Thursday, 8 December 2016

Who We Are - Human Growth And Development

We have now finished the 'Getting Started' phase of our current unit of inquiry and will continue to investigate, make connections and go further after the Christmas holidays. You can click on the link, below, to see the evidence of student understanding we will be looking for at each stage of the unit of inquiry.
The Inquiry process students engage with at Seisen Elementary School during their units of inquiry

Click here for the Grade 5 - Who We Are Learning Intentions
 (Central Idea - Changes people experience during adolescence can affect their evolving sense of self.)

Sunday, 4 December 2016

5B-PE-Exploring in the Adventure Challenge Unit

Journeying across an ocean on a small raft with minimal supplies? Steering a Shinkansen train while leading 4 blindfolded people in front of you? Untangling a human knot of 4-5 people? Sounds challenging!! 

Learning Objective: In the PE Adventure Challenge Unit students are learning how to embrace challenges, work cooperatively with others and overcome adversity when things don't go well. 

Students were given different tasks throughout the unit to work through and overcome in small groups.  We discussed outlook and perspective quite a bit as working in small groups with different personalities takes patience, a positive attitude and willingness to listen to others.  

Friday, 2 December 2016

Grade 5 is Growing in Their Learning

We have finally come to the month of December. Only two more weeks left of learning before winter break. We can finally say how much the students have grown in their learning and more.

Unit 2 - Unit of Inquiry

How We Organize Ourselves

Global Food Production

Central Idea: People have developed systems for producing and distributing food around the world

Grade 5 completed Global Food Production unit. Partners took used the SOLO Taxonomy rubric to compose a Google slides presentation as their summative assessment. In a mock scenario, one partner acted as the minister of agriculture and the other acted as minister of transportation to propose a sustainable practice to their target audience.

Unit 3 - Unit of Inquiry

Who We Are

Growth and Development

Central Idea: Changes people experience during adolescence affect their evolving sense of self.

Students are moving forward to learning about their physical, emotional, social, and intellectual changes. Their curiosities sparked while they participated in tuning-in activities with their groups.

Jigsaw Graphic Organizer
Groups wrote directly on the puzzle pieces what they knew about physical, emotional, social, and intellectual changes. The graphic organizer gives students a visual understanding how these changes are connected to each other.

“What if…”

  • …..people didn’t go through puberty until the age of 25?
  • …..all emotions stopped at the age of 13?
  • ….all the changes that happen in puberty happened on the day of your tenth birthday?
  • ….nobody taught us about the changes that would happen to us during adolescence?
  • ….adults thought in the same ways as a nine-year-old?

Students were highly engaged writing and discussing about the possible consequences.


Success Criteria: Use functions to solve problems.

Learning Intention: Write and solve algebraic equation word problems using inverse operations.

Each student created a word problem for classmates to solve.

“I’m thinking of a number. I (insert operation here) by (insert number here) and then (insert operation here) (insert number here). The answer is (insert number here).”

Parent and Seisen Staff Participation to Aid Student Learning and Connection

Parents and Seisen staff, please access the to post a photo of you when you were 9~11 years old with a mini story of your experience as an adolescent.

Made with Padlet

Thursday, 17 November 2016

Week in Review

Readers’ Workshop
Students in 5B have a begun reading a class novel, Esperanza Rising. Although all students are reading the same book, we have broken up into smaller groups to work on different skills and strategies while we read and respond to what we read.  After reading, students are responsible for completing one of the following tasks: analyzing Esperanza’s character, creating high quality discussion questions in regards to the chapter, visualizing an important event, writing a summary, finding an important quote from the chapter, and researching the historical event from the chapter. In addition, using clues from the texts, everyone records their predictions on what they think will happen later in the story.
Students working on the various tasks after reading
Some students read along to an audiobook, some read orally in a group, some read in pairs, and one reads individually
Our working board. Students translated key proverbs from the story into their native languages. Can you recognise any of these languages or sayings?

Central Idea:
Patterns can often be generalized using algebraic expressions, equations or functions.

