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News

On Learning in an AI World

Since late November, ChatGPT has dominated the news headlines. For the uninitiated, Chat GPT is a cutting-edge language model developed by OpenAI. It can generate human-like text, allowing it to engage in natural language conversations and perform various language-based tasks like; writing compelling stories or essays, answering complex math problems, and writing basic code. So,…

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How Much Help Should We Give Our Children?

Parenting is hard. Not the kind of hard that comes when a colleague sends you an email with a word you’ve never seen before (like “epistolary”) and you struggle to figure out its meaning without resorting to Google definitions. Not the kind of hard that comes when you’re walking the streets of Bulgaria looking for…

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Flipping the Social Proof

Should I or shouldn’t I? There have been dozens of times these last couple weeks I’ve watched students peeking to the side, twisting their heads, and sometimes actually even doing a 360 survey of the crowd, all trying to answer one question… Should I or shouldn’t I? There’s this beautiful thing that happens every school…

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The Selective University Myth*

Every year, organizations like U.S. News and Forbes publish their University rankings. Every year, universities like Harvard and Princeton come out on top, simultaneously ranked as the most selective schools. There is an inherent attraction to these highly selective schools. These are world-renowned institutes that ensure access to the global elite, the highly privileged. They also include a hefty price tag and incalculable years of strife and struggle for students who wish to gain admission. It cannot be argued that receiving a degree from these institutions doesn’t bring prestige. The mere names of these institutes on a resume can garner interviews and open doors like magic. But is it worth it? The answer may surprise you….

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Learning Will Continue!

The holiday break ended and as we return to our learning environment, we face the challenge of a new wave of anti-epidemic measures, quarantine, and distance learning. Like schools around the world, we have been facing these challenges since the beginning of this pandemic. Students, teachers, parents, and administrators have quickly learned that flexibility and being at ease with uncertainty are key to our mental health and success these past (almost) two years. We also learned that schools and learning are more important than ever. Thankfully, learning continues to flourish at AAS despite the uncertainty of the world around us. We have been fortunate to not have to face the extensive challenges that schools around the world have faced during this time….

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With Inquiry-Based Learning Students Do the Heavy Lifting

The approach to learning at AAS is characterized by inquiry, but what does that mean?  Inquiry is all about students taking charge of their learning through discovery – they are the ones who do the heavy lifting.   To better understand the inquiry approach to learning at AAS, it’s helpful to “see” an example from a recent lesson in upper-elementary: to launch the beginning of a math lesson, students were presented with a picture of goats in a pen on a farm.  The teacher explained that a single goat needs a certain amount of space in order to be healthy and that pens could be built to allow for more or less goats, but of course, fencing materials cost money.  From there, students worked collaboratively, both with the teacher and with their peers to explore all the different configurations they could think of and how each affected the space allowed for the goats….

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Students Stepping Out of Comfort Zones

Change happens all the time, whether we notice it or not.  It can be challenging to move to another country, take classes in subjects that are new for us, or sort out the ever-unfolding situation with COVID.   International Baccalaureate Diploma Programme (IB/DP) students are ready for the world of today and tomorrow because they are experts in change and adapting.  They learn to adapt by stepping out of their comfort zones, updating their thinking, and developing their resilience. ​​​​​​​IB/DP students step out of their comfort zones when they plan and lead Friday Features programs as part of their CAS (Community-Activity-Service) requirements.  …

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Learning in Uncertain Times: How Worried Should We Be?

We, as a generation, have struggled through the most difficult times in education. As a parent and an educator, I have painfully watched my son, Kenshin, struggle through remote learning, social distancing, loss of school activities, and a host of other irregularities. I often find myself wondering how the pandemic will affect my son. Will my son’s math, for example, be on par? I’m not alone in worrying. The Pew Research Centre, for example, identified that 65% of the parents they surveyed were concerned about their children falling behind. Other polls report even higher levels of concern, citing 9 out of 10 parents worried about their children’s academics. While some caveats come with this data (it was based on US public schools) it’s fairly safe to say this is a global concern. Like other parents, my worry has also led me to attempt to “fill the gap” with extra studying and more work outside of school hours….

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5 Ways You Can Give Your Child the Gift of Lifelong Learning

AAS approaches learning differently.  Learning at AAS focuses on building habits and providing opportunities for deep understanding that will last a lifetime; this is the reason so many families choose this school over the many other options that are out there. What our children experience at this school is incredible, but ensuring they receive the lifelong gift of learning doesn’t happen in a vacuum.  It happens when the same values for learning which are taught at school (as Elementary School Learning Norms) are reinforced at home. Below you will find the 5 Learning Norms which are posted in every one of our elementary classrooms along with ways you can reinforce them at home….

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On Learning Outside of the Classroom

When I reflect on my time at AAS, I look back upon the quality of teacher instruction, engagement from students within the classroom, and relationships developed to enhance and strengthen the AAS community. However, as we all know there are many aspects to learning that provide opportunities for new skills, challenges and interests to be explored, discovered, and enjoyed. Despite the current restrictions placed upon us all, a degree of normality is definitely returning. I look at the eager faces of Middle and High school students as they wait expectantly to be transported to Sofia beach and it truly fills my heart with joy as they attempt new activities and forge new relationships….

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