Tuesday, March 30, 2010

Dutch Language

Yesterday I had an appointment to see Ilham's Dutch teacher, somebody whom I had wanted to meet because she gave good remarks on his Dutch in the December School Report. I was curious you see. Since Friday 26th and Monday 29th were Student-Led Conference for Lower School, I decided now is a good time to go and see her.

I was surprised to find out that Ilham is in Intermediate class. I thought he was still in Culture (for new students) where they learn about Dutch culture, food, celebrations etc. I assumed that new students will be in Culture class for about a year of joining the school.

Then Ms Murphy gave me a very interesting news, Ilham is her best student in the class!!! Now, I do not know exactly what they learn in Intermediate level, but it made me really happy when she said that! According to her, Ilham can speak good Dutch and that he sounds like a Dutch when he speaks. Wow! that impresses me! At the rate he is going, he will be in Advance class next school year in August. That is pretty fast she said, because some children take about 2 years in Intermediate level before they can go to Advance. Then, they can join the class where the native Dutch students learn. She really likes having him in the class and that she does not want him to go to another teacher. It seems that he always motivate the other children, helping them to pronounce correctly. She jokingly said that he was her assistant in the class, something like a second teacher. Ilham was sure happy when she said that.

Now I know why Ilham received "Exceed Expectation" under Dutch Language in his school report in December. I couldn't believe my eyes when I saw that, and I had been wondering whether the teacher made a mistake. Normally teachers refrain from giving Exceed Expectation in the report, they normally give Meet Expectation.

I never really heard him speak Dutch, perhaps because there is no one for him to speak to at home :) But normally I would ask him the meaning of the words and he was able to explain most of them.

I am glad that I met the teacher, it was so wonderful to hear her said all those things. Though I couldn't help wishing that he have the same progress on Muqaddam....

Thursday, March 25, 2010

Invention Convention

The Unit of Inquiry on Invention was officially ended with the exhibition of the grade 2 works. Parents were invited to view and querry their child's invention. They were also encouraged to visit other childrens' works as well.

The following questions are sample of what the parents should ask :

What does your invention do?

How does it work?

Who would buy your invention?

How does your invention affect peoples' lives?

Did you work alone?

What was the hardest part in making your invention?

Is there anything that you would want to change?

The children really had a fun time entertaining the parents. They each had a laptop to assist them. It was very interesting indeed. One child had invented Mr Wake Up With Water Machine.
It was a machine designed to pour cold water on your face in the morning !! It definitely will ensure the person wakes up!! Another child had invented a Scooper Pooper, I suppose there is no need to mention about its purpose eh... :) And then, there was this 360 Tooth Brusher, designed to ensure that your teeth are 1oo% clean on all angles. There was this Sticker Chair, designed to ensure kids do not fall off their chair. The idea came to this boy who had his friend fell off the chair and hurt himself.

Last but not least, The Sleep Thousand designed to help people sleep better and not sleep for a thousand days!! So, who was the inventor? My son of course!! I should be honoured because he invented it to help me sleep better at night !! Isn't that sweet of him. He initially wanted to design a robot that can read his mind and help him write in his diary and also a robot that can do his homework for him. Obviously someone do have a problem of writing in his own diary and probably a bit "lazy" to do his homework!! But then, the teacher said the invention must be something to assist and improve people lives and not something that will prevent you from doing your job and responsibility.

Ilham answering questions from visitors

All these wonderful inventions must be patented, otherwise someone will steal your idea and make a huge profit from it. So the ISA had helped the children to get their patents !!

Receiving the patent award for the design of The Sleep Thousand

I think the UOI does foster the idea of being an inventor in the children. Regardless of what they design or how the final invention looks like, it makes them think "maybe I should design this.... to help people....." when they encounter a problem.

Friday, March 19, 2010


All 2JK students are future inventors!!! It's amazing to see what these children had invented during their 4th Unit Of Inquiry(UOI) - Invention.

Some of the inventions by class 2JK: The 360 Tooth Brusher and The Sticker Chair are just a few brilliant examples...

The theme for this 4th UOI is Where We Are In Time And Place, and under this unit grade 2 students learned about inventions that have changed peoples' lives. Not only they learned about famous inventors such as Leonardo Da Vinci, the Wright brothers and Alexander Graham Bell and their inventions, they also learned about trivia inventions that sometimes we take for granted and never takes notice of. Do you know that women first invented liquid paper? Even the car rain wiper? And also chocolate chip cookies?

They learned how some inventions had changed the way people think and live forever or, that sometimes inventions did not really have an impact on peoples's lives, just make it a lot more fun. That sometimes, inventions can cause loss of lives.