Students started with a tuning in game to help construct meaning around this idea. Students were given 7 two-sided chips. The goal is to flip all the chips so the other colour is showing. However, you must flip exactly 3 chips at a time.  What is the least number of rounds it takes to have all chips flipped? 
Students experiment with finding patterns
After experimenting and playing with possibilities, students came to the conclusion that 3 rounds was the least possible number of rounds.  Students then continued this challenge with 8 chips, 9 chips, etc...  Students began to record their results in a function table and were asked to look for patterns and try to predict what is the least number of rounds needed for 16 chips? 100 chips?
Students begin to organise their results in a function table which will help to see the pattern
Students use the function table to see and explain the pattern. The next step is to express the pattern mathematically-in an algebraic equation
Unit of Inquiry
How we Organize Ourselves is coming to an end and students are applying their learning and going further in their inquires. 
As a class we played a game to investigate our second line of inquiry, food production and distribution. Specifically, we looked at the challenges subsistence farmers face as they try to grow enough food for their families as well produce a small surplus to sell. 

Students were organized into small groups of farming families.  Each season, students must produce enough corn for their families’ to eat. Any surplus food could be sold to the global market for a small price. In addition, farmers can choose to harvest coffee fruit. However, to sell coffee to the global market farmers must first process the fruit and package it, and purchase an expensive export license. 
Students work hard to harvest their crops and sell the surplus so they can buy fertilisers or possible an export license
After this activity, students reflected where on the SOLO Taxonomy this fit. Some students classified it as a level 4 Connecting Ideas activity. They noted that they were comparing different strategies and explaining the effects of their actions.  Some thought it was a level 5 Going Further activity as they were planning a strategy, reflecting on its success and revising and improving on it in later rounds.
Students highlighted the thinking skills they used during the activity
Mei and Jeong Yeon take action to Go Further in their learning by designing an experiment to test organic and conventional fruit. They were curious to know if their was any difference in taste or quality. The results were surprising! They will write up a full lab report over the weekend and share it with the class next week. We are all looking forward to it.
Students perform a test to see if they can taste the difference between an organic banana and a conventional banana.
What is your hypothesis?

Sunday, 13 November 2016

Making a Difference Through Dance

Where is my home?  Where are my friends?  Where is my school?  What happened to everything I loved? How would I feel if I were a refugee?

Learning Objectives:

Students in Gr. 5 have been reflecting upon these questions through dance and drama in an effort to create an integrated Drama/ Dance piece. 

Learning Engagements:

Dance students responded to various videos, including those reflecting the life of Syrian refugee children.  They watched dance videos for inspiration, including work by choreographer Sidi Larbi Cherkaoui.

Through improvisational activities, dance students began by exploring feelings of suffering and injustice.  To tell the story of a refugee child's life, students began by imagining a refugee's life before the war began. Working in pairs and small groups, dance students created joyful dances of childhood.  Then students imagined how a refugee child's life changed.  They connected to feelings of fear, anger, sadness, helplessness, and exclusion.  They created still poses to convey these ideas.  In small groups, students used three poses to create a short dance sequence about leaving a place. Students wanted to show feelings of being trapped and confused.  They brainstormed dance movements to capture these feelings.

The Drama students created characters and lists of words to set the mood of each section.  Dance students reacted to this, and developed their remaining choreography.

Students continued to revise their piece and practice as an entire fifth grade class.  The collaboration between drama and dance became a seamless piece of art.

When students arrived at St. Mary's International School, they encountered a change in the performing space.  They revised their dance to be performed on four different levels. They worked with limited rehearsal using the sound, lighting, and space.

Their performance for Refugees International Japan charity concert captured the essence of the theme "Light Up The Light of a Refugee Child."

We are proud to announce that the concert raised over one million yen to benefit refugee children.

Gr. 5 Dance/ Drama RIJ Performance 2016 "Origins"

Friday, 11 November 2016

November, Already!

Wow! Time is flying. Two months have passed and grade 5 keeps moving along in their learning. With that said, we have one more week of the Unit of Inquiry Unit, Global Food Production before moving on to our third unit of Growth and Development. This week, Grade 5 focused on inquiring sustainable practices in good food production, consumption, and waste.

Unit 2 - Unit of Inquiry

How We Organize Ourselves

Global Food Production

Central Idea: People have developed systems for producing and distributing food around the world

Lines of Inquiry:
Sustainable practice in food production
Sustainable Practices and Non-sustainable Practices

Success Criteria: 

List sustainable and unsustainable practices in agriculture methods.

After learning about sustainable practices, groups discussed and listed practices that are sustainable practices and unsustainable practices. Some students compared the practices to their groupÅ› agriculture method of focus.

Agriculture Method Presentations

Success Criteria:

Using the SOLO Taxonomy, groups present their agriculture method to the class.

