We aimed to provide students with a solid foundation for their second year study. The following is a description of four conducted activities:
We held a speech contest about how to express oneself with one’s own words in the beginning of the first year. The importance of logically expressing one’s opinion was conveyed by having students summarize their opinions in writing while analyzing them objectively. We focused on conscious listening in expressive activities such as writing and speaking in group activities and debates.
We incorporated several cooperative activities in the First Year Future Course. Students were encouraged to actively accept the opinions of others and to be open-minded. Students used the following process in order to express their opinions logically: Think on one’s own ➡ share with the group ➡ discussion ➡ summarize opinions in the group ➡ summarize one’s own opinion. Several opportunities were provided for each student to form his/her own opinion while listening to the opinions of others in group discussions. For example, a picture related to world poverty was shown, and each student shared his/her opinion based on his/her perception of the picture.
We raised students’ awareness on the importance of gaining understanding from various perspectives while accepting opinions that differ from their own. Furthermore, we encouraged students to gain an objective perspective of Japan while raising the awareness of its role in the world. Students learned about the relationship between domestic and global issues by discussing issues that are familiar to students such as the extinction of unagi (Japanese eel).
We held a debate competition in the second term. The aim of the competition was to further deepen students’ knowledge on current social issues through independent study and discussion as opposed to focusing on its outcome. A global issue was selected for the competition – Japan should accept more refugees from overseas. We raised the awareness of students concerning the role of Japanese citizens in a global society and observed an improvement of students’ attitudes towards several different global issues.
Students took the Benesse GPS-Academic exam to objectively evaluate the 5 skills and functions they had learned to date. This exam evaluated 3 essential thinking skills: critical thinking, collaborative thinking, and creative thinking. We plan to have students take the exam in the second year again, analyze and compare their performances in order to further improve of the curriculum.
We aimed to improve the five skills through the study on issues related to global themes. All second year students of literature and science majors were mixed regardless of the class they belonged to, and groups of approximately 5 members were formed. Each group was assigned to one of the six main themes: poverty and famine, conflict and peace, education, health and illness, trade and development, and sustainable development and environmental issues. Several teachers taught each theme and researchers such as professors from Okayama University were invited 3 times a year as advisory staff in order to obtain guidance from a professional perspective. Furthermore, we invited graduate and undergraduate students from the same university as teaching assistants to provide each group with specific advice. In order to solve issues from the previous year, we strived to focus on the following core items this year:
1. Thorough management of the schedule based on the improvement of worksheets.
2. Further rigorous cooperation with universities.
3. Hardware support conducive to a smooth progression of studies (maintenance of tablets and laptop computers)
This year, we included a keynote lecture in order to fulfill the requirements for the study of presentations. We invited representative students from Okayama Joto Senior High School, which is a designated Super Global High School in Okayama Prefecture, as guests to give presentations. We learned about cutting-edge research from keynote lectures by world-leading lecturers that significantly contributed to the selection of the references for our courses. Furthermore, students often learned from the presentations given by representative students from Okayama Joto Senior High School i.e. members of the same generation, and their work was extremely well-received.
Students were given opportunities to independently and efficiently progress their studies in SOZAN International Cramming School. This school suggests that it is possible to educate proactive students who are determined to take up challenges in solving issues through the aforementioned opportunities. These opportunities enable students to cooperate with others and demonstrate leadership skills when facing various challenges domestically and internationally in the future.
As of the end of February, there were 30 students enrolled: 15 students in the first year, 3 students in the second year, and 12 students in the third year. As a result, students were able to steadily progress in their studies and plan various activities due to the increased number of first-year students who enrolled in SOZAN International Cramming School increased since the previous year, and their respective high motivation and abilities. The theme selected was The Development and Distribution of the Energy-Efficient Eco-Car and students were divided into 4 groups in order to progress in their studies efficiently.
The following section describes the outline of concrete initiatives that were taken this year. These initiatives can be classified into 3 groups: collaboration with external members, collaboration with the prefectural Sozan junior high school, and cultivation of the global skills.
Regarding collaboration with other SGH schools, a student opinion/information exchange meeting with the International Secondary Education School affiliated with Tokyo Gakugei University was held in January. Two cram school students from this school participated in the meeting and both schools gave presentations on the issues that students studied and gave feedback to each other. We concluded that based on the survey completed by the participants, the meeting was valuable and they were able to learn about data collection methods and presentation techniques.
Furthermore, 13 first-year students of the cram school participated in the Issues Presentation held by Okayama prefectural Joto Senior High School. Group 1 presented orally on stage, whereas group 2 presented in a poster session.
