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Approach to Teaching and Learning

Curriculum

At BFIS we are committed to a systematic and facilitated process for teams of teachers across the school to affirm, revise, and/or create curriculum. Through a formal curriculum review cycle our teachers explore research and current shifts in their subject areas and look for ways to improve and enhance curriculum, instruction, and assessment. 

Our curriculum is aligned to progressive standards that have been developed for schools in the USA and adopted by international schools around the world. 

Teachers are supported by our instructional leaders to create standards-based units of study using the Understanding by Design (UbD) planning process. We ask ourselves these critical questions when carefully designing developmentally appropriate units:

  1. What should students know and be able to do by the end of the unit? (Standards)
  2. How will we know that they have met these objectives/standards? (Assessment)
  3. How will students learn and practice the knowledge and skills throughout the unit? (Lessons, Activities, Formative Assessments) What will we do when they demonstrate mastery? (Differentiation, Enrichment, Extension) What will we do when they are not meeting the standards? (Differentiation, Support)
Assessment

Philosophy of Assessment: Sound assessment begins with WHY.

Purpose refers to the reasons we assess learners and how we use the information.  At BFIS, we believe that assessment serves multiple purposes. Consistent with educational research, we know that quality assessment practices do more than measure learning; assessment promotes learning.  We use assessment for both summative and formative purposes.   Summative assessments are carefully designed during the planning stages of a unit.  They are intentionally crafted so that learners can demonstrate their ability to meet the learning objectives/standards at the end of the unit.  The information is used to determine a learner's level of achievement. Formative assessments are used to identify where a learner is in relation to where they need to be in order to meet the learning objectives/standards.  This information guides learning and informs daily instructional practices.

It is the shared responsibility between students, teachers and parents to use assessment to support and guide the learning process in the following ways:

Purpose of Assessment

 

Assessment for Students

Assessment for Teachers Assessment for Parents and Guardians
Overall
  • Promotes a classroom culture of growth and continuous learning
  • Involves and motivates students as active participants in the learning and assessment process
  • Serves as a communication tool between student and teacher; student and parent/guardian about progress toward learning objectives
  • Promotes a classroom culture of growth and continuous learning
  • Informs planning and is used as a reflection tool for teachers to improve and modify instruction
  • Serves as a communication tool between parent/guardian and teachers and students about progress toward learning objectives
  • Fosters teacher collaboration and alignment of curriculum within and across grade levels (horizontal and vertical alignment)
  • Shares and celebrates student learning and creates a community that is focused on growth and continuous learning
  • Allows parents and guardians to become active participants in the learning process and fosters a strong school-home partnership
  • Serves as a communication tool between parent/guardian and child at home about progress toward learning objective
Identifying Assessment Criteria
  • Identifies the criteria and expectations for meeting the learning objectives
  • Offers multiple and varied opportunities for students to demonstrate knowledge, understanding and skills
  • Identities the criteria and expectations for meeting the learning objectives

  • Uses a variety of methods to evaluate knowledge, skills, and understandings in order evaluate progress towards learning objectives

  • Identifies the criteria and expectations for meeting the learning objectives
Monitoring of Student Learning & Progress
  • Provides opportunities to analyze and monitor their own progress over time

  • Stimulates reflection and self/peer assessment in order to become independent and self-reliant learners

  • Enables learners to identify strengths, areas of development, and strategies for improvement

  • Builds confidence and a sense of agency for self-reliant and independent learners

  • Provides opportunities for teachers to analyze individual and group progress made on learning objectives/standards
  • Makes clear students´strengths and areas for growth so that interventions may be implemented to support and enhance learning
  • Offers valid and reliable data that can be used to make decisions about curriculum and instruction
  • Informs parents and guardians about progress, areas of strengths, and strategies for growth for their child in relation to the learning objectives/standards

  • Shares evidence of student learning and growth

Providing Feedback
  • Provides prompt feedback on their progress towards learning objectives so that they know what comes next in their learning and how to act on it
  • Allows teachers to provide prompt and regular feedback for students with actionable steps to take in their learning

  • Offers feedback about who their child is as a learner, including effort and behaviors that may support or hinder progress

 

Differentiated instruction

Differentiated instruction is much more than simply teaching different content to different students. Rather, it is a philosophy of education that puts the student at the center of the learning process; supports the academic, social, and emotional needs of each child, and inspires students and enables them to reach their full potential. Differentiation is an approach that builds on the strengths of each child and guides and supports them in addressing and overcoming their personal challenges.

21 st Century Skills

It is clear that in order to prepare students to lead in a 21st century work environment, we have to provide a 21st century learning environment. Innovation and technology are providing new ways of teaching and learning beyond interactive boards and computers in the classroom, increasing student engagement and active learning.

To prepare our learners for college, career and life as engaged global citizens, our teachers design learning experiences and assessments that call for the application and transfer of 21st century skills. These skills include: critical thinking, problem solving, creativity, innovation, communication, collaboration, and leadership.

Small class size

Students in smaller classes perform better in all subjects and on all assessment when compared to their peers in larger classes.  Small classes involve students, encourage their participation and it allows teachers to know their students well to guide their growth and development. Small class size fosters sharing, empathy and teamwork.

Average class size is 18 students. 

Social-emotional learning

Social and Emotional Learning is the process through which children and adults acquire the knowledge, attitudes, and skills they need to recognize and manage their emotions, demonstrate caring and concern for others, establish positive relationships, make responsible decisions, and handle challenging situations constructively. These are the skills that allow children to calm themselves down when angry, make friends, resolve conflicts respectfully, and make ethical and safe choices. The BFIS approach to social and emotional learning is a two-fold approach that provides consistency within the educational program and also flexibility to differentiate when needed, developing effective instructional methods that are active, participatory and engaging.

Diversity and open-mindedness

AT BFIS the diversity of our student body, faculty and parent community- now comprised over 50 different nationalities  and cultural heritages- brings a rich  diversity of knowledge and experiences to the classroom, helping our students to appreciate and understand differences, as well as develop an open-minded perspective to create a more tolerant and respectful society.

Professional Learning

At BFIS we model and promote a community of learners. Our students are not the only learners on campus. Our approach to teaching and learning involves continuous growth and improvement for teachers as well.

BFIS faculty  members are committed to continually improving their skills and the instructional strategies they use to reach our students, and our school is committed to supporting their growth.

In order to support a diverse faculty charged with implementing a wide-ranging educational program, our professional development approach consists of four main components:

  1. In house workshops during our weekly Professional And Collaborative Time (PACT) and Professional Development (PD) Days.
  2. Personal PD funds that our teachers can utilise to self-select in order to grow in their professional goals.
  3. Cohort Model of Professional Development with other international schools in Spain and led by expert consultants throughout the world.
  4. Job-embedded and ongoing training offered by our instructional leaders, including coaches and curriculum leaders. This also includes a comprehensive teacher evaluation system, using the Danielson Framework, which has been adopted by many schools around the world.

 


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Learning in the XXI Century

"One of the things BFIS has given me is he ability to see things from a different point of view. We are taught to look at things from different perspectives and to think as global citizens, questioning what we know. Communication, team work, creativity, innovation, critical thinking are some of the skills I was able to learn and develop at BFIS"  - Ananya Ghemawat, BFIS student