Bashamichi Campus
(Age 2 - Age 3)

Kannai Campus
(Age 4 - Grade 12)


How CGK Events are Changing with IB

Column December 20, 2023

One thing that is changing at CGK due to our incorporation of the IB is how we set up and structure events. We look forward to family events as a way to build our community as well as get to know parents. From small changes to previous events to whole new events, we hope these changes are positive for all involved.

Our preschool has long enjoyed our Park Day event as one of the first chances of the new year for parents to meet each other and teachers. Our elementary school had our first Spring Picnic last year, and felt it was a great start to the year. One way this event will change because of IB is that we are asking the students to design aspects of the event.

For example, in elementary school, we had the students choose which events they would like do. Then we had them explain the events to parents. Some events worked better than others, and students and teachers learn from the successes and challenges. Our Spring Picnic next year will be different, because the students will be different.

As staff we plan the logistics of the event, and make sure things are safe. But we enjoyed giving the students ownership of the event and the confidence that gave them in their approach to learning for the rest of the year.

Another event that changes some under IB is our Sports Day event. While we’ve always tried to follow the students’ lead in terms of choosing games, for Preschool this year we took our time choosing events, really getting to know the kids and what they wanted to do. We also asked ourselves and the students which skills they want to share with the parents. We had been focusing on game creation in our P.E. but have not started our gymnastics unit. So while preschools typically share a gymnastics demonstration for the 5 year old class, we wanted to honor what the students were comfortable and confident in. This means that just like our Park Day event, every year it will change. We also wanted to find events where the students were not waiting too long, as it is more fun for all involved. While these changes mean some events will look different or not happen, we hope Sports Day continues to be fun and rewarding for students, families, and teachers!

Two other events that will be changing in coming years are our Halloween and Christmas events. We don’t want to take away from these experiences that spark joy and excitement in our children, but we also want to make sure we are being inclusive to our international community as well as honoring student agency and inquiry. Our Halloween event will become a Harvest Festival. We will still do trick or treating, and students can still wear costumes. But we will also explore other traditions and customs from around the world, particularly countries represented in our students or teachers. Our Christmas event will be a Winter Party. Like Halloween, we are not getting rid of anything related to Christmas, but rather opening the event up so we can celebrate other holidays and festivals that occur during the winter holiday season. We will still have Santa and presents, but might celebrate other holidays as well such as Hanukkah, Pancha Ganapati,Yule, or Yalda, depending on our families and staff.

Another change that we are actively working on is the transition from a Spring Recital to a Celebration of Learning. As part of student agency we are moving away from teachers writing scripts that the students then have to memorize. Instead, we are working with the children to find ways for them to celebrate their learning and growth in front of our CGK community.

Students will still be on stage, and you will be able to hear them use their English communication skills. But the form that it takes, and the amount of time spent on practicing rather than learning, is changing. We want our events to support learning and development, not replace them. So we will always work with the students to find ways that the Celebration of Learning is an extension of their learning, rather than taking away from it.

This also means that as the students get older and take more ownership, the form will change even more, and might include elements that are not typical in year end performances in Japan. This is a natural and welcome change that empowers the students and hopefully results in a joyous occasion for all involved.

One new event that we just did for the first time was our Student Led Conference (SLC). SLCs are a chance for students to share their learning with their families. It is part of students developing a greater awareness of their own learning and effort in the classroom. It is also a way to strengthen communication between a student and their parents regarding what is happening at school. SLCs are becoming more and more common in schools around the world, not just in IB schools. But as it is a wonderful opportunity to celebrate our learners as well as honor their agency, we are excited to adopt it. We know some parents would have liked to speak with the teachers, or maybe wanted more structure. We also know many of our students were shy and unsure of what to do, despite the fact that every class practiced what to do prior to the event. Each class was set up according to the desires of the students, with some guidance by the teachers. Because of this, like other events, the SLCs are going to look different every year. We know this was new for all involved, and we will continue to work with the students so that they develop more confidence and comfort with the event.

We understand that some of the changes to our events might be uncomfortable, or hard to understand at first. And some will not be as successful the first time, but will only continue to improve. We hope that the changes we make to align our events with the IB approach continue to encourage student learning and make events more enjoyable for all!

Author Profile

Darby  -  Elementary Principal & IB PYP Coordinator  (USA)us

Elementary Principal and IB PYP Coordinator of CGK International School. From New York, America with Master's Degree in Education.
A graduate of the International Baccalaureate (IB) DP herself, she has been passionate about teaching children and IB education for over 30 years.

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