Groups spent two weeks investigating their chosen agriculture method. Together, they were able to make connections to other agriculture methods, and evaluate the pros and cons. Groups organized Google Slide presentations to educate their audience.

Sustainable Practices in Food Consumption and Waste

Success Criteria:

Research and collect data on the possible issue of food waste in the cafeteria

Question on the issue of SeisenÅ› cafeteria food waste

Draw a conclusion and reflect on the amount of food waste in cafeteria

Plan an action to spread awareness of the issue on food waste

Grade 5 developed a curiosity of the amount of food wasted in the cafeteria after lunch period. Students used a Science Lab Report handout to organize their two-day research and data collection. Before the research, they estimated that the cafeteria collected 7kg~21 kg of food waste.

After two days of data collecting, students discovered that grades 1 to high school has thrown away a total of 17.5 kilograms of food in the garbage. We were shocked by the amount of food that is wasted.

Students wondered and guessed possible reasons why students would throw away the food. Each student listed possible reasons for wasting food, and interviewed Seisen students. We learned that the most common reasons students would throw away the food are: feeling full, wants to go to recess, or they did not like the food.

In our class discussions, students posted their wonders and questions as a response to the reasons.

Made with Padlet

Each student used to post their brainstorm of the possible action plan to spread the awareness of food wasting.

Thursday, 3 November 2016

Science in the PYP

Grade 5 have spent the past few weeks investigating the different ways food is produced around the world. After learning about the key characteristics of each mode of production, students shifted their focus to issues of sustainability. Although students had a general idea of what sustainable meant, we pushed our understanding to include what is known as the 3 pillars of sustainability- the economic, social, and environmental impact. The following 2 images were used to help unpack this idea.       

Students were then given 16 characteristics of food production that were previously investigated and asked to place them on a continuum from very sustainable to non-sustainable. Students worked in pairs to share their ideas and build their continuum. A lot of interesting discussions took place around the idea of balancing social justice, economic prosperity and environmental damage. 

We came together as a class to discuss where on the continuum the prompt "Using fertiliser to increase yields" should be placed. Once again, a lively debate ensued with students pointing out the social and economic benefit of increased yields, especially for struggling populations, but at the same time, noting the environmental damage caused by fertiliser. Here are a few students discussing this topic.

This led to the question, 
" Does fertiliser damage the environment?
If so, how"

It was the perfect time to bring science into our inquiry. 

Students were shown the following image and were told the red dots represented Dead Zones. These are places were fish cannot live. We used this as a provocation and a starting point of our investigation. With the help of Se-Eun's explanation, the class looked at the Mississippi river network in the United States and the surrounding farmland. Students noted that applying fertiliser to big farms by crop-dusters, or erosion from rainfall can lead to fertiliser ending up in the river network and eventually draining into the sea. 

The red circles are places that experience Dead Zones-area with low oxygen levels that can't support marine life. As you can see they are in costal regions with dense populations. What causes these Dead Zones? Students will investigate.
An experiment was set up to see what might happen to coastal regions if excessive fertiliser entered the water, and how dead zones form.
For our experiment, 3 beakers were set up per group. One was a control with regular tap water in it, one had lake water, and one had lake water with fertiliser added to it. Each day students will observe the jars and measure the amount of oxygen in the water using a Vernier Dissolved Oxygen Probe.
Unfortunately, the fertilizer we used was blue. I hope we can still see any algae growth that might happen.
Using the probe to measure the amount of oxygen in the water.

Stayed tuned to see the results of this experiment. We think it will take about 2 weeks for the fertiliser to cause an algae bloom, the bloom to die, and the decomposition process to use up all the oxygen in the water.  What was once the lovely water of Senzoku Ike will become a hypoxic dead zone, incapable of supporting marine life. In the meantime, enjoy a nice photo of Senzoku Ike at sundown, before its demise.
       Students grapple with the very real question of how do we feed our growing population, protect the beauty of our planet, and provide a fair, equitable life for all?

Wednesday, 2 November 2016

It's Sakura season ...but its winter?

The Sakura Medal program brings together students from the international schools across Japan each year to vote for their favourite books. Each year, librarians from various international schools meet and select 10-20 books in each of the Sakura Medal categories. Only students are eligible to vote for this prestigious award, but they need to read the minimum number of books to vote.


