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IB Diploma Programme News

28 January 2016

One of the most important aspects of the IB Diploma programme is the extent to which it helps students to develop the skills and attitudes which will bring them success in later life. Naturally, this learning experience is a process and you would generally expect a Year 13 student to be a little bit further along in that process than a Year 12 student. 

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Next week, we shall be conducting a sharing experience where Year 13 students can pass on some of the things they have learned to their colleagues in Year 12. This will include how they’ve coped with balancing work demands from different areas, how they’ve got the most out of their CAS programme and how they’ve approached important assessments.

Currently one of the big focuses for Year 13 students is the Theory of Knowledge essay. We have asked each student to define a thesis statement based on one of the six prescribed titles. Students have written an essay based on an argumentative essay writing template and are now starting the process of turning that into a first draft essay.

Finally, here are a few reminders of upcoming events. On 22 February, there is an IB information evening for Year 11 students and parents. There are Student, Parent, Teacher Conferences for Year 13 and Year 12 on 24 February and 7 April respectively.

Andrew Joy, Head of IB Academy

Creativity, Activity, Service

Coming back from our winter holiday, I interviewed Year 12 student, Fiona Tai, about her service experience in Pingda, Yunnan during the break.

What is this CAS experience about?

Fiona: This CAS experience is a part of an ongoing collaborative project of improving the availability and quality of education in rural Yunnan through supporting various Hope Schools. My role in this project is to conduct music lessons for children of various year groups and to enhance their mental wellbeing through playing games with them.

This experience involved several stages. The first stage was investigation. Before we began our trip, we contacted local villagers and teachers to find out the needs and wants of local students and the supplies that the Hope School needed but lacked. The next stage was planning. I prepared myself by researching about my destination and planning for lessons that I would have to teach at the Hope School. In addition, I contacted the school’s sponsors to communicate with them about the school’s needs and to acquire educational supplies for local teachers and students. After completing the planning and arriving in Pingda, I spent some time to observe the way which local teachers conduct their lessons, as I have never taught before, and tried my best to educate the children in a cheerful and friendly atmosphere.

Why did you choose this CAS experience?

Fiona: Initially, I decided to do it simply because I naturally care about children and enjoy spending time with them. I wanted to learn how to interact with children, how to communicate with them, and how to teach them with patience. I was also greatly intrigued by the chance to explore the psychology of children, especially those who do not share the same socioeconomic background as myself. Moreover, this is an experience that I have never tried before, and I was excited to undertake a new challenge. I was eager to improve my communication skills and develop my ability to teach in an unfamiliar environment.

What did you enjoy the most about it?

Fiona: As I have always loved to be around young children, I especially enjoyed all of my time spent with my students. The opportunity to get to know my students through daily interactions and to eventually bond with them is an experience and a memory that I will always treasure. Furthermore, the chance to be immersed in an environment that is completely different from where I live is immensely enriching. The unfamiliar setting has offered me a new perspective in seeing our world, which is invaluable for my personal growth.

Did you encounter anything especially challenging?

Fiona: The biggest challenge that I faced was to effectively communicate with local children. Communication proved to be a difficulty both inside and outside the classroom. Inside the classroom, each of their classes consisted of around forty students, so it was challenging for me to attract all of their attention and to effectively deliver me lesson as I have planned beforehand. Outside the classroom, many of the local children did not speak much Mandarin, so I actually did not speak any common language with many of my students.

What have you learnt from the experience?

Fiona: First and foremost, I have learnt many new techniques for effective communication through working to overcome the difficulties that I have faced. Since I do not speak the same verbal language as many of my students, I have to practice and learn how to express myself and to communicate messages using body language and physical expressions. I have discovered, surprisingly, that young children are actually quite receptive to body language. Meanwhile, in a classroom with a large number of children, I have learnt to observe the children’s behaviour in order to determine to most suitable strategy for engaging them and helping them to concentrate while I teach them what I have prepared. Thus, I have gained some knowledge about the ways which children respond to instructions and acquired some provoking insights into the psychology of children.

Thank you for your time Fiona.

Ling Coong, CAS Coordinator

Higher Education

Over the week, offers for our Year 13 students from universities have continued to come with some of our students having also recently been invited to interview by Hong Kong University.

Meanwhile, as noted in last week’s newsletter, here is a reminder that there is an event on Friday 29 January at the Marriott Hotel where students can learn more about City University of Hong Kong (CityU), Columbia University, and the Joint Bachelor’s Degree Program jointly offered by the two universities. Please see last week’s IB Diploma Programme news for full details

Mark Weston, Higher Education Adviser

Coursework and examinations

IB Diploma Programme Deadlines and Exams

With the Extended Essay process almost over, this is the perfect time for students to appreciate the value of the work they have produced. Extended Essay supervisors are completing Viva Voce’s with students which is a great opportunity for students to speak with passion about their subject. Passion is something that is important to foster as it will be the driving force for these young people’s studies after the IB Diploma Programme. Talk about the essays at home and encourage that passion to grow. Year 13 students will also have a chance to pass on that positivity to Year 12 students next week when they will meet and talk about tips for being successful in the Diploma Programme. I encourage all students to talk positively about the Extended Essay and see the great opportunity ahead of them.

Below are the deadlines for Year 13 this week and next. It is important to keep to these deadlines and keep the holiday specifically for upcoming work and revision and not for catching up on deadlines missed.

Date Due


Work Due



Final cut hand in



Draft internal assessment submission



1st Draft of 3,000 word report


Korean Literature

Written task 1


Mandarin ab initio

Written assignment final submission


Business and Management

Final internal assessment submission


German Language and Literature

Written task 1 1st draft


Chinese B SL

Written assignment final submission


English B

1st draft



3rd Internal assessment final submission



Portfolio 1st draft


Dutch Language and Literature

1st draft of written task

IB Learner Profile

With a day of school being missed this week, I want to talk about being principled and taking responsibility. It is very easy to take extra time as a mini holiday but motivating yourself when there are no teachers around is something very important. University life has a lot more independence associated with it so there will be so many more times where you need to motivate yourself to work instead of having teachers and parents do it for you. Look inside yourself to find that motivation instead of seeing work as something you are being forced to do.

Thomas Housham, IB Diploma Programme Coordinator

Explaining the Diploma Programme

Each week, we shall be focusing on one particular aspect of the Diploma Programme. This week I shall write about legalisation of the IB Diploma.

In some countries, IB Diploma results documents need to be legalised in Geneva, Switzerland by the relevant consulate or embassy before it can be fully recognised by universities. This only affects a very small number of students (in many academic years, there are no students at all that are affected by this).

The process is very easy to organise if this is done via the IB Academy at BISS Puxi before June in the year that students take their final examinations. The IBO publishes a list each March of countries that this applies to. Students who are may need legalisation for those countries should let us know before June so we can process this for them.

The list that was published in March 2015 (for the May 2015 exams) contained the countries listed in the images section above. This list is unlikely to change significantly for 2016 so students or parents who are aware they will need legalisation for any of these countries should let us know as soon as possible. The countries that are marked with an asterisk may be legalised with an ‘apostille stamp’ which will cover all those countries (which is very convenient for students who envisage doing the first year of their university degree in Colombia, then transferring to Armenia!)

Andrew Joy, Head of IB Academy



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