They started their unit with a wonderful invention, a laptop, which was invented in 1981 by Adam Osborne. They worked in pairs and recorded their own news report about this invention. Later, they selected and researched their own favourite inventions and created a mind map of the inventions, where they list down its purpose and how it changed people think and live.

Then towards the end of the unit, they were busy thinking and making their very own inventions. Not only they had to make it, they also had to make news report informing people of their wonderful inventions and who should benefit from it. The inventions were then displayed for the parents and other grade 2 students to see.

It was truly amazing to see some of these inventions. For some reasons, Ms Kimura, the homeroom teacher had discouraged the students from inventing robots. Whereas, I noticed that students from other classes do invent robots such as Cleaning Robot, Robot That Entertains Kids, Robot Puffle, Homework Robot etc. Whatever her reasons, her class had come up with such interesting machines and gadgets with such creative names as well : Pooper Scooper, Sleep Thousand, The No Polluter 3000, The Raker 7800, Wake Up With Water Machine, Cavity Spotting Glass and so on.

How do you teach 7 and 8 year olds to create their own inventions?

First, they started by having brainstorming session : What problems do they or people around them have that they would like solved.

Then, they decide what to invent.

Once decided, the following elements have to be thought over and answered. What does the invention solve? How does it work? How will it change people think and live? Who will want to buy your invention? How much will it cost? Where can people buy it?

Then, they sketch a rough design, followed by the final design, complete with the materials needed.

And then, here comes the invention.........

Well, the final result may not look as impressive as the final design and definitely needs some improvements, but I guess it's the efforts behind it that's more important....

Trip To London 3

Our flight back to Amsterdam on Sunday was at 3 pm. We had the whole morning to go somewhere, but the kids complained. They were tired, we came back quite late the night before, after we had dinner at a friend's house. So we decided not to go anywhere and let the children play by themselves.

All in all, it was a good trip. London was as buzy and crowded as before.... I am glad of the opportunity to revisit the place, it only reenforces the feeling that the place is not for me, not to stay and live there anyway. I do not mind going there for a holiday, but not to stay. I'm glad to be back here in Amstelveen, it's so quiet and peaceful. OK the weather is not so wonderful, but so is London. But here we have trees and canals everywhere, and the effect is so cooling.

When asked whether they enjoyed the holiday, the children said "No tiring, no rest at all", "The places are fun but the TVs boring" and "It's OK I guess".... I have a feeling that London has not impressed them that much. They just want to play, period.

Sunday, March 14, 2010

Trip To London 2

On Saturday, we started our day by taking pictures of the Big Ben, Westminster Abbey, The Parliament, Buckingham Palace, London Eye, Tower of London, Tower Bridge etc, just like any other tourists. The children were grumpy because they couldn't get on the London Eye. We decided not to go on it because the sky was so dark and it was definitely going to rain, further the que was quite long.

London Eye & the dark cloud and the grumpy children...

By the time we reached Buckingham Palace, the dark sky had moved and the children were much more cheerful. I suppose, dark cloudy weather does influence our mood heh..

Buckingham Palace

We missed the changing of the guards at the palace, but Ilham found this solitary guard interesting enough to take pictures of him...

Tower of London and Tower Bridge were just the same. But the children were more interested in running around rather than looking at this old ugly castle :)

Clowning around in front of Tower of London

Since it was still early, we decided to go back to Marble Arch and split our ways temporarily, our friends to their shopping and us, somewhere to sit down....

My dear husband decided to take us to the Pizza Hut where I used to work. That was sweet of him. The place looked different now, even the uniform was different. As I had guessed, there was no familiar faces... Who would want to work here forever? We were all students then, working here only to get some extra money. Still, I was hoping to get some news about this guy, he was the assistant manager then, and had been working at the branch for quite sometime. He helped me and my friend to get the job here. As I recall, he didn't want to go back to Malaysia for some reasons known only to himself. I hope he changed his mind and did go back to his family....

It was certainly nice to be able to show Ilham the place, another facet of London personal only to me. He kept saying "You worked here? As a waitress?" Later, much much later back in Amsterdam he asked, "Did you get a rest when you work?" Funny that he should ask that....

Hmm.....yummy, garlic bread with cheese was my favourite then...

To be continued

Saturday, March 13, 2010

Trip To London 1

Finally we were in London huray !!! It is one of the places to visit by Ilham. We departed from Schippol around 9.10 am on Thursday, March 25th with our friends and their kids. The children were very excited, even the windy weather and the drizzle failed to dampen their spirits. I have a feeling that a raging storm outside would not have an impact on them. They just couldn't stop laughing or make fun at each other.