Our aim is not only to encourage students to read a variety of high quality books but to give a real life opportunity to set a meaningful goal.  The program will run from November to April. Students will decide how many books they realistically hope to read. This forms the basis of their Sakura reading goal.  An important part of goal setting is to think about how to achieve a goal. Students are required to write down two things that they can do to achieve this goal. They had some good ideas:

"Try not to buy new books." --Student in 4B

"I will stop by the library every morning before class and look for Sakura Medal books." --Student in 4A

Equally important is considering what 'road blocks' might get in the way of success. Students had many idea:

"I forget to take the books home to read."
" I don't check out Sakura books."
"I don't have time with all my other homework."
"Other people have the books I want to read."

Both homeroom teacher and parents must sign the goal setting sheet. Please look out for this over the next few days. Forms are already being returned. Once the form has been returned they will be able to start the exciting process of checking out the books and reading them to achieve their goal.

Here are some of the girls in Grade 4 setting their goals for this year. They have reflected on last years experience and are setting realistic and achievable goals.

Monday, 24 October 2016

Feeding a Hungry World

Grade 5 took a field trip to central Tokyo to visit the Pasona office building. Tokyo is filled with office buildings, but Pasona is special-they grow all their own food in the building!

Students have been exploring the various ways people produce food around the world, and got a first hand look at what the future may hold.

Have a look at some photos from the day.

Grade 5 would like to thank the parent volunteers, Ms Carnright, and our translator- my lovely wife, Miki.  Thank you!

Located just minutes from Tokyo station, it is well worth a visit. Here is a link to their website:
Pasona Vertical Farm

Thursday, 20 October 2016

October in Grade Five

We are now at the middle of October month, and approaching the 4th week of our Global Food Production unit. This week, Grade 5 focused on inquiring food production and distribution. Each student chose the following farming method groups: aquaculture, industrial farming, subsistence agriculture, and organic agriculture. Each group investigated how food was produced using the farming method. 

Unit 2 - Unit of Inquiry

How We Organize Ourselves

Global Food Production

Central Idea: People have developed systems for producing and distributing food around the world 

Lines of Inquiry: 

Food production and distribution 

Success Criteria: 

List and describe how food is produced using a farming method. 

Each student completed the given investigation note-taking handout to focus on how food is produced using their chosen farming method. 

Members of groups met with other groups to compare and contrast farming method. 

Afterward, students joined their groups to share and describe the farming method.

Quotes from students:

Gopika: “We were studying about Global Food Production. In this activity we were in groups and investigating about specific farming methods. The groups were industrial agriculture, subsistence agriculture, organic farming, and aquaculture. Within our groups we investigated and we compared our notes to each other.”

Kate: “Well, I think it went successfully since we were showing every graphic organizer.”

Thursday, 13 October 2016


Grade 5 is just wrapping up a unit in mathematics exploring the idea that:
Fractions, decimals and percentages are ways of representing whole-part relationships.

Students started off the unit with a pre-assessment to help answer the questions:
How am I doing?
Where to next?

Students used the information from the pre-assessment to set goals for the unit, and the teachers used this information when planning learning activities.

As a tuning in activity and discussion starter, students briefly reflected on the question of “What is a fractional part, and what isn’t a fractional part?" 
Students used the image below to decide which shapes were divided into fractional parts and which weren't.
Which shapes are divided into fourths? Why are the others not considered to be fourths?

Throughout the unit, students had many opportunities to work both independently and collaboratively to construct meaning on a variety of concepts related to fractions.  Here are students constructing a fraction strip to help investigate fractional relationships.
After students had opportunities to sort out ideas and construct meaning, they were given more challenging problems to apply what they had learned.  Here are a few students discussing their problem solving strategies.
Below, Amy, Rosa and Limie use all they know about fractions, angles, measurement and ratio to follow a detailed set of blueprints to construct a house of precise dimensions. 

A few of the details:
-The length of the front wall of the house is 9/16 of the length of the paper.
-The roof angles in at 40 degrees from each top corner of the house. The top of the roof is parallel to the top of the front wall.
Applying what they know. Perhaps they should join the school renovation meetings.

We finished the unit with an assessment to check student progress and note areas we still need to work on. Students plotted their score and progress on our
Growth Mindset Graph. 
As you can see, most students land in the top-right quadrant, which is the high growth-high achievement quadrant-exactly where we want to be!
Ask your daughter which dot is hers.
Students discussed which dot represented the "best" score. It was a lively discussion with the verdict split between the far right dots and the dots at the top.  In fact, it inspired Limie to coin a new phrase:
"Improving makes good learning." -Limie Sanada 2016

Thursday, 6 October 2016

Grade 5 Blog
By.  Kate Kamikubo  and Sanskriti Sinha

October has started and so Grade 5 is aiming to start our second Unit of Inquiry, Global Food Production on October 4th. Please refer to Seisen Website to view the details of our Unit of Inquiries.

