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IB News - 16th December 2016

16 December 2016

Find out what's been happening in the IB Academy!

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As we reach the end of term it has been a busy and fulfilling final two weeks. Students have been fully engaged in a huge range of academic and enrichment activities in and out of school.

A key event last week was the Y13 Theory of Knowledge presentations. Students presented to the rest of Y13 as well as staff and often students from other year groups. It was a real pleasure to spend time listening to such a diverse range of thought provoking talks. Sammi in Y13 explains more below:

The past couple of weeks have been intense for the year 13 students as we have been preparing for our mock exams, trying to meet our deadlines, but most of all, putting in maximum effort to ensure an insightful yet coherent TOK Presentation.

TOK stands for Theory of Knowledge, and is a key aspect of the IB Diploma Programme (IBDP), where, along with our Extended Essay and CAS, counts towards the three core points available, in addition to our six subjects. The TOK presentation is therefore a key aspect in ensuring success in the IBDP.

Students had to prepare a 10-minute long presentation mainly based on knowledge, as well as philosophical questions brought about from them. We base our knowledge question - a question that challenges our thinking and knowledge of the world, on a real-life situation that is of particular significance to us. We then form claims, through the use of the different areas of knowledge and ways of knowing, in order to further deepen our analysis and broaden our perspectives, also through the use of other real-life examples. However, a key criterion to meet is the inclusion of counter-claims, as it allows for critical thinking and the viewing of situations from different stand points, ensuring that we are balanced and open-minded learners. Implications are also drawn from our conclusions and these conclusions are used to link into other real-life situations, highlighting the high relevance of TOK.

My TOK presentation was based upon the real-life situation of how women are not allowed to be priests in the Roman Catholic Church. The knowledge-based discussion of this topic was based around whether or not authoritative figures use faith to distort knowledge, as there is little evidence to support this claim made by Pope Francis. As I began to delve deeper into the topic, it began to fascinate me how applicable this question was in several different areas of discipline. My examples included the inaccurate sizing of maps in the Mercator’s World Map Projection, and how people still use this map today regardless of its invalidity, as well as how less economically developed countries may submit themselves more easily to authority, such as the spread of Catholicism in Sub-Saharan Africa. I presented my counterclaims while reaching the conclusion that authority plays a significant role in the distortion of knowledge, therefore questioning how appropriate it is to use faith as a way of knowing, as many authoritative figures choose to abuse their power for personal gain and self-interest. 

Listening to all my peers' presentations has truly been a great learning experience as many thought-provoking ideas and questions were raised that continue to challenge our thinking. There have been high degrees of extensive discussions brought about from solid arguments and substantial claims made, further permitting us to mature as thinkers, inquirers and learners. It has been an inspiring two days and has stimulated several thoughts that could aid us in our TOK essays, starting this week.

Our Year 12 students were also given the opportunity to watch and listen to the presentations during their IB Core lessons, providing an excellent first impression of what lies in store for them next year when they are the ones making the presentations. April in Year 12 explains this in more detail.

This week, we were given an opportunity to watch the Year 13 students’ TOK presentations. This was an amazing experience to watch, as it mentally prepared us for next year. I especially enjoyed considering all the different knowledge questions that were generated by them. It was obvious how much they prepared for this. I am actually excited to do my TOK presentation, because I want to present on something that I enjoy and am curious about.

Life for our Y13 students continues to be intense as their Christmas holiday ends with mock examinations in January. Balance is a key IB Learner Profile trait and it will be important for our Y13s to find this over the holiday. They richly deserve some time off but shouldn’t forget the important examinations which will follow the holiday. Mr Majithia has some important reminders for the mock exams below:

The Mock Examinations will be underway as soon as we return from the Christmas Holiday.  Following the briefing that Mrs Whiteson, Mr Graham and I held with all students on Monday 5 December, all students have been issued with a personalised examination timetable, which gives them more detailed information about start times, seat numbers and locations of each of their examinations.

We appreciate that students will need time to rest, relax and enjoy the holiday period as well as spend some time preparing effectively for their mock examinations.  It can be a challenge to achieve, however, with the judicious use of a revision plan/timetable, this may help to structure time, as well as ensure that all subjects achieve the necessary amount of coverage.  We have spoken to students about tackling the more difficult areas of their courses / those which they find more challenging, rather than focusing on areas that they are already comfortable with, so as to achieve more from their revision activities.  In addition, being specific with what they seek to achieve in each revision block (which concepts they wish to master etc) rather than simply allocating 2-hours to a subject (for example).

Thank you in advance of your support to help students achieve the right balance so that they return refreshed, rejuvenated as well as well-prepared!

Although there have been many events and activities for our IB students, there has been no relaxation in lessons and academics remain our first priority. Karina in Y12 studies Art and Design and below shares what she has been working on this week.

This week I have been continuing my work on a sculpture that I started last week in Art.  I have never tried this before so I am glad for having that opportunity. Although it is something new for me, I am really enjoying it. What I think to be one of the best parts of sculpture is the “start”, when you start modeling. As it begins to take the form that you want, the sculpture start to “make sense”.  To do such a thing I have needed to be very patient; sometimes I had to do the same section almost 15 times because I thought that it was not looking good.  I keep doing the same bit until it looks perfect.

The IB Social Enterprise group have been working tirelessly on their chosen project of contributing to a micro-loans project. Over previous weeks they have been raising funds through the sale of “snap bands” in house colours. Jasmine explains more below:

“Happiness doesn’t result from what we get,

but from what we give.”

