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Osaka International School



The Educator

              Jan. 16, 2009




John Searle    

Head of School   

Welcome back to everyone. I hope that you all had a restful holiday. With the school year well under way I am looking forward to seeing you all in the coming days and weeks and continuing our work together in developing our programs and school life.

There is rarely a lull in activity at OIS, and the first months of 2009 will be no exception. In the period up to the spring break, we will have our middle and high school parent teacher conferences, music recitals, three major sports tournaments, student council elections, IB diploma presentations, spring camps and in-service days. In addition, the seniors’ year gathers pace as they prepare for their exams and work toward their service goal of building a school in Cambodia. During this period, a committee of teachers and the administration will be working on the mid-term accreditation report with the Western Association of Schools and Colleges, which is due in April. This report must include input from parents and students and the committee will be contacting everyone in the next few weeks about this. The WASC accreditation process is one tool we use to continually move the school forward toward consistent excellence, as it provides us with an opportunity for an honest and open discussion of our priorities at this time. The Parent Teacher Association starts their new term of office and I look forward to working with them in their support of our programs. We will be meeting representatives of catering services with a view to obtaining the best possible food situation within the school, and I hope the PTA and other interested parents can assist with this. The PAC parent group will meet to discuss the progress made in the merger talks with Kwansei Gakuin and I will be arranging a parent coffee meeting to talk about specific school developments. All of this and more takes place in the context of busy school days and the day-to-day work carried out by teachers and students in the classroom, which in itself must be of a consistently high quality and rigor. Everything that happens works toward the mission statement of the school. Since most of the time at school is spent in the classroom, this is where much of the work toward ‘contributing to a global community’ is realized. 

With all this activity at the beginning of a new calendar year, and as we approach the end of the first decade of the 21st century, I would like to pause and consider again what we are striving to achieve by contributing to a global community. This might be best illustrated by two stories that were published in the Guardian newspaper during the winter holiday. The first was of a medical breakthrough concerning the birth, in the UK, of a baby girl whose chances of inheriting breast cancer have been significantly reduced through a process of embryo selection- a form of genetic modification. The second story reported on the climate change meeting in Pozan, Poland. The article concluded with the disappointing news that despite the targets of the Kyoto Protocol, carbon emission is on the rise and the claim that we have approximately 8 years before climate change becomes irreversible. One is a story of great hope, and the other, a story of an unsolved problem.

Today’s world is a mixture of opportunities in communications, media, technology, science and medicine on the one hand and difficulties with the conflict in the Middle East and its global repercussions, the economic turmoil that has engulfed much of the developed world, global poverty and the continuing climate change situation on the other. These serve as a powerful reminder of the interconnectedness of events, the need for innovative thinking and the importance of international education in preparing our students for such a world. Our students are in a unique position to move successfully into this global society because of their schooling and lives, and be part of shaping the future over the next decades and thereby contribute to a global community.

Again welcome back to school and I wish everyone connected to OIS the very best for the 2009. Let’s continue a great academic year.



Gwyn Underwood

Middle and High School Principal

Happy New Year! I hope you all had a relaxing holiday, and enjoyed time with your friends and family. It has been nice to return to school to smiles and relaxed students and faculty, eager to continue with their learning for the next part of the school year.

We advertised our upcoming Parent-Teacher Conferences in our last Bulletin and we are looking forward to seeing you all next Monday 19th or Tuesday 20th. I have included further details about the conferences in an information letter attached to this Educator, so please take the time to check over the details. If you cannot make the conferences, you can either use the contact slip attached to the letter to request a time to contact your child’s teachers for an update; or feel free to contact the teachers directly for feedback. Please note these conferences are held in lieu of the written progress reports we send home mid fall and spring trimesters; with the exception of PE, who still give a report as students change sports and teachers at this point in the trimester.

What are Approaches to Learning (ATL), and why are they so important?

You will no doubt have heard of the acronym “ATL” by now (I certainly hope so!), but some of you may still have questions about what it really stands for. Here is a quick review!

Ø       The MYP uses five Areas of Interaction (AOI) to provide a vehicle for developing links between all MYP subjects. They help focus on important concepts, encourage students to embrace and understand connections between the subject material and the real world; and facilitate students becoming critical and reflective thinkers. Approaches to Learning (ATL) is one of these 5 AOI! (The others are Health and Social Education, Community and Service, Environments and Human ingenuity.)

