Dr. Lesley Stagg, a former head of 5 international schools and the VIS liaison to the Council of International Schools, presented VIS with the well deserved accreditation plaque at our September 1st celebration. Her speech is posted below:
“The society in which we all live, in whatever country, is becoming increasingly diverse and technology makes the world feel increasingly smaller, it is time to make every classroom an international classroom.
International education is an educational movement built on universal values such as freedom, justice, opportunity, and equality. It is a set of strategies aimed to address the diverse challenges experienced by rapidly changing global demographics.
The goals of an international school such as VIS include:
- Creating a safe, accepting and successful learning environment for all
- Increasing awareness of global issues
- Strengthening cultural consciousness
- Strengthening intercultural awareness
- Teaching students that there are multiple historical perspectives
- Encouraging critical thinking
- Preventing prejudice and discrimination
So what are the advantages of an international education at VIS?
- Helps students develop positive self-image.
- Offers students an equitable educational opportunity.
- Allows multiple perspectives and ways of thinking.
- Combats stereotypes and prejudicial behavior.
- Teaches students to critique society in the interest of social justice.
Unfortunately, being culturally proficient is not as easy as a yearly international day celebration or some learning units here and there. Fortunately, you are in an educational institution that is prepared to implement international mindedness throughout.
Your director and the teachers are culturally competent. They are aware, responsive and embracing of diverse beliefs, perspectives and experiences. They are willing and ready to address issues of controversy. These issues include, but are not limited to, racism, gender, religious intolerance, classism, ageism, and so on.
To demonstrate how committed to international education is in your school, you all undertook a process of accreditation. This involved many months of deep thinking and hard work! Only just over 700 of the thousands of international school around the world have achieved this status with CIS.
Now we are able to celebrate the success of your school in not only meeting but in exceeding many of the standards for accreditation. To achieve full accreditation with no special requirements is an outstanding achievement. It gives me great please to present this award of accreditation to Vilnius International School.”
VIS staff and students aged 3 through 16 participated in two hours of unstructured play in honor of Global Play Day. This event was in part a tribute to the effort put forth by our Early Childhood team in promoting the importance of play to the learning process. VIS teacher Jenny Wong-Powell elaborates on the role of play in the article below:
Writing and Play
Do you wonder why we play at school?
Literacy acquisition is a constructed skill, requiring students to develop discourse strategies. When it comes to writing as a craft,students develop their conscious awareness to the units and systems of written language. When it comes to writing as an art, writing appears to be magic. It is therefore our responsibility “to take our students backstage to watch the pigeons being tucked up in the magician’s sleeve” (Murray, 1985, p. 4) to enable students to develop their writing from a craft into an art.
In early childhood, students build the foundation for understanding the structures of written language through their imaginary play. As children play, the different roles they take on and the dialogue between each other during their play constitutes the characters and narratives in writing. Students use a similar representational process during imaginary play as they do when they are writing.
For an older student in PYP, the writing process can be supported through block play. When given blocks, it is observed that students develop an idea about what to create (planning). As they begin constructing (drafting), dialogue with their peers (refining) result in additions or omissions (editing) to their creations. When the creations are completed, students step back to enjoy their masterpiece(publishing). Through block play, students internalize the steps for producing a piece of writing.
In MYP, strategic board games help facilitate the development of the traits of writing. As students get to know the theme of the game,the ideas trait is supported as players find out the main message of the game. When students come up with a gameplay to outwit the other players, the students develop the trait of organization as they follow the sequence of their plan. The dialogue between players supports the development of conventions, practicing features including usage and sentence formation. Following the gameplay also involves the use of precise language surrounding the game (word choice) and students impart a personal tone as they develop the voice trait. The cadence, power and rhythm in the way the players strategically interact with each other develop the trait of sentence fluency.Playing strategic games supports and develops features for quality writing.
Play is serious work. Without play, we risk raising writers who do not adequately develop the foundation and strategies to support the development of their writing from a craft into an art. The power between the relationship between play and writing suggests that this is the way we learn now. Without play opportunities, we are in danger of raising less competent and confident writers. An emphasis on play does not detract from academic learning but actually enables students to learn (Bodrova & Leong, 2003).
From the day we first opened our middle school, parents have asked us the same question over and over: where do our kids go after 10th grade? We can now say with pride that our students will have an opportunity to complete their studies at VIS.
