IGBIS Newsletter, Issue 255.

IGBIS International Day 2021 - Quilt

Anne Fowles

By now you should all have heard that IGB International School, along with other international schools in Malaysia, will be open for all grade levels on March 8, 2021. Our principals are contacting parents with details for reopening Grades 1-9 and the surveys to complete in advance. This of course is already working successfully for Fireflies to Kindergarten children and Grades 10-12, but we understand that parents of children in other grade levels may have concerns. Therefore we have organised for online meetings with parents to explain the steps that we are taking and answer any questions. Elementary School grade level meetings took place today (Friday) and these have been recorded so that parents may check the recordings if they couldn’t make it to the meetings. A meeting has been arranged for Secondary School parents on Monday March 1st starting at 8:30 am. 

Rest assured that we have many systems in place for keeping our school sanitised, practising social distancing and wearing of masks. Practices have also been established for students to work (and play) in bubbles with limited access to others and we continue to undertake weekly COVD testing of a cross section of our staff. But we are always open to suggestions and ideas for improvement. If you have any further questions, please do not hesitate to contact one of the principals or myself. 

It has been wonderful to see the interest in International Day. I have heard that there are a wide range of performances, book reading, cooking and so on with videos being sent to our team here. I am looking forward to seeing it all come together.

Simon Millward

On Wednesday 24th February, I attended the G3 Children’s Summit presentations. A group of Grade 3 students decided that they wanted to represent IGBIS in the upcoming AIMS Children’s Summit being hosted by Nexus International School on 4th March. Unfortunately only two students can represent each school, so the pressure was on to write their own oral presentation and speak to the community about: 

How can we best support our own well-being during the pandemic?’  

The students had to prepare and deliver a speech that was 1 minute in length. Ms. Natasha guided the students in this process, however the students had to spend a significant amount of their own time to write and practice their speeches.

The culmination of this process was the presentations on 24th February. The quality of the speeches were very high and if you closed your eyes and just listened to the presentations you would not have realised that these were our Grade 3 students, as they were speaking with such insight and maturity. For some students, writing and presenting took them out of their comfort zone and they really had to be risk takers to complete this.

Well done to all of those who took part and thank you to those who attended the summit to support the students.

Ms. Natasha, Ms. Nikki and Ms. Rachel had the unenviable task of having to choose the two students from IGBIS who would represent the school. After much deliberation and discussion I would like to congratulate Téa Millward and Suhaan Chhabra for being selected to represent IGBIS.

As we prepare for all of our grade levels to return to school on 8th March for physical learning you will have received an email that includes the health declaration form and the choice form (between face to face and distance – blended learning). In addition to the information sent by email I held question and answer sessions on Friday 26th February with all grade levels from G1 – G5 to help alleviate any concerns and to address the precautionary measures we are taking as a school to enable our students to return to school as safely as possible. These should be completed by Monday 1st March.

Dates for your diaries

  • 8th March: Students in all grades can return to school. (Option for distance learning too).
  • 13th March: International Day 10.00 – 11.45am

Sandy van Nooten

Week seven of semester 2! This was the first of 5 full 5-day weeks. I’m sure everyone will be looking forward to some rest over the weekend.

The Grand Reopening. We can’t wait to have most of our students back in the building from Mon 8th March.

Next week, we will run a virtual meeting with Gr.6 to 9 parents, to discuss our plans for reopening school for these grade levels. This meeting is from 8:30 to 9:30am on Monday 1st March. After the meeting, parents will be asked to let us know if their child will be online or face-to-face for the foreseeable future. 

Gr.12 Mocks. Our Grade 12 students have finished 3 out of 8 days of Mock exams. I hope students are able to show us what they know so we can work on gaps and re-teaching where necessary. A reminder that Gr.12 students with 2 exams can only leave campus between their exams if picked up by a parent or driver. Next Fri (5th March), students who are behind in CAS will be required to come into school. Ms. Parratt will let students and parents know if they are expected in school.

Gr.11/12 Scholarships – Magnus and I had the pleasure of interviewing scholarship candidates today. We look forward to welcoming some of these students to Gr.11 next year. 

ISTA – Gr.11 Theatre students took part in ISTA (International School Theatre Association). ISTA is a not for profit, registered charity that has been bringing together young people to learn through theatre for over 40 years. ISTA events immerse young people in an experience where they can make theatre, learn about theatre and learn through theatre. The theme of the conference was ‘Togetherness’. At no other time has the notion of ‘togetherness’ been more poignant. The two main workshops were protest theatre and Laban.