Ø       ATL can be best explained as a tool which ultimately leads to students taking responsibility for their own learning. These three simple guiding questions are what ATL is all about: 

    §       How do I learn best?

    §       How do I know?

    §       How do I communicate my understanding?

Ø       ATL is more than simply good study skills, however. It involves these areas:

    §       Organizational skills, study practices and attitudes towards work

    §       Collaborative skills

    §       Communication

    §       Information literacy

    §       Reflection

    §       Problem solving and thinking skills

    §       Subject-specific and interdisciplinary conceptual understanding

Ø       At the highest level, these skills, knowledge and attitudes lead on naturally to Theory of Knowledge (TOK) in the Diploma Programme (grades 11 & 12).

Ø       ATL (as with other AOIs) are not assessed formally in subjects, but are incorporated into all subjects at appropriate stages. They are also an integral part of the personal project in grade 10, where they are assessed to a certain level through the Personal Project.

Ø       Approaches to learning helps students acquire transferable skills: it fosters positive values and attitudes, leading to the development of purposeful and effective habits of mind.

I hope this gives you a better idea of what ATL is, and why we use it! If you are interested in learning more, please don’t hesitate to ask next time you see me or Ms. Rennie, our MYP coordinator; or check out the IBO website I am happy to report we are also currently undergoing a report card review, and one proposal we are developing is to give more ATL-type feedback on report cards (currently we have one Effort and Attitude grade). This will assist in identifying ATL areas you can support as parents, thus furthering your child’s ATL skills!

I would like to inform you I will be away next week from Tuesday afternoon through Friday, serving on the MYP authorisation team to a school in Tokyo. Opportunities to serve on committees such as this are valuable professional development opportunities as they allow one to get to know the programme standards extremely well, in addition to providing detailed observations of how other schools set up their programme. Thus while I like to limit being away from school too often, such opportunities are a valuable way I can learn about ideas that may be transferable to OIS! 



Rod Adam    

Elementary School Principal  


When on holidays, I always like to spend time browsing in bookstores, especially in the education and parenting sections. This holiday season I noticed that there are many new books* dedicated to a recent phenomenon in Western education - “over-parenting”.

Starting at the earliest ages parents are tempted to buy programs that will give their children a “head start”. Baby Einstein, a subsidiary of Walt Disney, produces DVDs for 3 months and older children. Because babies at this age cannot even sit up or focus their eyes, parents are holding their children up in front of the TV monitor. Nursery and pre-schools in the United States are under pressure to replace playtime with reading- and math-readiness training.  As they continue their elementary education over-parented children typically face not just a heavy academic schedule but also a strenuous program of extracurricular activities along with special-skills summer camps. After-school activities are thought to impress college admissions officers.

When a student goes off to college, over-parenting does not stop. Many parents are editing their children’s papers by e-mail, some are tracking their children’s movements by giving them cell phones with GPS monitors, and a few parents have gone so far as to buy a second home near their children’s college.

One of the causes of the over-parenting trend mentioned by various authors is global insecurity. As the world economy becomes more integrated, students will need to compete with others from around the world, not just their fellow students. Another development that pushes people into over-parenting is the “brain plasticity” research of the nineteen-nineties. This research states that the infant brain is sculpted by the child’s experience and the amount of stimulation it receives. This leads some parents (and marketers) to conclude that if some simulation is good, more will be better. Later research provides no support for this – the average baby’s environment provides all the stimuli he or she needs. More importantly, as children explore their environment by themselves (making decisions, taking chances, coping with an anxiety or frustration) their neurological equipment becomes increasingly sophisticated. If on the other hand, children are protected from trial and error learning, their nervous systems will not develop as well.

What is the predicted end result for over-parented children as they become adults? Having been taught that the world is full of dangers, they will be risk adverse and pessimistic. By excessive hovering, parents will have prevented their children from developing the very traits – courage, flexibility, outside-the-box thinking – that are required by the modern world.

