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My name is Faustin N’Tala, and I teach second grade at the International School of Indiana (ISI) on the French track. At this level, I use the International Baccalaureate Primary Years Programme (IBPYP) approach. Besides my role as a second grade teacher, I am also the assistant varsity soccer coach.

The Primary Years Programme of the International Baccalaureate has a great impact on the students. The approach is inquiry-based, and therefore, students have learned to think critically, to ask relevant questions and do research about the concepts they are learning. In a traditional setting, students would expect the teacher to come up with the questions and to control the learning process. In the PYP environment, I guide students’ learning through several transdisciplinary themes, like “how things work,” “how the world works” and “where we are in time and space.”

My students have developed an inquisitive nature, and they are interested in many concepts and responsible for their own learning process. They are comfortable making presentations about the outcome or byproducts of their research, and they are creative and caring about the people and the world they live in.

Each year, I see students fascinated by various inquiries that include animal habitats, cities and more. They always extend their thinking beyond the norm. They begin to relate to the world around them, not as a separate entity, but as an ecosystem they belong to, and therefore feel the urge to care for it.

One of my favorites examples of the IB program and its outcomes was when my class studied the transdisciplinary theme of “expressing ourselves.”  Students learned about fairy tales, studied the plot and characterization and even wrote their own version of the tales. They also took it upon themselves to do peer reading with students from first grade French.

At a young age, our students learn how to work well independently and in a group, how to do project-based activities, how to make reports, how to give a presentation in front of a large audience and more. And, even more impressive, they do this all in their track language. These are skills that are needed in our globalizing world. I really do admire my students, and their desire to learn more tells me that our students are learning how to learn and how to become ready for the world stage.

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For the second-consecutive year, ISI is proud to claim a National Merit Finalist among its students. Claire Kaneshiro of Indianapolis -- 4.66 GPA, a near-perfect SAT score, and fluency in Chinese, Spanish and English -- is among 15,000 students nationwide chosen for the prestigious honor. Claire now is eligible for one of 7,500 one-time scholarships awarded by the National Merit Scholarship Program. Those awards are expected to be announced in mid-May.

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Looking for a unique summer activity for the kids? ISI is partnering with the Hamilton Lugar School of Global and International Studies at Indiana University to launch a new language immersion-focused summer camp June 14-25 in Indianapolis. The new ISI Language Summer Camp will offer main programming in two languages — Mandarin and Arabic — to students Pre-K through grade 12. No previous language experience is required. Registration is now open.

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