  • Protest Theatre: Every culture has its own way of protesting, and every protest is a kind of performance. Songs and dances played an important role in the anti-Apartheid struggle in South Africa. In this workshop, students saw how the culture of activism can help create political theatre. They experienced how political messages can be communicated using the power of bodies and voices.
  • Laban: Using the work of Rudolf Laban, this workshop was designed to help students to make brave choices with Action, Effort, Space and Time. They play, laugh, connect and leave the space with a new understanding of how we move and how we can adapt our movement to develop ourselves as performing artists.

Here are a few images from one of the online workshops. Congratulations to our Gr.11 students. The feedback from the ISTA organisers was (like you) very impressive.

Lennan MacDonald

If you were walking through the desert and happened upon a lamp, and in polishing that lamp a genie emerged and gave you, not wishes, but a choice whether for the rest of your life you would be happy or rich – which would you choose? 

Hands down my favourite lesson to teach every year revolves around Shawn Achor’s Ted Talk on ‘The Happiness Advantage’. I’ve long felt that happy students learned better – I’ve known it in my bones, but this Ted Talk explains the science as to why happy children learn better. You see the reason we feel happy, ever, is largely due to the presence of the neurotransmitter DOPAMINE, who is really the hero of this story. Dopamine, the neurotransmitter that floods our brains when we laugh or even smile not only causes us to feel joy, but also turns on all of the learning centers in our brain making us more effective learners.

Here Achor explains how traditional ways of measuring success are ‘broken and backwards’ because we think if we work hard we’ll find success and then we’ll be happy. It sounds reasonable, which is why it is so popular in schools and business and parenting styles all over the world. It just seems to make sense. The problem is our brains work the opposite way. If they are happy we will work better and therefore be more successful.

If DOPAMINE is the hero of this story, STRESS is the villain. While DOPAMINE makes your brain more efficient, STRESS has the opposite effect. The happy human brain has been determined to function 31% better than a brain at negative, neutral or stressed. That’s a lot of percent. In the MYP that can be the difference between a 4 and 7. Now these are not universals, they are averages and all of us deal with stress differently. That is true, but the real bonus at the end of this Ted Talk is Shaun gives us a recipe, how in as short as 28 days we can actually program our brains to be happier. To up the DOPAMINE and drop our STRESS levels.

It is a strange thing though as I call you back to the desert and the aforementioned genie. Most of your children choose happiness, and those that don’t, choose money because they think it will make them happy. I bet most of you chose ‘happy’ too. But here’s the rub (pardon the pun), if I told you I would give you $50,000 for doing one act for 2 or 3  minutes every day for a month – you would all do it. Mr Achor gives you the same offer, only his reward is happiness, the one most said they would choose over the money – but so very few make it the 28 days. Maybe one in a hundred students complete this task. Will you? The video is here and his recipe is too. Enjoy. If you do you’ll be happier and smarter too. 🙂

Rob Pendlebury

Grade 7 Visual Arts students have been exploring photography in their unit ‘Art All Around Us”. Students studied British ‘Nature Artist’ Andy Goldsworthy and learned how to find beauty by looking at everyday objects in creative ways.  We learned about framing, camera angle, depth of field (focus) and saturation. We also employed the ‘Principles of Design’ concepts including rhythm, balance and unity.

Grade 11 students have been learning about Art history by studying and presenting on different art movements. When pieced together these presentations give the class a perspective on how art movements influence one another as well as the world around them. Part of their presentation includes painting a portrait in the style of their study.

Adam Gagan

The IBDP History students discuss how authoritarian leaders came to power. At IGB International School, our students focus on three: Adolf Hitler, Chairman Mao and Benito Mussolini. Our Grade 11 have just completed their research on the first of these leaders and are discussing the key events which made him chancellor of Germany in 1933. 

Today’s task allowed the students to see the bigger picture. The events and some key figures were given to the group and they had to determine if Hitler came to power through predominantly political, economic, military or social means. 

They concluded that most were political factors although decided that many of these could link to the other factors too.

It was important for the group to collaborate for this exercise so they can see other perspectives. This is a crucial skill to succeed in history and Individuals and Societies.

In addition to identifying the causes, students are also expected to judge if the leader came to power by their own actions and talents (intentionalist argument) or if they were put into power because of society (structuralist argument). This was the subject of a Grade 12 lesson on US President Biden which was explained in the November newsletter.

The class clearly decided that society produced Hitler. For the final stage of this exercise, the students must identify the perspectives of either historians or individuals/groups who were living at the time of the leader. In an essay, they must also discuss why these views are / were held and possibly analyse their value and limitations to the study of the leader.

Mark Parratt

When it comes to PHE, it is common to want our children (mine included) to ‘be’ active. To ‘do’. To run. To play. To play games. To be ‘off screen’. To burn off steam. To get their heads straight. To clear their heads. To get fitter, get muscle, and skilful, and in the process become courageous, brave, a team player and resilient.