At OIS, the school’s learner profile encourages students to be inquirers, open minded and risk-takers. Let’s support our students by providing the freedom and the opportunities to achieve these important attributes at home as well as at school.

*A Nation of Wimps: The High Cost of Invasive Parenting by Hara Estroff Marano (Broadway)

Under Pressure: The New Movement Inspiring Us to Slow Down, Trust Our Instincts, and Enjoy Our Kids by Carl Honoré (Harper One)

Men to Boys: The Making of Modern Immaturity by Gary Cross (Columbia)


On December 15th, the Elementary School Mis-Matched Clothing Day raised ¥27, 024 in support of the SOIS Schools2Schools project spearheaded by the OIS seniors. The senior class members visited elementary classrooms this week and explained their goal to help build a school in Cambodia. There will be many other opportunities for the OIS community to support this worthy project in the upcoming months.


Last Friday, eleven Japanese language teachers from other schools in Japan visited OIS to take part in a PYP Job-a-Like Session. Throughout the day, the teachers discussed and shared common interests, learned about the OIS Elementary School Japanese program, observed a PYP planning session and observed six different elementary school Japanese language lessons. Feedback from the visiting teachers was very positive and centered on the high quality of the classes. There were many comments on how well the students were engaged, focused and well-behaved. Many thanks to Osako Sensei, Dr. Coombs and all of the ES Japanese teachers for organizing this very successful event.


With financial support from the PTA and the help of many parent volunteers, the Reading Counts program has been a real success. Over 1200 library and classroom books have been added to the computer system by eight parent volunteers. Once the information has been entered there are achievement tests available for each of the books, so students can independently track their progress. Additionally, the program suggests a number of other books that we have in the library that are at the same reading level. Many students and classes have set reading goals this year. Ask your child to share his/her progress and goals with you.



Our next PYP Information Coffee Morning will be held on Thursday, January 29 at 8:30 am in the Third Floor Conference Room. See you there.


Simon Parker

Athletic Director

Important Upcoming Dates : 

January 16th/17th
JV Basketball Tournaments @ Yokohama

January 23rd/24th
WJAA HS Basketball Tournaments
Boys @ Osaka

Girls @ Nagoya

January 30th/31st
DRAGONS Invitational Boys Basketball @ Yokohama
SABER CUP Invitational Girls Basketball @ Osaka

HAPPY NEW YEAR to the whole community from the Athletic Department. We hope you had a wonderful Xmas and were able to enjoy a good break with family and friends. We are already back into the swing of things on the sports front and our HS Basketball teams were in action last weekend against KIU, both teams enjoying good wins to kick off 2009. We are now entering perhaps the busiest 6 week period of the year for sports, with our Basketball teams travelling across Japan this month as well as us hosting two big events here at school. To get a full check on all the details for all the upcoming weekends action please check out sportsweb at

We are looking forward to having one boys tournament followed by one girls tournament this year to round off the season - please come on down to the gym at school to support the teams!

We will be hosting 10 students from Seoul International School at the end of the month. They will be arriving on Thursday January 29th and will depart after the Saber Cup Tournament on Sunday February 1st. We would very much like to house our guests with members of the school community here to show them some real Osaka hospitality! If you can help out by homestaying a couple of student visitors for those three nights could you possibly drop me a line at school on 072-727 -5050 or by email to Many thanks in advance for your help with this.


Help Needed for the Upcoming Boys Basketball Tournament and Saber Cup Girls Basketball Tournament !!!
SIS Hospitality Committee

We, the members of the hospitality committee of SIS are now preparing to entertain the coaches and the students from other schools for the Boys Basketball and the Saber Girls Basketball Tournament.

We are going to serve lunch for the coaches on January 23 and 24, and have a banquet dinner for the coaches and students on January 31.

In order to make these events more successful, it will be wonderful if you could come to help on January 31 or donate any snack or dessert. The donation can be homemade or store-bought. Please see below for the details.

Event Dates, What Is Needed, When & Where to Bring
Jan. 23 (for lunch), Dessert or Snack, Jan. 23, 9:00~10:30 to SIS PA Room
Jan. 24 (for lunch),Dessert or Snack, Jan. 24, 9:00~10:30 to Cafeteria
Jan. 31 (for banquet), Help, Jan. 31, 15:00~20:00, at Cafeteria
Jan. 31 (for banquet), Dessert or Snack, Jan. 31, 14:00~16:30 to Cafeteria
For those who would like to come and help, please mail your name, grade and phone number to or fax in English or Japanese to 06-6463-1123.

