What are AP courses, and why are they so important?

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What are AP courses, and why are they so important?

Advanced Placement Courses for high schools were originally founded in the 1950s as a way to help students get a head start on college-level education. AP courses are the American equivalent of IB courses (International Baccalaureate), both of which are recognized worldwide. Since then, AP courses have become increasingly common, with at least one AP course now being offered in about 70% of US high schools. It is clear to see that this is becoming a vital tool for students looking to apply to college. 

Advanced Placement courses offer high school students valuable insights into the rigors of a college education. Although this may seem like a daunting endeavor to students at first, instilling the work ethic required to thrive in college and getting the inside track on how these studies work while in the comfort of high school is an incredible opportunity. The ability to learn something new in a familiar setting is the perfect introduction to higher education in a new school, a new city, or even a new country. 

The advantages of AP courses are clear. Studies have shown that those who pass AP exams are more likely to finish a 4-year degree thanks to the experience and understanding learned in their school. Simply put, if you are well prepared for something, you are more likely to succeed.

Now that we know a little bit more about Advanced Placement courses, let’s dive deeper into the virtues of the courses and how they can set students up for a better future.

AP courses are not only about the final exam, though that certainly will factor in later. These courses allow students to learn how to learn. There is a particular methodology to college learning. Although this may vary slightly from subject to subject, the core methods have similarities, and those small differences are taught in the AP classes. 

When students start to think about applying for college, setting themselves apart from the average student with high AP exam scores can have a hugely positive effect when their application is being considered. Showing that you are ready for a college education with proven scores will give students a big head start over those that did not complete an AP course. AP grades are generally weighed more heavily than regular coursework, meaning their applications to popular colleges will be more seriously considered than those without them. 

 

Advanced Placement Courses at NIVA American International School.

Although these courses have become more prevalent in the USA, NIVA is still only one of a handful of international schools in Thailand that offer Advanced Placement Courses. There are two immediate benefits to this. The first benefit is that Thai students looking to study in the USA have limited chances of obtaining this level of education in high school. This means education at NIVA can put you on a track that few other schools can offer. The other benefit is for students of families from different countries that are currently residing in Thailand. Being able to offer your child the chance to study AP courses and study back at home or in other countries is of incredible importance. International schools in Thailand have come a long way, and the choices are now excellent, but not all can offer Advanced Placement Courses.

AP courses are very much encouraged at NIVA, with students being able to take one in grade 10 and up to 7 in grades 11 and 12. A full list of the courses on offer at NIVA can be found here, but we will look more in-depth at one course in particular in this article.

AP Capstone

The AP Capstone course at NIVA focuses on developing skills such as research, analysis, evidence-based arguments, collaborative work, writing, and presenting. This highly valued qualification is a 2-year program and offers one of two different awards. As mentioned previously, learning how to learn for college is hugely beneficial and sets students up for success later on in life. 

Choosing suitable Advanced Placement Courses.

One thing to keep in mind is that a student’s course choice is incredibly important. Although AP exam results are a great way to stand out in a college application, it would be remiss not to mention the effects of a poor score. Simply taking the exam is not enough. A respectable score will be required to impress admissions officers. For this reason, it is important to choose a course that aligns with your interests and strengths. Right throughout education at NIVA, from early years to high school, we believe that quality learning occurs when students are naturally engaged in the subject at hand. 

If you have any further queries about Advanced Placement Courses at NIVA, please, feel free to contact us

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An American Education in the Heart of Bangkok

Sending your child to an international school, whether you are an expat or Thai national looking to give your child a chance to study abroad and maybe eventually work for a large multinational institution, is an exciting but daunting prospect. First, there is the quality of education to consider. NIVA American International School follows the American curriculum, a hallmark of education worldwide. From our nursery and kindergarten classes, right through to elementary, middle, and high school, students are able to receive a complete education that promotes active learning and encourages them to follow their passions.

Another thing we all consider when choosing the right school is cost. Lets take a look at what sets NIVA American International School apart from the many schools in Bangkok.

