Mr. Kestner becomes 7th grader for a day

On Wednesday I became a 7th grader for the day. My job as principal surrounds me with 11-14 year olds on a daily basis and I go in and out of classes frequently, interacting with this age group. But I asked myself the question “Can I remember what it was like to spend a whole day as a 12 year old?” My classes were double Social Studies, French, Maths, English and double Art. The students were wonderful and really took part in the experience by helping me feel welcome in their world. At lunch I went to sit on my … Continue reading Mr. Kestner becomes 7th grader for a day

Grade 5 Halloween Trail @ Le Musee d’Art Ancien in Brussels

This month, our Grade 5 students discovered the fabulous Musée’s collection through a fun “Halloween Trail”. Pupils followed the trail in groups of 4, answered questions and found many skulls, skeletons and spooky monsters along the way. They also practiced their observational skills by drawing some of the artworks. After lunch, they walked to the Grand-Place to practice their French (each group had to ask 3 questions in French to someone in the street or in shops), to draw the gorgeous guild houses and of course … dig in a waffle!! Continue reading Grade 5 Halloween Trail @ Le Musee d’Art Ancien in Brussels

Mindfulness in the Middle School Classroom

Every day, first period, middle school students sit in silence, clear their minds of what has been and what will be and pause. The teacher takes them through a process called mindfulness. Mindfulness can be defined as:                                                                       “paying attention in a particular way: on purpose, in the present moment, and non-judgmentally.” We know that practicing mindfulness has shown to offer benefits such as increased self-awareness, better … Continue reading Mindfulness in the Middle School Classroom

High School art trip to London – a reflection

Though I live one hour away from any large city in Belgium, I consider myself psychologically a city person; I absolutely adore the thrill that a city brings me. London was no exception. There were a multitude of memorable moments experienced during our four-day stay in the city-center, but a few truly highlight the great time I had. One was the trip to both the Tate Britain and Tate Modern galleries. We started off at the Tate Britain and made our way to the Tate Modern across the river Thames by boat. The Tate Modern impressed me with its stupendous … Continue reading High School art trip to London – a reflection

PC tablets in Timbertops

In Timbertops we were delighted to receive PC Tablets for the children, two per class. The children like to sit around the table in small groups and are learning to take turns; this is very important as the Tablets are very sensitive. They love to use them to play their favorite games on Poisson Rouge, especially Ten Green Bottles! It’s also great fun to use the Tablets to draw using the 2simple software. We are still in the discovering stage, but we are looking forward to seeing what else we can use them for! Continue reading PC tablets in Timbertops

French book club for 2012-13 has been launched

Our 2012-2013 French book club called LEGERE (to read in Latin) has been launched. We have 33 members that will rotate all year long. After deliberation, our members have chosen 7 fields of interest: Coups de coeur (1):   1. Toni MORRISON (USA): Home/Bourgois 2. Patrick DEVILLE (France): Peste et choléra/Seuil  3. Patrick MODIANO (France): L’herbe des nuits/Gallimard  4. Amin  MAALOUF (Liban) : Les désorientés/Grasset  5. Jean ECHENOZ (France) : 14/Minuit   Coups de cœur (2):  1. Joël DICKER (Suisse): La vérité sur l’affaire Harry Queber/de Fallois 2. Roger GRENIER (France) :Brefs récits pour une longue histoire /Gallimard  3. Ben JELLOUN (Maroc):Le bonheur conjugal/Gallimard 4. Emmanuel CARRERE (France) : Limonov/POL   … Continue reading French book club for 2012-13 has been launched

High Schoolers raise 686 Euro for Annai Erica home

Congratulations to all the students who participated in raising money for the Annai Erika Home during the parent teacher conferences last week. Cebile, Alicia, Lisa, Marie, Joséphine and Magalie were able to raise a total of 686 € and 14 new sponsors. Says Marie des Neiges de Lantsheere, one of the students involved in the fundraising ”This was the very first time, this year, that our new team came into action to help the Annai Erika school in India. Although the idea was simple; selling cakes as well as bracelets at the entry of the parent teacher conference, it was … Continue reading High Schoolers raise 686 Euro for Annai Erica home

Learning French through Art

In October, one French class has discovered  a French artist called Niki de Saint Phalle. She was born in France and grew up in New York. She became famous in 1964 when she started to make colorful figures, first made of wool, yarn, paper-maché and later of polyester. Niki’s biggest project was the “Tarot Garden” which she began to work on in Tuscany in 1979. Niki de Saint Phalle died in California of emphysema on May 22, 2002 as a consequence of years of inhaling toxic polyester fumes while working on her art projects. Thanks to this artist, the students reviewed shapes, colours … Continue reading Learning French through Art

