Studying Mathematics HL with a global perspective
My name is Karenna and I am a junior at Joseph C. Wilson Magnet High School in Rochester, New York. I take the IB Mathematics HL course on Pamoja. Outside of school, I am a varsity rower, I play cello in a piano trio, and I am a member of the mechanical sub-team of a FIRST Robotics Team, the Wilson X-Cats.
I have always been interested in STEM and specifically mathematics, from taking math courses during the summer to participating in my robotics team. I love the logic and the challenge surrounding each process in math. As I advance in math, I have started to learn the ‘why’ behind processes that I took for granted and delve into the reason behind math, which is part of the reason why I have been enjoying this IB course so much. IB teaches me, not only to do, but to constantly question and evaluate my thought processes. In the context of math, this translates into learning the history about formulas and how they were developed as well as gaining vital communication skills.
In terms of the Pamoja course, the teachers are extremely clear and available for questions. The group discussion forums and projects are one of my favourite parts because they allow you to interact with students from around the world. For example, in my group project right now, there is a girl living in Barbados. IB promotes intercultural and global understanding and that focus is evident every day that I discuss logarithms with a hundred teenagers from around the world, or am in a live lesson with students from Japan and Argentina, even more than in a standard classroom.
If I had one piece of advice for a new Pamoja student, it would be surrounding time-management. Pamoja is extremely clear about the course timeline week by week, but when you don’t have a classroom teacher nagging you about your workload, it becomes much more about self-motivation. This is an extremely important skill for the future, so working on developing it now will only help you in the long run! Make sure you stay on top of the timeline and are clear and communicative with your Pamoja teacher because this not only increases you understanding of concepts, it also allows you to develop your communication skills.
Given I am a student athlete, I thought I was previously good at time management, but taking an online course has pushed me to prioritize and develop my own schedules. It is more flexible than a formal class, which allows you to do lessons at home or on weekends, which is advantageous for me with such a busy schedule. The self-driven aspect of the course has also pushed me to understand the concepts even more fully.
Karenna - student at Joseph C. Wilson Magnet High School, New York
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My transfer experience: dedicated teachers and a global community
My name is Chloe and I am a Pamoja IB DP transfer student. At the beginning of my IB journey I had just moved from China to Sweden, and wanted to continue learning Mandarin. However, my new school didn’t offer it and so I was given the chance to take the course online with Pamoja. I enjoy learning languages; aside from Mandarin and English I also speak a bit of Swedish and understand a lot of Indonesian. I believe that learning many languages will be beneficial later on in life, especially as the world becomes more and more globalised.
I started the course at the beginning of the second year, and so I was initially unsure as to how I would find catching up. Luckily, there was a transfer student orientation which was really helpful; it made me understand Pamoja and how my online course would work. The catch up ended up being no problem because I had a very supportive teacher who was always there to help me when I needed it. The process was very smooth, and it also helped that I was eager to learn!
I’ve been a part of an international community since I was very young, and being in Pamoja offered that unique experience again. I am currently living in Sweden but have lived in Kuala Lumpur for six years and China for ten years. As you can imagine, moving to a new school on the other side of the world is a very sharp contrast, so I was really happy to know that the friends I was making were within that globalised community. I completed the transfer student orientation with students from other subjects too, and during the process we spoke with some of the teachers and answered various questions about where we were from, and where we were living. It was really interesting to hear everyone’s international backstory and also see just how huge Pamoja actually is!
Through taking my Pamoja Mandarin course, I’ve become a lot more diligent in my work because I’ve been much more responsible for my own learning compared to in a face-to-face class. Instead of fulfilling somebody else’s expectations I’ve been fulfilling my own and achieving a lot more because of that. I’m also a lot better at communicating my difficulties; I really had to vocalise my issues with the teacher and get support which gave me a lot more confidence in asking for help. I loved my teacher – she was so wonderful and supportive. I honestly wouldn’t have been as successful as I was if I hadn’t had such a dedicated teacher.
The skills that I’ve gained in the last year are definitely lifelong, and learning with Pamoja really does help with university. I was speaking to other students who took a Pamoja course the year before me and they said it had been amazing for their university applications as well as in gaining experience of that learning style. My parents thought it would be a really good experience because digital education is the future, and they were right! I also loved the format of the platform; it was very easy to use and made your progress through the course really visual.