FEES

Our first goal as a school when we established ourselves 30 years ago was to better the opportunities for children of expats and Thai nationals through quality education. Part of this ethos centered on fair pricing. At less than THB 400,000 per year, which includes lunches, learning resources, and activities, learners are given an American standard of education at a fraction of comparable institutes in the US, Europe, and many other parts of the world.

As we are aware, every situation is different. NIVA offers a range of plans when it comes to tuition fees. You can pay upfront or utilize one of our payment plans and spread the cost over the year. There are 3 payment plan options available. Please contact us if you would like to hear more about these plans. The freedom to pay fees over time as opposed to one single payment is a testament to our belief that good education should be more accessible. Although good schooling will always come at a financial cost, we prioritize quality education over profit.

The COVID-19 pandemic has been a blow to us all. We are not willing to allow children that would have otherwise had a good education to suffer due to the financial impact on economies and, by extension, parents. As such, NIVA American International School has a special discount of 50% off admissions during this time.

The last few years have been particularly hard on children that have missed out on face-to-face education and precious social interactions with their peers. It is vital to make up for that lost time. At NIVA, we are well placed to help with this, thanks to our authentic and theme-based learning ethos. These learning styles allow children to use the world around them and their interactions to learn. Children are naturally curious about things around them. It is how we all learned when we were growing up. We foster that thirst for knowledge and allow our students to control their own learning through activities, high-quality resources, and much more.

The American Curriculum in Bangkok

NIVA American International School follows the American curriculum. Worldwide, we see either the British or American curriculum being used. There are undoubtedly huge advantages and similarities to both curriculums. As with many international interactions and standardizations, we believe the American curriculum sets students up to achieve everything they want, wherever they are.

The American curriculum encourages creativity and openness. This allows students to follow and learn what they feel most passionate about while linking these things to core subjects, thanks to our authentic learning style. Rather than learning only for the sake of tests, the American curriculum allows free-thinking and problem-solving skills to blossom as children constantly interact with each other and the world around them. Our 7-rai campus offers opportunities to take learning into many different parts of life, from outdoor activities to high-quality, purpose-built facilities. Our curriculum also fosters an openness to try new things, something that is crucial for young learners and high school students alike. The feeling children get when they are enrolled at NIVA American International School is one of community. The campus is set out perfectly for children to feel at home when they learn. Since students can enroll from nursery right through to kindergarten, elementary, middle, and high school, NIVA can feel like a natural home of learning, somewhere they are excited to go to every day, and somewhere they feel confident and safe.

More information about NIVA American International School is available on our website or from our dedicated staff. Feel free to call us for more information on facilities, resources, and more. We certainly recommend you take a tour of our campus to see the learning experience of our students, first-hand.

So whether you are looking for a lifetime education or the ability to switch seamlessly to a new school when the time comes to move to a new city, NIVA American International School is the perfect place to learn. 

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Why is location so important when choosing the perfect school?

Built on a 7-rai area of peaceful land away from the main roads yet still conveniently placed a short ride from a BTS station, NIVA American International School is the perfect place for children to enjoy a balanced education.

One of the first things we look for when finding a school for our children is the quality of education. NIVA American International School follows the Common Core State Standards based on the California curriculum. This means each and every student, from kindergarten right through to high school, is given an education that is recognized worldwide. Thus ensuring whatever happens next, whether it be in Thailand or abroad, the next step of your child’s education will integrate seamlessly. Our AP courses in high school give the edge for students to apply for scholarships in any university around the world. It is our equivalent to the International Baccalaureate® (IB) System. 

But with a plethora of international schools in Bangkok, we must address a simple question; why NIVA?

NIVA American International School places focus on each student as a whole individual. Rather than those traditions of exam focused learning, we consider the skills, knowledge, and interests of all of our students. We believe this holistic approach allows students to unlock their true potential and actually enjoy learning. We base our Holistic Education on the Authentic Learning Model. Each of the sections are divided into a concentrated learning style. For Kindergarten, we have the Theme-based learning. For elementary, we use the Discovery-based learning. Middle school uses the Skills-based learning and High School finishes off with our Mastery-based learning where Leadership is the main focus. These experiences, however, are not possible without the right facilities. Let’s take a look at what facilities our school offers.