Unit 2 - Unit of Inquiry
How We Organize Ourselves
Global Food Production
Central Idea:  People have developed systems for producing and distributing food around the world
Lines of Inquiry:
  • Varying diets around the world
  • Food production and distribution
  • Sustainable practices in food production

Unit of Inquiry

Learning Intention:
  • Tuning into the unit about varying diets around the world
  • Food production and distribution

All students tuned in by doing an activity named Banana-Split in which all students got in groups and in each group divided 30 pences according to the job they were pretending to be.

Another way they tuned in was by making a mind map in which they were telling their balanced diet.

They did another activity to tune in to our unit by guessing and writing origin countries on post-it note. Then they stuck it on each fruit and vegetable sheet.

Thursday, 29 September 2016

Sharing the Planet Shared Learning

Thank you to everyone who came to our grade 5 and 6 shared learning session.
Here are a few pictures from the afternoon.

Wednesday, 28 September 2016

Global Wordles

Last week Seisen celebrated Global Mindedness Day. During Grade 5s time in the library this week students reflected on what we believe are the important attributes and attitudes of a globally minded person. We also read some of the statements found in the Seisen student and teacher profile titled Global Minded Men and Women, which is found in the student agenda book. 

Each student listed 10 words including the word global. After these were collected the following Wordles were created. There are similarities and differences. The Wordle helps us see which words were most common, as the word increases in size when as is used by more students.

Thursday, 22 September 2016

September is coming to an end as we approach one more week of the month. Grade 5 is aiming to complete our 1st Unit of Inquiry Peace and Conflict by next Friday. We will move on to our next unit of Global Food Production the following week. Please refer to Seisen Website to view the details of our Unit of Inquiries.

Unit 1 - Unit of Inquiry

Sharing the Planet

Peace and Conflict

Central Idea: Reaching a resolution during or moments of conflict is influenced by the actions and reactions of all involved.

Lines of Inquiry:
  • Causes of conflict (personal, local, and global) 
  • Consequences of actions/strategies 
  • Strategies to resolve conflicts 

Unit 2 - Unit of Inquiry

How We Organize Ourselves

Global Food Production

Central Idea: People have developed systems for producing and distributing food around the world

Lines of Inquiry:

Varying diets around the world

Food production and distribution

Sustainable practices in food production

We would like to thank all Grade 5A parents for participating Parents Day. The students were excited to come in the following day and see their parents’ work and messages. They are thrilled to have their parents support their learning.

Global-Mindness Day

The students had such a splendid day as they participated in activities to expand their knowledge and understanding on what it means to be a global citizen and be globally minded. The Phase 4 Team (Grade 5 and 6) organized three activities for House groups.

Yarn Web Connection - Each students shared information about themselves to their house group. Another student would raise her hand if she shared the same interest and catch the ball of yarn from the student. What a web we weaved!

Elmer the Elephant - Students either read or watched the story of Elmer the color-patch elephant who is different from the other elephants. Groups brainstormed how a globally-minded elephant and a non-globally-minded elephant would respond to Elmer.

We played a bit of Heads Up with our worldly knowledge.

Unit of Inquiry

Learning Intention:

Identify the multiple causes of conflict and support with facts

Causation, Perspective

Students worked with their Book Club groups to research using Seisen Media Center resources to compare and contrast the Pearl Harbor events and 9/11 events. Students are making connections between the past and present. Each student was not only to find facts about the events but also develop an understanding of the reasons behind the actions and decisions that were made. We are building up understanding the Syrian and Refugee Crisis.

Home Learning Assignment - Family Table Talk Activity

1) Share a story of a family member or family friend who experienced a global conflict (examples: World War II, World War 1, Korean War, civil war, revolution war, etc).

2) Share your knowledge about global conflicts with each other historical and modern. I recommend visiting museums this weekend such as the Edo Museum has a historical display of historical conflicts. If not, watch historical documentaries or movies related to global conflicts. (Family Movie Night!!!) You may also read the current news together. discuss what the causes of conflict were, consequences of actions/strategies, and strategies to resolve conflict.