World Francophone Week at ISBerne


We all know that French has a valued and important place at ISBerne as well as within the general community of Bern where the language is embedded in the Bernese culture. Therefore, along with other French speaking groups around the world, ISBerne will be celebrating World Francophone Week from 16-20 March, in honor of the Journée Internationale de la Francophonie (International Francophonie Day).

Through the PYP and MYP, our French teachers and Grade 10 students will be doing some small but meaningful activities to teach and remind us all of the value, history and culture of French.

For example, did you know that 200 million people speak French around the world? French is still the second most widely learned foreign language after English, and the ninth most widely spoken language in the world! French is widely considered the international language of cooking, fashion, theatre, dance, architecture and the visual arts. French is both a working language and an official language of the United Nations, the European Union, UNESCO, NATO, the International Olympic Committee, the International Red Cross and, of course, the International Baccalaureate. After English and German, French is now the third most used language on the Internet, ahead of Spanish. French is a good base for learning other languages, especially Romance languages (Spanish, Italian, Portuguese and Romanian) as well as English since about 50% of current English vocabulary is derived from French.

Due to our location, it is not surprising that more students in our school learn German than learn French, but this by no means indicates that French is less important! After all, learning French is the pleasure of learning a beautiful, rich, melodious language, often called the language of love.

Why don’t you celebrate this language with us? I invite you to visit the Grade 10 French Blog to see what these committed students have been exploring in this rich language!

Je vous souhaite une merveilleuse semaine !

Scott Jackson
Principal at ISBerne

The Power of Language

At ISBerne, we find that children who come to school with a strong foundation in their mother tongue (their fist language or home language) develop stronger literacy abilities in the language used at school. When parents or caregivers spend time with their children, telling stories or discussing issues with them, it helps develop the child’s mother tongue vocabulary and concepts. As a result, children come to school better prepared to learn the language of their host school and succeed academically.

It is important to remember that a child connects with his/her parents, family, culture, history, identity and religion through his/her mother tongue. The first language links the child with the culture and society of his/her origins and plays and important role in shaping his/her identity.The mother tongue is one of the most powerful tools used to preserve and convey cultural ties.

Many children of immigrant families, who don’t know their native language well, often face a crisis of identity. Children who are unaware of their culture, their language, and their history can lose confidence in themselves, their family, even their homeland, and will ultimately seek an alternate identity. A child will identify with the language and culture s/he knows best.

Screen Shot 2015-02-20 at 10.24.23 AMOn Saturday 21 February, the United Nations invites the world to celebrate the connection of language and culture through International Mother Tongue Day. I invite you to reflect upon the value of language, not just in learning it, but how it enriches your cultural background and the story of who you are. A very interesting presentation by Wade Davis in a TED Talk, exemplifies and elaborates upon this concept in a profound way.

Friend or Fake?

The world of friendship and social status can be a challenging one for young adolescence. Adults often struggle with the question of, ‘Should I intervene in a child’s friendship problems?’ The reality is, kids need adult support and insights when it comes to navigating the choppy waters of friendship, especially when certain friendships turn out to be weapons in disguise.
Using friendship and social status for manipulation is often referred to as relational aggression. Though it can be confusing at first,  kids can learn to recognize it when they see it. By teaching kids that tactics like social exclusion, threatening to take away friendship, and spreading rumors are unacceptable, kids can make a conscious choice to move away from friends who use these behaviors.

As parents, you can help your children by teaching them that anger is a normal, natural, human emotion and how to be angry effectively. By modeling assertive communication skills yourselves and accepting anger when it is respectfully expressed, you indirectly teach your children mature relationship behaviour.

Most importantly, we all need to teach students how to know what a good friend is: talk about how real friends use kind words, help when you need it, and care about your opinions and feelings. Fostering discussions and careful consideration of the values involved in making and maintaining healthy friendships is one of the most important things adults can do to help kids choose friendships wisely.

In support of all of this, and to conclude my series on the sense of awareness our students have of the world around them, Lily, one of our Grade 7 students has created a presentation of poetry which truly underpins what goes through the minds of many of our teenagers here at ISBerne. As with the poems from Oliver and Abby last week, if you know Lily and see her around the school, you might want to thank her for her courage in presenting her inner most thoughts to our community.

Scott Jackson
ISBerne Principal

View Video Here:  

Thoughts from Students

I have the great privilege of sharing two pieces of poetry from Grade 7. Their perceptions of their world (of school and the wider world) demonstrate a level of introspection and reflection that I would struggle to find in many adults. Oliver and Abby, the authors, were kind enough to authorize their poems to be shared with our school community. I ask that you read them and perhaps, put yourselves in the shoes of a teenager living in 2015. We would all like to thank these students for being brave enough to share their innermost thoughts and feelings with the wider community.