At 11,200 sqm or 7 rai, there is a lot of space for our buildings and outdoor areas. Our belief that students learn better by doing and experiencing real-life situations is evident in the spaces we have created for them. With 3 major buildings and a multitude of outdoor areas, students are given the space and resources to grow as individuals.

Our sports facilities include a mini football field, a multi-purpose double-sized basketball court, a swimming pool, and a badminton court, among others. Sports promotes so many positive facets for children in kindergarten and elementary school, right through to middle school and high school. There are, of course, physical and health benefits, but sport can also be crucial when it comes to teamwork and problem-solving too. Some of the most important times in young children’s lives come from achieving something special, with friends, as a team.

Some students don’t care much for sporting activities, but if we consider the previous points about sport, we can put the same virtues on music and performance arts. After all, if there is anything we can use to equate sports and performing arts, it is creativity and expression of self.

Our top-class music and performing arts facilities and faculty are there to nurture artistic talent with regular group activities and recitals taking place.

Another highly important factor when choosing a school, especially in a busy city such as Bangkok, is location.

The importance of a school’s location is often undervalued, especially in large cities. Safety is, of course, one of the first things that comes to mind. Having young learners close to busy roads is a clear worry for many parents. What is sometimes overlooked, though, is the benefits of a quiet area that children feel almost at home in, an area they feel like is their own to explore and learn in. Having large outdoor areas, nestled in a quiet neighborhood, allows active learning experiences for NIVA students. This might be much more complicated in heavily built-up areas with little outdoor space.

Our campus is conveniently located in the Bangkapi area of Bangkok. Still within easy reach of the city and its many neighborhoods, the location offers a quiet and safe place for children to learn. As we are close to an expressway, picking up and dropping off the students is made easier. We also have private minivans for before and after school that operate to and from Ladprao, Minburi, Ramindra, Nonthaburi, Rachadapisek, Rangsit, and Pathumthani, meaning vast coverage for safe and comfortable travel to and from school each day. As we are close to the BTS line, students living in busy areas do not need to worry about morning traffic, which can drain energy before school has even begun.

The Bangkapi area itself offers great experiences for our high-school students that may like to spend a little bit of time with friends after school before heading home. The Mall Bangkapi offers amusements and arcades, food, and shopping options. Central Festival Eastville, The Crystal Park, and The Walk are also conveniently located near the school between the Ekamai-Ramindra Road (Pradit Manutham Road). When children feel happy and secure in the school and its surroundings, learning becomes natural. They look forward to going to school and the experiences that come with it.

All of these factors and more have been carefully thought of at NIVA American International School, so if you are thinking of the perfect school for your child to grow and learn, contact us today for more information on our ethos, faculty and facilities.

At NIVA American International School, we believe learning is so much more than just the classroom.

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How Authentic Learning Benefits Learners

Authentic learning is based on the idea that classes and curriculums are built on real-world tasks that are relevant to learners. When connections between education and real-life can be made, learners are immediately more interested and motivated and have more fun in the learning process. 

Authentic learning can be used at any stage of a student’s education, starting with theme-based learning in kindergarten and nursery and then carried into elementary school, middle school, and high school. Each year builds more on the last, and a method of learning is forged to last a lifetime. 

The one thing that can demonstrate the virtues of authentic learning more than anything else can be boiled down to a single word; exploration. When a student can explore a topic and relate it to their own life, authentic learning occurs. 

A phrase that often occurs with learners using authentic learning is ‘oh, so that is why…’ This is one of the best things a teacher can hear. It shows that the student has connected learning to something in their real life. Once this happens, there is a connection that creates more interest in learning. 

 

So now we know that authentic learning allows students to learn via methods relevant to their own lives; let’s take a look at how authentic learning can be used to achieve a better quality of education. 

– The first, and maybe most important, part of authentic learning is that it facilitates student-led learning. This is where a student or group of students are able to move around and explore the topic. No longer are they sitting at a desk being fed information that can potentially get monotonous and easy to forget. They are instead actively putting connections together. This could be done via practical classes indoors or even a small field trip. Let’s not forget why field trips have been used for generations in schools; to gain first-hand experience and create interest in something. This is authentic learning. 

