The ISBerne Wednesday Afternoon English Program

ISberne is known for it’s programs that contribute to the local community. This video segment features Ulli Warren and Theresa Buehlmann, who teach English, on Wednesday afternoons at ISBerne, to students who already possess a level of spoken English but are enroled in the local swiss school system.

If you are interested in enroling in the Community English Programme, see our school website for more information:

Taking Risks

As an IB school, one of the ‘end product’ attributes we aspire to develop is that of being a risk taker.

By definition, our students are:

Expected to approach unfamiliar situations and uncertainty with courage and forethought, and have the independence of spirit to explore new roles, ideas and strategies. They are brave and articulate in defending their beliefs.

There have been some wonderful examples of this around the school in the past few weeks, for example;

During the Grade 11 Science Projects, despite the best of well-intentioned planning, our Grade 11 projects may not have always worked as they would have wanted them to during the final presentations: nevertheless, they were prepared to start all over, learn from their errors and identify not just what went wrong but what they succeeded at within their constructions. The mark of true scientific thinkers!

Not quite as expected!

Not quite as expected!

(You may see more photos and videos of the Grade 11 Science Project on our Flickr Page)

The ELC Garden has been transformed into a growing wonderland of flowers, vegetables, fruits and pathways: all due to the hard work , cooperation and commitment of a group of our Grade 8 students. In addition, they volunteered their personal time after school to get the garden looking just how they envisioned it.

ELC Garden transformation nearly complete!

ELC Garden transformation nearly complete!

(You may see more ELC Garden Transformation photos, taken by ISBerne student, Luis Murguia Diaz, on our Flickr page)

Then there were the 70 ISBerne participants in the Berne GP! I had the pleasure of running with a few first-time runners in the 4.7km event this year. The fear of the unknown before they ran the course (ie: where will I run? How will I know when I have finished?) was soon replaced by stamina, enthusiasm and joy as they were cheered along the route by members of the wider Berne community.

Bern Grand Prix 2015

Bern Grand Prix 2015

And finally the PYP students who participated in ISBerne’s Got Talent showcase just this afternoon. It takes a lot of courage to stand up in front of your peers, teachers and parents and show them all what you’ve got and our students all did an amazing and impressive job at doing just that!

(You may see more photos, courtesey of ISBerne Parent Federique Chambour) and video snippets of the PYP ISBerne’s Got Talent show on our Flickr page.)

All of these events are achievements that you may not see on a report card, but you will certainly see in the human being that develops the risk taking attribute.

Have a great week!


Performing Arts Week Day 4

The final day of preparation! Tomorrow the students will put it all together in the Mattenhof during rehearsal, then show it to everyone tomorrow evening! A few students share their experience and opinion of the process in the video below.

Performing Arts Week Day 3

Mid week and the students, though still enjoying the process, are starting to feel a little stress. Worried about dance steps and having to make up for lost work. Friday draws nearer and methodically, the pieces come together as the teamwork pays off!

Below the synopsis of the day, from the kids themselves.
From the costume group, ” It was very fun first day, but by the second it was getting quite repetitive, although it was still fun!”

Day 3 Progress

Day 3 Progress

Though all is generally moving smoothly, pitfalls happen, and though frustrating, ‘the show must go on!’

Performing Arts Week Day 2

Today our set design team creates the elements, literally and figuratively! Clouds and fire are on the agenda today. Things are progressing smoothly so far in the set design department!

Below you see the progress as noted by the students themselves as they evaluate and share their process and advancement in the project. The Narration Group wrote poems, while the Media group made a cover for the programme, no element is forgotten!

2015-04-30 11.16.23

Performing Arts Week Begins!

Once again, the PYP is in full swing, creating a performance from concept to stage in one week. During this week, the students are grouped and tasked with one element of the show– costumes, set design, scriptwriting, etc. They are faced with the challenges typically encountered in teamwork. They are learning to work to a deadline, creative brainstorming, to be open to each other’s ideas and accepting gracefully when their choice is not that of the group. These are attributes all adults strive to achieve and these students are taking the challenge in stride!

This year we are following one group through the process. Below you will find a video of the team tasked with set design. Stay tuned for more, and for a video of their final finished performance which will be held at the end of the week!

Below the students have chronicled their progress. Each group reports back what they have done and their reflections on the choices of the group.

Day 1 progress report

Day 1 progress report

Creativity Crisis

Creativity involves breaking out of established patterns in order to look at things in a different way.

Edward de Bono

The word “creativity,” in our society, tends to be applied to artistic endeavors. But creative thinking is an essential part of everyday life, whether it’s navigating office politics or devising a new social-media network.

When a toddler figures out that he can climb a strategically placed chair to reach a cookie on the kitchen counter, he has engaged in highly creative problem solving (whether his parents like it or not!). Our job as parents and teachers is to help kids fulfill a child’s creative potential.

Whether that potential is being fulfilled is another story entirely. Kyung Hee Kim, Ph.D., an educational psychologist at the College of William & Mary, in Virginia, has spent the past decade poring over the creativity scores of more than 300,000 American K—12 students. The news is not good: “Creativity scores have significantly decreased since 1990,” she says. Moreover, “creativity scores for kindergartners through third-graders decreased the most, and those from the fourth through sixth grades decreased by the next largest amount.”

The scores Kim is referring to are those generated by the Torrance Tests of Creative Thinking—the standard-bearer in assessing creativity in children since the 1960s. In fact, the results of the Torrance Tests are also better indicators of lifetime creative accomplishment than childhood IQ. The tests consist of open-ended questions, such as “How many uses can you think of for a toothbrush?” Scores are awarded based on the number and originality of the ideas produced. A creative child might respond by saying that he can brush his cat’s teeth, polish a rock, and clean his fingernails—all answers that show dexterity in generating a wide range of potentially useful ideas.

