Projects and School Closure

Hello TYIS Middle School Parents,

In connection with the school closure, your children brought home some work to complete over the extended break. Students can contact me at any time via Slack if they have any questions about their country profile project, and I will respond as soon as possible. I will have my computer with me during the entire school closure as well as during spring break.

While it’s unfortunate that the middle school trip to Nagasaki was postponed, I am so proud of all the hard work that students put into planning and preparing for this trip. Students also worked hard researching the tragic bombing of the city and the circumstances of the Second World War (the impacts of which still echo throughout Asia) as part of an interdisciplinary Social Studies/Language Arts project. I hope to have more integrated projects between social studies and language arts as we move forward! Vocabulary and writing skills are so important to both disciplines.

Another way for students to make good use of the downtime this spring is to try reading a non-fiction book about social studies topics, watching a documentary, or even viewing one of many entertaining and age-appropriate YouTube videos about history.

Wishing you all good health and looking forward to a great Term 3!

Mr. Gossel

Grade 7 and 8 Projects: Design a Manor and Advertise an Invention

As we approach Ski Camp and our Middle School Trip to Nagasaki, TYIS Middle School students have a lot to be excited about! In the meantime, we are still learning a lot and creating some cool projects right here at school.

Grade 7 is studying Medieval Europe, and are working their creative skills to design and draw an original feudal manor — a tiny, mostly self-sufficient kingdom of their own creation!

Grade 8 is studying the Industrial Revolution, and to learn more about the world-changing innovations of the time period, they undertook a two-part project in which they researched and took on the role of a 19th-century inventor and then created an advertisement that promotes their revolutionary creation.

I’m looking forward to sharing lots of photos from our upcoming trips. Check in next month and in March to have a look!

2020 Middle School Trip Presentations

Dear Middle School Parents,

We are happy to announce that after lots of hard work, research, and rehearsal, the middle school students have completed their proposals for the middle school trip. While we ultimately decided upon Kyushu/Nagasaki as our 2020 trip destination, all groups did an excellent job planning their presentations.

Planning a group trip is challenging work, and I think that all students were able to develop many valuable life skills (budgeting, scheduling, research, etc.) through this exercise. Feel free to take a look at the student trip proposal slideshows here:

Korea – (G7) Olivia, GyuWon, Sarara
Kyushu – (G8) Kokoro, Haruya
Osaka – (G7) JaeHun, Riki, YooJae
Hokkaido – (G7) Krishay, Lin, Hisato, Yuki

Social Studies Standards and Content: What Are We Learning?

At TYIS we use the AERO (American Education Reaches Out) standards for our social studies classes in both elementary and middle school. AERO is a project supported by the U.S. State Department’s Office of Overseas Schools to assist schools in developing and implementing standards-based curricula:

These AERO standards inform our decisions regarding the kinds of social studies competencies we teach and assess. As for content, the curriculum expands from a local, personal level outward towards the wider world as students advance through the grades. For example, lower elementary school students learn about their community and society, and upper elementary school students begin to build upon this with the geography and history of Asia.

In Grades 6-8, we study World History divided into three segments:

Grade 6: Early Humans and Ancient Civilizations
Grade 7: Middle Ages Around the World
Grade 8: Early Modern and Modern Era

In grades 7-8, alongside AERO, our social studies content decisions are informed by a variety of sources, including the History-Social Science Content Standards for California Public Schools and McGraw Hill’s “Journey Across Time” textbook.

In our case, the focus is on areas outside of East Asia for the earlier time periods (in part to strike a balance with our focus on Asian history and geography in upper elementary school) but brings the story back together in a global, integrated way by the early modern period.

Our content areas for Grade 7 and 8 are the following:

Grade 7:
Ancient Rome
Rise of Christianity and Islam
Medieval Europe
Renaissance and Reformation
Age of Exploration and the Americas
Scientific Revolution and Enlightenment

Grade 8:
Conquest, Colonialism, and Revolution in the Americas
Industrialism and Nationalism
Imperialism Around the World and World War 1
Political Ideologies and World War 2
Cold War and Current Issues

I enjoy our class discussions and am excited to see their knowledge of the wider world, critical thinking skills, and writing abilities continue to grow and develop.

