Student Focus: Meet Year 10 Student Kevin Du

Written by: Andrea Griego, Student Support Coordinator

Kevin Du, who is in Year 10, the first year of the IGCSE Programme at Century Park Campus, has found his passion for language and music in and outside of the classroom. Kevin, a former EAL student, is now leading the YCIS Media team, but also finds time to play and build his own guitar. Although very busy, Kevin was gracious enough to share his story and passions with us.

So Kevin, when did you begin school at YCIS?
I came to YCIS in Year 6, when I was 10 years old.

I hear you were once an EAL student. Tell us more about your journey to English proficiency?
Before I was in YCIS, I spoke Chinese all the time, and very little English. When I came to YCIS in Year 6, I was a terrible English speaker, and I avoided talking to friends and teachers, because I was afraid I would embarrass myself. Learning a new language was not easy, and it took me over a year to move to the mainstream English class. Thankfully, I had really encouraging English teachers who were very patient with me. They taught me a lot over the course of Year 6. I wouldn’t say I’m an expert in English speaking now, but I’m definitely getting better.

What is YCIS media for those of us who don’t know?
YCIS Media is a team of students who provide the school with school news. Every Friday, we present a video to the school, going over events that happened during the week, as well as things to look forward to coming up. We often do interviews with students and teachers, take video footage from school events, and we always try to make our videos entertaining and connected with student life.

Wow Kevin, what a great accomplishment to lead this Media team. I hear you have another passion, music. How did you become interested in music?
I started playing the piano when I was 6 years old. I started learning the guitar in Year 6, and my music teacher taught me drums in recent years. I love playing music, I love listening to music, and the main reason for that is because when I’m stressed, it makes me more relaxed, and gets my mind off of homework and tests. I plug in my guitar and just play around with it. My music teachers introduced me to writing my own music, which is also loads of fun.

Your guitar seems to be very special to you. What was your inspiration for designing your own guitar?
Ever since I started playing the guitar, I got really into it, and I’ve been checking out different brands of guitars for years. It had always been my ambition to build my guitar. We had this DT project last year, where we could use bamboo to make anything we wanted, so I chose to build a guitar. I’m still working on it, but it’s definitely looking awesome.

Good luck with the completion of your guitar. Now for the most pressing question, tell us, what is your favorite thing about YCIS?
My favorite thing about YCIS, especially this campus, is that it is a very close community. I quite like this because you can know the people in your class better, and have more time with each of your friends. Each of us also receive more attention from the teachers, and we are provided with more opportunities in different parts of school life. For example, I am quite involved in the music department, and I am always given a chance to interact with music teachers, to play in a group ensemble, and to perform on stage when there is a concert.

Thanks for talking with us, but I have one final question: What is one thing that Primary YCIS students should know about Secondary?
So the one thing I want Primary students to know is that they shouldn’t be afraid of Secondary, because you start little by little, no one expects you to be an expert in Year 7. Secondary is a learning process. Just get as involved as you can, try your best in classes, and do the CCA’s that you enjoy.

Staff Focus: Suzanne Vert, K2B Teacher

Written by: Roseline Yang, Community Relations Officer 

Suzanne Vert is a teacher in the ECE who was chosen to be interviewed for the digital library project she has started this year. It began as a goal she has set for herself within the K2 classroom and it seems that this is taking on another dimension. Let’s meet Suzanne Vert!

You just joined YCIS last year too, just like me! Please tell me what your project is all about.

The idea of this project is to incorporate technology and physical books. Initially, this was for my K2 students to help foster in them a love of reading. Also, it corresponds to one of the developmental goals of the Early Years programme that we follow in the ECE.

The principle is as follows: On a bookshelf of 10 books, the student can choose the book that they want and look for the corresponding audio on the IPad. They can just click on the image of the same book they have chosen and listen to the audio while holding and turning the pages of the physical book.

Let me show you an example with this book “Where’s My Teddy?”. This is read by three EAL students and they chose “STOMP STOMP” as a sound to indicate when we have to turn the page. This one of the 3 Little Pigs is read in Chinese and they chose a different sound of “PLING”.

When did you start this project? You have so many books already!
It started a couple of weeks ago. Kathleen Wu ( Primary EAL Teacher) had her students doing it in English and they have been enjoying it a lot. Also, as you mentioned students and parents got really excited with the project and this is why there are more Chinese books for the moment. Ms Shen had to take down her poster after 2 days since she received so many emails of interest and had to look for a book corresponding to the level of the child. Actually, she even chose some Primary books.

This project has taken another dimension as I am meeting with Dudley Stuurmann, the Secondary teacher who is in charge of Community Action Service (CAS) opportunities for Year 7 & 8 students and he was talking about students choosing the book of their choice and use Century Park Campus recording studio to read with performing voices. We’ll see how it goes.

