Elementary Back to School Night for Parents

YIS would like to invite you to our “Back To School Night” for our Kindergarten to Grade 5 classes, on Wednesday September 11th, starting at 6:45PM and finishing at 8:15PM.  The purpose of this evening is to provide you with information regarding your child’s class, and an overview of the exciting learning opportunities that lie ahead for this school year. During this evening you will have the opportunity to meet your child’s class teacher, and the other teachers who work in the grade level.

Our Single Subjects teachers for Japanese, Mother Tongue (Dutch), Physical Education, Music, Drama and Art, along with the Director of ICJC will also be available for you to meet and will provide a general overview of their subject area.  Also the Student Support teachers for Learning Support, EAL and Student Counseling will be available throughout the evening.

Parking and Refreshments: The playground will be open for parking from 6:15pm. Cafeteria will be open from 6:30pm for tea/coffee refreshments.


Grade K – 2

  • 6:45 – 7:20pm Grades K – 2 parents attend their child’s homeroom for a meeting with their class teacher.
  • 7:30 – 8:10pm Grades K-2 parents can visit Single Subject Teachers in their classrooms for short presentations about their subject and are invited to ask questions.

Grades 3 – 5

  • 6:45 – 7:20pm Grades 3-5 parents can visit Single Subject Teachers in their classrooms for short presentations about their subject and are invited to ask questions.
  • 7:30 – 8:10pm Grades 3-5 parents attend their child’s homeroom for a meeting with their class teacher.

For further details, please check your inbox for an elementary broadcaster sent home on Monday September 2, 2013.

Elementary Science at YIS

Throughout the year students at YIS have enjoyed many exciting experiences that relate to science including cooking, gardening, marble runs, building simple machines, creating inventions, trips to the zoo, stargazing, growing class pets, trips to the park, guest speakers, making crystals, and much more.

Science at YIS is not as simple as memorizing facts and formulas. It is about creating questions, inquiring into concepts, hands on experiences, understanding processes and drawing conclusions.

Science is all around us. If you are looking to support your child as a scientist it is actually quite simple and very enjoyable. Encourage them to ask questions then experiment to find the answer, take them outdoors and they will naturally talk about nature, involve them in some cooking, plan a weekend trip to a museum, read and discuss non fiction texts together. Most importantly learn together. If you are having conversations about daily life and encouraging your child to ask questions then you are helping them to think scientifically. When they ask ‘silly’ questions such as “dad, why do we have earthquakes?”, or “mum why does my face go red when I get hot?”, be sure to follow up with your child and find out some answers together. You never know where the inquiry will take you.

A wonderful resource for both starting conversations and for researching information is wonderopolis.org. Please take a moment to take a look – it is updated with a new wonder each day.

Allow yourself to become swept up by your child’s enthusiasm for finding out more!

Geoff Geddes

ES Science Project Leader

Elementary Teachers

Culture of Thinking









“Can you imagine someone learning to dance, without watching other dancers?

Learning to paint, without looking at paintings?

Performing a surgery, without learning how others had done it first?”

In a compelling interview Ron Ritchhart, of Harvard’s Project Zero, asked something much like this. And he’s right. The problem with thinking is that by nature it’s often invisible. But learning tothink is not so different from learning to dance, paint or operate. The challenge to learn from others is to make it visible, so it can be modeled, unpacked and documented.

This idea is the seed of YIS’ Culture of Thinking project. Over the past year you may have heard your child talking about thinking routines, or seen displays of visible thinking practices around school. Maybe you’ve been in classes where you’ve noted big chart papers covered with colourful sticky notes, where students are documenting their thinking processes from various perspectives or over time. Perhaps you’ve overheard a teacher probing a student with the seemingly simple question: “What makes you say that?”.

The Culture of Thinking project has seen 18 teachers, from nearly every grade, complete Harvard’s Making Thinking Visible course over the past year. It has been an umbrella over learning and practices at staff meetings and professional development. It’s been shared through working group meetings, professional readings and numerous displays. Most importantly, its been a growing strand in the web of teaching and learning practices for students and teachers.