All groups gave their presentation in English except for the group that presented in a poster session. Furthermore, last year we conducted a global training camp in Kobe with the collaboration of Kwansei Gakuin University, a SGU University. Students were not only able to progress in their studies, but were also provided with opportunities to improve their communication skills that steadily progress discussions by communicating with other members, occasionally demonstrating leadership skills and offering support.
Regarding collaboration with businesses, we have been collaborating with Marugo Rubber Industry Co. Ltd., whose headquarters will be located in Kurashiki from this year. Students were able to progress in their studies by visiting the Kurashiki factory in October, observing the manufacturing process of the rubber used in cars, and listening to concrete efforts made by a business entity in order to preserve the environment.
Regarding the short-term training in the United States in March, we plan to visit PML Inc., an affiliated company, give presentations on the issues that students studied, and get advice from American workers at PML Inc. Furthermore, a meeting with Lipscomb Academy in the United States has been confirmed and we plan to hold discussions concerning the issues in high schools and universities.
Thus, students will be able get several different types of meaningful advice by interacting not only with students from the same school, but also with students from other schools. We intend to further continue in increasing opportunities of this nature.
We have proactively collaborated with Sozan junior high school, a school whose reputation was moderate until the previous year. Two junior high school students participated in a short course on Table Manners. In addition, we made arrangements for students to be able to attend Global Lesson, a weekly class taught by foreign teachers on weekdays after class dismissal, from the second half of the second term. These collaborations provided students with valuable opportunities to gain interest in the activities conducted by the international cram school in high schools. We believe it is essential to further strengthen these kinds of collaborations concerning the issues students studied.
Regarding the presentation of the issues studied, we proactively offered students several opportunities such as the participation of first year cram school students in the Future Course Presentation organized by this school and the aforementioned participation in presentations in other schools. The participation in these events were established as goals and led to the fulfilment of daily activities in addition to the clarification of the role of the foreign instructors. One instructor was responsible for teaching Global Lesson, a course that was specifically designed to mainly improve presentation and discussion skills in English, whereas the other instructor was responsible for teaching Research Lesson, a course with the aim to provide students with the ability to draft theses and give presentations in English on the issues studied. Furthermore, cram school students participated in special lectures held by Shujitsu University and were given opportunities to give presentations in front of university professors and students.
Two initiatives were taken alongside collaborations with junior and senior high schools in order to achieve the cultivation of 5 skills and functions: comprehensive cultivation, problem solving skills, communication skills, leadership, and increased awareness on social contribution.
The consolidated themes for junior and senior high schools were established and the subjects were decided based on the consolidated themes. Initiatives to improve the quality of the lessons under the annual plan were taken with the collaboration of junior and senior high school teachers.
The Global Can-Do List was completed and classes were conducted based on this list.
We strived to improve the quality of the lessons by inviting advisory staff such as university professors throughout the year and listening to their advice.
The Okayama Sozan Junior/Senior High School Education Study Group was held from October to November. The respective results were announced and feedback was given, leading to further improvements.
Two Junior/Senior High School joint workshops were conducted. Common issues between junior and senior high schools were shared alongside attempts to improve the quality of the lessons through firm collaboration.
Global Communication, which is directed towards junior and senior high school teachers, was published. The initiatives and results of each subject were announced, and arrangements were made for sharing the study results among junior and senior high schools.
In the English Department, the lesson quality has been improved prior to the SGH designation based on SACLA. The SOZAN Activity-based Can-do List for Achievement Check is a list that describes the achievement level of goals in language activities that integrate input and output. Furthermore, learners were encouraged to cultivate a good balance of the 4 skills while conducting self-evaluation with the Achievement Check Sheet, a self-assessment table of students who had set SACLA as one of their goals. For the second year of SGH in this year, we have set the following goal as the aim for advanced language activities: The study of teaching methods and the improvement of language activities based on SACLA and Global Can-do List.
The proprietary list SACLA was enhanced by introducing additional language activities such as presentations and idea sharing based on the results from previous year lessons.
The learner’s model was discussed first in order to share our opinions and draft the list. In addition, we shared our opinions on how to use SACLA and Global Can-Do List in lessons based on the 5 skills and functions. We attempted to further deepen students’ knowledge by introducing SACLA and Global Can-Do List.
Concrete procedures in class were conveyed by conducting open classes and clarifying the principles of SACLA and Global Can-do List.
Verification was conducted by the analyzing objective data such as class observations, student progress in the Achievement Check Sheet, and GTEC for STUDENTS; a method that evaluates all language skills except speaking. GTEC for STUDENTS is conducted every year in December for first and second year senior high schools students and in July for third year students.