teaching learning

Teaching Through Games

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Let’s play games!

Teachers use lots of ways in conducting their lessons. One of them is through games. The advantages of using games for students include:

  1. Competition factor: Generate positive competition among peers to achieve stated objectives of the games
  2. Discipline factor: Allow students to be able to follow series of instructions or rules.
  3. Unity factor: Teach students about teamwork, sense of belonging and unselfishness. Games also encourage the students to play for teams instead of their own personal accomplishment.
  4. Confidence factor: Games enhance students’ confidence and communication skills.

Here are some games that I have used for teaching students mathematical concepts.

Game 1: “Throw the Ball”


  1. Place 4 trays in line. Put some division facts in each tray. The closest tray consists of the most difficult questions. The easiest questions are in the furthest tray.
  2. Students make a line and give them a ball (I used ping pong balls) and asked them to shoot the ball into the tray. Yes, most of them tried to shoot the ball in the furthest tray, which has the easiest questions.
  3. If the ball is out, students will line up again from the back.

4. Once the ball got into the tray, ask students to get a piece of paper and answer the questions by themselves.

5. If they can’t answer in a given time, students will then line up from the back.

6. Finish this game until all the questions have been answered.

Game 2: “Solving Word Problems”


  1. Prepare papers with question. Label each paper 1, 2, 3 and so on.
  2. Divide class into groups.
  3. Each group stands in front of a piece of paper.
  4. Let students answer the questions on post-it notes. Tell them to put the answers at the back of the paper.

5. Ask students to move clockwise to the next paper.

6. Stop until all the groups are back to their first paper.

7. Discuss the answers together.

Game 3: “Group Yourselves Equally”


  1. The students stand in a circle.

2. Give the question, “Group yourselves into 2”, “Group yourselves into 3”, and so on.

3. Ask students to count how many groups they made.

4. Write down the number with the equal answers. Examples include 9 (18 ÷ 2) and 6 (18 ÷ 3).

5. Discuss why some students were not in groups. It means the number cannot be divided equally. Examples are 18 ÷ 4 and 18 ÷ 5.

6. Discuss and review what numbers are really equal if you divide for 18.


I found that the students really enjoyed these games. The students actively participated and cooperated well during the activities. Using games in teaching creates an exciting learning atmosphere for the students and the teachers as well.

By: Debby Selvianita

Grade 1 Co-Teacher




Yahmad, S. B. H. Motivating students with games.

Constructivist Learning Approach

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Constructivism is the term used when we build upon our prior knowledge using real world experiences. In schools, we use a constructivist approach to preparing students to solve problems and construct or refine new understandings (Budi Usodo, 2016).

Types of Constructivism


  • Psychological Constructivism


Personal psychological cognitive constructivism is often referred to as Piaget cognitive constuctivism. According to Piaget, cognitive structure of a person is due to the process of assimilation and accommodation. Assimilation is the process of getting new experiences and information and immediately connected with the mental structure that is already owned by someone. Accommodation is the process of re-structuring of the mental structure as a result of new experiences and information. (Budi Usodo, 2016)
So according to Piaget, learning is not only receiving information and experience, but also re-structuring the new information and experiences.

Learning principles using Piaget’s constructivist theory are:


  • Meaning as internally constructed


In the process of constructing knowledge, information  is individually interpreted by learners in their own learning experiences.


  • Learning and teaching as negotiated construction of meaning


Construction of meaning is a negotiation process between individual learners with their experiences through an interaction in the learning process. Thus learners construct their knowledge based on their own individual past experiences.


  • Teaching is not just transferring knowledge from teachers to their learners, but is also an activity that allows learners to construct their own meaning and knowledge.



  • Teaching means a partnership with learners in constructing  meaning, looking for clarity, being critical and creating justifications.



  • Knowledge is structured and stored uniquely by each individual student.



  • When students link their past knowledge with new information (gained through their experiences), they develop their understanding of larger related concepts.


For example, in the mental structure of 4th graders, they have had knowledge of odd and even numbers. The students were given some numbers from 1 to 30. Then the students wrote factors of each number and perceived what patterns emerged.  Students understood  that most of the numbers (2, 3, 5, 7, 11, 13, 17 and 19) only had two factors, and these were all odd numbers (except the number 2). Students were able to integrate this new understanding into their own cognitive structure and assimilation happened. New information about prime numbers caused some cognitive restructuring (accommodation) to take place because the number 2 did not fit the expected odd number pattern.



