NIS Stories

A Special Place Called the Annex

Students gathered on the floor working together on a lesson.

The Annex is more than just a place of learning. As corny as that sounds, for Gr. 5 students, it is their home at NIS.  A bit separate from the rest of the campus, this is a space for only Gr. 5 learners as they transition from Elementary School and prepare for what awaits in Middle School.  It is truly a warm and comfortable place to learn. Surrounded by green on all sides, consisting of two open floors equipped with a back porch and balcony, the students quickly feel at ease.  Annex_entry

Here students are not assigned desks but rather are called to listen to a mini-lesson on the carpet and then sent to work at a workspace that suits them for that particular lesson.  Students move freely through their day in the Annex, and their hard work can be found all over its walls.

5G and 5W, the two Gr. 5 classes, do exist but mainly in name, as the 5th graders collaborate daily, have mixed classes in almost every lesson, and share teachers.  Students learn to be responsible with freedom, work with students from all over the world, and be powerful 'inquirers,' scientists, readers, writers, mathematicians, social scientists, and friends.Three boys in science class staring at a beaker waiting for a reaction.

This enhanced freedom, love of learning, and ability to work with others are all put to the test each year as the Gr. 5 students take on their biggest academic challenge so far in their school career. This is the PYP Exhibition. The PYP Exhibition is a rite of passage and an important milestone in the IB curriculum. And every year, this is when the Annex truly comes alive! Students explore their interests, the issues around a chosen interest, and ways that they can research. Then they are challenged to take action to make a difference.  This is a project where students work independently to become experts in their field of interest and then go out and make a change.  Exhibition culminates with the Annex being transformed into a gallery of all of the students learning about their issues. It also showcases their action to effect the change they envisioned during their PYP Exhibition process.

A boy presents his research project to two younger girl students during the PYP Exhibition.By the end of the year, the Annex truly does feel like a safe home where students can start to spread their wings and get ready to fly off into their new challenges in Middle School. 

Editor's Note: As we publish this, the Gr. 5 students have just completed their successful PYP Exhibition, highlighting a big part of their Gr. 5 and Annex experience. Watch the video that highlights their learning journey to get a glimpse of the process and what they experienced!