The mission of the Laboratory Schools in national universities is to show leading models of student teaching and educational research. Regarding educational research, one of the goals of the University of Tsukuba Laboratory Schools is to establish the bases for primary and secondary education responding to the needs of society, where practice models are shown for acquisition of basic academic skills with international perspectives and for system of life-span learning.
Three bases are as follows: leading education center, teacher education center, and international education center. These three centers are the frames to seek for the goals to promote activities of the Laboratory Schools, and also function as core for future of the Laboratory Schools.
1. Leading Education Center
~Research and development to establish the bases of the education in our country~
①Research and development of an integrated primary and secondary educational curriculum
- This research is primarily conducted by the special Yonko-ken, “Four School Research Group,” which consists of university facilities, in addition to affiliated elementary, junior high and senior high laboratory schools of the University.
- In addition to open houses at each school, every year there are joint elementary, junior high and high school teaching seminars.
- Field trips are made to internal and external integrated schools.
- Visitation training is conducted to national and overseas schools which take an integrated primary and secondary educational curriculum.
②Research into cooperation linkage of the senior high schools and the University
~To Take Advantages of “Linkage” System of University of Tsukuba~
• In the 2015 academic year, as a part of the “Project for Establishing Inclusive Educational Systems (School Clusters),” a project commissioned by Ministry of Education, Culture, Sports, Science and Technology (MEXT), a special lecture was given by Professor Yoshiyuki Sankai of University of Tsukuba. Furthermore, a symposium was held under the theme of “living together with people from various backgrounds and different cultures.”
School events for developing independent thinking in children
In cooperation with other schools, various school events, including traditional events, are often held at each affiliated school and in each section Implementation, educational guidance, event preparation, and the effects of these events on children’s development were examined. Additionally, workshops were held in which events at each school were discussed in terms of the following issues:
- Main school wide events held at each school (overall image)
- Case studies on main events (for example, traditional events and inter-school or inter-departmental events)
- “Educational intentions” on a case by case basis (goals, assessments, etc.)
- Introduction of literature related to school events In the 2015 academic year, educational intentions (goals, assessments, etc.) were discussed in terms of school events. Furthermore, the aims of these events as well as understanding of a school’s culture and social climate were confirmed through children’s reaction to participation in the events.
④Research project 2
Research for utilizing ICT in school education
- In the 2015 academic year, various Information and Communication Technologies (ICT) were utilized in lessons at each affiliated school as well as at local schools in nationwide. Moreover, we held seminars featuring invited ICT experts; these events emphasized the effective use of ICT equipment in educational settings.
- The effects of ICT usage were examined through comparison of lessons with and without ICT use. Results indicated that in math class, for example, ICT utilization enabled the children to pay closer attention to correspondence and changes in their work, which allowed the students to give greater reflection in opinions and aided in explanations. ICT use also allowed the students to write more quickly and accelerated the speed of lesson development.
- In the 2015 academic year, a report including numerous practical cases of ICT utilization was written as a summary of past three years’ study. This report was distributed to relevant organizations.
⑤Research on the supporting system for children with special needs
- The Center for Counseling and Development Support Services of University of Tsukuba and the Laboratory Schools have supported children who need special attention such as those who are chronically school phobia, have developmental problems, and behavioral issues.
- Since the Committee of Promoting Support in Education launched in 2010, we have hold meetings to discuss among the special support education coordinators and school health teachers the status of children requiring support in each Laboratory School.
- The Committee for Promoting Support in Education has adopted an agenda that is suitable for training special support education coordinators in our Laboratory Schools.
- In addition, a school counselor was assigned to each school in 2011, and a specialist team has also been organized to help with their activities.
- In June 2013, teachers were encouraged to attend seminars for training education counselor coordinators at external facilities, and they were also able to supplement their own teacher training.
- In the 2013 academic year, as part of survey and research work contracted by the Japanese Ministry of Education, Culture, Sports, Science and Technology, an attempt was made to utilize ICT for younger and older students in order to understand the difficulties they have in normal grades, and a handbook was created entitled “Handbook for Utilizing ICT for Children with Developmental Disabilities: Normal Grade Edition.” It was distributed to education committees, education centers, etc., throughout Japan.
- Special support education coordinators were given explanations of their specific roles and functions. The coordinators were also required to compile lists of children with special needs. Therefore an overall school support system was established.
