This site uses cookies. By continuing to browse the site you are agreeing to our use of cookies. For more details about cookies and how to manage them see our Privacy Policy.


Oct 08 2019


Dennis Wang

You may have heard of Beijing City International School's (BCIS) bespoke IDEATE program, and more than likely are familiar with the International Baccalaureate (IB) Diploma Programme (DP), but what is a class in each of these programs actually like? We attended an IDEATE and DP Math class to delve into the world of diploma programs at BCIS. Both the DP and IDEATE programs fall under BCIS' Secondary School Learning Model, setting the foundation, direction and implementation of these programs, with an impact-based learning focus. The DP consists of six subject area courses, and three core modules of theory of knowledge (TOK), creativity, activity, service (CAS) and an extended essay. The IDEATE program, which is CIS and WASC accredited, comprises three IB Diploma courses, two High School courses, one self-directed project-based course, a learning portfolio and a service learning and work experience.

First up, we attended an IDEATE Math class led by SS teacher David Nguyen with six Grade 12 IDEATE students. The central pillar for IDEATE Grade 12 students is their personal project – a self-directed project-based course. As many students in this class have chosen entrepreneurial projects, this IDEATE Math class focused on investment, interest rates and budget management, seeking to reinforce practical mathematical skills applicable in real life. Mr. Nguyen posed the question that if you had $20,000 to deposit over 20 years, and two banks had different rates of interest, both compound and cumulative over different periods of time, how should you deposit your money? Students, using their knowledge of both forms of interest rates, together concluded that the bank that offered a cumulative interest rate would generate the largest profit over 20 years. However, Mr. Nguyen highlighted that if you were to deposit your money in the bank that offered compound interest for the first five years, you could take advantage of the faster growth rate offered by this form interest. Following this, depositing the accumulated total in the bank that offered cumulative interest would prove a wiser investment, with a greater return. Taking this idea, students went on to apply and imagine situations in which these forms of interest may impact their projects. This is exemplary not only of the practical ethos that runs throughout IDEATE classes, but also of the creative and critical thinking skills the program seeks to foster in graduates.

Following this, we went on to the DP Math class, where students were already deep into the curriculum led by Patrick Kitsao, another very experienced SS Math teacher. On the day we visited, the class of 17 Grade 11 students were tackling the subject of complex numbers. Following a brief review of last class' topic and questions, Mr. Kitsao contextualized complex numbers by introducing the history of this concept and the key figures involved in its discovery. To familiarize students with the processes involved in solving complex number equations, Mr. Kitsao went through example problems on the board, engaging students by asking for input on the next steps and drawing on their knowledge of previous related topics. Breaking the class into groups, students solved example problems and explored the operations needed to solve complex number equations in the most efficient method suited to them as individuals. Mr. Kitsao then invited students to share their methods with the rest of the class, allowing students to learn from one another, as well as build their presentation and communication skills in the process. Ending the class on discussion of the key concepts and methods, Mr. Kitsao maximized the time students had to become comfortable with the concept and ask questions, only having practice problems to complete for homework. As the DP Math course covers a diverse range of topics and areas, DP Math teachers can jump to concepts and adjust their teaching to ensure students grasp mathematical concepts, methods and skills.

Both of the two Math classes and the learning that takes place exemplify BCIS' SS Learning Model, however, maintain their differences in scope and direction. SS Math teacher Patrick Kitsao, reflecting on teaching both DP and IDEATE Math classes, comments that "The different courses cater to different students." From our experience, he is right – we witnessed different students benefitting in different ways in both IDEATE and DP classes. Whilst students choose to embark on either of these paths as they journey into Grade 11 and 12, they can be assured whichever path they chose, the impact-based learning approach consistent in both the IDEATE and DP programs will enable and encourage them to meet personalized challenges and prepare them for the uncertain future ahead.