Time Riders author Alex Scarrow visits St. John’s

On Monday, October 15, the Middle School and the MHS Library welcomed visiting author Alex Scarrow to St. John’s for an all-day visit.  Mr. Scarrow addressed Middle School students in an assembly where he talked about his background as a rock musician and video game concept developer, and explained what his series the Time Riders was all about.  The page-turning, action-adventure stories that centers on three kids who have been recruited to help save the world from people going back in time and changing the present, were made vivid by his re-enactment of scenes and his enthusiastic portrayal of the … Continue reading Time Riders author Alex Scarrow visits St. John’s

High School speaker lectures

Being new at St. John’s, I was delighted to have been invited last week to a talk by Dr. Alexis Tengan, the first in a series of colloquia organized by Dr. Castillo-Coronado. We were greeted by a number of exquisite artifacts lying solemnly on an African-themed green and white cloth on the table. What marvel to see those “out of this world” artifacts most of which were from Dr. Tengan’s native Ghana: human-shaped wood carvings, animal figurines, a large round spiked jar, and the like. Dr. Tengan gave us an idea of their original context by talking about a worldview … Continue reading High School speaker lectures

The Tower of Babel – a grade 5 art project

Grade 5 looked at Bruegel’s Tower of Babel and has started building a gigantic Tower  of Babel with cardboard. Each pupil has been given a cardboard box to make a house with it. They have been busy learning how to decorate it with Alix and Philippe, 2 artists from the art group Boite a Clous (cardboard/recycling art). They have already started to place their houses on a 2 meter diameter cardboard structure to create a huge city. The finished piece will be exhibited in the PAC foyer after the break. We will post updates as we progress with the project! … Continue reading The Tower of Babel – a grade 5 art project

Why ‘Well-Being and Happiness’ will enhance our St. John’s Community

On Thursday 11th October, Mr. Daniel Johnston and I attended a ‘Positive Psychology’ Conference at Wellington College in Berkshire UK. We were there to learn about a school, which is very similar to St John’s and how they developed an approach to community wellness, which is both radical and completely obvious for a school with a 150 year tradition based upon Christian Values. You can find out more about Wellington College, its IB programme and it’s proud tradition by visiting the website. At St John’s, in June this year, The High School hosted a meeting of interested parents and teachers … Continue reading Why ‘Well-Being and Happiness’ will enhance our St. John’s Community

Fantastic Forrestia – 3rd graders enjoy companionship

Recently, the 3rd grade students and teachers enjoyed going to Forestia, a wonderful adventure park where we did lots of activities which encourage working together, team-building and healthy risk-taking! All of that fitted extremely well with the central idea of our “Budding Buddies” Unit of Inquiry: We need to communicate and collaborate to achieve a common goal. Some memorable student quotes (taken from student reflections): “My favourite part was petting the ponies. They were soft and cute. I wanted to stay there forever.” Martina “I really enjoyed the Forestia Field Trip because we were all playing together and caring for each … Continue reading Fantastic Forrestia – 3rd graders enjoy companionship

International Festival: celebrating our diversity

International Festival is one of the most popular events on the St. John’s calendar. It is a day to show nationalism while celebrating diversity. Most students and many parents participate in the parade, while 28 countries have decorated a booth to teach students about their country during and giving people a taste of the national food or drink in the evening. The daytime parade video is already available, the evening parade will be live streamed at 19:00, both at Continue reading International Festival: celebrating our diversity

The Road Less Traveled: Podcasts, Photo Puzzles and Flipbooks!

Experiences: Middle school media courses are off to an exciting start this year.  8th graders are creating podcasts, while 6th graders have had a great experience making photo puzzles. 7th graders have worked hard on storytelling through drafting narrative short stories, creating storyboards and topping that off with animation, sound effects and film. Reflections: After a wide range of experiences in each course- viewing and analyzing model work, producing their own work, getting feedback and revising their work… we’ve also taken some time to reflect on our experiences thus far. Quotes from 7 th grade Students’ Reflections on the Media … Continue reading The Road Less Traveled: Podcasts, Photo Puzzles and Flipbooks!

