When going on our mushroom hunts in the forest, we always go with an intention in mind. Here are some of the different intentions of our hunts:
-Sketch mushrooms in the forest
-Use clay to shape mushrooms we find
-Check on the growth of the mushrooms we have found previously
-Dig up mushrooms and mycelium to grow in our tub
-Looking for a particular species of mushroom (ex. Fly Agaric, Bedla)
-Learn from an expert such a Ms. Jarka
-Follow the Kindergarten guidebook to see if we can find Dog Stinkhorn mushrooms
-Explore a new area that we have not been before to see if we can find mushrooms
-Find out if mushrooms can grow, even if it is cold outside
Our mushroom journals have gone with us on many mushroom hunts and are filled to the brim with a variety of mushroom sketches.
The Divoká Šárka forest is a short walk away from our classroom. As a class, we visit these magnificent woodlands once a week. This was a perfect opportunity for a community research project. After our first visit, we took it upon ourselves to explore more deeply a traditional Czech favorite – mushrooms. It gave us a common language to speak in these beginning weeks of school. We made our individual contributions come together in discussions, mushroom guide books and our watercolor and sculpture filled mushroom garden. The final stage was using our powers of imagination to create our own species of mushrooms. What began as a single mushroom discovery in the forest in August grew into a three month project of discovery, research and artistic endeavors.
Through this project the children have learned :
-To record and add onto scientific research over time
-How to observe and notice details in small objects
-How to compliment and notice details in other’s work
-How to use other’s expertise to help themselves
-To share new specimens, relevant stories and photos with classmates
-How to question the unknown
-How to share their skills and abilities with others
At the beginning of the school year, faculty in one Kindergarten class designated a large expanded block area where children could build together on a large scale with opportunities for small intricate work. This area consisted of a light table and a small table for design and drawing. The purpose was to empower students to explore how small simple shapes fit together to make complex designs. They provided big wooden blocks, small pattern blocks, and small translucent pattern blocks.
This area evolved into the Kindergarten City! Students started designing and building and while faculty observed children’s social interactions. Faculty then discussed community through what they noticed through the students’ interactions. Faculty facilitated class meetings before and after project work to discuss and make decisions on how to move forward. While the children were provided with the space for children to create alone, beside each other, and collaboratively, the students decided they had created a city! Watch the full story of the Kindergarten City
Reflecting a belief that people’s beliefs and passions can inspire and sustain learning, connecting them to the wider word, Grade 5 students at ISP engage in the Personal Inquiry Project (PIP), which is an independent inquiry into concepts and topics which have been chosen by each student.
The purpose of the project is to celebrate and showcase the inquiry skills that students have learned throughout their time in Elementary School, explore and area of study that they are curious about and to engage in an independent inquiry over a sustained period of time.
When learning is passionate and personal it sparks motivation to create solutions, research, then take action and make a difference. Topics that students choose are hugely diverse and reflect what each individual student is passionate about. Topics in the most recent PIP, to name but a few, included; Sports and Careers, Technology and the Brain, Endangered Animals, Birdwatching, Refugees and the Homeless, Technology Helping the Future, Medicine, Chemistry and Allergies, and The Power of Sleep.
During the PIP project, students formulate questions that sustain a eight week inquiry, research topics using a variety of sources, write a research paper and present their findings to the ISP community (parents, faculty, staff and students from across the school) at the
Many students will undertake further research and inquiry into their chosen passion outside of the PIP itself. Throughout the process students need to identify skills and behaviours that they feel are helping them to achieve their goals and ones that are more challenging. Students also work in teams with classmates who are passionate about similar or related topics and they support each other in their independent inquiries.
Assemblies are perhaps something that everyone remembers from school. However, what is different in ISP Elementary Gatherings is that they are entirely student organised and run!
The ISP Elementary Community refers to these bi-weekly times together as “Gatherings” over “Assemblies” because students are not simply sitting and being spoken to, but rather actively engaged as part of the leading and sharing.
Gatherings are typically organised by students working in four teams; Music Leadership, Technology, the Student Council (STUCO) and Roots & Shoots (a group which was founded by a group of students who care deeply about conservation and ecological issues) who jointly prepare the agenda.
