News, Info and IB Student and Staff Blogs

September 18, 2015
by Ann Lautrette

The Power of The Group

It’s been a busy week at BSJ. The main focus of it was an inspiring visit by Dr. Sugata Mitra who we were privileged to welcome as he talked to us about his School in the Cloud project.

Of the many things he said, I think the one which struck most of the school was ‘groups of children, with the internet, can learn anything.’

If this is true, and I do believe it is, then this takes the educational focus very much away from content-based instruction to skills-based learning. I would amend the statement he makes. I would say that ‘groups of people, with access to the internet and development of the skills to use it, can learn anything they want to.’

To me, that is what is at the heart of the Core Curriculum at BSJ. The focus on skills of Thinking, Communication, Social, Research and Self-Management is vital to give students the skills to learn.

Gone are the days when the teacher’s head was full of knowledge and the children simply had to go to class and learn it. In those days, sources of information were limited – the teacher expert was important. Now, the teacher-expert is still important but the teacher needs to be a different kind of expert. He needs to be a skills expert. Or a ‘where to go to develop skills expert’. For example, I think I’m quite good at research. I’ve done a fair amount of it over the years, but research methods are changing as technology changes and some of the skills in research I have are probably close to obsolete. Yet, I need to be able to help students develop their research skills in a world which is very different to the one in which I developed my research skills. Luckily, I know how to do that – through connection.

Today’s teacher has to be a expert connector of people. linked-152575_1280He has to be able to put students in touch with the people who know, be they people online or in person and to help students create a network of people who know. The buzz term is Personal Learning Network or PLN. Take my research example. As a teacher, do I need to go out and learn every possible modern method of research and all the facets of it? I hope not! Instead I need to be able to send students to the people who do know. I say ‘people’ and not ‘person’ because if we go back to what Dr. Mitra said it is the group which is truly important.

In this world of overflowing knowledge, no one person can know everything. But when a group gets together to each contribute their bit of knowledge the total is far more than the parts.

In teaching my students how to research I can simply put them in touch with Glenn who wrote a fantastic post on Effective Research this week. But the lovely thing about Glenn’s post is that he starts it like this:

‘If you want to know the basics of research, Jasmine already has a great blog post on how to start off and the main things to consider, and you should definitely check it out if you haven’t, since it won her blog of the week!’

Glenn is demonstrating the power of the network. Combined knowledge, built upon and shared.

And that is the fabulous thing about the BSJ blog network.

It is a pooled resource of student knowledge, collected, stored and at your fingertips. A blog works best when you are posting or commenting because you are building on what someone else has posted or commented. The power of the group at work.     


This week Core teachers have been so impressed with the quality of student blogging that we’ve decided that the Blogger of Week award is not enough. So we’ve added a few more categories.

Students have begun commenting on each other’s blogs – a vital part of the blogging experience because that is what builds the power of the group. A good comment is one which refers closely to the original post, ask questions, adds thoughts and reflections and maybe challenges the post. A good comment may provide links to further reading whichBadgeComment the original poster might not have seen. The Comment of the Week this week has got to be Bryan’s comment on his own blog, in reply to Mr Thirkell. Not only does he challenge Mr Thirkell’s points but he makes a statement which had Mr Thirkell and I discussing the nature of emotion, bias and reason on Thursday morning in the office. Thought-provoking stuff!

There have been some great posts this week and choosing the best one was difficult. Phil wrote a Maths post which made my brain hurt, but was so well designed with video enhancements that I thoroughly enBlog post of the weekjoyed reading it. Chris wrote a reflective and thoughtful explanation of his change from Computer Science to Chemistry. His big take-away is that you need to follow your heart. I couldn’t agree more Chris!

But you’ve probably already guessed that the Blog Post of the Week belongs to Glenn. It was so good I needed to email it to the whole year group immediately. Well done Glenn.

bloggerofthe weekbadgeBlogger of the week this week is Lukas. He is writing fantastic posts which manage to be both humorous and serious at the same time. His post about commitment to activities was right on the mark with reference to students who sign up for things to fill a space on a CV rather than because they passionately believe in something. The Eco-Committee is certainly lucky to have Lukas with his passion for the environment. Lukas is developing into an all-round blogger and network builder. He leaves thoughtful comments on other blogs, as well as sharing my posts on Twitter! Thanks Lukas.

If you’ve been featured here, don’t forget to blog about it, and host your badge. Don’t be shy to show what you can do. Everyone else… keep going, and you’ll be featured here soon!

And students, if you have suggestions during the week for Post of the Week, Comment of the Week or Blogger of the Week please let me know.

September 5, 2015
by Ann Lautrette

Study Smart, not hard

IB students like to complain:

‘it’s so hard’, ‘there’s so much work to do’, ‘I don’t sleep anymore’ and so on. We’ve heard it all…every year.

What IB students don’t realise is that often just by replacing poor study habits with better ones we can study smarter and not harder.

A large part of the Core Curriculum is intended to develop those Approaches to Learning (ATLs) which help students do just that.


One simple technique to study smarter is SQ3R:






Whether you are reading from a book, or online, use SQ3R in conjunction with your Cornell Notes template, and you are on to a study smart winner!



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