Our goal in the Puebla American School Foundation is to form reflective thinkers who are committed to social justice and who not only understand the cultural, social, economic, and ecological issues of the day, but who propose and enact creative solutions for the good of the community.
Our sixth graders who participated in the STEM Circuits Workshop during the 2016-2017 school year, developed different proposals that contribute to the solution of some social problems, applying the basic knowledge acquired in Mechanics, Electronics, Physics, Mathematics and Technology.
One of the most significant projects created by the students was a water dispenser that solves the lack of potable water in some rural communities. This project was selected by Google Mexico as an example of how students and teachers are using technology to empower a rising generation of innovative change makers.
We invite you to watch the following video.
The Educational Technology Department of the American School of Puebla has purchased 20 robots in order to integrate robotics into the curriculum for Kinder 3 through Primary Grade 6 beginning in the 2015-2016 school year. These robots are designed especially for children ages 5 and above.
The children do a variety of age-appropriate activities as they control "Dash and "Dot," the small robots, using iPad apps.
These new members of the CAP community immerse the children in the world of programming and robotics thrrough play, and help them learn how things around them work. When students play with programming, they learn that codes become programs for telling machines what to do, and they discover and develop their own creative potential.
Our goal is to use robotics and programming to teach our students the vital 21st Century skills of critical thinking, problem-solving, creativity, innovation, and collaboration. These skills are part of our inquiry program PEP (PYP for its initials in English.)
–Sofía Velázquez Ramírez Llaca, Educational Technology Coordinator, Primary School.
In robotics class, teachers help students find solutions on their own and meet technology challenges head-on. This encourages students to question, think, and create. They in turn become more conscientious and take control of their own learning.
Knowing the basics of programming and robotics at an early age gives students the tools they need to succeed in a world where technology skills are essential.
The TOEFL Young Students Series Community Ambassador accreditation acknowledges the American School's contribution to the success of its English language instruction for their youngest students.
Only certain schools are eligible for this award, which accredits them as members of a highly select group. Member schools must administer the TOEFL Jr. exam to at least 200 students every school year.
This examination was crafted for students attending schools with an international perspective in non-English-speaking countries where English is the language of instruction. TOEFL Jr. is specifically adapted to the emotional and cognitive development of very young students for a more precise evaluation of their English mastery.
Graduates of the American School of Puebla Primary have scored the maximum of 900 possible points on this exam, which other schools administer to their graduating Junior High students.
The results of the TOEFL Jr. provide an objective measure of the English level of our students upon completion of Primary School that is recognized by institutions around the globe.
It is a fact, space matters!!
Flexible classrooms are complex, living systems
Studies have consistently shown that classroom design matters to how children engage, participate and ultimately stay involved in their learning experience (Fernandes, Huang & Rinaldo, 2011; Gremmen, Van den Berg, Segers & Cillessen, 2016 and Marx, Fuhrer & Hartig, 1999).
The California Department of Education (CDE) commissioned a study, which revealed that elementary students who participated in an outdoor science school raised their science scores by 27 percent.
In 2016, Steelcase Education funded a study, which showed that classrooms designed to support participative learning increased student engagement compared to traditional row-by-column seating (Scott-Webber, Strickland & Kapitula, 2016). Of course, it makes sense that if a classroom is intentionally designed to support different modes of learning, children are more apt to stay engaged – for example, individual study, group work, presentations, peer-to-peer discussion, and one-on-one instruction.
In 2008, Herman Miller carried out a study which revealed that “giving people some control over their surroundings adds to their sense of well-being.” Educators report that children take more ownership of the classroom (their classroom) when they can choose their seats and are given freedom to move around when needed.
Flexible Seating:Does it make the grade?
What I know for sure is that flexible seating is more complex than it sounds. If it was simply swapping desks for chairs, every contemporary teacher on the planet would consider it, but there are factors to consider such as: student’s age, teacher’s classroom management skills, special needs and/or mixed-ability students, and of course, the dreaded budget.
University of Salford researchers, in the United Kingdom, studied the effect of classroom design on academic performance on 3,766 British children aged 5 to 11. “We were trying to take a holistic perspective,” explained Peter Barrett, the lead researcher and now an honorary research fellow at the University of Oxford. “In other words, we were trying to look at spaces as experienced by people. So, this isn’t just air quality, this isn’t just temperature, or an effort to measure the factors separately. This is the whole lot together.”
