ISD helps nearly 500 Peacevillage children stay warm over the winter

For the past 5 years, ISD students have been volunteering at Peacevillage/Friedensdorf International in nearby Oberhausen. Since the Vietnam era, Peacevillage has been a rehabilitation centre for severely ill and injured children from impoverished countries torn apart by war and conflict. Without help from Peacevillage, many of these children would not survive because medical facilities are not available or affordable in their home countries. Coming from countries including Afghanistan, the Sudan and Syria, approximately 500 children each year are sent to hospitals across Germany for treatment and surgeries. After their treatment, they make Peacevillage their home during physiotherapy and convalescence. Each year, ISD student volunteers lead educational and recreational activities for children while they are there. In addition, they collect food and clothing donations to make the Peacevillage experience as pleasant as possible for the children who are there. Amazingly, the hospitalisation and rehabilitation are funded almost entirely by donations.

This year, the ISD community has helped the ISD Peacevillage volunteers collect more clothing for the children than ever before. The ISD donations will help nearly 500 children stay warm in the cold German winter!

Vielen vielen Dank ISD families, your generosity is much appreciated!

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A visit from the International Community School of Addis Ababa

Educators from the International Community School of Addis Ababa visit ISD’s fifth grade co-teaching team and learning space

An exchange of experiences and theory were central to the meeting between the ISD fifth grade co-teaching team, Jessica Boerema, Brianna Caldwell, Tasman DeNieverville, Caitlin Howald, and Alecia Staples, and two of the teachers from the fourth grade learning hub at the International Community School of Addis Ababa (ICS), Crystal Thomas and Sabine Grecu. The ICS team was encouraged to visit ISD after a making a similar visit to the International School Ho Chi Minh city. The visit was further solidified after the ES principal from ICS met Caitlin Howald at the IBPYP conference in Vienna this year. 

When launching co-teaching three years ago, the ISD team focused on creating a shared model of the method. Since co-teaching looks different around the world, there wasn’t a specific blueprint to follow. The ICS team shared similar experiences, and both teams agreed that ownership among the teachers is critical to the model’s success. Another key component to a successful co-teaching program is support from the school, which both teams have in abundance. When these elements come together, a co-teaching team can help students build their own skills for assessing what they need and create student agency. 

As the ICS team reaches the mid-point of their first year of co-teaching, they were interested to understand how the ISD team has adapted its strategy to accommodate multiple student cohorts and learning styles over the last two and a half years. Most importantly, the ICS team was excited to see how the ISD team manages their learning space and lessons and to understand their key to dividing and conquering as a team of educators.

Both schools agree that the co-teaching model is best supported by the excitement of the students who participate in the program. Students are happy and proud to show off their learning space. At the end of the visit, the educators from ICS and ISD felt affirmed that their co-teaching models are working and are pleased to have peers around the world to use as sounding boards for the work they are doing.

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Transforming reality: ISD meets Roberto Fassone

On Thursday 29 November, ISD’s Visual Arts department welcomed the visiting artist Roberto Fassone.

Roberto conducted a full day workshop on creativity with the 11th grade Diploma Visual Art students. In this workshop he challenged students to engage with creative process through a series of game and rule based projects. Students utilized Roberto’s project “sibi” a customized software that he designed that acts as a random generator of criteria for making art works through the combination of medium, about-ness and title. Students received these instructions in small groups and had to collaborate in interpreting and creating a new work in a limited amount of time. It was a wonderful and enriching experience.

In the evening the ISD speaker series presented an artist talk by Roberto in which he focused on his ongoing research into creative processes and structures. In the talk he explored the ways in which we can play with and transform reality, using reframing strategies and changes of perspective. For those in attendance it was a valuable exercise in applying creativity to everyday life.

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TEDx IntlSchoolDüsseldorf 2018: Finding Value in our Waste

For the second year, ISD hosted a TEDx conference. Led and organised by ISD students, the ISD TEDx speakers were invited to reflect on the question: What’s Next? Students, faculty and parents provided many thought-provoking answers.

Sam Collins, an ISD senior and one of ten great speakers at the event, talks through the global issues surrounding plastic recycling and offers some local, ISD solutions to implement in the near future. He believes there is value in our waste.

To see more fantastic TED Talks from TEDx IntlSchool Düsseldorf 2018, visit the ISD YouTube page:


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The question of censorship

In the ISD Senior School Libraries, we are proud – and grateful – to have policies that safeguard freedom of information and access to a broad range of curriculum-based and personal reading materials. But what if we didn’t? During Banned Books Week every year we turn McWilliam Library policy on its head, and try to imagine a school library in which censorship were part of our students’ everyday education.

To bring censorship to life this year, we gathered a collection of books that have been banned or challenged in schools or libraries around the world. Some of them have been taped shut so that students cannot read them. Other books are displayed along with the reason that they were banned or challenged, with justifications ranging from violence, to portrayals of sex, to wizardry and the supernatural, and to controversial social issues. We have a small collection of new books this year that deal with the topic of censorship – so important in the digital age and at a time where so-called ‘fake news’ is so prevalent. We ask students to think about reasons for banning books, and whether they are justified.

We also have a range of essential questions for students to engage with:

Are you free to read whatever you like?
Should the ISD libraries stop you from reading certain books?
What does censorship mean to you?
Are there circumstances in which censorship is appropriate?

Why do we do this? The issues of free inquiry, intellectual freedom, and access to information are central to our desire to expose young minds to a wide variety of facts and ideas. We want ISD students to think carefully about the rights they have as students, so that these rights are not taken for granted. And by asking students to engage with this complex issue we hope to support the mission of the International Baccalaureate to create a better and more peaceful world through intercultural understanding and respect.

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Beginning together: refugees and ISD

Working with refugee children and their families to help them integrate into their new communities has provided two grade 12 students with a deeper appreciation of what it means to rebuild your life in a new country.

By Anna and Lexi

More in common than you might think

Members of the ISD community and the newly arrived refugees share more similarities than you might expect. Being a large community from over 50 countries, it is crucial that we think about how we can support not only people in faraway countries, but also our direct neighbours on Leuchtenberger Kirchweg.

Many backgrounds, one simple goal

It is easy to walk past the refugee centre and be unaware of the diversity – diversity of cultures, backgrounds and languages – that exists in such a small space. However, despite their differences, these people are all aiming at one common goal: to start a new, better life.

Providing a childhood they deserve

The Refugee Support Group is specifically targeted towards helping our young local refugees to integrate into the German community and to make them feel welcomed and included. Through monthly baking sessions or weekly German tutoring, movie nights, arts and crafts and sports events, we aim to support the parents in providing the little ones with a childhood they deserve. We love to hear the ideas of the children and to share with them our European traditions. We strive to share our experiences and culture, especially through the yearly Christmas gift exchange.

A rewarding experience

Being a part of such a privileged school community and working with the refugees, has demonstrated that the definition of new beginnings carries a different significance for all individuals. It has been inspiring to witness the proactive steps taken by even the youngest children in learning the local language and helping the new ones to do the same. With each visit, we are able to see how the harmonious and mutually respectful environment continues to develop.

Having the opportunity to be a part of the refugees’ new beginning has offered so much more than we initially expected; we have built new relationships, gained cultural insights and acquired a deeper appreciation of the lives we live.

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