To take part, next time your child expresses an opinion or interpretation that could go deeper, try asking casually “What makes you say that?” and see where it takes you.

Jamie Raskin
Culture of Thinking Project Leader
Elementary Teacher

1st Annual YIS Staff & Parent Art Exhibition 2012-13

We are happy to announce the 1st Annual YIS Staff & Parent Art Exhibition 2012-13.

As YIS parents, you are invited and welcome to make and exhibit your own artwork — any type of visual work that you have created yourself: drawing, painting, photography, graphic design, sculpture, digital media, illustration, video, craft, ceramics, fiber work, performance, printmaking, clothing/textile design, and more.  Please know that your artwork may be displayed For Sale (artist’s choice) with proceeds going to the YIS One Yen Drive charity.
Exhibition Dates
Friday April 26 – Friday May 3 in the YIS Library

Wine & Cheese & Live Music Opening Night
4-6pm – Friday April 26  –  All adults & children are welcome to attend
Information for participating artists: 
Hang/install your own artwork in the library between 8am Thursday April 25 – 4pm Friday April 26
  • Hung artwork should have a wire or hook on the back.
  • Work-on-paper and photographs should be matted, framed, or in some way mounted.
  • Wall-hanging space is limited, though there is adequate shelf-top space; we’ve got some small easels (bring your own if you have one).
  • Your flexibility appreciated: # of artworks per person limited to 2 or 3, depending on the size (if it’s a particularly large piece, then perhaps only 1).
  • Thank you for understanding — our goal is to include as many people as possible.
Please don’t hesitate to ask questions.
We are looking forward to a superb inaugural exhibition!
Best regards,
Aaron Reed – Art teacher – reeda@yis.ac.jp
Rita Kar – Head librarian – karr@yis.ac.jp
Leanne Erickson – Head of Arts Department – ericksonl@yis.ac.jp

Book Swap for Parents!

Wednesday March 6th is World Read Aloud Day, and the kick-off for our book swap.



Take a look through your home libraries and bring in good quality books your child is no longer reading. Starting tomorrow and through March 19th, we will be collecting books in the library for a book swap on March 20th, during Student-Led Conferences.


Here’s all you need to do:

  • Find books your children are no longer reading, but are good quality that someone else might like.
  • Bring them to the library starting Wednesday, March 6th. You can bring them in until March 19th.
  • Sign your name and how many books your brought (all near the library counter)
  • Make a donation to Room to Read if you can. Please give the donation to Ms. Kar or Ms. Jalink in the library.
  • Come back to the library on March 20th, parent-teacher conference day, and find some books you and your child would like to have at home. They’re yours!
It’s a good way to give books to others and get some new ones. We are also hoping to raise money for Room to Read.
Thank you!
Ms Blum and Elementary Students
(image courtesy of http://www.flickr.com/photos/anna/3335867958/lightbox/)

Supporting your child with Mathematics

Date: Monday – January 21, 2013

Time: 7:00 PM to 8:30 PM Location: Loft

Michael is a specialist mathematics consultant from Melbourne, Australia. He is involved in many professional development programs in schools across Australia and Asia.Michael is an enthusiastic and entertaining presenter who has a clear and practical approach to the challenges that confront schools and parents in mathematics. On this evening Michael will address the following issues:
What is my child learning in mathematics?
How can I help my child become an efficient problem solver?
How do children best learn mathematics?
How can parents promote quality thinking and learning?
How can I help my child in mathematics?
After the success of last year’s well attended, informative, and fun parent workshop, Michael Ymer is back again to help parents understand the role of Mathematics in our everyday lives. He will also focus on helping parents in understanding the way Mathematics is taught in schools. He will, with true Australian humor and poise, help us uncover what inquiry is, how inquiry can help us all become better mathematicians and how parents can help their children to be natural mathematical inquirers at home.

To register for this event please email our elementary Mathematics Coordinator, David Goddard goddardd@yis.ac.jp to confirm your attendance.

