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Window into Learning

Follow our Assistant Head of School for Teaching & Learning on her explorations into learning at Concordia.

Concordia International School Shanghai - Genevieve Ermeling


Genevieve Ermeling joins us from Orange Lutheran High School where she most recently served as Chief Academic Officer. She and her husband, Brad, began their careers as educational missionaries at Urawa Lutheran School in Japan. She taught grades 1-5 and 10-12, developing curriculum and helping to create study abroad programs for faculty and students. Genevieve also taught and designed curriculum at the high school level in the United States. She has held several positions as a facilitator of teacher reflection, design of assessments, inquiry-based science teaching, and the use of data to inform teaching in multiple subject areas for elementary and secondary, public and private schools. She earned her BA and MA from Concordia University, Irvine. Genevieve is passionate about helping others grow and enjoys being a part of a team striving towards a goal. She and her husband, Brad, are excited to be a part of Concordia community!

Current View

THIRD GRADE MATH: "TWO ARE BETTER THAN ONE"

In my short time at Concordia, I have consistently witnessed in classrooms that our students are ready to help each other learn.

They view their peers as a source of assistance and knowledge, and this fosters organic collaboration.

In this third grade classroom, students created parallelograms, triangles, squares, rectangles, octagons, and irregular shapes. The teacher could clearly see which students demonstrated rigid or flexible thinking, as well as students who may not quite understand the concept of scale. Some students were chosen to display their notebooks and explain what they drew, making their thinking visible to the teacher to guide future instruction.

Concordia International School Shanghai Academics
Students measuring the perimeter of shapes.

As two of the Third Graders worked, one started measuring a new shape and noted that the measurement was not a whole number. They looked together and discussed if a side was 2 ½ or 2 ¼ deciding in the end it was 2 ¼. They then each solved the problem individually by adding up the sides, arriving at a different answer.


Concordia International School Shanghai Academics
Two third grade students working together in their practice/extension books.

“I got 3 ¾. What did you get?”
Um, I got 7 ½.”
“That's so different. Wow. How did you do that?"

What followed was a debate about who was correct – and a very reasoned debate from two young learners. They didn’t talk down to one another, yet each believed they were right. One student walked step by step through the problem, and about two-thirds of the way through, the other student realized his friend was right and they finished the thinking together. What a rich example of teaching & learning in action!

Not only did these young students demonstrate how to communicate through differences, they modeled the honesty and kindness necessary to share what you think and listen to another person’s ideas as you work towards a common solution. That’s education at Concordia – teaching & learning, wrapped in relationships.

At Concordia, one of our key learning outcomes for students is that they are effective communicators.

BEIJING 2016: “DISCOVERY BY DESIGN.”

"Discovery by design" is how I describe the grade 7 class trip to Beijing. All it takes is one look at the photo of students on the Via Ferrata to know some students are way out of their comfort zones. They are living out the “Seek Challenge” message written on the trip shirts they are wearing.

“I can’t go any further.”

“Yes you can. You can do it."
“I’m scared. Like, really scared.”
“It’s okay. Just reach out and grab the next handle.”

It is easy to see the design of learning through “challenge” at the Via Ferrata; less obvious, but no less intentional, are the discovery and learning fostered…

...through conversations among new friends on the Great Wall; setting up a tent and camping under the stars (or under a deluge of rain); challenge accepted!

…through visiting a small village and staying at Mr. Ge’s guest house; picking chestnuts and encountering amazing spiders; making new friends and buying fresh honey while searching for village landmarks; challenge accepted!

…through spending time in the Hutongs making tea and traditional food; creating a pen or pencil sketch in the art enclave; joining in dancing and exercise routines with very fit elders; challenge accepted!

Learning about ourselves and daring to ask and answer tough questions enhances what we learn in content and skills. Both are equally important and foster vital growth.

  • “Can I be brave when it is needed?”
  • “Am I willing to try something new, knowing I won’t do it well, yet?”
  • “Can I care about my classmate enough to see beyond things that may annoy me?”
  • “Am I willing to be uncomfortable and learn to grow through that discomfort?”
  • “Can I show grace?”

Discovery by design–about the world around us, about our community, and about ourselves happens daily, and intentionally, in the Middle School at Concordia International School Shanghai.

Discovery by design–about the world around us, about our community, and about ourselves. A quote from one of our grade 7 small groups on the final night sums it up well.

We learned that even though we are different, we can find things we have in common.the venti tribe
Concordia International School Shanghai - Rock Climb
Conquering the mountain–and fear!

AP COMPUTER SCIENCE PRINCIPLES: "A CODE TO FOSTER EXPLORATION AND COLLABORATION"

Walking through our library commons one day, I chanced upon students working together, coding and collaborating, designing new programs and applications as part of their AP Computer Science Principles course. In a video created at Concordia and posted online through the UTeach program at the University of Texas, our students share what this learning experience has meant to them.

Here are a few quotes from the video as a summary to give you a glimpse of the APCSP experience through the words of our students and university partners.

We have the ability to basically code anything.

We can use this knowledge to build new things in our everyday lives that can help us.

Creating a work-place environment, a café-type of environment where you’re free, is the same as representing your freedom in the course, your freedom to explore.
APCSP STUDENTS

The learning seen in our AP Computer Science Principles course is an example of the pioneering spirit and ethos of “Fostering growth and connection through learning” found at Concordia. It is the norm in many schools for new course proposals to languish as the question of how we can teach a subject well stalls progress. Teachers can be mired in administrative red tape or paralyzed by not knowing where to begin. Certainly course offerings should be carefully considered and a strong “first run” of the course be made possible through appropriate professional learning and course development. Yet, imagine if that question of “How do we teach this well so that our students learn?” was instead met with, “Let’s figure it out!”

At Concordia, we strive to respond with, “Let’s figure it out!” Our passionate teachers and commitment of resources make it possible to be responsive to many of our learners’ interests and needs, while adapting to the changing landscape of learning opportunities in our dynamic world. Teachers can design learning that elevates the growth of our already engaged and collaborative student body, and students can create friendships as they learn, growing holistically, one day at a time.

This video was shared with Alicia, the head of the UTeach Computer Science program at University of Texas-Austin, the university partner that was a resource in the design of this course. After watching the video, she shared with us that the video made by the students was amazing and made her tear up.

The AP Computer Science Principles class in Concordia is really "A Code to Foster Exploration and Collaboration".

Coming Views