Scott Jackson
Principal, ISBerne

Just Think
by Oliver Robertson
Grade 7

The bell rings
out to play they go
again the boy stands there alone
but no one knows his woe
he prays they’ll leave him ‘lone t’day
If only he could stay out their way

too scared to ask for help
he suffers by himself
they call him hurtful names
it’s not good for his health
he prays they’ll leave him ‘lone t’day
if only he could stay out their way

it’s not a good day
they are at school
he receives a piercing blow to head
all against school rules
he prays they’ll leave him ‘lone t’day
if only he could stay out their way

they take his dinner money
he doesn’t dare cry
he suffers in silence
and just wonders why
he prays they’ll leave him ‘lone t’day
if only he could stay out their way

why do people do this
it’s really unkind
it rips peoples hearts out
and plays with their minds
he prays they’ll leave him ‘lone today
if only he could stay out their way

Express Your Feelings
By Abby Cortez

They say we all have the responsibility to tell humanity,
How we feel and what we see.
Officials ask us what they could do to make the world better for you and for me
Then they treat our thoughts like a lion would a cub and a dog would a puppy.

They say tell the truth, but can we really?
People are put away for what they have to say,
By police who watch us like birds of prey
Ask yourself where would you be
If people weren’t heard, like Mandela and Gandhi?

While opinions on food and games are each to their own,
Opinions on politics are like a war zone.
When you are younger you’re ignored even if you shout.
But people will blossom if we just hear them out.

Step back and think are we really free to say what we please?
What about those in poverty?
Because of how they live they aren’t taken seriously.
People throw their opinions away carelessly.

Your thoughts could be gold on a sliver platter,
But if you’re not wealthy does it really matter?
They look at you like you’re a mad hatter.
They think they’re on top but they still have us to flatter.

People express their ideas everyday,
But no one seems to care about what they have to say.
We all have a brain. Why can’t we use it?
You don’t use it you lose it.
So to now conclude it:
Express yourself ‘cause someone somewhere, could use it!

Bear With Me, Second Edition

Screen Shot 2015-01-30 at 11.43.17 AM

The highly anticipated second edition of the ISBerne literary magazine, Bear With Me, is now available for download!


If you missed the first edition, you may download it here:


ISBerne 5 Year Projection

On Monday, at our staff workshop we shared our major school improvement plans for 2015 – 2020, and I’d like to inform you, the ISBerne community, of the key elements in these plans. I will elaborate on these and other planned areas of development at a parent meeting in the near future:

1. A complete and published K-12 school curriculum for all subject areas (August 2015 – June 2017).

Our current written curriculum covers primarily higher grades and core subjects. A whole school public written curriculum will provide a framework for collaborative initiatives that are the hallmark of a progressive learning community.)

2. Digital Learning Initiatives for Staff (January 2015, ongoing).

ISBerne will provide a series of technology workshops to faculty that will improve opportunities for collaboration amongst staff, provide support for digital initiatives in the classroom and prepare the faculty for the 1:1 programme to be implemented in 2016/17

3. The planned introduction of a 1:1 device programme in the MYP (Upon our move to our new campus 2016/17).

Our current school bandwidth prevents effective use of technology, primarily as a result of the cabling coming into our school from service providers. Our new premises will have an infrastructure to support a bigger digital footprint and greatly enhanced opportunities for the use of technology across all subject areas.

Following the completion of the above three key development points is a range of education initiatives including differentiation, assessment, and feedback (2018-2020).

As should be apparent, each of these steps is a significant undertaking on its own – together they present a focused drive towards school improvement in our most critical area, that of student achievement.

Richard Swart

Director, ISBerne

Richard Swart

Cold and Flu Season

Dear Parents and Friends of ISBerne,

The average child has six to 10 colds a year–and every parent knows how easily colds are passed to other family members once one child gets sick! Children’s immune systems are less mature than those of adults, so they’re more susceptible to germs.

At school, kids are in close contact with each other, and they tend to have ‘germy’ habits, such as sticking fingers and objects in their mouths–perfect behaviours for spreading colds.

What can a parent do? Stopping cold germs where they breed is your best defense. Following the simple measures below can go a long way in preventing most illness.

1. Know How and When to Wash Hands
Children usually don’t wash their hands often enough or well enough at school. In one study of middle and high school students, about half washed their hands after using the bathroom — and only 33% of the girls and 8% of the boys used soap. Colds germs are passed and acquired by touching our eyes, noses and mouths, so washing hands, often and well, is critical.

2. Don’t Share at School
Children should not be sharing food, drinks or lip balm. Items such as gym towels, sports uniforms, etc. should also never be shared. With younger children, it may be difficult to avoid sharing books and toys in the classroom. Therefore, best to remind younger children to wash their hands often and avoid touching their eyes, mouth, or nose until they do.

3. Keep Backpacks Clean
As any parent knows, school backpacks can get pretty grimy from long-forgotten lunches and all the other things children stuff into them. Have your child clean out his backpack every day. And while your child is cleaning out their backpack, remind them to bring dirty gym clothes home to wash.

4. Build Immunity
Help protect your child from inside! Make sure that he/she gets enough sleep and exercise, avoids stress, and eats a well-balanced diet. Students should be drinking water (not soft drinks or caffeinated drinks!) during the day to cleanse their immune systems.

Finally, if your child is unwell, we always encourage rest at home. Health and well-being should always take precedence over academics.

Kind regards



Get every new post delivered to your Inbox.

Join 78 other followers