Wow, so what is the objective? How many audio books would you like to have?
Well, I was discussing with Tania the Primary Teacher Librarian and she said some parents had been asking for audios. This seems to be a great opportunity! I would love to have a database of 100 books to create a listening centre for the kids during the ECE’s CCL, you know the Class Community Learning we started this year where all the children of the same year level come together.

Oh, I see…Ok, let’s talk about you now! You are American. Where from exactly? When did you arrive in Shanghai and what were you doing before coming to YCIS?
I’m from California. I came to Shanghai in 2006. Right after completing my Bachelor’s Degree in Neurobiology, Physiology, and Behavior, I gained a teaching position at a Chinese Private School where I taught for 8 years before joining the YCIS team.

So after studying medicine, you began teaching…
Haha, yes it sounds a bit complex. It reminds me of my interview with Damien! When I came to Shanghai, I was hired for a position as a kindergarten teacher. However, when the school saw that I had studied medicine in university, they asked if I would be willing to use my background to teach Science. So, I first taught Science in 4th, 7th and 11th grade. However, after 4 years, I was still interested in working in Early Childhood Education and in 2010 began my journey with preschool children. In between, I had my two daughters and took some time off from work. I began working part time for the Community Center Shanghai in Marketing for special events and editing a bilingual cook book. I returned back to ECE in 2014 because I loved working with this age group. At the same time, I began to pursue teaching credentials for K through Grade 6 (Year 7) and graduated while I was teaching.

K2, this isn’t the easiest age-level. Is it difficult to cope with behaviour management?
Actually, not really. I am used to working with students and setting rules. For this age-level, schedules and routines are essential. Once they are clear about these, then they thrive. We teach students independence and we emphasise  positive behavior management. The children at this age love to be encouraged and rewarded when they make good choices and I’ve found that enforcing that behaviour brings out the positives in all the children. They are so eager and excited to learn that they quickly pick-up things. I am a high energy person and I love to make it fun for them so this is the perfect fit.

So how do you see your future? What is your plan now?
Coming from a non-educational background initially, I am eager to learn more and become a stronger teacher. This profession is incredibly rewarding because teachers are so vital in developing adults that feel empowered and can make a difference. Teachers that are continuously learning to create strong environments for learning are so influential.

This is the age that we begin fostering a love for learning. As an ECE teacher, we help children develop their minds by helping them to ask questions and look for the answers. This is where the process of growth mindset starts. For example, when they just pick a toy, we can be there to help them wonder why did they pick this toy? What characteristics does the toy have? What can they do with the toy?

As an ECE teacher, you learn so much. My main goal is to know if I am encouraging children to push themselves for discovery and answers. I also need to keep learning as I want to be able to provide tools to encourage children to do this. Sometimes, we may not know the answer and we need to take a path to discovery. If we teach children how to find answers, this is a skill that they can use for the rest of their life.

Teaching ECE children is so rewarding. At this age, children are inquisitive; they love learning. If we create a growth mindset, they will always have a desire for knowledge.

In one of our Professional Development meetings, we were shown a video that was talking about the future in jobs. They spoke about how the jobs available now will be gone in 5 years because of how much the world is moving forward. This was an eye-opener for me to realize that these kids will live in such a different world than what we know and that we need to foster the love of learning so that our children can adapt in the world of tomorrow.

ECE is an important time for children to start learning. There are no marks or grades at this time because we are focusing on the process that gets children to the finish line.  I really enjoy the approach the school has with the ECE because it allows children to explore and the teachers are facilitators. Our main goal is to support the children’s learning.

Thank you for your time. It was an amazing experience to talk with you. I am not only thrilled by the project you have started but I am also impressed by your life path and career choice. You proved to me again how we should not put people in boxes as every individual is unique and special.

My 12 Days in Chiang Mai

Written by: Costanza Cavalleri, Year 12 Student

My recent adventure on our school trip to Thailand was twelve days filled with a roller coaster of emotions. These ranged from the excitement of trying new things, such as finally finding out the results of our river study, to the fear of taking risks, like when we went zip lining, pushing ourselves off the edge of the high platform and sailing through the air, courageously exiting our comfort zones.

The EOTC trips, which YCIS Secondary students go on from Year 7 up to Year 10, and the Seeds of Hope trip in Year 11, prepares students for the Thailand Trip in Year 12 (by then, parents too are also prepared for their child being away from home for so long!) Ever since my first EOTC in Year 7, I have been impatiently waiting for the Thailand Trip.

The Thailand trip had activities which we had trained up for during the previous EOTC trips. The knowledge, sense of adventure, and commitment to serving others that we had previously gained all came together for one thrilling week and a half.

Starting the trip with three days of river studies, we applied our knowledge from the classroom in collecting data from river sites. The Biology students explored vegetation in the surrounding area of the river, whilst the Environmental Sciences and Societies students studied organisms in the river. The Geography and Physics students collaborated to measure the rivers flow, current speed within its dimensions. It was impressive to see so many academic disciplines coming to work together.