I’m very glad I had the opportunity to do my Mandarin course online with Pamoja. It was different from what I was used to but I actually really enjoyed that, and it has benefited me immensely.
Chloe - former student at Kungsholmens Gymnasium, Stockholm
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Confidence, independence and global friendships: my Pamoja experience
I started studying my Diploma Programme with Pamoja two years ago. At that time, I was not a confident student; I used to hesitate to ask my teachers or classmates anything in case they thought my questions were stupid. Now, after two years of studying online with my scholarship, I’m more open with my teachers and my communication skills have improved. I’m much happier to ask questions both in and out of class, and because of that I learn a lot more.
As well as helping me gain the confidence to ask questions, learning with Pamoja has drastically improved my time management skills. I fully understand my abilities now; I know my strengths and weaknesses in each subject. One surprising thing I learnt along the way is that maths is my best subject! Through learning independently, I realised I don’t particularly need a teacher – once a mathematical concept is introduced I can figure the rest out on my own.
Online learning is particularly well suited to International Baccalaureate group 3 subjects like ITGS. When studying these subjects face-to-face in a ‘regular’ classroom environment, the resources given to you are very limited. Unlike this, Pamoja allows us the flexibility to choose our own resources. The topics are not limited by what you have in your textbook; you’re given the headings and can explore the themes in anyway that you choose to. In a face-to-face class teaching one particular topic, I might know nothing about it, whilst the person next to me may know everything. This would make the lesson a waste of time for them. With Pamoja, if you’re good at a topic you can spend less time on it, choosing to spend that time going deeper into areas that you need more work on; it’s an exceptionally efficient way to use study time.
This flexibility and independence does take some adjusting to, but as you can imagine I am well adapted to it now! I know how much time to give to each subject, how to study it, and what part of the course is best for me. For example, for ITGS the discussions are really helpful, but in languages like English and Mandarin the course content itself is of more use. Discussions are for sharing your learning with classmates, and in ITGS this is where you get a lot of content.
The highlight of my experience with Pamoja was definitely group work in ITGS. I was always assigned students that weren’t from my country – in India, Germany, Singapore etc. At first it was relatively difficult to communicate with them, but because we had the same group members each week I got to know them so much better. We made a Skype group, followed by a Whatsapp group, and have become very close. Even though I’ve never met them, we are now great friends and regularly share resources, discuss other subjects and exams. The biggest advantage of this multi-cultural set up is perspective. By living in countries all over the world, each of my classmates has a different perspective and often a different way of learning. Although time zones could occasionally be tricky – the deadlines were at 3am for us here – if anything it just meant I’d finish my work early. Occasionally online conferences were at awkward times, but they’d all be recorded so we could go back and look at them when it suited us. The fact that all lessons and conferences are recorded is something you don’t get in a face-to-face class, and is a real edge.
Overall, I’ve really enjoyed my Pamoja scholarship. I am now a confident, independent person with the ability to manage my time effectively, and I’m looking forward to taking these skills into the next stage of my life.
Aayisha – student at GEMS Wellington Academy, Silicon Oasis
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My Pamoja Scholarship helped me get into university
My name is Raghav, and I’m coming to the end of a two-year scholarship with Pamoja. I study the International Baccalaureate Diploma Programme (IB DP) at GEMS Wellington Academy, Silicon Oasis; a few of my classes are face-to-face, and the rest are online using the Pamoja platform.
Before I was offered the chance to apply, I hadn’t ever heard of anyone getting an IB scholarship. It’s very unique – Pamoja offered an incredible opportunity for me and my classmates and the benefits have been numerous. Most recently, I completed my university applications and the experience of learning online gave me a huge advantage; both in terms of skill set and the format itself. It was the one thing that I wrote about for every application because it made me stand out. It definitely helped me to get in to most of the universities I applied for and it’s also been a fantastic experience all round.
