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Learning Outside the Classroom
By Eddie Wexler, Head of High School (Riverside) Campus

ISZL students often learn outside the four walls of a classroom. The robust programme we offer includes multiple opportunities for students to extend and apply their studies. From the collection of empirical scientific data to a fully immersed cultural experience overseas, our teenagers engage with the world around them. The skills and knowledge gained serve our young people especially well.  Academic field trips help simulate the life of a practitioner, in this case a scientist, and students receive instruction from experts, grapple with authentic methodological issues, and better appreciate the complexity of academic research. Students away in countries in which they must speak, dine, and reside with families push our students beyond their comfort zones. Students come to appreciate the nuance and colloquialism of language, the diverse nature of culture, and a bit about a nation’s history.

Although invaluable, nothing is without costs. Most teachers in High School work with multiple grade levels and courses, so outdoor learning for one set of pupils means that another must have a cover teacher.  We remain mindful of getting the right balance, affording students the chance to do field work and make memories, while also doing our utmost to preserve instructional time elsewhere. 

Over the past few weeks two Grade 11 classes have spent time in the field, better understanding the distribution of species in fresh and salty water. Approximately 70 students have enjoyed homestays in Spain and France, developing increased language fluency while enjoying the different feel of these countries. Enjoy the overview and some personal testimonials of these experiences.

Biology and Environmental Systems and Societies Fieldtrip

By Dr Zoe Badcock, IB Diploma & AP Coordinator

As part of both Biology and Environmental Systems and Societies, IB Diploma students spent time in the local environment learning to devise sampling strategies, identify species, ask questions about the distribution of species in both freshwater and terrestrial habitats. For some students this was their first time ever doing anything like this and it was a big learning experience being out in the field. Biologists focussed on the organisms themselves while the ESS students thought about how human actions such as changing the management of the river bed would impact the distribution and abundance of these species. Dr. Badcock explained that this experiential learning has some of the biggest impacts on students' understanding and is great fun at the same time.

Biology students discover that if your feet aren’t wet then it’s not ecology. 

Grade 11 Biology students took advantage of a small break in the rainy weather to undertake their ecology field trip. Twenty seven students took part and spent their time learning a variety of study techniques. Kick sampling in the river delivered a wide variety of invertebrates ranging from the diminutive mites to some impressive and aggressive dragonfly larvae. The water proved to be a challenge for the wellington boots of some students and frequent irrigation was required to prevent waterlogging.

Day two was spent in a more sedate meadow where students learned to identify a large range of plant species before carrying out a study to see if there was any association between the different species. This was followed by a belt transect to look for the effect of environmental gradients on plant distribution.

At the end of the day the data was analysed, statistics completed and although an intensive experience, it was a great introduction to ecology which will help greatly to contextualise the rest of the course.

Notre Délicieux Voyage Niçois  

By Julia E, Grade 10 Student

Every good school trip starts off with a trip to the airport’s Burger King. But had we known how much delicious French food we would be eating that week, we probably would have skipped it.

April 9th, lunch time, we piled into the buses, buzzing with excitement. Cut to 17:05, and we were off, on the plane, taking us to France. I had never been on a language exchange and therefore had no idea what to expect but was excited nonetheless. This excitement tripled when we got out of the plane and were hit by the warm air and a view of palm trees, blue skies and the sea in the distance.

A short car ride later, my friend and I arrived at our host family's apartment, where we were kindly welcomed and helped with luggage. The apartment was gorgeous and from the window in our room, we had the most stunning view of the city and the sea. At dinner, we had our first chance to speak French with our host family, at which point I confused my numbers and told my host parents I was 60 years old. We had such a great laugh! Despite a few failed attempts, it was a great first opportunity to practise holding gorgeous and from the window in our room, we had the most stunning view of the city and the sea. At dinner, we had our first chance to speak French with our host family, at which point I confused my numbers and told my host parents I was 60 years old. We had such a great laugh! Despite a few failed attempts, it was a great first opportunity to practise holding a conversation in French and I felt very proud.

The following morning, we had our first French lesson at the Alpha.b language school. The four hours of lessons seemed like two hours, split half-way by a trip to the local boulangerie where we had the chance to buy authentic French baked goods. After the lessons, we were taken on a guided tour of Nice in French, where we learned more about the city and its history. The tour included a hike up to a panoramic view spot, where we had a beautiful view of the Mediterranean sea and old town below us.

When the tour ended, we went shopping, after which we returned to our host families. Much like the previous day, we returned to our classes the next morning, where we continued working on our French, learning new things to help us become more fluent. We then spent the afternoon in Eze where we visited the Parfumerie Fragonard and learned about the process of perfume making.

After our last day of classes the next day, we had a delicious lunch graciously provided by the Fund for Excellence in a lovely restaurant. It was a wonderful opportunity to taste French cuisine while getting the chance to discuss among ourselves the events of the previous days. Following lunch, we split into three groups and rotated between three activities: visiting the Matisse museum, a cooking class and shopping. The art museum was a great time to spread out and individually, or in small groups, look around and learn about the different artists and pieces displayed. It was particularly useful for some grade 9 students who have chosen to study Matisse for their self-portrait unit in Art. Polina, a Grade 9 student on the trip reports: “During the French trip we got the opportunity to visit an art museum and see Matisse’s work. This visit inspired me for my artwork at school. Our current unit is ‘portraits’ where we learn to paint. I got to see his techniques up close and get an idea of what my final piece will look like.”. The trip to the museum was followed by a cooking class with a local pastry chef, very kindly paid for by the Fund for Excellence, where we learned how to make a French dessert. 