We then spent the next couple of days carrying out various other activities. The most impressionable one for me was definitely riding the elephants, as well as the unique experience of leading a veterinarian check on one of the elephants. We also learnt about the history of Thailand, broadening our knowledge and exploring a new subject for those who didn’t study History in IGCSE or IB. The trip ended with community service, in which we helped to renovate a local school’s kitchen, getting our hands and clothes very dirty. Thankfully, we were well fed for our hard work!

This trip not only helped us students grow as individuals, it gave us the opportunity to branch out and learn new things, bringing us together as a year group. We have bonded and created a strong support system for one another; we are more prepared than ever to help each other through the challenging year and a half ahead as IB students.

A Bridge to China and Chinese Culture

Written by: Cindy Zhang & Joan Chen, Chinese Studies Curriculum Leaders


Culture is an inseparable part of people’s lives, which influences our values, views, visions, lifestyle and the ways we communicate. At YCIS, we offer Chinese Studies along with Chinese Language as a bridge for students to learn about China, the host country, which has the longest history in the world. Our students learn to understand people’s cultures and language, promote engagement with others and shape their perspectives to support their future through a broader cultural and interpersonal mindset as global citizens.


In Primary Chinese Studies classes, students will learn about more than 10 different topics and will experience key aspect of Chinese culture every year.  For example, the celebration of Chinese festivals is the highlight in Year 1. While students in Year 2 will learn more aspects of the Chinese culture such as festival customs, ethnic culture, Chinese geography, traditional games, drama perception etc.  Students in Year 3 will start digging into the lifestyle of local Shanghainese and will have a field trip to the local dim sum shop and explore Qibao Old town. Building on the knowledge gained in Year 3, Year 4 students will learn about local traditional architecture—Shikumen, and will have the chance to visit the real Shikumen buildings and experience the lifestyle of old time Shanghai in the Songjiang Movie Park. Students in Year 5 will learn Chinese history in class, and will visit Jinshan village where they will be able to experience directly the villagers’ painting process. Students in Year 6 will learn about the “Silk Road Trade” and will go to the Shanghai Museum to discover the history of pottery.


In the Secondary school, this will continue with the EOTC trips (Education Outside The Classroom) that Secondary students take part in every year in Semester 1.


Finally, to complement our curriculum, we also organise two big annual events; namely our recent Chinese Culture Day last Friday and the Chinese New Year celebration. These events are great opportunities for cultural-related activities for students and teachers to experience the joy and excitement of their host country’s culture. This year, both our ECE and Primary students joined in the celebration. This day featured folk artists performance (lion dance, acrobatics, Chinese dance and Kungfu), making handmade craft, tasting local food, listening to traditional stories, watching traditional Chinese story animation, playing traditional games, and participating in various class activities. All the students and teachers were dressed in Chinese traditional costume and the students’ faces full of bright smiles showed that they had a wonderful day together.

Through these special events, our aim is to offer the opportunity for our students to know more about China and its Culture, whilst accumulate a wealth of their life experience.

Experiencing Music in the ECE

Written by Veronica Martin (ECE Coordinator)

For our very youngest children Music is a great tool for holistic learning. In one session outside, the children were given ribbons and music was played through the speakers. The children experimented using the ribbons to accentuate their movement through dance; developing their gross motor and co-ordination skills. They made big and small circles and sang: “Big, big, big, small, small, small”. Through this musical game, the children were reinforcing their understanding of the mathematical concepts of big and small as well as developing the vocabulary in English to articulate these concepts. Some social skills were also required as the children needed to be aware of others so that they did not bump into each other as they danced. They enjoyed watching each other expressing themselves through dance and started to get creative, each finding their own way to use the ribbon. That is just one of many examples, K3 children have been holding their baby dolls singing Rock-a-Bye-Baby while K4s learn about beat and rhythm.

Music helps children learn in a way that is fun and engaging. It is a great way to explore language for second and third language learners as they can explore different sounds, rhymes, and sentence structures as they learn new songs to familiar tunes. In ECE we often sing, “Everybody Wash Your Hands” “Sit down, sit down, sit down on the floor” “We are walking, going outside/to the gym/very slow.” Singing a song helps the children understand that there is a transition change and the repetition of the words helps to develop vocabulary.

In Music classes the teachers introduce many new instruments and give children time to feel them and explore the sounds that they can make on a drum, violin or even a triangle.  This allows children to be successful in playing their own piece of music; building upon success and giving children the confidence to move forward in their musical education.