⑥“Kagakunome (Buds of Science)” Prize
~Contest for helping students develop interests for nature and science~
The Kagakunome Prize was started in 2006 as a part of the centenary project and youth program commemorating the birth of Dr. Sin-itiro Tomonaga. We only had about 650 entries for the first contest, but it has been 10 years, in 2015, and we had over 2,380 entries including entries from oversea Japanese schools.Around December 20 every year, we invite the prize winners and others to a presentation and award ceremony. In 2016, University of Tsukuba Press will also publish “We Want to Know More ! The World of Kagakunome, Part 5.”
2. Teacher education center ~Leadership in educating teachers~
①Teacher’s license renewal program
- University of Tsukuba which has an educational tradition dating back to the foundation of the Higher School of Teachers conducts the Laboratory School Practical Seminars based on the Tsukuba Curriculum.
- The seminars are held in Tsukuba district and Tokyo district. University of Tsukuba had a total of about 5,100 program attendees in 2015, and among them, approximately 2,500 attendees were accepted by Tokyo area schools. Where the Laboratory Schools play the main role in implementing this program.
- By having the division of the Laboratory School Practical Seminars, it is possible to develop individual seminars for each unique Laboratory School. Throughout open house and discussion of research, attendees are able to learn the latest education to review their own educational skills. In the 2015 academic year, there has been a total of 20 seminars, about two seminars at each school.
- At the Komaba Junior High School and Senior High School, and the Special Needs Education School for the Visually Impaired, there were total of 23 seminars about “The Future Vision and the Problems of Today’s Education” and “Experiencing the New World of Education” in the end of August.
- Beginning in the 2016 academic year, “Compulsory Elective Courses” will be offered in a new division. Attendees will be able to select subjects including contents suitable for each person’s needs regarding “The Latest Educational Situation (Current Educational Issues).”
②In-service teacher training
- Traditionally about once a year, all Laboratory Schools attract participants from all over Japan by hosting open research conferences (the name differs depending on the school).
- Open Research Conference of the Tsukuba Laboratory Schools is held once a year to have a place to report their research projects. The research thesis for 2015 was “Current educational challenges and problems that need to be addressed-Messages from the Laboratory Schools of University of Tsukuba.”
- In a tie-up with the Japan International Cooperation Agency (JICA), we accept in-service teachers from Asia, Africa and Latin America.
- Under a partnership agreement between Daigo Town, Ibaraki Prefecture, and University of Tsukuba, we offer teacher training for the town.
③Cooperation between Ordinary Laboratory Schools and Special Needs Education Schools
~Utilizing the unique attributes of all 11 Laboratory Schools~
In order to strengthen the linkage of 6 ordinary Laboratory Schools and 5 Special Needs Education Schools (for a total of 5 schools of the Visually Impaired, Deaf, Mentally Challenged, Physically Challenged, and Autistic), we launched the Committee for Promoting Cooperation between Ordinary Laboratory Schools and Special Needs Education Schools with the aim of ensuring that Ordinary Laboratory Schools can play an effective role in Special Needs Education Schools by hosting class visits for teachers or class exchanges where students can interact.
• Furthermore, in the 2015 academic year, MEXT commissioned us to work on the “Project for establishing inclusive educational systems (School Clusters)”, with the goal of facilitating interactions and cooperative learning among affiliated schools. We also conducted workshops on “Communal life at Kurohime Plateau” and “Lectures and symposiums aiming at cohesive society,” among others.
④Examination for the special needs education teacher’s certificate
~Supporting special needs education teacher to obtain the certificate~
We have been contracted by the Ministry of Education, Culture, Sports, Science and Technology to hold the examinations for the special needs education teacher’s certificate (first-class license for support of independence), and about 300 applicants take the examination every year (the primary examination is in August and the secondary examination is in October). In 2015, the certificate examinations for independent activity education for children with a visual impairment or speech impediment were held and total of 14 applicants earned the certificate.
~Offering high quality educational seminars~
At University of Tsukuba about 700 undergraduate students and graduate students apply for practice teaching every year, and about a third of them get accepted as student teachers to conduct a class in June or September. Teachers of the Laboratory Schools participate in the preliminary guidance, an orientation which is held in March in the previous academic year and after the seminars as lecturers. In addition, the Laboratory Schools greatly support “Fundamental Practices in the Teaching Profession,” “Practitcal Teaching Exercise,” and “Experiences in Care-Giving,” to do open campus or seminars.