But often, we find less excitement in hearing about our children learning ‘how’ to play, how to train, how to practice, how to make a plan, how to strategize, how to transfer ideas, how to apply knowledge, how to use reflection wisely. 

The ‘doing’ and the ‘being’ is very important. Essential. But we must recognise that doing it is mostly related to the present… to the ‘now’… instant gratification or benefit.  The ‘how’ is just as important. It is more related to developing skills and knowledge that helps a little bit now, but more in the future. 

Our role as Physical and Health Educators, and as IB teachers, is to educate not just for now, but also for the future, so we are part of a community that helps develop a student with lifelong learning skills. 

With that in mind, our students will often be participating in PHE classes whereby they are solving a problem, and trying to answer questions or respond to challenges. This leads to inquiry and deeper thinking and using skills to investigate. Inquiry and thinking can take time, and can sometimes look like ‘nothing’, until it looks like ‘something’.

Today, that ‘something’ was our Grade 10’s critically thinking about the connection between our structure and function, training and performance, and then putting it into action in their own training, where they applied really effective practice and skill acquisition methods, and were on the go for about 45 minutes. They filmed, and will not only use the film for both demonstrations of ability and ability to apply knowledge, but also for reflection on progress. Knowing the number of body parts, the order of body parts, the type of joints, the joint actions and muscle structures are all factors in developing force, or in seeking accuracy, or a balance of both, and completing an effective shot, smash, serve, throw, hit and etc… in-game situations requires careful manipulation of these factors, and they were trying to put that knowledge into action. The penny dropped today. I could see it. It was only the tip of the iceberg, but I could see it.

The students were responding to the questions ‘How can understanding structure and function help us perform better?’, and ‘How can understanding structure and function facilitate critical thinking?’
So at the end of the day, when you and your children debrief the day, after asking ‘What they ‘did’?, also ask  ‘What connections they made?’, ‘What problems they solved?’, ‘What questions they answered?’.

And try this for a challenge.

Ruth Spracklan

March brings IGBIS a new House challenge!

Wouldn’t it be great if we could see the world? Isn’t it frustrating that we cannot travel to see the sights? Well, let IGBIS House system take you on a journey! 

All you need to do is strap on your trainers and get moving! Every time you take a walk / jog / run, simply record your distance and submit the evidence. Every km moved helps your House in travelling the world! You will need evidence to support your submissions, a screengrab from a fitness / tracking app or a photo of a pedometer / sports watch will be sufficient. (Photos of yourselves are great too but sadly not evidence of how far you have actually moved!). Only the whole km’s completed can be counted, so if you walked 7.92km then you can only submit 7km as your distance.

Try to add evidence daily rather than in one go as this will keep the totals more accurate.

Every week each House will see how far they have walked and the milestones achieved. So what are you waiting for? Get those trainers on!

The full information can be found on the House splash page, please check here for more details!

Nurse Azilah

Now that we are returning back to school again in March,  we would like to remind and share some tips that you can do to support your children coming back to IGBIS. 

Deciding whether to send your child back to school 

Reasons to attend school include: 

  • Your child learns best when physically at school.
  • Your child benefits from seeing peers and other school activities, such as Physical Health, Arts and Music. 

Reasons to avoid physical return to school: 

  • Your child (or someone living at homes such as a parent or family relative) has an underlying condition that increases the risk for severe illness from COVID-19. 
  • The level of community spread is high in your area (which increases the risk of COVID-19). 

Back to school tips 

Here are some tips that may be helpful as the school restarts, whether or not your child will be returning to school physically or virtually. 

Social connections 

  • Continue to encourage your child or youth to stay social with their friends and peers. This will help them feel more connected by the time they get back to school. Ideally, this involves face-to-face connections outside, as per COVID-19 physical distancing. 
  • If they can’t meet face-to-face, try a video call or even write a letter to a friend. 


  • Gradually get back into school year structures and routines. Bring up the topic that school will be restarting.
  • Talk about routines. You might say: “Hey guys, with COVID-19, you’ve had a lot more screen time than usual, but now that school is starting up again, we’re going to get back into our old routine… ” 
  • Set a bedtime (and/or wake up time) and start moving the time suitably towards bedtime and wake up time in the morning.
  • Set a screen curfew (a “downtime” after which point there are no screens). For example 6.30-7.30 pm(depending on grade level).
  • Consider posting a family calendar with the school start date marked down, to help your family see how many days are left until school starts. 
  • Ask about routines to continue. “What new COVID-19 routines would people like to continue during the school year? For example, regular family walks after dinner; family dance night and etc…

Supporting and helping your children cope

  • Stay connected to your kids. Kids do best when they feel loved by their caregivers, which happens when you spend quality time with them and listen, validate and empathize with their feelings (as opposed to seeing adults as being angry, upset, and emotionally unavailable to them). 
  • Model healthy coping. Kids do best when they learn healthy ways to cope with adversity, such as following public health recommendations with masks and physical distancing (as opposed to unhealthy strategies such as focusing on negatives and blaming). 
  • Attach positive meaning to the pandemic. Kids do best when they can have a positive meaning of a situation. You might say: “On one hand, this pandemic has not been easy. On the other hand, we’ve been able to have a lot more fun times together. And learn new things such as how to cut each other’s hair!” 