  • Social Constructivism


Vygotsky believed that learning occurs when students handle tasks that they haven’t learned before, but these tasks are still within range of their abilities (zone of proximal development). This zone of proximal development is the area between the actual developmental level that a child is actually at developmentally and and the level of potential that the child can achieve.

Learning principles as the implications of Vygotsky socio-cultural constructivist theory are:

  1. Social interaction is important, better knowledge is constructed by involving other people.
  2. Human development occurs through cultural tools (language, symbols) that is transmitted from person to person.
  3. The zone of proximal development is the difference between what can be done alone (actual ability) and what can be done with the help from adults (potential capabilities).

For example, 4th grade students constructed their knowledge about what economic activity was. Teachers facilitated an activity to identify economic and  non-economic activities. Students worked in groups, cut images from old magazines and newspapers, identified each image as economic activity or non-economic activity and continued by classifying the images. When the students identified and classified the pictures, each image selection involved social interactions between students and also with the teachers. Each group discussed and constructed their understanding about what economic and non-economic activity was. The students shared their ideas. Teachers guided the students to construct their definitions of economic activity and non-economic activity. The similar activities were also applied when the students, facilitated by the teachers, constructed their knowledge about the differences between goods and services; and also the difference between needs and wants.

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Teaching methods in constructivist approach

The learning method that can be applied using constructivism learning is inquiry method. Learning using inquiry method is an essential way for students to construct their own meaning and gained new knowledge.

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Firdausi Nuzula, Associate PYP Coordinator and Grade 4  Homeroom Teacher

Sekolah Buin Batu, Sumbawa Barat, NTB


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 (primary.principal@sgiaedu.org)

Sekolah Global Indo-Asia, Batam


Using Anecdotal Records to Assess and Document Student Learning

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One of the assessment tools that teachers can use is an anecdotal record, which is a written note based on student observation.

An anecdotal record does not need to be written like a long narrative report, but it is recommended that it should be brief and contain significant details such as the first name of the child, date when the record was conducted, setting and event. In addition, an anecdotal record becomes more authentic if the teacher can capture the direct quotes stated by the child.  The direct quotes need not be edited for the purpose of preserving the originality of the student’s utterance or work.

binus-12Making use of an anecdotal record helps teachers further understand their students and is one way of documenting their learning. It also helps teachers track student behavior changes that can be used for future observations, curriculum planning and student or parent conferences.

Furthermore, an anecdotal record provides evidence of a child’s development. Specifically, an anecdotal record is used to:


  • better understand children’s learning over a period of time
  • provide ongoing records about individual instructional needs
  • capture significant student behavior that might otherwise be lost
  • provide ongoing documentation of student learning that may be shared with parents and teachers

Teachers can maximize the use of an anecdotal record if they do the following:

  1. Plan ahead to collect information. Teachers are suggested to identify ways on how to collect information, including using sticky notes, journals and mobile phones. In taking notes or in recording, teachers can explore different strategies such as writing a word or phrase and making codes in capturing the child’s action, words, phrases and expressions.
  2. Choose the skills to observe during different activities. It is recommended to select certain skills or approaches to learning. Teachers can also focus on certain learner profile attributes and attitudes in doing the anecdotal record.

Schools can come up with an essential agreement on the use of anecdotal record. Using an anecdotal record is aligned with IB programme standards and practices on assessment.

When teachers make use of an anecdotal record and embrace the practice, it becomes a routine. Once it is a routine, it becomes easier for teachers to write anecdotal records, which are valuable tools for assessment and help enrich the teaching and learning process.

By: Zaida Puyo

Grade 2 Level Head



Teaching Students the Value of Money

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As part of our learning engagements for one of our units of inquiry, Grade 3A students went on a field trip to Ranch Market in Pondok Indah, South Jakarta. Each student brought a shopping binus-11-alist, a reusable shopping bag and money – maximum of Rp. 100, 000. The field trip aimed to teach the students how to value money, know the production and distribution processes of goods and services, and to find out the different sections in the modern market, which were connected to our central idea, “Marketplaces rely on the production and distribution of goods and services” in our unit of inquiry under how we organize ourselves.