3. International education center ~Globalization of the children and the teachers~
①Introducing globalized education
Since establishing the Committee for the Promotion of International Education at the Laboratory School, schools have been exchanging ideas for activities with each other.
- International exchanges among young students Intensive efforts are made to promote international exchanges among young students, short-term overseas study, overseas field trips, accommodation of visitors from foreign schools, participation in conferences and other events held overseas, and exchanges of e-mails, among other things. (Exchange countries) China, Singapore, South Korea, Taiwan, Thailand, Australia, the United States, Indonesia, India, African countries, France, etc.
- Overseas teacher exchanges
Teachers are encouraged to develop an international perspective through such means as exchanges of classroom techniques in other countries, lectures on demand, and observations of foreign educational organizations.
- The “English Room”
After school, teachers can enhance their interest in foreign countries and countries through periodic daily conversations with teachers from overseas.
- Issue of reports
Volume 7: “Development of New Activities for ‘International Education Centers’ for the Laboratory Schools-Aiming to facilitate cultivation of human resources that would create a diverse and cohesive society”, 2015 academic year
②Education of overseas teachers
- Receiving training at the laboratory schools
At the behest of JICA, we explain faculties in developing countries about school education in Japan through classroom observations and study at our Laboratory Schools.
- Dispatch of teachers
Teachers from our Laboratory Schools visit developing countries, to provide educational support and exchange information with local teachers.
③International exchanges with young students from our Laboratory Schools (mainly 2015 academic year)
- Elementary School: Exchanges with an elementary school in San Francisco, and Exchange programs with students from the University of California
- Junior High School: Short-term study in U.S., short-term exchange with a school in Singapore
- High School: Participation in Asia-Pacific Young Leaders Summit, Exchanges between Hwa Chong High School in Singapore, Interchanges between Japanese and Chinese high school students, Tsukuba-UBC Global Leaders Program
- Junior High and Senior High School at Komaba: Interchange with National Taichung First Senior High School and Busan International High School, Korea
- Senior High School at Sakado: High School Students’ International ESD Symposium as a Super Global High School (SGHS) featuring exchange programs and cooperative learning with students from Kornita Senior High School and Bogor Agricultural University Indonesia.
- Special Needs Education School for the Visually Impaired: Participation in projects for supporting vocational education for the visually impaired
- Special Needs Education School for the Deaf: Mutual exchanges and visits with the Paris National School for the Deaf, Exchanges using Skype with Seoul National School for the Deaf.
- Special Needs Education School for the Mentally Challenged: Dance exchanges with African trainees
- Special Needs Education School for the Physically Challenged: Exchanges with Sae Rom School in South Korea (Sending of delegates from affiliated elementary/junior high/senior high schools, acceptance of the delegation from Samyook Rehabilitation School), exchange project using the Internet
- Special Needs Education School for Children with Autism: Exchange activities with observers from overseas
④Research project 3
“Practical training for nurturing an international nature in children”
Major projects in the 2015 academic year
- Examination of mechanisms for improving internationality: Development of the “Intercultural Experience Inventory” and examination of correlations between this inventory and internationality
- Providing information based on the activity model designed for developing children’s internationality: Written reports on the effects of students’ direct experience abroad (overseas training trips) were presented at academic conferences.
- Facilitating collaboration among various experts: Guests specializing in international business were invited to workshops; discussions were held with associated researchers.
~International peace education~
Under its “Olympic Education Platform”, University of Tsukuba has established the Special Committee for Promoting Olympic Education in the Laboratory Schools” which is promoting “Olympic education” as international peace education.
• Practical education for Olympic education
- Survey on practical education for Olympic education and participation conducted at all affiliated schools
- Opening of the Olympic Education Forum
- Issuance of Volume 4 of “Olympic Education”
- “Hospitality” courses conducted at affiliated schools
- Cooperation and review on the “Project for Olympic and Paralympic Movement Research in 2015,” which was proposed by the Japan Sports Agency
- Teachers participated in educational seminars, civic forums, and workshops held in Miyagi, Kyoto, and Fukuoka prefectures and discussed the direction of Olympic and Paralympic education that would be given at affiliated schools.