Visual Arts Stand Alone: Mandalas

In visual arts class this unit, students are creating mandalas and inquiring into the central idea: beliefs, values, and ideas are represented and communicated through symbols. Students will be assessed on the visual arts learning outcomes: responding (Phase 3) compare, contrast, and categorize artworks from a range of cultures, places, and times and creating (Phase 4) adjust and refine your creative process in response to constructive criticism.

Students began by learning about mandalas from around the world. They compared, contrasted, and categorized various mandalas by shape, size, purpose, material, and color.

Students created their own mandalas (each with a purpose) outside using natural materials.

This week, students completed an oil pastel study, which is one of the materials they will use for their final mandalas. Students also used two websites to create digital mandalas.

Next week, students will create a purpose for their mandalas. They will complete several pencil and color sketches and begin their final mandala.

Thinking conceptually through Mathematics

For the past couple of weeks the Year 6 students have been engaged in days of “Inspirational Maths” with Stanford Researcher, Jo Boaler. Some of the investigations students have been grappling with include finding patterns in Pascal’s Triangle, 100’s chart and identifying how shapes grow (as in the example below).

Students used a range of strategies to move their understanding forward, including drawing diagrams, constructing patterns using blocks, recording symbols, and discussing and sharing ideas. Please have a discussion with your child about what they have been doing in mathematics and have them share some of the patterns they have been exploring.

These investigations are aligned to our mathematics outcomes for pattern & function :

Phase 3

Transferring meaning into symbols

  • Describe  the rule for a pattern in a variety of ways
  • Represent rules for patterns using words, symbols and tables
  • Identify a sequence of operations relating one set of numbers to another
Phase 3

Applying with understanding

  • Select appropriate methods for representing patterns using words or symbols
  • Use number patterns to make predictions and solve problems
  • Use the properties and relationships of the four operations to solve problems
Phase 4

Constructing Meaning

  • Understand that patterns can be generalized by a rule








Developing our questioning skills and thinking conceptually

Being curious and asking deep questions is key to meaningful and inspiring learning. This week, we made progress in developing our questioning skills. A particularly powerful way to develop questioning skills is using the Philosophy for Children (P4C) approach. Under the P4C framework, students are encouraged to develop questioning skills, express and justify ideas, think conceptually, reflect on their own thinking and consider different perspectives. Over time, this approach builds a shared community of inquiry.

Using P4C, we viewed the picture book “The Rabbits” by John Mardsen and Shaun Tan. We recorded our ideas including key and related concepts connected to the text with the ‘thinking circles’ tool. We also posed questions and wonderings. Initial questions raised were related directly to the characters and precise events in the text. As we began to think more deeply and conceptually, we moved our thinking forward to create many deep questions. Students were also able to make clear links with our unit Lines of Inquiry. We sorted our questions using the Inquiry Question Quadrant in order to identify which questions we would like to pursue further. This resulted in a fascinating class discussion around the student generated and selected question “Why is conflict more powerful than peace”.

Please ask your child about the thinking tools we have been using to help frame and record our ideas.


Building a community of learners in Year 6

Year 6 began the first couple of days of the 2017 – 2018 academic year by beginning to build a positive and supportive community of learners. While many students know each other very well from previous years at Luanda International School, we are lucky to have some new learners to the school. It remains important to develop relationships in our community to ensure we all feel connected and a part of our dynamic learning culture.

Developing our Essential Agreements

This week we have spent some time thinking and talking about how we want our class ‘to be’ to ensure we have fun, feel safe in our environment, and enjoy our learning. Creating a class agreement, or Essential Agreement, is not about making a list of rules to ensure compliance, but rather, it is about developing a series of statements that support learning. One of the most important aspects of an Essential Agreement is that students feel a strong sense of ownership towards it.

We completed a series of learning engagements, including thinking about what a learner “looks like”, “feels like” and “sound like”; watched a couple of inspirational video clips (which you can view here , here and here) and identified key ideas and messages from these; and thought about what helps our learning versus what hinders our learning. Next week we will be connecting all these ideas to develop our class Essential Agreements.

Please ask your child about the purpose of an Essential Agreement and why they are so important.


Unit of Inquiry

We have commenced our first unit of inquiry for the 2017- 2018 academic year. We are inquiring under the Transdisciplinary Theme of Sharing the Planet. The unit framework details and overview can be found here.

As our initial provocation, designed to prompt thinking, emotions and wondering, the Year 6 classes combined to play ‘a game’ on the field… with no direction, expectations or rules.

Following the game we invested some time to reflecting on actions, reactions, responses, and emotions. After much thought and discussion, we identified a series of concepts and key words that could be used to describe the conditions associated with the game. We will be using these student generated concepts and key words to frame future learning engagements as we tune-in to the unit over the coming week.

Please ask your child about their role during the game on the field, how they felt and why.

Welcome to Year 6!

Welcome to Year 6 and the start of the 2017/2018 academic year! We hope you have had a great holiday. We look forward to getting to know your children and facilitate their learning through what will be an exciting and challenging journey.

We are dedicated to working as a collaborative team; ensuring students across the three classes have consistency in their learning program. Throughout the year we welcome your participation in special events and invite you to share your knowledge and experiences to support the students in their learning.

Eugene Comer (Year 6.1 Teacher, Building 4, Room 21)

My name is Eugene Comer, and I will be teaching 6.3 this year. This is my second year in Angola and prior to this placement I taught at International School Manila, in the Philippines. I am from Ireland and have previously spent a number of years working in the Irish school system. I am very much looking forward to working with your child this year.

Ju Garcia (Year 6.2 Teacher, Building 4, Room 22)

This is my sixth year of teaching at Luanda International School. Prior to working here I worked in North Carolina, USA and Sao Paulo, Brazil. I am looking forward to a great year.

Amelia O’Brien (Year 6.3 Teacher, Building 4, Room 23)

This is my second year at Luanda International School and I am excited to return! I am Australian and prior to being here in Angola, I lived and worked in Lao P.D.R, South-East Asia, where I taught both Year 5 and Year 6 at Vientiane International School. I look forward to a great year of learning and to working with you to support your child’s learning journey.

Odete Matias (Year 6 Teaching Assistant)

I have been working at LIS for the past three years in Year 6. I was born and raised in South Africa. I enjoy working with children and I love adventures and challenges. I am an optimistic person! I am looking forward to working with your children.


This year our main means of communication to parents about learning in Year 6 will be through our class blog. On this blog we will be sharing information about the students’ learning engagements, the curriculum, lots of pictures of the goings on in the class and some recommendations about how you as parents can assist your child’s learning. You will find our class blogs at the following addresses:

6.1: (

6.2: (

6.3: (

So that you can stay in touch with all the learning going on in our class, we recommend that you check the blog regularly. We also recommend that you subscribe to our blog so that you receive a weekly email that will include links to all of the newest postings. We hope that you enjoy seeing many of the exciting things we will be getting up to this year and take the time to discuss the blog posts with your child.

We look forward to meeting you on September 1st for the Parent-Teacher Connection Meetings, however please do not hesitate to visit our classes prior to that day.

If you wish to email your child’s teacher, please see the relevant contact details as below:

Amelia O’Brien:
Ju Garcia:
Eugene Comer:

Image source: Welcome by Nathan