Each gathering has many components; with there being announcements or presentations from classes. There is always a book read at every Gathering, in this instance, the Principal selects the book but it is read to the audience by students. Also an integral part of every Gathering is Kids of the International School of Prague (or KISP), this is a presentation about a student’s home country, which again, is entirely student designed and delivered.
Another integral part of Gatherings is the Vozembouch! All new students stand up as the audience and ISP Principal Dr. Vega and Ms. Zalba pound the Vozembouch on the ground three times while saying “Welcome to ISP”! A culture of inclusion and a sense of belonging is highly valued and celebrated with this standing tradition.
Overall, teachers play a facilitating role in Elementary Gatherings. Students take the leadership role, and in doing so helps create a sense of safety and belonging for all of our Elementary community and beyond.
This project allows Grade 3 to think about the city where they live and are introduced to concepts such as diversity, change and social organisation in the context of what makes Prague and other places the way that they are.
Students are asked to consider the factors that influence the development of a place over time, such as geography, people and demographics, resources and what qualities make places unique.
Students look at several elements of understanding what makes a place unique and are encouraged to think about architecture and landmarks, stories and legends, art, history and even food. Students are also mentored to consider how cities are planned and managed through visits to historic places in downtown Prague. Groups of students visit Malá Strana, Vyšehrad and Václavské náměstí (Wenceslas Square) along with teachers and other experts.
Based on these field trips and what piqued the individual students’ own interest, students are supervised while carrying out independent research where they are encouraged to ask questions and make connections on what they have seen. For instance Dongha compared Prague Castle with the Gyeongbok Palace in South Korea, their home country.
Each student researches a different place in the world they are interested in learning more about about then create a presentation or model to help explain their research. Then they each give a speech sharing their information and how it connected to what they studied in Prague. Ultimately all students present about their place be it a Prague landmark or another place in the world. Students paraphrase the information so it is in their own words which is quite challenging (and rewarding!) for 8-9 year olds.
Elementary and Middle School Students produce weekly news shows for student, parent and teacher audiences! The bulletins are shown on
The news shows are almost entirely student devised, filmed, produced, and presented. Students hold weekly brainstorming to come up with ideas and discuss topical events around the school which are covered by the student media teams.
Working on Falcon Student News give Elementary and Middle School students an area where they can be creative and take ownership. Working on the news show also nurtures communication, confidence, and digital storytelling skills. Student collaboration, listening to others and teamwork are also absolutely vital to the success of the production. Faculty and Tech coaches play a mainly mentoring role, offering guidance and technological support to students, who learn film, editing, production, and how to use various types of equipment.
Elementary Students love producing the shows so much that they typically produce the show outside of school hours as part of an
The purpose of this project is to stimulate curiosity in Grade 2 students on forces and motions, on how forces change, and how energy is produced through forces.
At the outset of the project the students research and experiment how forces work and what influences them. One example of how they do this is through experimenting with how objects react to different types of friction. The students learn about motion and speed, through using a toy car on a variety of surfaces, such as plastic, carpet, artificial grass and many others, and recording the results.
The students continue their experimentation through being allowed to freely experiment with materials after being informed of the aim of the project – which is to create a “roller coaster”, essentially a marble run which students are tasked with making run right across their classroom. After the students initial experiments, they are coached by their teacher and classroom aides to review what worked and what didn’t, both in terms of the physical rollercoaster and teamwork and comm unication.
Following their first attempt, the students then develop new plans, which incorporate calculating the materials they need to make the project work, how different parts, such as the joints will work.
The idea of perseverance, and realising that it can take multiple attempts, mistakes and experiments is key to learning throughout the Roller Coaster Project. Also fundamental is learning about teamwork and respecting other people’s ideas.Grade 2 students were ultimately successful – as you can see
This Spanish-Visual Arts collaboration, based on the festival of El Día de Muertos (Day of the Dead), has its roots in faculty discussions on how to take learning for Middle School students beyond the dimensions of the traditional classroom setting. In this project students used Spanish in a comfortable, safe environment and worked on their unique artistic interpretations of the ‘Calaveras’ (skulls) while analyzing and considering the use of some of the traditional decorative elements.