Music is a very important part of YCIS life beginning at K2. Our Performing Arts Director Mr. Nick Adgemis oversees the programme with Ms. Diana and Ms. Jeannie working directly with the children. At times, some of our children also go to CP to perform in the Theatre or Mr. Nick will visit the ECE children to help ensure a smooth musical experience. The ECE children look forward to their classes with either Music teacher as together they build a strong foundation of musical appreciation and exploration.

iPads: A Transformative Tool for Learning

Written by/Contributed by: Daniel Horwood (Head of Secondary ICT) and Janelle Garrett (Lower Secondary Coordinator)

When we started planning our 1-to-1 technology programme, we started with the learning. At YCIS Pudong, our vision of successful learning is one where students are engagedcriticalreflective, and active. We believe that our choice of iPads reflects this vision, allowing our students to be engaged, to collaborate, to reflect in the moment, and to be active learners, both within and beyond the classroom walls.

All Year 7 to 12 students received their iPads in September, and have been using them to learn in class and at home since then. The ways in which teachers have been able to use technology to personalise and monitor learning, to allow for more collaborative projects, and reflection have been quite remarkable in such a short timeframe. As well as the iPads, CP has introduced Office365 and Microsoft Teams, allowing for instantaneous communication, feedback, and collaboration within classes. Teachers have been using a variety of apps to allow students to express their learning and creativity in different ways.

While the iPads are used daily in every classroom across the secondary school, we have chosen to highlight how the iPads have changed teaching and learning in our PE, Mathematics, and Art classes.

In PE, iPads have been used to help improve performance by offering immediate feedback to our young athletes on their performance of key skills. Using a delayed camera app, iPads stream footage of students to the big screen in the gym, which allows our teachers to focus on individual performances and offer feedback that is unique to that student. By seeing their performance, the student can really appreciate the feedback and visually see where they can improve. Above all, it also provides lots a fun, laughs, and enjoyment to our lessons.

Our Mathematics teachers love the iPads, not for the one super-cool lesson or the big “aha” moments, but for the everyday communication with every student with instant feedback. With the iPads and Desmos (a collaborative graphing app), our teachers can see each student’s ideas and students get to see each other’s responses to problems. There can be fun games attached to these moments, but a lot of times it can even be in the simple act of drawing a line to represent the data and explaining why you put it there. The iPad allows students to gather their thoughts where the teacher can read them privately and share them with the class when they really nail it. Alternatively, sometimes students’ ideas are way off, so, with a flip of a switch, the teacher can make their names anonymous and highlight a few issues to create a class discussion. We can look at student work to see if the overall understanding is there or if there is a need to have 1-on-1 conversations with individuals. In this way, students are better supported and far less able to be left behind in a particular lesson. The safety students feel from typing an answer rather than saying one aloud is a game-changer in our Mathematics classrooms.

In Art, all year levels use their iPads regularly to record and photograph ongoing and completed work. As student work on projects, they regularly save their progress in the Photo Library, creating a real-time portfolio. Our Art teachers are able to see all changes and evidence of reflection and refinements. It also makes thinking visible. Each student’s best ideas can be curated and printed for their sketchbooks, and an overview of their photo library can be used as evidence for assessment. Students also use apps to photograph drawn and painted work, and then apply more filters, which allows students to take risks by trying out new ideas before they rework the physical work. The iPads are also great as a generative tool for ideas working between digital and traditional materials. Having personal devices has transformed our workflow as everything connects more organically.

Seesaw: Top Tips for Helping Your Child

 Written by:Melissa Shaw and John McEnhill, Primary Curriculum Coordinators

As we reported in our last newsletter, our school’s Seesaw app is now up and running. Seesaw enables students to share the learning which is going on at school with parents and extended family. These are our top tips on how you can use Seesaw at home to help your child in their learning.

  1.  Use Seesaw to start a conversation

Parent: “What did you do at school today?”
Child: “Nothing…”

Now you don’t have to settle for this when your child gets home from school! Pull up Seesaw on your phone and discuss their learning, using the pictures as a prompt for you and your child.

  1. Comment on their work

Seesaw allows you to leave comments. Use the commenting feature to ask questions or leave feedback for your child. Try to go beyond “great job”! Asking questions, or complimenting specific details can add to the learning conversation. Use the speech bubbles alongside this article as starters for your comments. Seesaw allows commenting in many languages.

  1. Build on your child’s classroom success.

Help to encourage the skills your child is working on in class outside of school: if your child writes a fantastic Traditional Tale, you could challenge them to read it to you in their most expressive voice. Seesaw, when used alongside the Year Level Blogs, can be a great window into the programme for you to use when supporting your child. You can also download your child’s work into a PDF to save and print.

  1. Celebrate growth.

As the year goes on, you can use the folder feature in Seesaw to filter work by subject, and you can ask them what they are doing in later pieces of work that they weren’t doing in the earlier pieces.

We hope you enjoy using Seesaw to share in your child’s learning. Please let your child’s co-teachers know if you have any questions about the app.