– Once a student is engaged in a topic, they naturally become more inquisitive. This can be thought of as the second stage of authentic learning. Students explore the subject more and use one of the most powerful questions in education, ‘why?’ Once students start asking that question, they lead their own learning. 

              Students that have used authentic learning can produce meaningful products, ideas, or solutions that can be used outside of a classroom. This gives their work a lot more value; it has not been created simply to obtain a grade but because they wanted to do it. This is especially important because students will eventually become adults. They will need to solve problems or create new ideas in personal and professional scenarios for the rest of their lives. Creating a pathway to achieve this is one of the cornerstones of authentic learning.

              Authentic learning allows students to look at a problem from different perspectives, both collaboratively and alone. Having different perspectives on an issue and creating a range of outcomes to discuss drives the world forward. We are rarely looking for one single answer but rather a range of ideas to debate and choose from. 

 

So there are some of the fundamentals of authentic learning. Connections to real-life experiences deepen our understanding and allow for reflection and different opinions on any given topic. 

At this point, I think it would be to use some authentic learning to understand how it is used. Let’s take a look at what might happen when we try to use authentic learning with a group of kindergarten or elementary school children.

A day may start with a field trip to a park. The purpose of the visit is to research small bugs in the park. Students can speak to each other and their teacher about what they find. We must remember it is an explorative exercise, and cross-subject questions should be welcomed. Students may ask about the bugs, but they may also ask about the leaves and trees, they may ask about the upkeep of the park and the other people there, and they may ask about the weather on the day. At this point, they are guiding their own learning through inquisitive questions and are forming real-life connections to the subject. 

After a day in the park, students can be asked to write a story about some of the bugs they found and incorporate other learning on the day. Suddenly, real-life experiences have allowed them to learn about biology, social studies, and other subjects. When writing their stories, they improve their writing skills and maybe even art with some drawings. They can then listen to other stories, allowing a different perspective to their own. 

And there, we have the essence of authentic learning. We all use it in one way or another. We maybe just didn’t know the term. Humans always look to create patterns between what we learn and experiences in our own lives. It’s how we learn, so it’s how we teach. 

 

 

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How Theme-based Learning Accelerates Learning in the Early Years of the Child

In early years, it is important to instill a method of learning that will set up students for a lifetime of learning. It is especially important to create a love of learning in these formative times, which is why we use theme-based learning in kindergarten and nursery. Let’s take a look at what this means.

Theme-based learning allows students to learn a range of subjects under one single theme. When a student learns about something they can relate to the world around them, they start to pique their own curiosity and break the barriers of traditional academic subjects.

We can use the example of a class based around the theme of Travel. Students pretend to travel to Japan where many of the lessons incorporate history by learning simple things from Japanese history, such as the use of umbrellas, familiar tools or clothes from Japan that can be associated with children’s clothing, or food from Japan that is incorporated into the student’s snacks. These cultural aspects help students appreciate other cultures and widen their views of the world. Students also learn about Japanese culture when it is also integrated into their art and music subjects.

Maybe we could think about the theme of “Farm Animals”. One of the animals that are common in the farm are cows. Nursery students learn about the letter “C” for “cow”. Kindergarten 1 will learn different colors that a cow may have. And other kindergarten levels will learn other things about the cow, such as, what cows eat, how to milk a cow, and how does a cow help the farmer.

So now that we know what theme-based learning is, let’s dive into how this helps young learners.

Famous Swiss psychologist Jean Piaget said ‘children learn by doing’. A very apt quote and pertinent to theme-based learning. We can think about when a child learns to speak their first words or take their first steps, this is not achieved by instruction but by seeing and hearing their parents and attempting to imitate them. This innate way of learning never leaves us. We use it in kindergarten and nursery, all the way through school and even in adulthood.

In this way, theme-based learning is proven to be so effective in early childhood. Instead of a curriculum built around memorizing information, children are instead encouraged to be more practical, learning about the various aspects of any given theme. When a child is given an interesting theme and learns aspects of science, history, religion, etc. around said theme, they are no longer constrained to potentially tedious subject-centric classes.