Tasting the red juicy strawberries at Gatwick Airport, hmm... yummy

After placing our baggages at the place where we were staying, we went to Oxford Street. It was just the same as I remembered, full of people, but somehow the Marble Arch did not look as big as before. Maybe because I was young then and felt that London was so overpowering, but now 18 years after I left the place and being so much older and wiser, it did not have the same frightening feeling anymore. While the mothers were shopping at Primark and other shops, the children and the fathers went to the Dinosaur Unleashed Convention. They had fun with the dinosaurs, we did too :)

Oxford Street with its street vendor and double decker bus.

The next day, we started our journey by taking the tube to Marble Arch. When I showed Ilham the Pizza Hut where I used to work, he looked at me in amazement.

"Is this the place? Is this where you worked Mama?"

Then, we took a bus to Piccadily Circus where we spent a few hours at Ripleys Believe It Or Not Museum. It was educational and informative and the children had a wonderful time there.

The smallest car and the intricate paintings on sunflower seeds

And look at what I found interesting.....

An article on Malay woman. I supposed that must be daun keladi.


I wonder what they did with the corpses?

And then, off we went to Trafalgar Square and the National Gallery but the pigeons were no longer there!! What a pity, taking pictures with the pigeons on my palm, shoulder and all around me was one of my sweetest memory in Trafalgar Square. I was hoping that Ilham would have the same sweet experience...

All these walking and taking pictures were making us hungry, so in we went to Jom Makan, a fairly new restaurant at the corner of Trafalgar Square.

Colouring activities while waiting for our food....

Jom makan............

After dinner, we thought of going into the National Gallery, but then the kids decided they wanted to go to Hamleys the toy shop. So in the end, the fathers took the kids to Hamleys while the mothers continue shopping :)

That was the end of our second day......

Unit Of Inquiry - Earth Matters

The element that I found interesting about the International School of Amsterdam(ISA) is the learning of "Unit of Inquiry". Each year the students will learn 6 transdisciplinary themes which are supposed to have global significance intended to help students engaged with their world, whatever that means :) Anyway, the themes are Who We Are, How We Organise Ourselves, How We Express Ourselves, Where We Are In Time and Place, How The World Works and Share The Planets. Each unit of inquiry normally takes around 6 to 8 weeks to complete. Sometimes, they would go on a field trip to visit a place related to the inquiry and/or invite a parent whose works relates to the inquiry to come and speak about the issue, or create a show for the parents to come and see.

Earth Matters is the fifth and current Unit of Inquiry for the grade 2 students. They have started on this new unit about 2 weeks ago in early March. Under this unit, they learn about earth, the solar system and how the world works. Books on the topic are be displayed in each class where the children can easily read and browse. The class is decorated with large balls representing sun, planets and moon.

On the 4th of March, the school had invited a NASA astronaut Steven Smith who happens to be a parent at the school, to give a talk to the grade 2 students. Mr Smith had been to the ISS for five times and had stayed there for six months every time. He had also performed space walks, so he certainly knew what he was talking. The children were very excited and they certainly learned many interesting facts and had a lot of questions to ask to Mr Smith. Do you know that an astronaut wears a diaper when he performs a space walk? No, that's something that I never knew before. The children were hilarious when they heard that and needless to say, many had second thoughts about becoming an astronaut after that !!!

Apart from the space talk, Mr Smith also gave motivation talk to the children. He talked about reaching for your dreams and that one must never ever give up no matter what other people say. Every time you fall or sidetracked from your dream path, you must always get back on your feet, or move back to your dream path and move on. He is a fine example, he had always wanted to be an astronaut. He still had drawings of himself as an astronaut which he made when he was only 8 years old. He had to apply for 5 times before NASA finally accepted his application. He also talked about always being good, always listen to your parents and never do bad things, never do drugs and so on.

On the 12th of March, the children had a fun adventure at the Space Expo in Noordwijk. They went at 9.30 am and only arrived back at the school at 3.15 pm. I couldn't join the trip because the teacher had 5 parent volunteers already. I was too late in offering my services :( I do not know exactly what they were doing there, but they certainly had a lot of activities and a lot of fun....

Friday, March 5, 2010

Internet Problems

So many things had happened since my last entry, but I couldn't write because the internet line had been very bad... Ilham & classmates had their Invention Convention in 2JK, there was Global Village at the ISA and also our trip to London. I told myself that if the line is still not allright after we come back from London, I want to change it to another company. And guess what, after we came home from London last Sunday,the line is ok now... It is funny really. I didn't do anything to the computer, I did not even pull out the wire and put them back again to ensure proper connection(as was required when my line was disconnected). Now I know for sure that it is not my computer/wire/modem's fault, it must be the service !!! Anyway, I hope that the internet line will not give me a headache anymore :)


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