Before Pamoja, I was always taught traditionally. When I started my scholarship, I was suddenly learning everything I needed to know in a really flexible online environment. However, when I first began, the transition to learning online was pretty hard. I had no physical textbooks as all resources are online, which was very different to what I had previously known. Luckily the Pamoja platform is really simple, well-structured and easy to navigate. I think anyone can use it and so it didn’t take too long to adjust. On top of that it’s given me many skills that will benefit me at university.
The first and foremost skill I have acquired during my two-year scholarship is the ability to learn independently. I think that’s really important; I used to need to be pushed by a teacher before learning to do it all on my own. Thanks to a supportive environment and regular weekly assignment deadlines, I’ve learnt to work hard. I wasn’t used to it, but that is part of studying the IB as much as anything else and to succeed at university students need to be able to put in the work. I’ve also learnt to manage my time which is an invaluable life skill. When you study online you’ve got to get the work done – there’s a deadline – but you can do it however/whenever you want. This flexibility is unique to Pamoja and it makes you great at independent learning; a skill that universities look for.
You also get exposed to many different cultures when studying with Pamoja. By studying with and learning from people all around the world, you become internationally minded and that’s something you don’t get in a regular classroom. In more traditional classrooms you only interact with students who live where you live, but with Pamoja you interact with people globally. Online lessons always stand out for me because everyone joins in and engages with each other. I remember one conference I had for Spanish class with students from England, Italy – so many other places! It was really fun meeting new people and I’ve made friends with a couple of students in different countries after getting to know them really well during the scholarship.
I would definitely recommend Pamoja to students thinking about doing the IB DP, but only if they’re willing to put in their own work, because it’s expected of you. You get a lot of support, but still need to be self-driven.
Universities really search for students who can take them forward and are different. If there’s one thing that separates me from other students, it’s online learning and my scholarship. Most people associate online learning with higher education more than school, so it’s a big plus if a university gets a student who is already adapted to that way of studying. It’s a plus that no face-to-face teaching can really give. At university, you have lectures and then you go home and learn it; we already did that with Pamoja.
Raghav – student at GEMS Wellington Academy, Silicon Oasis
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Learn Chinese, double your world!
汉语桥 － 学会中国话，朋友遍天下
My name is Santiago, I attend high school in Argentina, and I am a Pamoja 2015-2016 November session student, part of the online IBDP Mandarin ab initio course.
In August 2015, I participated in the local round of the Chinese Bridge Competition, a Chinese-speaking competition for foreign high school students. I had already competed in the Chinese Bridge two years ago, and had actually travelled to China because of the competition to observe (since I wasn’t old enough to compete) the second round of the competition. This time, I was determined to get first place just like last time, and travel once again, but this time to participate in the international competition.
There were several reasons why I chose to sign up for this competition once again. First, after learning Chinese for four and a half years, the last half of which was through Pamoja, I wanted to measure my level of Chinese against the other competitors. Second, I wanted to put into practice everything that I had learned in those four and a half years. Third, I wanted to visit once again the culture whose language I am learning, and which I fell so deeply in love with two years ago. And so, I practiced and practiced, and managed to travel once again to China.
In this eighth edition of the competition, Chinese-learning high school students from all over the world gathered first in Beijing, where we visited some of the most famous tourist attractions in the world, and then in Kun Ming, where the actual competition took place. The competition consisted on various rounds: the first round involved an individual presentation, individual talent, and a conversation between the two competitors from the country, in my case Argentina; the second round involved the best 17 teams and the competition itself lasted a whole day; the third round took the best 10 teams to Da Li; and the last round involved the five best teams, one from each of the continents.
We lost in the first round. However, despite of not being able to qualify, I was still happy that I could travel to China and practice my Chinese in the best possible conditions. I met many people, each representing a unique culture, and maybe a unique language, but all gathered together because of our passion of learning Chinese. I also received a scholarship to study in China for one semester as a prize for competing abroad.
I want to thank the Pamoja teachers and Mandarin ab initio course. Pamoja has given me the chance to continue to study Chinese while I also study for my other IB subjects. The teachers have also continued to fuel my passion for the Chinese language and have provided me with further inspiration for my participation in this competition.
For more information about online IB Diploma Programme courses and how to register your students, please visit our website.