We have learned a lot about what theme-based learning is and how it is so helpful for young learners. Now we can take a look at how it can be used in a practical sense, allowing kindergarten children to have fun and learn more efficiently.

One theme we could use in a classroom is sports. Let’s take a look at what a class about sport may look like and how it can incorporate other subjects into the learning.

  • The children can talk about their favorite sports, this starts a social interaction between students. At a young age, social interaction is of such importance and will shape how they work as a team and interact with society in general.
  • The children can partake in some sporting activities. Young children need exercise and muscle building to grow strong and healthy, this also furthers the social interactions and teamwork building that we talked about in the first point.
  • Many sports use numbers in their rules and scoring, children can start to build a foundation of mathematics from learning this and keeping score of the games they are playing.
  • A simple game such as throwing a ball can bring more math into the class. The children could measure the distance of their throws and even work out how much further one throw is to another. An example of this is one child throws 5 meters, another throws 7 meters, what is the difference?
  • Children can learn about sports played in different countries. This kind of activity brings social studies and even geography into play. They could use maps in group activities to point out which sports are most popular in various countries.
  • The use of maps could incorporate art into the learning by making their own presentations of sports around the world.
  • Reading short stories about sports and then answering questions about them will improve reading and comprehension abilities.
  • Writing their own short story or diary about playing sports will help their writing, grammar, and vocabulary skills.

So as you can see, there are a lot of ways to learn so many key topics on any given theme. The key of course is that children have fun while doing all of this and sometimes, they don’t even feel like they are learning. This is the key, learning while having fun is absolutely the most effective way to learn anything. This is true for children and adults too. As you are reading this now, you could probably think of a few hobbies and interests that you have. You have likely learned about this hobby in your spare time because you take pleasure in it, the learning does not feel like a chore at all. In fact, let’s say your hobby is gardening, you probably learned a lot about biology and chemistry to make sure your plants get the right nutrients and sunlight.

One last thing to mention but potentially one of the most important points is that theme-based learning allows children to explore and learn on their own, using a teacher as a facilitator. This sets up a lifelong habit of enjoying learning. It makes learning fun and not something that must be done just for grades. Simply put, when you love learning, you never stop learning. 

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Lanna Songkran New Normal 2022

Happy Songkran 2022 to everyone. We hope you have a joyous Thai New Year and we wish you all the blessings ahead. Be safe always.

These are some of the pictures from the Rod Nam Dam Hua ceremony held last April 8 before the Songkran break. We practice social distancing protocols during the ceremony. The ceremony is a Thai tradition where people pour scented water onto the hands of the elders. This year, Khun Penjit’s father, the original stakeholder board president, was present during the ceremony. Students, teachers, and staff lined up to pay their respects by pouring water onto the school leaders’ hands. There were also performances from selected students playing the Khim instruments and doing a traditional Thai dance.

This year the theme of the Songkran celebration was Lanna. Lanna is a place in the Northern part of Thailand that has a very distinct culture and costume. It’s a variation of the Thai people’s way of life. The students and teachers dressed up in the Lanna costume to celebrate that part of Thai culture. There was a costume contest and winners from each level were awarded a prize for their best costume.

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NIVA Students Received Medals from the International STEM Olympiad

The International STEM Olympiad is an international online competition platform in which students from grades 1 to 12 compete, and the questions are prepared in line with the philosophy of STEM education.

There were 7,695 participants from 93 different countries who joined the competition. Selected secondary students competed in this competition in various categories. The following four students were awarded the Bronze Medal:

1. Nadia Paesalasakul – Bronze in the Popular Science Division

2. Justin Pibulsombuti – Bronze in the Popular Science Division

3. Hyeseung Kim – Bronze in the Mathematics Division

4. Richard Petrasch – Bronze in the Mathematics Division

At the same time, Nadia Paesalasakul got the Honorable Mention as the Top place in Thailand and she also placed 7th in the Top Ten in the World in the Popular Science Division for Grade 12.

Congratulations on your hard work and we are so proud of you.