Postcards from Practice: CIM


Author: Ben Hren

Head of ACS Centre for Inspiring Minds

research schools international

At ACS International Schools, we’re committed to developing the best teaching and learning practices. As part of this, the ACS Centre for Inspiring Minds (CIM) aims to transform the ways we understand teaching effectiveness and improve learning outcomes through action research.

Action research is based on practical classroom experience. At CIM, we invite teachers and educators to come forward with ideas on how to either improve a ‘problem’ they have identified within the teaching and learning experience, or an idea which can lead to the delivery of better teaching and learning.

Postcards from Practice

This year, CIM presented a Celebration of Learning, entitled Postcards from Practice, where project leaders fed back on current research. Postcards from Practice provided a glimpse into our CIM projects and the journey behind the action research taking place here at ACS.

We welcomed forty guests, including Board members, school leaders, teachers and staff members from all four ACS schools, to listen to presentations by this year’s CIM project leaders, including:

  • Fran Bidwell and Ginger Haag on Competencies for Global Citizenship
  • Brianna Gray and Jacob Rosch on Talking in Class
  • Jane Fox on Native Language Enrichment
  • Chris Hupp on Outdoor Learning
  • Deanna Milne on Assessing Student Reflections
  • Laura Mullertz on Advocacy for Student Learning
  • Alex Read on Technology Integration; and
  • Dale Taylor on Mission Skills Assessment.

The event showcased for the first time the unique CIM process which roots research in teacher and students’ daily learning environments. Everything we do within CIM is student-centered, challenging all of our project leaders to think about students’ needs; what we can do to help them learn and grow in the best way they can.

Outdoor learning – Case study

To give you an idea of how our projects work, Chris Hupp’s outdoor learning project focuses on education outside of the classroom walls, in our ACS school grounds and beyond. The project aims to develop resources that support the use of outdoor spaces for learning, such as the ACS Cobham Tom Tent and the nature trail, and develop exemplar teaching units for outdoor education, which foster academic growth and students’ social development.

As part of the on-going project, we’ve seen students listen to traditional legends underneath our Tom Tent, a large tepee set in ACS Cobham’s woodland area, to immerse them in a unit of social studies, and others make use of a Magic Garden to work out soil volumes and seed ratios in maths lessons. Whilst engaging more deeply with the wider environment, we’ve seen these outdoor education practices lead to higher student engagement, participation and enjoyment.

Research Schools International

We were also very fortunate to welcome Dr Christina Hinton from Harvard Graduate School of Education (HGSE) to Postcards from Practice, as we develop a partnership with Dr Hinton’s Research Schools International (RSI) initiative. RSI bridges the gap between research and practise in education alongside researchers from schools and universities around the world, including ACS. In the first year, The CIM/RSI partnership project developed an action research methods course for ACS teachers and CIM programme evaluation tools.

research schools international

As CIM looks to the future, it is committed to contributing to the collaborative culture of life-long learners at ACS. We look forward to expanding the range of opportunities for participation in projects and to working with a growing number of learners – of all ages.

If you would like to learn more about CIM and our research projects, visit the CIM website.

Ben Hren

Head of ACS Centre for Inspiring Minds

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