It was both instructional and fun, and even those of us with no baking experience were able to create a delicious little feuilleté aux fruits avec crème mascarpone vanille et pistou sucrée. Towards the end of the day, we had some more free time to go shopping.

With heavy hearts, the next day, we said goodbye to our host families. Having finished our classes the day before, we headed to a sweet little market. Like many of the other students, I bought presents for my family. Pepper shakers, fruit, jewelry, lavender - all could be found at the market. Next, we went to the beach to get a last view of the sea. We had an amazing time, freezing our toes off in the icy cold water, throwing frisbees. Mr Huber even went swimming!

As a parting treat, our teachers bought us all ice cream at a shop that had more flavors than I had ever seen in my life. Very yummy! A couple of hours later, we sat in a plane, leaving Nice, and soon after, we were back in Switzerland. Despite the trip being over, the wonderful memories and our gained knowledge and confidence in French will stay with us forever.

Chacun des participants vous le confirmera, ce voyage était tout simplement super. Nous avons tous eu l'opportunité de pratiquer notre français et avons tant appris, non seulement en français mais aussi sur nous-mêmes. À la fin du séjour, nous étions tous très tristes de devoir dire «au revoir» à nos familles françaises. Quel bel échange!

Un grand merci à Ana C, Amanda R, Mme Debiton, Mme Harris et M Huber! En organisant ce voyage, vous nous avez offert des souvenirs niçois inoubliables.

Thank you for giving us this wonderful opportunity to grow as French students, helping us step out of our comfort zones and supporting us all the way.

Thank you to the Fund for Excellence, for helping to fund this trip.

It was an unforgettable experience!

Diario de una Visita España! - Diary of a Trip to Spain

By Grade 9 & 10 Spanish Students 

La semana antes de las vacaciones, un grupo de treinta y cuatro estudiantes de los grados nueve y diez realizamos un viaje de español a Málaga. Salimos muy pronto el miércoles para ir al aeropuerto y llegamos por la tarde, desde allí  tomamos un autobús para ir a la escuela de idiomas que se llama ‘La Playa’. Llegados a la escuela, conocimos a nuestras familias anfitrionas con las que nos alojamos durante los próximos 4 días. Esa tarde visitamos Málaga con nuestros profesores locales  y tuvimos la oportunidad de ver  la Alcazaba (un castillo de origen árabe), la Catedral y el museo Picasso. Al finalizar la visita guiada tuvimos media hora libre para comer un helado e ir de compras. A la mañana siguiente fuimos a la escuela, para cinco clases; por la tarde tuvimos talleres culturales donde aprendimos sobre la comida española, la cultura, y las celebraciones. Una mañana los profesores nos recibieron con chocolate con churros para después ir a visitar una escuela local y realizar un intercambio con los estudiantes locales, donde pudimos utilizar nuestro español con actividades y juegos. Por la tarde cocinamos nuestra cena - gazpacho, paella, y una ensalada malagueña; tuvimos clases otra vez y terminamos el día en la playa. En el último día, tuvimos cinco clases mas y una búsqueda del tesoro. Comimos el almuerzo con nuestra familia y empezamos el viaje a de regreso a Suiza. Llegamos a Suiza más o menos a las 22:45 en Zurich.

"Fue una experiencia divertida. El tiempo con amigos y crear recuerdos fue divertido, pero también lo eran las clases de español. Fue agradable tener unas cuantas personas diferentes en mi clase de español, y nuestro maestro era divertido"  dijo Roni.

“Realmente disfruté de la experiencia de aprendizaje, así como de todas las actividades" Nicholas

“Asombroso”. Fabian

“Fue excelente”.  Maelle

In the week before the holidays, a group of 34 Spanish students from 9th and 10th Grade went on a language trip to Malaga. We left very early on Wednesday morning to catch our plane. We landed in the early afternoon and took the bus to the Spanish school “La Playa”. There we met our families with whom we were going to stay for the next four days. That afternoon we drove into the city of Malaga to visit the Alcazaba, the arab  castle, the Picasso museum and the cathedral. After the cultural visit we had 30 minutes to have an ice cream and go shopping. The next morning we walked down to the school to have 5 x 50 minutes of Spanish lessons. In the afternoon we had cultural workshop where we covered different topics such as Spanish holidays or foods. Our other two mornings looked very similar except one morning the teachers bought us churros con chocolate. After we visited a local High School where we took part in and exchange with local students and participated in activities forcing us to speak Spanish. :) In the evening we cooked our own dinner including gazpacho, a typical Malagan salad and paella. On our last day, we had another five lessons of which we spent 2 of them doing a Spanish treasure hunt. For the last time, we walked back to our families, had lunch and then got driven to the town square to get on a bus to go to Malaga and fly back home. We arrived late at around 22:45 in Zurich.

“It was a fun experience. The social time with friends and making memories was fun, but so were the Spanish lessons. It was nice to have a few different people in my Spanish class than normal, and our teacher was fun.” Roni

“I really enjoyed the learning experience as well as all of the activities” Nicholas

“It was great” Fabian

“Amazing” Maelle



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