We hope all the people who participate in this event will have a good time. If you have any questions, please contact Agnes Urakami to 06-6463-1123.



Peter Heimer

OIS Senior Adviser

·       Schools2Schools is a joint SOIS service project to build a school in rural Cambodia – helping others.

·       Hatha yoga is a form of yoga that works to balance the mind and body – helping yourself.

Why not combine the two? Mrs. Tomoko Bassett, grade 12 parent and yoga instructor, will hold Hatha yoga lessons as a fundraiser for the Schools2School project.

The lessons will be taught in Japanese and proceeds will be donated to Schools2Schools.

Please reserve a spot with Mrs. Bassett by e-mail:

Hatha yoga lessons, small gym, 14:00 – 15:15, 1000 yen.

January 26   

February 2   

February 9

The Schools2Schools name reflects the two-school nature of this service project as OIS and SIS work together to provide education for hundreds of Cambodian children – two schools together building another school. As we OIS and SIS students and staff and community work together to benefit Cambodian students, we enrich ourselves, too.

Schools2Schools was born of the energy, passion and commitment of the OIS senior class of 2009. Please help these 13 students as they raise 1.3 million yen to build our new sister school in Cambodia. Donations of any size are greatly appreciated.

To learn more, please visit and contact the OIS senior advisors, Tara Cheney or Peter Heimer.



Lyn Melville-Rea

Community Service Coordinator

Our students work alongside children from Sannoh Children's Center once a month to make onigiri and show concern for those living on the streets in downtown Osaka. Sannoh Children's Center also requests donations of "kairo" (heat packs), rice and rice coupons. Please call Lyn Melville-Rea (090)9612-8364 or (072)643-3743 if you plan to join us on Jan 17, Feb 7, or Mar 21.

Also, many thanks to those who donated sleeping bags, blankets, soap etc. in our December appeal. 



Hiroshi Baba

Triathlon & Running Coach

Saturday, February 28, 2009 @ Minoh-Shinmachi,

the northernmost part of Minoh City

Transportation: school bus from SOIS, free shuttle bus from Minoh City Hall, Hankyu bus from Senri Chuo


Family (Gr.1-4 with guardian(s), 5 people or under): 3km (1000 yen for each family)
Gr.5-6: 3km (500 yen)
Gr.7-9: 3km/5km/10km(optional) (500 yen)

Gr.10 & over: 3km/5km/10km (optional) (1000 yen)

Deadline: January 31
Email to "hbaba(at mark)" if interested.

(official site in Japanese only)



MS/HS Parent-Teacher Conference @ Library, 4:00 pm – 7:45 pm
MS/HS Parent-Teacher Conference @ Library, 8:30 am – 11:45 am
- MS/HS No Classes
- ES School in Session
IB Music Recital @ Music Room, 4:00 pm
SAT I & II Tests @ OIS
PYP Information Coffee Morning @ 3F Conference Room, 8:30 am

JANUARY 19 - 30
Lost & Found Display @ 2F Showcase Area


MON., January 19
Spaghetti Carbonara
TUE., January 20
Kitsune Udon / Japanese Wheat Noodle with Deep Fried Bean Curd
WED., January 21
Beef Cutlet
THURS., January 22
Teriyaki Hamburger
FRI., January 23
Pork Cutlet Rice Bowl
MON., January 26
Salmon Piccata
TUE., January 27
Hash & Rice
WED., January 28
Chinese Noodle Soup
THURS., January 29
Rice Bowl with Chicken & Egg Topping
FRI., January 30
Spaghetti with Basil & Tomato


John Searle, Head

Gwyn Underwood, MS/HS Principal

Rod Adam, ES Principal

Patrick Stenger, Counselor

Mike McGill, Admissions Director

Jim Schell, Business Manager

Peter Heimer, IBDP Coordinator

Natsuko Hasegawa, School Nurse

Student Attendance





Contact us

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For example: If a faculty member had the name John Smith, his school e-mail address would be: