The inauguration of Heritage International School in 2017 was a novelty in the educational market in the Republic of Moldova, as it came with a more modern, innovative air and the curriculum was not known in our country. Implementing the IPC was a big challenge; we wanted to include our youngest learners and both the English and bilingual sections of the school.
For the classes where subjects are taught in English, we could easily adapt and implement the IPC. The challenge was to accomplish this in the bilingual classes, which follow the national curriculum. Learning takes place in the native languages of Russian and Romanian; English is taught as a second language. Teachers had to implement the IPC while respecting all the requirements of our national education system. Cross-reference research was completed where experts from our institution identified the common learning goals between our national curriculum and the IPC. From this starting point, we were able to achieve our aim of a mixed curriculum.
To implement the IPC and develop students’ ESL competencies, it was decided to select six units for each academic year. We selected units to inspire children’s curiosity and motivate them to discover more about the world. The biggest challenge was how to ensure we improve learning when teaching the themes in a foreign language. Cooperation between ESL and homeroom teachers was needed to develop students’ holistic perception of the world and to show children that what they are learning is relevant beyond their English classes, it is related to the challenges and reality of the world around them.
All the IPC units are created to guide learning and encourage learners to ask themselves relevant questions. They know that they are going to do research work, investigate, collaborate, and try to find answers to achieve a common goal. They learned to apply their language skills from the very first unit where they study with ‘Brainwave’. While students learned about the brain and how it works, they developed language skills using vocabulary specific to their milepost. This enabled them to talk about their knowledge and express their understanding of the theme.
In the 4th grade unit ‘Myths and legends,’ we learned about types of stories and how people used these to explain natural phenomena through IPC and language lessons. During language learning, students discovered that many countries have similar stories, legendary figures or mythological creatures that are connected to shared areas of the human experience. For example, a spirit that takes care of the house when people are not home or while they are sleeping, in Moldova it is called “Spiriduș”, in Slavic traditions such as Russia and Ukraine it is ”Domovoy”, “Hob” in Northern England and “Kobold” in Germany.
Children were so impressed that they decided to make their own superheroes which would help not only their country but the whole world. Through the ESL, Romanian and Russian lessons they learned about the structure and features of legends and myths, reading stories in different languages. They reinforced their knowledge by studying other World mythology in the IPC tasks.
A major success is seeing children being curious about research or impatient to present their findings and share their learning with their peers. Our students like helping each other and praising each other’s work; but our favourite moment is when they celebrate not only the result but also the learning process. Another achievement is when they realise that the theme connects learning across the subjects including ESL, Romanian, Russian, Mathematics, and Science etc., this is the moment they understand that all these pieces are parts of a whole.
Learners enjoy sharing their experiences with parents and siblings. They look forward to planning the Exit Point, so they can present their new knowledge, demonstrate their skills and share their deepening understanding. They use their newly acquired English for the Exit Points when they invite the community to share in their findings and view projects.