Gecko’s Choice – ISPP Elementary School (KG – G5)

Carina (HR teacher) and Dee (LS Teacher, KG-G2)

Gecko’s Choice is first introduced to Kindergarten students and then revisited at each grade level, to consolidate and extend their understanding of the different strategies that support them with conflict resolution.

Why teach conflict resolution?

“Conflict is a normal part of any healthy relationship. After all, two people can’t be expected to agree on everything, all the time.” Jeanne Segal, Ph.D., and Melinda Smith, M.A. – HELPGUIDE.ORG

“Problems don’t go away if you ignore them – in fact usually they get worse. It’s a good idea to face problems and get them sorted out as soon as you can.” Dr Kim – Kids’ Health

Helping students from an early age to learn the skills of conflict resolution prepares them for developing strong, healthy and successful relationships throughout their life.

Gecko’s Choice empowers students to solve their own ‘small/ minor’ problems in and out of the classroom. There are nine choices that are taught and practised with support. Students are encouraged to try two of these choices before asking an adult for help.


In Grade 1 Gecko’s choice is linked to the essential agreements created by the students at the beginning of school year. The first unit of inquiry, Interactions provided opportunities for the students to explore the problem-solving strategies of Gecko’s Choice.  Some examples of scaffolded learning included:

  1.     ‘I’ statements with sentence starters to support one of Gecko’s Choice, Talking it Out.


2.     We identified, explored and practiced different ways to calm down. This supports the Gecko’s Choice, Wait and Cool Off.


Booking Making in Action


Each student chose one of the calming down strategies they felt the most comfortable with, to create their page for their class book.


Later the book was published in book creator and shared with parents through the students’ individual blogs.

Visuals to Support Understanding

Earlier this year Karyn Templeton posted about the importance of using ‘common language’ to support our language learners.  She used the example of Gecko’s Choice.

In addition to the importance of using ‘common language’, visual support can also benefit not only our language learners but also our students who are not yet reading.

With the support of Adam Gibbard and the drawing skills of a secondary student, visuals have now been added to the Gecko’s Choice poster, making it more accessible to all students.



Making Connections

Valuing and Encouraging Students’ Family’s Contributions


In preparation for PEACE ONE DAY, Ms. Melinda’s Kindergarten class worked together to explore the word peace using the 5 senses. What does PEACE….

Look like?

Sound lIke?

 Feel like?

Taste like?

Smell like?

These 5 year olds had some great ideas which they shared in groups (every student was able to contribute at least one idea). The following day we did some shared writing. We created two 5 Senses poems using the ideas from the previous day.


PEACE DAY is celebrated in schools all over the world but to support home/ school connections these students were asked to take home the following.

Not all students completed the task with their families but those who did were given the opportunity to share their home learning task with their peers. The students’ work will be used to create a PEACE booklet which will be housed in their class library.


peace-mother-tongue            peace-mother-tongue-2

This was a simple activity that helped the students to make connections between school and home.


It Takes a Village to Raise a Child

Post by Dee & Carina

Murphy (2011, cited in Creating a multilingual learning environment) states that it is essential that in the first five years of a child’s life their mother tongue is not neglected as this can impact on their language development in both their mother tongue and an additional language.

Creating a multilingual learning environment highlights the need for schools and teachers to provide programmes that value and promote students’ mother tongue. A quote by Carder (loc. 451) below implies that maintaining a good level of ability in a student’s mother tongue is the sole responsibility of the school. However, from a different perspective, it is not a shared responsibility with parents? It is also just as important, if not more important that a student have their mother tongue and culture valued at home. A student who enters school with a good sense of identity in their own culture and language is more likely to succeed in learning a second language. Here at ISPP there are many students who have not fully developed an appreciation of their own language and culture. Some students have stated they don’t speak their mother tongue at home and neither do their parents.

It takes a village to raise a child and in this case, an internationally minded child that values multilingualism.

How can we at ISPP further develop our partnership with parents to enrich our students’ learning in an internationally minded environment?

“…if [international schools] are turning out students who are not fully literate in English, and who have lost a good level of ability in their mother tongue, then their claim on quality is questionable, and the damage done irrevocable.” Carder, loc. 451)



Throughout a student’s schooling they will make many transitions whether it be from home to school, class to class, elementary to secondary, school to school within the same city/ country or to another country across the globe.

It always amazes me how resilient children/ students can be but transitioning of any kind can be a very different experience for each individual. Making connections and developing new friendships is one aspect of any transition and some find it easier than others.

Today when I was chatting to one of the students about how they were finding it in Grade 1, it was heartwarming to hear that he had developed a new friendship with one of the newbies at ISPP. His face lit up when he told me that he had made a new friend. He continued to share with excitement that he was able to speak Korean with him as he too was from Korea. A connection was made, sowing the seeds of a new friendship.

Positive classroom relationships help to foster a sense of belonging. In addition,  one’s mother tongue can be a powerful tool in helping to preserve and communicate culture and cultural ties (Guvercin, 2010), reinforcing one’s sense of identity.

The following reading by Guvercin is worth a read


Personalized Learning for Students Requires Personalized Learning for Teachers

The G1 team have chosen to work together alongside the EAL teachers and the LS teacher to support each other in their professional learning. Kelly Martin’s reading suggests working/ learning collaboratively “with others who have shared mindsets,  goals, challenges and are solution oriented can provide powerful learning opportunities and build teacher efficacy.”

Collaboration in Action

We are at the initial stages of our planning and walkthroughs/ observations of each  other will be incorporated as a means to support our practice and, in turn, student performance. There is also the opportunity to sort feedback from our students.

Our team goal is to incorporate a variety of EAL strategies to enrich the literacy programme and further develop students’ language.

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