Kognity • 10/07/2022 • 5 min read
Gunma Kokusai Academy
Meet James Taylor, an experienced history teacher, who joined the school in 2014 and took on the role of IB coordinator. James also teaches Theory of Knowledge (TOK). His colleague, Vinita Sharma, is a biology teacher at the school. Advanced IB curriculum can be difficult for native Japanese speakers and they were looking for support to teach the IB Diploma Programme to English as an Additional Language (EAL) learners.
Challenge: Teaching IB DP for EAL Learners
Gunma Kokusai Academy (GKA) is a private English-immersion school in Gunma, Japan. GKA introduced the International Baccalaureate (IB) Diploma Programme in 2011, and the school has approximately 40 pupils in each year, almost all of whom are native Japanese speakers, which can come with its challenges.
- Advanced IB curriculum can be difficult for native Japanese speakers
- In-class practice questions are hard to find
- Teachers waste time gathering resources to ‘flip’ the classroom
- Stressful for teachers new to IB courses
- Teachers having a lack of time to personalise teaching
- Tricky to track students’ progress
When James first started teaching IB at GKA, his Japanese students felt “a bit lost. The density of language in almost all Theory of Knowledge textbooks has been off-putting for most of our students. GKA also found that good IB exam questions can be hard to find, especially for maths and sciences. Many teachers relied heavily on past papers, which are a finite resource and can be outdated.
Entry points for all learners
The students appreciate the embedded videos that break down the text and give valuable context, giving crucial help to EAL students, says James. He continuous, “the explanations in Kognity are so much more concise, clear and direct than the other textbooks. It’s great to now have a resource that they can actually look at and understand. That is invaluable for schools in our position.“
“Kognity is absolutely wonderful for explaining some of the big questions, plus it explains all the ideas directly.”
James elaborates: “It’s absolutely wonderful for explaining some of the big questions, plus it explains all the ideas directly. Instead of inserting a quote in a textbook. Kognity might provide a Ted Talk, which puts it into context. It’s great for helping teachers to flip the classroom, especially with the assigning reading feature. Vinita agrees: “I particularly love the videos. Finding a suitable video can take hours. The level in Kognity is always perfect.”
“I particularly love the videos. Finding a suitable video can take hours.”
First-class resources to flip the classroom
With high-quality, accessible reading that is “worth their while,” the Kognity all-in-one teaching and learning platform engages students and encourages them to come to class prepared. Since Kognity tracks what and when students are reading, teachers get a good sense of which topics to dive into more deeply and which to review. Many of my colleagues have been tracking students’ reading time and adjusting their teaching based on that which is really helpful.
“Many colleagues adjust their teaching based on the analytics which is really helpful”
The first thing that caught our attention with Kognity was the large resource bank and practice questions, says James. There were a few questions in our old paper textbooks, but I much prefer Kognity’s questions adds his colleague, Vinita. He adds, they include statistical analysis and student progress, which is fantastic.
Saving time & lowering frustrations
A lot of frustrations come with teaching a new course. Teachers often wait for paper textbooks to arrive from overseas, which can complicate planning.
“It also helps teachers who are new to their courses, as it gives them confidence in lesson planning.”
James says: “The Kognity bundle subscription quality proved a bonus, it is extremely helpful because each teacher has a copy of the book straight away in the platform. It also helps teachers who are new to their courses, as it gives them confidence in lesson planning – it allows them to build more structure than paper textbooks would.”
Teachers love Kognity
When James conducted a survey, teachers “were unanimous in thinking Kognity was fantastic.” They loved the assignments feature, which tracks progress and keeps students “on their toes.” The interactivity and overall quality proved a bonus.
“I would highly recommend Kognity to other schools. It does so much more than a textbook. It’s just a hugely powerful resource.”
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