– Ben Carson

As IB Learners, we firmly believe in the IB Mission of being true global citizens. This means recognizing our “common humanity” and making conscious efforts to “create a better and more peaceful world. What better way to do this than to help people who are deserving of a little giving get a much-need head start in life?

We decided to continue with the efforts that the previous Y13 Social Enterprise Group students started when they launched a sponsorship account via Kiva is an international non-profit, founded in 2005 and based in San Francisco, with a mission to connect people through lending to alleviate poverty. Kiva works with microfinance institutions on five continents to provide loans to people without access to traditional banking systems. 100% of every RMB that we lend on Kiva goes directly towards funding loans. Kiva is primarily funded through the support of lenders making optional donations – just like us.

We aim to keep the spirit of global outreach alive by living up to the Social Enterprise Group motto: “Give a little, make a difference.” With the festive season in full swing, we thought it would be a great time to bring out our school spirit and celebrate the season of giving by focusing our attention on raising funds to help support micro-entrepreneurs globally.

Our first initiative is closely linked to school house spirit. We designed house snap bands for students to purchase and wear during house events and to house assemblies. Funds raised from the sales would be used to sponsor an additional two micro-entrepreneurs. Our motto is printed on each snap band as a reminder of the spirit of the cause we are supporting.​​ So far, thanks to the ongoing support from everybody, we have successfully sold 120 bands which equals up to a sum of 1,800 RMB. The bands were distributed on Monday 12th of December and we will be taking more orders in this week and at the start of Term 2 thanks to continued interest from students.

Last year, the Enterprise Group managed to successfully sponsor two micro-entrepreneurs:

The first is Adriano from Kenya. We have been helping to raise funds to donate towards a loan of $925 needed by him and a group of 10 farmers to purchase solar lights, hybrid seeds and fertilizer to help plant a total of 5 acres of maize. This loan was achieved not just by us, but a group of 26 lenders.

The other micro-entrepreneur we helped sponsor was Catarina from Guatemala. Catarina is a single mother with 3 children who makes a living by weaving traditional blouses from her region in Solola. Her trade, however, did not generate enough income to sustain her family and so she decided to grow coffee as another source of income. She needed a loan of $1,300 to purchase a plot of land so that she could continue expanding her crop.  Funds raised by the enterprise group and 34 other lenders helped Catarina reach her target loan. Her goal now is to build a home and also open a grocery store in her town.

As mentioned before, we hope to sponsor an additional two micro-entrepreneurs using funds raised from the snap band sales. If you still have not managed to order a snap band, please email me, Jasmine Tang, your order request, including your full name, year level and your house so that I can place your order. Each snap band costs 20RMB. Our hope is to have every student at school represent their house by purchasing a snap band and in doing so making a real difference!

On behalf of the Enterprise Group, we thank you in advance for your support and look forward to our school celebrating the true spirit of giving as we enter the festive season. Have a NAIS Christmas!

It has been wonderful to see students from both Y12 and 13 performing in the IB choir in recent weeks. They have done us proud at the Carol concert, the NAIS Model United Nations Event, The Christmas Fair and several community events across the city. The achievement of this group of students, led by Mr Graham, should be acknowledged. For most students this is the first time they have been members of a choir and, for many, their performances represent their first time on stage in public. Olivia explains more:

The IB is an extremely academically rigorous programme. Some may think that by adding additional compulsory components such as CAS, it may prove to be too much. However, I have found CAS to be somewhat of a saving grace throughout the first term of my IB. This is because it allows for us, the students, to relax and enjoy other opportunities that NAIS offers that aren’t necessary academically focused such as IB choir. I was very apprehensive to join the choir as I am not the best singer and have not been a part of a choir since the ‘Year 6 Christmas Extravaganza’! However it has been one of the best decisions I have made due to the fact that I have improved my voice and become closer to my peers. 

Mr. Graham has done an excellent job of conducting us and helping us learn the required songs, especially since it is Christmas which puts us in high demand. Our most recent concert was a resounding success; everyone was in time and mostly we were all singing in the right key! At first I had been worried about how successful we would be due to our rehearsals only taking place twice a week during lunch time yet when that time is used effectively, a lot can be done. We have also made appearances at the annual Christmas Bazaar and NAIS MUN which were our first performances and although we were riddled with pre-show nerves and jitters, we overcame the anxiety and managed to perform for our parents, fellow students and teachers alike. 

To sum up my first term in IB choir would be hard as I have been surprised at how much I have learned about music and how to read it and I also discovered a love for singing which I did not realise I had before. ​

Our IB MUN students continue to go from strength to strength. After the break, a delegation of thirteen IB students will represent our school in the 8th Annual Concordia International Model United Nations Conference (CISSMUN VIII) which runs from 20th to 22nd January 2017. Fresh from their Mock examinations, 5 of the delegates are our ever-committed Y13 students who have ably led the CCA this year. Although they will be attending their final High School MUN conference, they should truly be proud of the legacy they have left behind.

The theme of CISSMUN VIII is Responsibility to protect and our delegates will be involved in intense debating, negotiation and consensus building over the three days. They will represent Cuba and South Africa and will interact with close to 1,000 delegates from different parts of the world. We wish them all the very best.

In conclusion I would like to wish all of our IB parents and students a thoroughly enjoyable and happy holiday period wherever it is spent. Thank you for your tireless support this term: we look forward to seeing everyone well rested and ready for the next chapter in January.