The study looked at three dimensions of classroom design: naturalness (factors like light and temperature), stimulation (factors like color and visual complexity), and individualization (factors like flexibility and student ownership).
The big insight? Optimizing all of these physical characteristics of primary classrooms improved academic performance in reading, writing, and mathematics by 16 percent. The personalization of classrooms—including flexibility, which Barrett defined as “student choice within the space”—accounted for a full quarter of that improvement.
A few insights surprised even the researchers. Flexible, welcoming spaces had a startlingly large effect on learning in math—73 percent of the students´ progress that was attributed to classroom design was traced back to flexibility and student ownership. The reasons are a mystery, but Barrett and his team hazarded a guess: Academic subjects that provoke anxiety - in math, that’s a known issue - are better addressed in classrooms that feel comfortable and familiar to students.
And some of the air quality data came as a shock. Despite a 2015 Harvard study that showed steady declines in higher-order thinking when carbon dioxide levels exceed 500 parts per million—the gas is a by-product of human breathing, for those who’ve forgotten their biology—the researchers consistently recorded levels over six times that high in the classrooms they observed. That’s alarming—and fixable.
“If air quality is OK at the start of the class, it won’t be by the end unless you do something,” according to Barrett. “It’s an absolute fact. So, you have to open a window or a door. But you have to do something.”
Form, Function, and Flexibility
So, will lugging new furniture into your room improve student outcomes? Do Hokki stools and throw pillows drive up test scores?
The answer is no.
Barrett thinks it’s the old dictum that form follows function at work: Flexible classrooms are successful because they go hand in hand with a change in pedagogy. That conclusion never fails to emerge in teacher-led discussions on Edutopia. Flexible spaces, educators agree, alter the fundamental dynamics of teaching and learning, giving students more control and responsibility, improving academic engagement, and undermining the typical face-forward orientation of the traditional learning environment.
In other words, it’s not the inert fact of the furniture itself—the new couch in the center of the room or the standing desk near the window—but the dynamic use of the space by the teacher and students that pays, in the end. Changing the layout of your classroom will almost certainly have no impact at all—if you don’t change your teaching too.
The takeaway:Flexibility, combined with characteristics like acoustics and air quality, has a real impact on student achievement. If used properly, flexible classrooms produce better academic outcomes.
CAP Innovation and Curricular Design
Barrett, P., Zhang, Y., Davies, F. & Barrett, L. (2015). Clever Classrooms: Summary report of the HEAD project. Retrieved from URL. http://www.salford.ac.uk/cleverclassrooms/1503-Salford-Uni-Report-DIGITAL.pdf
Barrett, P., Zhang, Y., Davies, F. & Barrett, L. (May 2016). The Holistic Impact of Classroom Spaces on Learning in Specific Subjects. Retrieved from URL. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC5394432/
California Department of Education. (2016). Flexible Learning Environments. Retrieved from URL. https://www.cde.ca.gov/ls/fa/bp/documents/bestpracticeflex.pdf
Earp, J. (March 2017). Classroom layout - what does the research say? Retrieved from URL. https://www.teachermagazine.com.au/articles/classroom-layout-what-does-the-research-say
Healy, M. (October 2017). New Classroom Trend: Flexible Seating. Retrieved from URL. https://www.psychologytoday.com/us/blog/creative-development/201710/new-classroom-trend-flexible-seating
Markle, B. (October 2017). A 7th Grade Teacher's Shift to Flexible Seating. Retrieved from URL. https://www.edutopia.org/article/7th-grade-teachers-shift-flexible-seating
Merrill, S. (June 2018). Flexible Classroom: Research is Scarce, But Promising. Retrieved from URL. https://www.edutopia.org/article/flexible-classrooms-research-scarce-promising
Miller, H. (2008). Rethinking the Classroom: Spaces Designed for Active and Engaged Learning and Teaching. Retrieved from URL. https://www.hermanmiller.com/research/categories/white-papers/rethinking-the-classroom/
Walker, T. (September 2016). Farewell, Desks, Here Come the 'Starbucks Classrooms.' Retrieved from URL. http://neatoday.org/2016/09/23/ditching-classroom-desks/
Andrea Mastretta, a 10th-grader at the Puebla American School, will be a delegate to the Congress of Future Medical Leaders in Lowell, Massachusetts on June 23-25, 2019.
