By Nick Yates, ISB Communications
Modern educators agree about the power of teaching on real-world issues. Everyone from kindergarten students to global leaders knows the biggest issue facing the world right now.
At the International School of Beijing (ISB), Grade 9 classes have been creating research plans and gathering sources that a social scientist could use to investigate Covid-19 and its effects. In Asia and the World – a social studies unit that develops students’ ability to think conceptually about regional connections, they took on the role of a UN researcher aiming to answer compelling questions on this most impactful of topics.
Wednesday saw the culmination of this project as students revealed “digital museums” based on their work. With slides, websites, and brochures, they presented their findings to peers and other museum visitors from around the school. They will be assessed not only on the content of their work, but also the presentation and its ability to engage a variety of audiences.
Christina L looked at how China and the United States’ response to Covid has affected travel for education and universities’ enrollment. Her museum delved into economics with case studies of how a decline in travel, particularly among the important Chinese market, has changed the business of education.
She said she was attracted to the topic because she has an older sister struggling with the decision of whether to return to college, as well as other family members thinking about university. “Because we were looking at real-world examples, we got to learn a lot about different fields of social studies,” said Christina, explaining how studying an issue close to home gave her valuable research materials and motivation.
Benjamin Z’s museum focused on the question of how different cultural groups’ contrasting attitudes to mask use have affected the spread of Covid-19. Interested in citizens’ sense of civic virtue, and what effect this has, he looked at news reports and statistical analyses on China, where mask use is common, and countries where people have protested wearing masks.
“This is an important topic because it relates to global economics and the health of whole populations,” according to Benjamin. He said the project had a personal impact as he had initially been sceptical about mask use, and that it had been an exercise in appreciating different points of view on something.
“I learned about the importance of government and how they direct their citizens,” said Naen K of her investigation into Covid’s impact on migration in America. “We learn more through presenting to each other than we do through just listening to our teachers.”
Open to anyone on campus who wanted to attend, this digital museum was an example of a gallery walk, a practice ISB uses a lot to allow learners to see how other students are solving problems and be inspired by their achievements. Students across the school have become experts in exhibiting the products of their learning publicly, engaging audiences with creative products, fascinating presentations, and deep questions.