class understands that the teacher is generally not available for them during this time. Some teachers like to have a sign places table indicating that they are unavailable. The other groups will be completing tasks that rely on independence.

The Teacher, as the Supervisor

  • As with any classroom activity, it is essential that the teacher monitors the activities of all students. If working intensively with one group, it is necessary for the teacher to be able to see all groups in order to monitor behaviour.
  • The teacher takes a leading role in the teaching group, and uses this opportunity to teach new work or monitor understandings and keep assessment records for the students in that group.
  • The teacher can be at the side of the group where a clear view of all groups is possible over the teaching group.

The Teachers, as the Assessor

  • The use of learning centres is an effective way to make on-going assessment more manageable.
  • By using one student group as the group for which assessment will be the focus, the teacher can monitor learning in a detailed and highly individual way.
  • Several strategies for assessing students and keeping effective records are detailed in our assessment policy.1.png

The Teacher, as the Reflector

  • The important role of the teacher is to lead class discussion in reflecting on the activities that have been carried out.
  • This debriefing gives the teacher invaluable feedback. During a share time, the teacher can obtain information about the value, length, degree of difficulty, etc. of each task and also provide advanced information to students who have not yet completed the tasks in the other learning centres.

The Teacher, as the Negotiator

  • Negotiation is involved in the implementation of learning centres. It is important that students feel they have been consulted about the content and management of at least some tasks.
  • Ultimately, teachers have the most responsibility for classroom arrangements and, therefore, negotiation will vary depending on the situations.

Common Characteristics of Learning Centres

  • Students work on independent or semi-independent tasks
  • Students may work individually but are usually in small groups
  • Some form of choice and/or negotiation is usually involved
  • Discovery learning is a component
  • Teachers are able to work intensively with at least one group of students

Benefits of Learning Centres

In a nutshell, they improve student learning, which is after all, the core purpose of everything we do in our classrooms.

  • Learning centres provide activity choices.
  • They provide a social setting within which learning can occur.
  • Learning centres encourage independence.
  • Learning centres motivate students and lead to real engagement.

By Ms. Edina Araneta-Sarenas, Primary Principal (

Sekolah Global Indo-Asia, Batam


The Power of Observational Drawing

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How many times have we asked our students to draw (both in their Unit of Inquiry or during single subject time)? For example, as a part of their Tuning in, teacher asks students to draw objects in their surroundings that belong to “living things”; as a part of their formative or summative assessment, teacher asks students to draw their understanding about what friendship is; or students draw their observation in their science experiment, draw about their responsibility towards plants and  animals. In religion, teacher asks students to draw symbols to express their beliefs; In music, students draw and group the musical instruments, and so on.

Drawing leaves at different stages, looking at the concept of “Change”

The question is “how far have we supported our students when it comes to drawing?”. Is it only the responsibility of Visual Art Teachers to teach our students to draw? What does it have to do with observational drawing? On the other hand, how often do we hear somebody say “I don’t know how to draw” or “I am not good in drawing”?

Drawing is a skill that everybody can learn, just like how we learn to write and make our writing readable. Talking more specifically about observational drawing, it simply means to draw something “as it is”. Edwards (1999) says that “Ability to draw depends on the ability to see the way an artist sees, and this kind of seeing can marvelously enrich your life”. In PYP, we encourage students to draw something or an object based on their perspective, imagination, from what they see or memorise. For example when it comes to drawing people, we let the kids draw people from their perspective, not to tell or show them step by step how to draw people, and let their skill develop alongside their age.

Observational drawing is a great way to increase drawing skills. In observational drawing, we want students to see something without looking at it as an object that they know. For example, when they draw a bottle, we do not want them to think about a “bottle” but we want them to “see” it in a different way, paying attention to the lines and contour as it is (not the shape of bottle in their mind). Gertrude Stein asked French artist Henri Matisse whether, when eating tomato, he looked at it the way an artist would. Matisse replied: “No, when I am eating tomato I look at it the way anyone else would. But when I paint a tomato, then I see it differently” (Picasso, 1938). Therefore, “seeing” or “how do we see things” is what observational drawing is all about, and this is very important if we want to improve our drawing skills.