This collaboration, from the perspective of the Spanish teacher, is an opportunity for students to practice all aspects of using the Spanish language as they also learn about culture and make cross-curricular connections. Moreover, students did not only have the chance to learn about common cultural celebrations amongst Spanish-speaking countries, but they also reflected on how art plays into celebrations from their own cultures and discussed the similarities they found.
The Visual arts teacher emphasizes that this collaboration is about integrating visual expression into learning across disciplines. Cross-curricular connections such as this allow for students to engage and challenge themselves to notice and apply their skills of visual expression in variety of real-world contexts outside of the Art studio. Combining visual expression and the study of Spanish language and its culture is an obvious opportunity for students to be intrinsically motivated and creative in their learning.
Another benefit of this project is that students with different levels of Spanish proficiency and learning styles collaborated, which gave them opportunities to practice their Spanish in a relaxed and safe atmosphere. The students, as well as the Spanish and Visual Arts teacher now look forward to showcase these ‘Calaveras’ and reflections with the ISP community. Take a look at the final exhibition of the Calaveras here.
The school year of 2018/19 is an historic one for the International School of Prague, as it saw the 70th year anniversary of the school and the 100th anniversary of the formation of Czechoslovakia. To mark these anniversaries, Grade 6 learners reflected on the 100th anniversary of Czech (and Slovak!) nationhood, and in doing so, gained an enduring understanding that events have causes and consequences, location influences the development of individuals and communities and that significant events and individuals impact the course of human history. Students also investigated how the past impacts on the present, how location helps shape people and communities and the significance of events and people.
Students investigated significance, cause and effect through the context of their own lives, world events and the history of ISP’s host country, and focused on understanding the present through the lens of the 100 years since the formation of Czechoslovakia.
Students worked in groups researching a decade between 1918 and 2018 and ultimately showcased their learning at an exhibition their displays and presentations highlighted significant individuals and events of each decade.Through this unit students gain knowledge on; the key events in a person’s lifetime, geography and timeline vocabulary, key events and influential individuals in world, the physical and political geography of Europe and of the Czech Republic, Slovakia and other neighbours and the key events and influential individuals in Czech history.
In the Eco Toys and Tools project, Middle School students students are encouraged to be curious and innovative in the ways that they discover science. Students are approached by the CEO of “local firm” Eco Tools and Toys (ET&T), to collaborate in teams to design and construct an electrical device that meets what the firm’s customers need.
Students are tasked to design and manufacture the tools/toys that only use electrochemical cells (batteries), solar power, hand-held generators, solenoids, or are fruit/vegetable-powered. They are also tasked with using as much repurposed or upcycled materials as possible. Students cannot create toys and tools that must be plugged into wall outlets, use large batteries.or use chemicals that are hazardous to the user or the environment.
This project allows students freedom to explore and innovate in the study of electricity science class. Students have come up with a dazzling array of products, notably students created a talking teddy bear, a light-up basketball hoop, a battery operated boat and a revolving disco ball. Students find this approach gives them a passion for being inventive but importantly, teaches them about the importance of teamwork, perseverance, and even research (students interviewed ISP Elementary students and Maintenance staff to find out what makes the perfect toy or tool).
In Middle School, learners’ curiosity drives what and how they learn. A good example of how students drive their own learning is through Middle School Electives. Rather than the Elective topics simply coming from areas which teachers know about and are comfortable with, Middle School faculty and administrators gather data from students to find out what they are interested by and passionate about. This puts students in the driver’s seat of their learning, with a teacher or other adult acting in the role of mentor.
The result of this process is that students have voice and choice in the wide array of options they have for in-depth learning. Middle School Electives have over thirty options for students at ISP to choose from, including; High Intensity Interval Training (HITT), Cardboard Art, Claymation, Creative Writing, Duke of Edinburgh Award, Fantasy Geopolitics, Introduction to Sign Language, ISP TV, Mythbusters, Stress Less and Yearbook. Students can also choose Personal Exploration to follow their own interests individually. In recent times, one student with a passion for architecture chose to design his own dream home, with the help from a parent in the community who is an architect, whereas another followed his interest in aeronautical engineering to design and build his own functional mini-aircraft.