This unique ability is one that will be crucial to the workforce of the future. Today’s toddler faces a universe of rapidly evolving technology, an ever-shifting global economy, and far-reaching health and environmental challenges—scenarios that will require plenty of creative thinking.

In the ISBerne context, next week begins the annual Performing Arts Week. The students will experience a collapsed timetable as they work with students from other PYP grade levels with a common focus on creative thinking. Our students will be guided on a journey of taking an idea and evolving it onto a creative performance….some will be on the stage, others will be behind the scenes.

You can expect regular posts on this blog next week as we chronical the creative process and teamwork in action as our students pull together a show in a week!

Scott Jackson
Principal ISBerne

Spring Fever: How to Stay Focused

Spring Break is fast approaching and for many, this is a time to recharge and rejuvenate. This break is so important because, as we are all aware, when we resume after this break, the pace of activity at school increases drastically. Coming up this spring we have the performing arts week in the Elementary school, the Grade 5 PYP exhibition, language trips, track and field events and the DP exams. During all of this activity, our students have the end of the year in sight, but they still have a lot to accomplish.

The question becomes, how can we motivate them to want to work hard, to want to succeed? Well unfortunately you can’t and neither can we as educators. Only they can motivate themselves. It is our job as adults to give them the best possible conditions to help them with their self-motivation.

The following steps are crucial:

  1. Purpose – if they don’t know why they are doing it they will find it much harder to complete.
  2. Organisation – they must have a good clear study timetable or schedule of when things need to be completed.
  3. Resources – they must have their notes, and other available resources to work from (including the school libraries, the gym and, of course, their teachers)
  4. Environment – for our DP students, during the hours that they are studying in the weeks leading up to exams, all distractions must be eliminated. Take away their TV, internet connection, i-pod and phone. Just while they are studying, once they have finished their study for the night they can get all those things back. It’s OK. It’s not life threatening, and they won’t hate you forever. For students involved in many of the other events and tasks to be carried out, they need to be in an environment where they feel comfortable to ask questions, make informed decisions and learn from their mistakes.

The parent’s role in all this is simply to arrange conditions as best you can to enable self-motivation to occur. As educators, we are always mindful of this, especially at the very busy times of the year, like the one that is about to happen in the final months of the academic year.

Have a safe, relaxing and rejuvenating Spring break!

Scott Jackson

Learning to Fail

“It is impossible to live without failing at something, unless you live so cautiously that you might as well not have lived at all – in which case, you fail by default.”

J.K. Rowling

Dear Parents

Last week Kathleen (MYP Coordinator), Emine (PYP Coordinator) and I had the great privilege to attend a presentation by Lance King, an educator who has done a lot of work focusing on student success. I walked away from the presentation asking myself, as the principal of the school, how does ISBerne teach students to fail well?

Through his extensive research, Lance King found that:

  • Students who fail well do better, much better, than students who fail badly.
  • Teachers who fail well do better.
  • Parents who fail well do better.

He goes on to suggest that the key to failing well seems to be in the reprocessing of failure.
He suggests the following steps:

  1. Get over your emotional attachment to the word failure. Failure is just feedback. Feedback on what you aren’t doing right yet
  2. Second, admit every failure – immediately. Remember that the definition of failure is simply not reaching a goal
  3. Take responsibility for your actions in not achieving that goal
  4. Make changes
  5. Have another go

To help with this, both teachers and parents need to reframe the word ‘failure’ in order to help children understand that failure is a necessary part of growth and learning, and there are two distinctly different ways to fail.

From now on, as a life-long learner, I am going to try to recognize that every task, every goal, every performance has not two but three possible outcomes; Success, Failing Well and Failing Badly, and that two of those are positive. I am also keen to explore this idea with Richard and our Senior Education team. My challenge to our ISBerne parents is to see how this approach might (or does already!) look for them!

Kind regards

World Francophone Week at ISBerne


We all know that French has a valued and important place at ISBerne as well as within the general community of Bern where the language is embedded in the Bernese culture. Therefore, along with other French speaking groups around the world, ISBerne will be celebrating World Francophone Week from 16-20 March, in honor of the Journée Internationale de la Francophonie (International Francophonie Day).

Through the PYP and MYP, our French teachers and Grade 10 students will be doing some small but meaningful activities to teach and remind us all of the value, history and culture of French.

For example, did you know that 200 million people speak French around the world? French is still the second most widely learned foreign language after English, and the ninth most widely spoken language in the world! French is widely considered the international language of cooking, fashion, theatre, dance, architecture and the visual arts. French is both a working language and an official language of the United Nations, the European Union, UNESCO, NATO, the International Olympic Committee, the International Red Cross and, of course, the International Baccalaureate. After English and German, French is now the third most used language on the Internet, ahead of Spanish. French is a good base for learning other languages, especially Romance languages (Spanish, Italian, Portuguese and Romanian) as well as English since about 50% of current English vocabulary is derived from French.

Due to our location, it is not surprising that more students in our school learn German than learn French, but this by no means indicates that French is less important! After all, learning French is the pleasure of learning a beautiful, rich, melodious language, often called the language of love.

Why don’t you celebrate this language with us? I invite you to visit the Grade 10 French Blog to see what these committed students have been exploring in this rich language!

Je vous souhaite une merveilleuse semaine !

Scott Jackson
Principal at ISBerne