Flying paper airplanes for bricks

Today at lunchtime, students came out in force to buy and fly paper airplanes as far as they could on “the bridge”, the connector between Middle School and the Performing Arts Center. The 10th grade students were hosting the event in support of their charity in Sri Lanka. The proceeds will go to building houses there and, as Mr. Macdonald says, “Each plane is another brick in the wall”. Continue reading Flying paper airplanes for bricks

Thinkers in action

Our professional journey: departure point –  St John’s fifth grade classroom; destination –  unknown. So how did it all begin? We had been using a range of thinking strategies in the classroom for several years and had been encouraged by the students’ responses. We decided to find out more about the theory attached to thinking routines, questioning strategies, brain development etc so we immersed ourselves in a range of up to date educational literature which was to have a dramatic impact in our classrooms. Excited and encouraged by the insights into our students’ thinking and their learning we really wanted … Continue reading Thinkers in action

Fall sports season and ISSTs

Fall is here. The days are shorter, the air is colder, the grass is muddier. This sports season is nearing its end, and ISST Championships are approaching. Our teams have worked hard up to this point, and results show it. The St. John’s varsity girls and boys soccer and volleyball teams have played a combined 41 games – and have only lost 8. Our cross country team has placed several runners in top ten finishes. Hard works pays off, and talent is a crucial ingredient to success. Our highly qualified and committed coaching staff takes care of the rest. We … Continue reading Fall sports season and ISSTs

Parents celebrate teachers on World Teachers Day

The St. John’s staff were in for a treat this afternoon as parents baked cakes and served teachers a glass of wine to celebrate World Teachers Day. The Parent Teacher Program (PTP) took the opportunity to thank the teachers for all they do for the students. The PTP has been very active in their appreciation of teachers and staff: they put a thank you card in each teacher’s mailbox at the start of the school year and put “cup-a-soup” boxes in the staff rooms in September to give the teachers a healthy, hearty snack as fall approached. The staff showed … Continue reading Parents celebrate teachers on World Teachers Day

The High School staff goes conkers

An average Friday lunch period turned into a fun one for High School faculty when one of the teachers suggested a game of conkers. Conkers is a traditional game in Britain and Ireland played using chestnuts. The game is played by two players, each with a conker threaded onto a piece of string: they take turns striking each other’s conker until one breaks. Some teachers thought they could gain an advantage by manipulating the chestnut, but ended up injuring themselves in the process.   Continue reading The High School staff goes conkers

Kindergarten students use bottles to build a maze

True to the Reggio Emilia pedagogy and the Primary Years Programme (PYP), our Kindergarten is collecting recyclable material for many projects that we will work on throughout this coming school year. The project we are now working towards is a maze for the Timbertops garden made of wine bottles. Two weeks ago, in our Friday letter, we asked parents to send in their empty and label-free wine bottles and we have been thrilled with the response. The children have already started reflecting on what a maze is and how they would like their maze to look. This is the start … Continue reading Kindergarten students use bottles to build a maze

Elementary students are writing and publishing a book in French

We are pleased to announce that this year, our French-speaking students from Grade 2 onwards will be writing a book in French. The students will be guided by an expert who has already conducted many workshops in Belgian schools. “Les Aventurêves” is a very well-known workshops organizer throughout Belgium, Switzerland, Canada and France. Many stories and books have been published already. We are very excited by this new venture, which will take place throughout the school year and will conclude with an evening reception, during which our budding writers will be able to present and sign their books, the plot … Continue reading Elementary students are writing and publishing a book in French

First grade movie stars

Today, the first graders in Mrs. Gardner’s class had quite an exciting experience: they were filmed by a professional crew. The crew had built a small studio in our dance studio, with lighting and cameras and microphones. The kids were asked the following question: “What do you want your computer to do in the future?” Since first graders often have quite an imagination, the responses were quite diverse. One of the students “wants my computer to make my dreams come true”. Another student envisions computers to “go to the store and buy hot dogs.” The students were quite mature in this daunting … Continue reading First grade movie stars

St. John’s varsity soccer teams host American International School of Bucharest

The varsity soccer teams hosted the American International School of Bucharest, Romania this weekend for the first time in our history. The trip to Belgium came as a result of the basketball varsity teams visit to Bucharest this past winter. The boys and girls teams played 3 matches each, one under the lights on Friday night, and two at St. John’s on Saturday. As you can tell from the photos, the teams had a great time together. The school will be looking for opportunities to continue this relationship and sports team exchange! Continue reading St. John’s varsity soccer teams host American International School of Bucharest

Chickens on the run… to Prague!

Two years ago the chickens arrived  in Pre-K!  We welcomed 2 hens, Pipiyak and Gaëtane and a rooster called Kiko. The breed is ‘Silkie’ in English, or ‘Nègre de Soie’ in French. They are our beautiful feathered friends. Mrs. O’Neill, Mrs. Gahan and Mrs. Limbourg fenced off a part of the Pre-K playground. The chicken project started with children that are now in 1st Grade, it has been very exciting to put this project into place and see the children’s interest and involvement during the first two years!! During an exchange of teaching practices and experiences with teachers from Prague … Continue reading Chickens on the run… to Prague!