By Kim Cofino
Yokohama International School, located in Yokohama, Japan (Japan's second largest city, right next to Tokyo), is the second-oldest international school in the world, founded in 1924. Our community comprises families from around the world, with a diverse mix of nationalities including American, Japanese, British, Australian, Canadian, Singaporean, Thai, Dutch, French, German, Portuguese, Finish and others. We don't have any one dominant nationality and the language of instruction is English. YIS is an IB World School, implementing the PYP, MYP and Diploma Program. We have around 650 students and are located on a bluff overlooking Yokohama Bay.
YIS is unique for many reasons, including our amazing organic cafeteria catering company Zest JP, our International Center for Japanese Culture, our Connected Learning Community (1:1 program), our Early Learning Center which combines Reggio Emilia and the PYP, and our history of innovative and creative initiatives (like our recent mini-conference, #beyondlaptops). The best thing about YIS is the close-knit community of teachers, parents and students. We have a very collaborative and caring school environment, which makes working at YIS a real pleasure!
Hardware & Software
YIS began our Connected Learning Community last school year. As part of our CLC, we have:
- A fully equipped and software-rich MacBook Pro or Air (including Adobe CS5, iLife, MS Office, iWork, and a wide variety of subject-specific software) which can be taken home for all students in grades 6 - 12
- Fully equipped and software-rich MacBook laptop carts for grades K-4, where laptops are shared across the grade level
- A class set of iPads for grades K-1, including regularly updated, developmentally appropriate apps
- A blog for all teachers and students hosted on our YIS Learning Hub, which is public to the world
- Regular parent training sessions on the skills students are learning, the big ideas of how to learn when technology is constantly changing, and the critical issues involved in raising a digital child
- A focus on safe and responsible digital citizenship through our Digital Dragons curriculum, our two-day orientation at the start of each school year, invited guests who work with students and parents, and our annual Digital Citizenship week
We have so many different ongoing projects, it would be hard to pick one or two, but here are some highlights:
Grade K, 2, 5: Twitter collaboration: these three classes connected throughout the year last year to learn from each other in a very casual way - they asked and answered questions, they collaborated on tasks, they shared their learning.
Grade K: Japan & Indonesia collaboration: Two teachers from our YIS COETAIL and EARCOS COETAIL cohort (Zoe Page in Japan and Ben Sheridan in Indonesia) collaborated throughout the course of last year on various projects, culminating in co-authoring a book towards the end of the year.
MS Humanities: Our MS Humanities teachers are amazing - every project they do is worth sharing. Next school year they'll be using Minecraft as a tool to explore different civilizations by both recreating existing structures (which they did using Sketchup this year) and creating their own civilizations. Rebekah Madrid and Alex Guenther have also created projects like "Tweeting the Civil War" and participated in the Flat Classroom Digiteen Project.
HS English: Madeline Cox uses Diigo extensively with her IB Language and Literature class to evaluate and annotate multimedia.
You might also want to explore our Learning Hub, which is our public blogging portal.