What Parents Really Need to Know!







On Monday October 1 2012, there was an Introduction to the PYP  workshop held at YIS for new families and interested school community members.  The workshop which was led by Ms Jacquie Pender, ES Principal, and Ms Shanel Catasti, ES Vice Principal/Curriculum Coordinator, was attended by twenty parents. This interactive workshop allowed parents to experience being part of a PYP classroom which includes working collaboration, active learning and independent thinking time. They also shared their prior knowledge of their own schooling, how that relates to 21st Century Learners and their childand how the PYP addresses this.

Some important information shared with parents during the workshop actually came from recent research about what type of education will best help children learn. Looking over the key points listed below, these are all evident in the PYP and are a regular part of what learning looks like in at YIS:

1. How to process and use information and less about imparting it.

2. Work collaboratively

3. The ability to use new technologies in multiple ways

4. Promote dynamic and active learning classrooms

5. Educational experiences promote international and global understanding

6. More emphasis on the analysis of data

 Lawrence. H. Summers (former President of Harvard University) New York Times, 20 January 2012





Parents were asked to share ‘burning’ questions they had about PYP and to complete a parent questionnaire about the elementary curriculum.The key points that arose from these were:

  • How are the subjects of mathematics and language connected to the Units of Inquiry?
  • How is student progress assessed and monitored?
  • How do students in PYP perform compared with other curriculums around the world?
  • How does PYP linked to the other IB programs of MYP and DP?
  • How does PYP support students in their development of life long learning?

The most common question that parents ask was: “How can I best support my child at home?”  

Ms Pender shared some simple yet important advice. The best way is to allow your child to play!  Let your child develop a passion he/she has, allow time for relaxation and exploration and give your child opportunities to be bored and make decisions on how to use his/her time. Also talk to your child in your mother tongue as it supports on-going learning of  the mother tongue language, which is vital for learning another language.

The importance of PLAY has been well researched and documented and recently posted on the Community Learning blog that highlighted why children and adults need to play.Read More about the importance of Play HERE!

This will be addressed more in detail in a future parent newsletter and blog post.

Parents gave positive feedback about the workshop saying:

“It was a good opportunity to know about the PYP and talk with other parents. Thank you!”

“The workshop was wonderful and very informative. It cleared lots of my doubts.”

“I got the big picture purpose of PYP and I totally agree with it! Thank you.”

“We feel fortunate to have access to YIS and to have such dedicated and passionate teachers. Thank you!”

Thank you to all parents who attended and such positive, supportive feedback!

There will be a repeat of this workshop for new families on Tuesday 29 January, 2013.



Coffee and Conversation with Senior Leadership – Elementary School

Coffee and Conversation with Senior Leadership – Elementary School

Date: Monday – September 17, 2012
Time: 9:00 AM to 10:30 AM
Location: Cafeteria

Parents are warmly invited to join Ms. Pender, Ms. Catasti and Mr. Stanworth for an informal get-together over coffee and pastries in the cafeteria. They will briefly discuss recent developments at school, with a focus on the elementary school, but most of the session will be devoted to an open Q&A style discussion with parents. We have scheduled the event on a Japanese national holiday so that working spouses may also attend.

Changing Education Paradigms

Creativity expert Sir Ken Robinson challenges the way we’re educating our children. He champions a radical rethink of our school systems, to cultivate creativity and acknowledge multiple types of intelligence.

In this talk from RSA Animate, Sir Ken Robinson lays out the link between 3 troubling trends: rising drop-out rates, schools’ dwindling stake in the arts, and ADHD. An important, timely talk for parents and teachers. Creativity expert Sir Ken Robinson challenges the way we’re educating our children. He champions a radical rethink of our school systems, to cultivate creativity and acknowledge multiple types of intelligence.

Grab a coffee, sit and relax for 10 minutes by watching a creative approach by RSA Animate as they present Ken Robinson’s message: Changing education paradigms http://on.ted.com/C6Fx #TED