Prior to their field trip, the students were divided into four groups. There were five or six students in each group. A supervisor was assigned to look after each group – a class mom was one of them.

When the students arrived at the area, they could not contain their excitement. They could not wait to shop, but their excitement was put on hold because they were first taken round to the different sections: the fruit section, the vegetable section, the meat section, the fish section and the dry goods section. While listening to the tour guide, we overheard them asking about the time for shopping. We just laughed because the students could not wait any longer.

As the tour endbinus-11-bed, the students were asked what they wanted to do next. All of them replied in unison, ‘Shopping!’ Since they were too excited, we jokingly said that it was time to go home. All of the students said ‘No!’ and looked gloomy, but to bring back their excitement, they were told that they were right – It was time for shopping! They were ecstatic and readied their shopping list, money and shopping bag. They were told to stick with their groups and to their assigned supervisors. They enthusiastically searched and picked the items included on their shopping lists.

Most of the students made sure that their chosen items did not exceed the amount of money that they had. However, there were few of them who did exceed and the cashiers told them to put back the items that they did not want so much. The students made sure that they calculated the prices of their chosen items before heading to the counters to pay.

After all of the students were done shopping and paying, we had time to take photos. Then, we headed back to school with them beaming with happiness after their recent experiences. When we arrived in school, they wrote their reflection about their trip with these guiding questions: Where did you go and what was the objective of today’s field trip? How much money were you given by your parents? Check the receipt that you received from the store. Make a list of things that you bought and write down the prices. How much change did you receive? Did you have any problems while shopping? If so, how did you solve them? What did you learn from your shopping trip? Write/draw your memorable part of your trip.

Most of them said they wished that they could go back to the supermarket and shop again with their friends not with their parents as they “want to be independent and have freedom in buying what they need and want”.

A few said that they were confused on where to locate the specific items they needed since the market was huge and wide. Others learned that the products or goods on their shopping list were not available all the time and had to be quick to think of the replacements, which could be other brands or items.binus-11-c

It was indeed a wonderful experience for the students. Most of them were able to find out that the goods and services at the supermarket are divided into different sections so it is easy for shoppers to locate and find what they want. The students also realized the importance of choosing the fresh produce and the best quality products and most of all, check the expiration date to make sure the goods are still alright to be consumed.  Likewise, they learned that as early as possible, they have to start saving money instead of spending it on unnecessary stuff or their wants.

The students also pointed out that they now value money and emphasized that they should only buy what they need. They know now that they should not spend beyond their means so they do not end up starving the next day.

As teachers, it was wonderful to see our students learning how to be independent and experience first-hand how grown-ups shop and budget their money. It was also wonderful to see students learning how to queue, wait for their turn and realize that they need to make sure that the things they have chosen do not exceed the money that they have.

It is indeed remarkable to teach students at a very young age how to value money – to check their budget, lessen their expenses, and that to earn money entails hard work.

By: Mr. Freitz Gerald Talavera and Ms. Martha Carolina

Grade 3 Teachers

BINUS SCHOOL Simprug, Jakarta

ftalavera@binus.edu; mcarolina@binus.edu

Promoting Open Communication Using the Ladder of Feedback

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binus-jan-9aOne model that can be used for giving constructive comments to students and colleagues is the “Ladder of Feedback” advocated by Harvard Graduate School of Education.

The “Ladder of Feedback” consists of four sequential steps and can be used when providing comments about a lesson, behavior, school program or an event. The first step is to clarify with questions. The second stage is to value the positive features. The third phase is to express concerns and the fourth stage is to suggest next steps.

In doing the first step of clarifying, it is encouraged to ask specific questions and shun queries that are thinly disguised criticisms. Sentence starters such as “I wasn’t sure about …”; “What did … mean?”; and “Why was … there?” can be used.

For the second step of valuing positive features, we have to make sure that we are being honest and fair. It is not enough to say “I like your lesson” or “This project is cool”. There is a need to explain why we like the lesson, behavior, school program or event.