Other than that, by doing regular practice in observational drawing, we will become more “sensitive” when it comes to paying attention to details such as shapes, size, contour, proportion, and colors. It also improves hand eye coordination. The purpose of this article is to encourage homeroom teachers to do regular observational drawing in their classroom, or even set up a special centre in the classroom for observational drawing and prepare sketch book for students to record their drawings. This is an exercise that will not only benefit our students, but also for us, as teachers. We do encourage teachers to sit and do the activity together with the students.

In the early years, students can start with simple objects such as an egg or a ball. As they grow older they can have other objects such as: Fruits with different shapes, sizes and textures (banana, apple, mango, grapes, pineapple, etc.), stationery in the classroom, leaves with different shapes, colors, and textures (one of my favourite!), different types of flowers, toys, shells, even using their own body such as drawing the lines on their palm. Basically, everything can be used for observational drawing. Sometimes, it is good to give them objects that they cannot relate to anything, for example a piece of metal, bended wire, crumpled paper, etc.

1Different centres of observational drawing in Visual Art class.

There are different exercises in observational drawing. For example, draw an object without looking on the paper, draw an object without lifting the pencil, or upside-down drawing (print a picture and ask students to draw it upside-down). The idea goes back to seeing the object and drawing it as it is without thinking about what the object is, but paying attention to lines, distance between lines, how long should we draw the lines, the angles, direction of the lines, and so on.

Upside down drawing by Grade 5 student

So… going further.., are there other effects of observational drawing? Is it only to develop drawing skills? In her book, Edwards (1999) says that drawing opens the door to other goals. Learning to draw will help us see things differently, develop our ability to perceive things freshly in their totality, and see underlying patterns and possibilities. It will increase awareness of our mind, develop creative abilities, and enhance our confidence in decision- making and problem-solving. As she said, “The potential power of the creative, imaginative human brain seems almost limitless. Drawing may help you come to know this power and make it known to others”.

For some ideas on observational drawing:



Edwards, B. The New Drawing on the Right Side of the Brain. New York: Jeremy P. Tarcher/Putnam, 1999.


By Peggy Ratulangi (

PYP Coordinator & Visual Art Teacher, Sekolah Global Indo-Asia (Batam)


Creating “Ondel-ondel”

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For the grade 5 unit of inquiry on “Where we are in place and time”, students created “Ondel-ondel”, a large puppet that originated from the Betawi ethnic group. The unit of inquiry has the central idea, “exploration of land, sea and space can lead to discoveries, challenges and new understandings.”

1Our students designed “Ondel-ondel”, which was introduced by the Betawi tribe, the native inhabitants of Jakarta. It took two units of inquiry for the students to complete the male and female “Ondel-ondel” because creating the puppets involves a paper mâché technique, where students need to cover boxes with two layers of newspaper and kitchen tissue paper. After the students have completed the two layers, they need to cover the boxes with fox glue, let them dry, and then paint the boxes.2

The students worked in groups in creating “Ondel-ondel”. Last school year, each group, consisting of four to five students, designed the small version of “Ondel-ondel”. This academic year, however, students created the big type of “Ondel-ondel”.

For the big “Ondel-ondel”, each group consisted of 10 to 11 students. The learning engagement started with students’ research and investigation about the characteristics of female and male “Ondel-ondel”. After doing their research, students shared their findings about “Ondel-ondel”. When all the groups had presented their research, we summarized the characteristics of “Ondel-ondel”. Afterwards, students worked on their “Ondel-ondel” using acrylic paint.

3.jpgCreating the puppets taught the students to be inquirers and knowledgeable since students had to explore the history and characteristics of male and female “Ondel-ondel”.

Students also learnt how to work together, solve problems within their groups and respect each other. Furthermore, creating the “Ondel-ondel” taught the students to be responsible in finishing their artwork on time and taking care     of their art tools, including the need to clean them up before class dismissal.

By: Irma Dwi Savitri

Visual Art Teacher