In many cases, Electives are a learning experience for teachers as the topics are decided by students, faculty learn alongside students while playing a facilitating and mentoring role during the in-depth learning of the electives, which takes place four times every two-week cycle as well as on ‘Stretch Days’, allowing students to really take ownership of topics that they are passionate about.
Not long after the outset of the school year, Upper School students at ISP are given the opportunity to spread their wings beyond the confines of the campus. During Week Without Walls students spent important learning time in new environments while building relationships with their fellow Upper School students.
The programs have been built around opportunities to develop lifelong skills, be involved in a service opportunity or to combine learning a useful skill with exploring an area. Students of grades 9 through 12 mix together and choose from a variety of activities within the Czech Republic and outside of the country. Week Without Walls is not a week without school, that means that attendance on these trips is mandatory for all students.
Students can choose from a vast range of learning opportunities in the Czech Republic and further afield. 2019/20 offerings are: The Arts of Florence (Italy), Into the Wild (Klet, Czech Republic), Cook Like a Chef (Prague, Czech Republic), ISP Cares: Active Local Service in Prague (Prague, Czech Republic), Discover Diving Italy (Santa Margherita, Italy), London: From Page to Stage (London, UK), Discovering Morocco (Morocco), Mind, Body & Muscle (Prague, Czech Republic), Edinburgh (Edinburgh, UK), Mountain Village Retreat (Bohemian Switzerland, Czech Republic), Experience Modern Art (Prague, Czech Republic), Explore Prague (Prague, Czech Republic), Farm2Table (Chrastice, Czech Republic), Happy Caravan Greece (Lamia, Greece), Portugal: Service Beyond SURFace (Lisbon area, Portugal), Hiking in the Italian Dolomites (Tre Cime, Italy), Puppets/Marionettes Making Workshop (Prague, Czech Republic), Safari in Tanzania (Tanzania), Sketchbook Venice (Venice, Italy), Wind and Water (Lipno, Czech Republic).
For more details visit the
Language Week is a week-long celebration of the linguistic and cultural diversity of ISP’s student body which comprises over 60 nationalities! Language Week is a series of week-long learning, music, guest speaker presentations, drama performances, and much more, all of which are student run.
Language Week is primarily focused on culture, and sees language as a gateway to cross-cultural understanding. The week-long festival has become an important Upper School tradition at ISP, the first language week having taken place in 2005. Every school year sees a different overarching theme. In 2018-2019, for example, the theme was Love, while previous years were organised under the themes of Home, Bridge, Lost and Found in Translation, or Silent Voices, which featured guest speakers from the Czech Sign Language Association.
Language lessons are predictably a key part of Language Week. What is particularly special is that faculty, who play largely a mentoring role during language week, learn about a new language along with the entire student body. Students present introductory lessons on around fifteen different community languages.
Students are joined by faculty and external speakers who typically contribute to Language Week in addressing an audience of all Upper School faculty and students in their native language or languages.
A key characteristic of Language Week is that it is entirely student run. A core team of around twenty students organise the week, with 100 overall with some direct involvement, typically through presenting, teaching or performing. They work together to deliver a festival that celebrates diversity and touches every Upper School student and staff and many, many more within and beyond the ISP Community.
See a snippet of Language Week
A topographic map made of sand, changing color in real time as you dig and reshape the landscape? Sounds like an exhibit from a science or technology museum – but this project was constructed by students at ISP.
The Upper School Engineering Club, one of dozens of after-school activities available to Upper School Students at ISP, chose to build what they called the Augmented Reality Sandbox. The project took the students over a year to construct, and they ultimately showcased their Augmented Reality Sandbox in a series of demonstrations to the school community, taking in all sections of the school, Leadership, Faculty, Staff Parents and visitors.
How does it work? A 3D-sensing camera is pointed at the surface of the sand, and sends depth information to a computer, which processes and color-codes the image, which is then projected back onto the surface of the sand. When a student digs in the sandbox and the depth changes, the color-coded map changes to reflect the new topography.
The delighted responses of all how took the time to check out the Augmented Reality Sandbox show how curiosity and persistence are rewarded at ISP.