Ease your child’s worries 

Does your child seem to have excessive fears and anxiety about COVID-19? COVID-19 restrictions (such as restricting parents from entering the school) may lead your child to feel more isolated. 

  • Ask about their fears, and try to reassure or problem solve. Ask: “What worries you the most?” 
  • Validate and accept your child’s feelings about the situation. You might say: ” “I can see why you might be feeling (insert your child’s feelings here) about this.” 
  • Give your child a sense of control. 
  • Explore in more detail. Try to listen without interrupting. Say: ” “Tell me more…” 
  • Try giving your child a sentimental object that reminds them of you, e.g. a photograph, a special piece of jewellery, etc. Or perhaps a small favourite toy car or stuffie. 
  • Leave earlier than usual. Whether you are driving, or simply dropping your kids off at the bus stop, this will give you more flex time 
  • Consider working a shorter day on the first day back, so that you can pick them up earlier on the first day back until they get used to the new routine. 
  • Establish a goodbye ritual. When it’s time to say goodbye to your child, give them a final hug, kiss, say goodbye, and talk about when you’ll see them next. Don’t just say “Goodbye!”, but bridge the separation by talking about when you will see them next. 
  • Have you dropped off your child? Try to take some time just for yourself, whether it’s going for a walk, to the coffee shop, having tea with a friend, or just going home to nap. Breathe a sigh of relief and savour this time. 
  • Check-in with your children about how the day went. If your child isn’t ready to talk, then ask them later when they are ready. You might ask: “How did your day go?” “How did it go with wearing your mask and keeping away from people and all that?” “What was hard, what was easy?” 
  • If they are sad, validate the sadness: “I can see you are feeling sad and it’s ok to cry. I’m going to miss you too.” Offer comfort like a hug or offering a tissue. 

Last but not least:

Check your child for these symptoms before they leave for school.

  • Check a symptom only if it has changed from usual or baseline health.
    •  37.4 degrees temperature or higher(consider rechecking after a few minutes).
    • Sore throat
    • Cough (for students with chronic cough due to allergies or asthma, a change in their cough from baseline)
    • Difficulty breathing (for students with asthma, a change from their baseline breathing)
    • Diarrhea or vomiting(to be in school, the last episode of either diarrhea or vomiting must be 24 hours before they can return to school).
    • Pink eye or conjunctivitis 
    • New onset of severe headache, especially with a fever

If your child HAS any of the symptoms above:

  • Keep them home from school
  • Consider whether your child needs to see a healthcare provider and possible COVID-19 testing. 
  • Contact your child’s homeroom teacher or the school clinic to keep us updated

If your child does NOT have any of the symptoms above:

  • Send them to school as usual.

Let’s help keep our school community safe.




Adam Morris

There is a massive trend with online learning in the last few months, where teachers are building their learning materials online, and schools around the world like ours are benefiting.

Google Workspaces

The last time I wrote in the newsletter I talked about some of the new features available through our Google services. Here I am, yet again, previewing some of the amazing things that developers have cooked up.

The following are in some cases features that are either readily available right now, or soon will be.

  • More Teacher Control, such as muting everyone
  • Ability to create breakout rooms ahead of time
  • Classroom Meets can have co-teachers

Check out Google’s feature page for more information. Rollout dates are not listed, but we’re already seeing some of these trickling in!


Over the holiday, some of the elementary students had a particularly annoying glitch with their computer while they were learning with their teachers. They couldn’t use their chat room to send messages, and it was quite difficult to solve. It kept saying “Unable to connect” and it wasn’t clear how to solve it.

But it was fun to troubleshoot!

We had so much fun, in fact, we started a new school club: GeekSquad.

Our IT HelpDesk is available to help, and some kind of help, like installing programs and ensuring your device works, really needs to be the IT HelpDesk. Not all such computer problems are big ones though. 

Wouldn’t it be nice to have a group of people you could ask when there’s a glitch, though? Someone who knows technology a bit more than you do. Or maybe they heard something that will explain it. 

That’s what this club is for, for members to hone their skills, and for others to benefit as they can solve problems for them.

For any students that are interested in joining this lil club, please check out the “Contact Us” section.