The third stage involves expressing concerns and avoiding attacking personal character or ability. We have to pay attention to the ideas, products or specific aspects, and can make use of qualified terms such as “I wonder if …”; “What do you think if …”; and “It seems to me …”

The last step encourages us to offer suggestions for improvement. Often, this step is combined with the third stage when stating concerns.

At BINUS SCHOOL Simprug, we applied the “Ladder of Feedback” when there was a proposal to conduct the “Battle of the Brains”, a competition involving elementary students. In the “Battle of the Brains”, the students were grouped into four teams and each team had five representatives from grades 1 to 5. The team representatives had to answer questions related to the grade level units of inquiry and different subjects, including music, visual art, physical education, and additional language.


Here’s the list of comments given by teachers about the “Battle of the Brains” using the “Ladder of Feedback”.

Step 4: Suggest

  • Involve specialist teachers and have more judges to invigilate
  • Conduct an awareness round to engage the audience and encourage students to participate
  • Prepare a variety of questions that suit the students’ learning abilities
  • Include general knowledge questions, not necessarily based on curriculum
  • Give enough time for students to answer each question
Step 3: Concern

  • I wonder if the competition can create a supportive and healthy atmosphere
  • Most probably, the same students from the previous year will join again the “Battle of the Brains” so it hinders other students to participate this year.
  • Sitting arrangement per group is too close with each other and answers by students can be overheard by another group
  • Kids might be booed if their team loses.
  • I wonder if 10 seconds is long enough for grades 1 and 2 to read the questions.
Step 2: Value

  • The event involves all students in elementary and get to learn from each other.
  • “Battle of the Brains” encourages the students to think critically and have the spirit to win the competition.
  • “Battle of the Brains” offers and challenges the students to be more cooperative and knowledgeable of the lessons that have been discussed.
  • The event promotes teamwork.
  • This seems like a fun annual event which will be enjoyed by everyone.
Step 1: Clarify

  • How can the audience participate in the “Battle of the Brains”?
  • What is the level of difficulty of each question?
  • How can we involve early years students in the event?
  • How can we avoid bad sportsmanship?
  • How can we include students with different abilities?

With the comments given by our teachers using the “Ladder of Feedback”, we were able to make improvements before the D-Day of the “Battle of the Brains”.

The “Ladder of Feedback” is one useful tool for meeting Standard A, Practice 6, which states that “the school promotes open communication based on understanding and respect”. Implementing it creates a culture of trust and prevents unhealthy corridor talk.

By: Richel Langit-Dursin

PYP coordinator



Fun with Multiplication

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Multiplication is one of the basic operations in mathematics. Teaching multiplication does not have to be merely rote memorization of isolated number facts.

Although it is important for students to be quick and accurate in computing, it is equally important for them to understand the concept of multiplying. When there is conceptual understanding, students can make connections across contextual real-life situations. This can later on benefit them when faced with other related mathematical applications. 

Using various strategies such as grouping and making arrays, skip counting, repeated addition, writing in words, and commutative property will enhance students’ understanding about multiplication.

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In doing multiplication by grouping, a specific number of items is repeatedly grouped. One factor states the number of groups. The other factor states the number of items in each group. The product is the total number of items in all the groups. If the items are orderly arranged in rows and columns, then it is called an array.

Example 1: There are 9 groups of stars. Each group has 6 stars. How many stars are there in all?

Another multiplication strategy is skip counting. It is counting while skipping one or more numbers in a pattern.

Example 2: There are 8 apples in a basket. How many apples are there in 9 baskets?

In class, our students felt overwhelmed when they first heard the word multiplication even if some of them were familiar with this operation. What the students were most scared of was that they thought they had to memorize the times tables right away. However, after being introduced them to different multiplication strategies, including creating a number line, they felt relieved. It was NOT as difficult as they thought! The students became more engaged and confident as they got the chance to use their preferred strategies to solve multiplication questions.

Resources like manipulatives and other materials such as playing cards, beads, paper clips, and dice are also readily available as students learn multiplication.


When students understand the basics, they begin to build on relevant concepts and develop strategies that can help them learn more multiplication facts. When students are confident in their abilities in multiplying, they will have a positive outlook towards learning and consequently be successful in their math experiences in the future.
By: Jenina Siauw and Nancy Benedicta

Grade 2 Teachers


jenriquez@binus.edu and nbenedicta@binus.edu