As always, thank you for your support. Parent-teacher conferences for middle school will be held on Wednesday, November 27th and follow an open format. Please feel free to drop in anytime between 8:00 a.m. to 4:00 p.m if you have any questions, concerns, or just want to check in about your child’s progress.

Kind regards,
Mr. Gossel

Legacy of Rome: Presentations

MS parents,

This week 7th grade students completed their unit on Ancient Rome. For our final project, student groups created posters and presentations about the lasting impact of Ancient Roman civilization on our world today in three categories: Engineering and Architecture, Language, and Law and Government.

Students were able to conduct their own research and everyone got an opportunity to teach their classmates a bit of what they had learned. Here are a few pictures from presentation day!

– Mr. Gossel

What is an “Appetizer” in Our Social Studies Classes?

Hello, Grade 7 and 8 Parents!

Every day in our social studies classes we begin each lesson with an “appetizer” activity. But what is an “appetizer”?

Of course, when you go to a restaurant and order an appetizer, you will receive some small dish to whet the appetite before you enjoy the main course.

In our social studies classes, the “Appetizer” serves the same purpose!

Each day, before delving into the main lesson of the day, we think, write about, and discuss two or three open-ended questions. Some days the questions relate directly to the social studies content we are studying in obvious ways. Other days, the goal is to open a discussion or debate where students can share their opinions and develop their critical thinking skills. As many of these questions have no one specific right or wrong answer, this requires children to develop their ability to reason and support an argument with evidence.

From questions about ethics, language, and current events, to things of more immediate everyday relevance to student’s lives like their ideas for improving the school, I aim to expand the scope of social studies class beyond just studies of the past and geography (though we are certainly learning about these as well!) to learning how to be all-around more informed, observant, logical members of society.

Through these “appetizers” we enjoy many interesting discussions together as a class, and help get our brains into motion before taking on our world history content!

8th Grade students are learning about North and South America, from its geography to its native peoples and how they (and the whole world) were impacted by European colonization of this “New World”.

Currently, the 7th Grade students are learning about the accomplishments and legacy of ancient Rome, and will soon begin working on a presentation and project to reflect their studies. I look forward to sharing more about this (and photos!) next update!

Best wishes,
Mr. Gossel

Welcome to Mr. Gossel’s Social Studies Page!

Dear Grade 7 and 8 Parents,

Welcome back to school! I hope you all have had a great summer vacation and were able to enjoy the season together with your families.

My name is Dan Gossel, and I will be the Social Studies teacher for TYIS Grades 7 and 8 this year. This will be my first year at TYIS, but I am very excited to get to know everyone and I look forward to a great school year together!

I will be posting updates about various topics, such as lesson content, events, projects, and so on, throughout the year so please check in from time to time!

For my first post, I would like to introduce myself and talk a little bit about my vision for this school year.

I am from a small town in the state of Ohio in the United States, a place quite different from Tokyo! I graduated with a B.A. in History from Ohio University and completed my teacher training program at Humboldt State University in California. There I taught world history at the middle school level until I decided to take a leap and try living and working abroad. I came to Japan in 2014 as part of the JET Programme in Miyagi Prefecture. I initially only intended to stay in Japan for a year or two before returning to the United States, but during my time in rural Tohoku I fell in love with the country and developed a passion for learning about Japan’s language, history, and culture. I am excited to be a part of international education in Japan and I aim to spark a lifelong love of social studies among the students here at TYIS.

I am married and live with my wife, Kiyoe, in Chiba. Some of our shared hobbies include taking road trips through the countryside by car, and our love of Japanese professional baseball (Go Tohoku Rakuten Golden Eagles!). Among my other hobbies are Japanese study, reading, visiting hot springs, goshuin seal collecting, and trying new foods from as many regions and countries as I can!

I will be responsible for teaching all social studies classes at the middle school level here at TYIS and will also be involved with reading classes and the “Core Values” character education program along with Mr. Serpico and Ms. Rachel.

The 7th Grade Social Studies curriculum will focus on the middle period of world history, building upon the foundation of ancient world history they studied in 6th Grade. In 8th Grade, students will continue to learn about world regions in greater detail as they progress into the Modern Era. Alongside the core history content, we will also delve into topics such as physical and human geography and current events. My foremost goal is to facilitate students in clearly understanding the link between the past and the present and to help everyone here at TYIS grow as informed global citizens.

I look forward to learning together! Let’s have a great year.

– Mr. Gossel