The Congress is an honors-only program for high school students who want to become physicians or go into medical research fields. The purpose of this event is to honor, inspire, motivate and direct the top students in the country who aspire to be physicians or medical scientists, to stay true to their dream and, after the event, to provide a path, plan and resources to help them reach their goal.
Andrea 's nomination letter was signed by Dr. Mario Capecchi, winner of the Nobel Prize in Medicine and the Science Director of the National Academy of Future Physicians and Medical Scientists to represent Puebla based on her academic achievement, leadership potential and determination to serve humanity in the field of medicine.
During the three-day Congress, Andrea Mastretta will join students from across the world and hear Nobel Laureates and National Medal of Science Winners talk about leading medical research; be given advice from Ivy League and top medical school deans on what to expect in medical school; witness stories told by patients who are living medical miracles; be inspired by fellow teen medical science prodigies; and learn about cutting-edge advances and the future in medicine and medical technology.
On August 2019 the Puebla American School welcomed a familiar face and beloved community member to the General Management Office: Ms. Donna Alene Swenson Durie.
She began her career at this institution as a teacher, also served as High School Principal from 2006 to 2017 and headed up the Innovation and Curriculum Design Department from 2017 to 2019. Not only is she an outstanding professional, she has always stood out for her values, human quality and attitude of service.
Ms. Donna has more than thirty years of teaching experience and has been a lecturer at various national and international forums talking about her investigations on the human brain, memory and learning strategies. She has also represented the school at events organized by the IB, the Association of American Schools of Mexico (ASOMEX), the Association of American Schools of Central America, Colombia, the Caribbean, and Mexico (Tri-Association), and the International Alliance for Invitational Education (IAIE).
Ms. Donna Swenson is an essential part of the CAP community, and we are sure she will lead this institution to a very bright future.
The Puebla American School Foundation recognized as a Common Sense School
Common Sense, the national nonprofit organization dedicated to helping kids and families thrive in a world of media and technology, has recognized The Puebla American School Foundation as a Common Sense School.
The Puebla American School Foundation has demonstrated its commitment to taking a whole-community approach to preparing its students to think critically and use technology responsibly to learn, create, and participate, while limiting the perils that exist in the online realm, such as plagiarism, loss of privacy, and cyberbullying. The recognition acknowledges our schools commitment creating a culture of digital citizenship.
"We're honored to be recognized as a Common Sense School," said Ms. Donna Alene Swenson Durie. "By preparing our students to use technology safely and responsibly, we are providing them unlimited opportunities to maximize and personalize their learning."
To learn more about the criteria The Puebla American School Foundation met to become recognized as a Common Sense School, visit https://www.commonsense.org/education/recognition-schools.
The Puebla American School Honor Society celebrated their 22nd annual Ceremony at the high school Gymnasium - Auditorium. The event initiated with the traditional Flag Ceremony followed by a greeting from Andrea Stella Navarro, President of the Honor Society. Xavier Gutiérrez Téllez, journalist, offered a speech to the audience and after we enjoyed the performance by the Symphonic Orchestra of the UDLAP. During the Initiation Ceremony, members proceeded to the lightning of the candles that represent the Four Pillars of the Honor Society: Academic Excellence, Leadership, Entrepreneurship and Community Service.
To end the ceremony, Ms. Donna Alene Swenson Durie, General Director of the institution, presented the diplomas and letters of acceptance. Also, Ms. Kimberley McFarland, High School Principal, shared a message to the audience.
The Puebla American School hosted the twenty sixth edition of the National Spanish Seminar, this annual event reunites teachers and coordinators of the different American Schools of Mexico (ASOMEX) with the objective of enlight the knowledge in terms of language, literature and culture. It also aims to share different techniques that allow the daily academic activities to be more practical, efficient and enriching for both, teachers and students.
The seminar's workshops, courses and conferences were given by different instructors from El Colegio Nacional, El Colegio de México, the Advanced Studies and Research Center of the National Polytechnic Institute, the Philosophy and Letters Faculty from the National Autonomous University of Mexico, the National History and Anthropology Institute, and the Macmillan-Education Academic Services Department.