Beginning in the fall of 2016, Vilnius International School will open 11th grade with grade 12 to follow in 2017. VIS will do this by adopting the Cambridge International Exam Programme (CIE), also known as A levels.
After careful analysis, the School leadership, with approvals from the Board and Council have determined that CIE is the best fit for a small school like ours. It has a flexible curriculum and it allows for greater speed of implementation than the International Baccalaureate (IB)programmes. CIE allows us to maintain the same principles of teaching that you have experienced in our IB PYP and MYP sections. Most importantly, CIE is compatible with our values and mission.
On behalf of the Board of VIS, I hope that you are as excited as we are to begin this next step in our development.
Director, Rebecca Juras
To learn more please click below:
Summer is upon us but it is not too late to celebrate our thriving service learning programme. Over the course of the 2014-2015 school year every VIS class has taken part in at least one service oriented action.
The VIS Service Learning Programme led by Mr. Jasper in the PYP and Ms. Irma in the MYP has helped our teachers and students to engage in actions to support initiatives at home in Lithuania and as far away as Sierra Leone. Senevita has come on board as a new service learning partner for VIS. Our relationship with them has brought new energy and opportunity to the programme.
Senevita is a care home for senior citizens located approximately 20 km from Vilnius. Over the course of year, five projects have taken place at Senevita. The first was a holiday visit from the Pandas and Ms. Laura’s first grade students who read aloud to their new friends and distributed handmade cards and candy.
The next visitors to Senevita were grade 8 students who integrated service learning with Ms. Diana’s visual arts course. Students were paired with a senior citizen and together they sketched the outline of what later became a collaborative painting about the life of their elder collaborator. It was a wonderful opportunity to bridge the experience and wisdom of our elders with today’s youth. The opportunity for intergenerational friendships are increasingly rare and the potential for lost knowledge and skills can’t be underestimated. This trip allowed us to celebrate the wisdom of generations past.
Grade 5 continued to promote an ethic of care for the elderly during their Exhibition action. They discovered that their new friends at Senevita were interested in communicating with students, rather than being entertained by them. This inspired Marija, Kornelija, Elena, Adomas and Liepa to participate in morning exercises and a Nordic walk with their new friends. Back at school, they set up a waffle station during break to raise money to outfit a relaxation room for them. The grade 5 team, together with the funds raised at Kaziuko Muge last March, was able to contribute a total of 1074 Euro to Senevita.
The final action of the school year involved the organization of a sports day for the seniors. The event was facilitated by grade 7students. It was so successful the kids hope to make it an annual tradition.
Thank you all for your commitment to our community initiatives!
VIS looks forward to seeing primary and middle school students and their families on September 1st at 10.00. When you arrive you will find a shiny new surprise on the playground. You can also look forward to improvements in our school gym. Sorry, it is not a regulation size football pitch!
The following new staff members just jumped on board our train: Grade 3 – Ms. Jessica McColly, American, most recently posted in Ghana. Grade 4 – Ms. Lezlie Faber, American, most recently posted in Bangladesh. Turtles – Ms. Jenny Wong-Powel, Canadian, most recently posted in Sri Lanka. Science/Maths – Mr. Matthew Duquette, American, most recently posted in Ghana. PYP music – Ms. Indre Kukulskyte, Lithuanian, background in ethnomusicality.
VIS is pleased to welcome our new PYP Coordinator, Colin Powell, to the VIS community. Colin is joined by his wife Jenny (our new Turtles teacher) and his two young children. Colin’s experience in international education is as deep as it is broad. He grew up attending an IB school in Tanzania among a family of educators and carried the torch into his professional life. Colin has taught primary school in Malaysia, China and Sri Lanka.
Jenny Wong-Powell is originally from Canada and has followed a similar career path throughout Asia. Jenny is also in the midst of completing her PhD. dissertation entitled “An inquiry into the diverse biographical histories with play and its effects on play in early childhood education.” The timing couldn’t be better considering VIS recently won NordPlus funding to support research in the assessment of play with partners at a Russian language kindergarten in Finland.
Kangaroo Powell and Panda Powell look forward to making friends at VIS and having fun in the snow!
Over eighty VIS students participated in the 10 year anniversary celebration of Lithuania’s membership of European Union by configuring an EU flag. Our school had a special mission – to put up the yellow umbrellas imitating the stars of the EU flag. Overall, 1000 students from 40 schools participated in the event.