Newsflash: April 17, 2020

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Elementary News

by Mr. Glenn Davies, Elementary School Principal & PYP Coordinator

Dear Elementary Community,

We have now come to the end of our fourth week of remote learning. These four weeks have presented many challenges, however there have also been many successes during this time. It is easy to acknowledge that we would all prefer to have our students on campus, we also recognize many of the Approaches to Learning Skills and attributes (ATLs) have become significant within this remote learning context.

Credits: IB ATL skills; diagram by Chris Gadbury

The remote learning context has enabled teachers and students to focus on developing ATL skills and attributes that may not normally be addressed within the classroom context. We are finding that many of the ATL’s that are being developed through remote learning reflect the 21st Century Survival skills that have emerged from the research of Tony Wagner.

The 21st Century Survival Skills are listed below, and next to each the PYP ATL’s have been linked.

  1. Critical Thinking and Problem Solving  (PYP Thinking Skills)
  2. Collaboration Across Networks and Leading by Influence  (PYP Communication Skills / PYP Social Skills)
  3. Agility and Adaptability (PYP Self-Management Skills)
  4. Initiative and Entrepreneurialism (PYP Thinking Skills / PYP Research Skills)
  5. Resilience (PYP Self-Management Skills)
  6. Accessing and Analyzing Information (PYP Research Skills)
  7. Curiosity and Imagination (PYP Thinking Skills)

As we continue on our remote Learning Journey, we can be confident that the kind of learning required to prepare a child for the second half of the 21st century is happening right now in our very own homes.

Remaining Connected

One challenge we are facing in this current climate is the challenge of isolation. Whether we are part of a family, or living on our own, isolation from the aspects of normal life is real.  CIS values community and 2 weeks ago we launched the CIS Elementary Remote Learning Webpage to help us feel a little more connected to others in our community. This webpage is being updated regularly so I do encourage you to visit it with your children, and if you feel comfortable we would love for you to provide content for us to add to the webpage

In addition to the Webpage, today we released our first Elementary Remote Assembly. A huge effort was made by a number of our teachers and students to create this assembly we hope you are able to sit with your children and enjoy this time of remote celebration together.

We wish you all very well at home and we look forward to a date in the near future when we can all meet together again.

Middle and High School News

Maintaining Our Emotional Health During the Enhanced Community Quarantine

by Mr. Dale Wood, Middle and High School Principal and Ms. Evangeline Villagonzalo, MHS Counselor

As the enhanced quarantine continues this week and through the remainder of the month at least, this COVID-19 pandemic will continue to foment uncertainty and can bring emotions of worry, fear, and anxiety among our children. One of the things Dr. Underwood shared in his news-brief this week was a link explaining how Covid-19 can be seen as mirroring the cycle we see in “grief” situations. Hopefully we are coming to terms with our circumstances and are moving into the acceptance stage, focusing on what we can do, what we can control, and helping our children to successfully manage their emotions. As a follow-up, we wanted to share some guidelines developed by the International Schools Counselors Association (ISCA) to help our children (and us) successfully manage the effects of this crisis and the unique social emotional needs we may experience as a result. These are some practical tips for talking to your child about this virus and providing reassurance during this time.

Tip #1  Stay Positive and Model Positivity

Children are gauging their emotions by looking at the reaction of the adults around them.  The more we model positivity about this situation, the more secure and calm your children will feel.  Try to maintain normalcy at home by continuing to carry on with your usual routines when possible.

Tip #2   Stick to Facts

Give your children the facts and challenge rumors that may be spreading, especially when it comes to news regarding the current situation. When presenting information with your children, consider their age, maturity level, and emotions. Ask them what they know about the situation and help them by offering facts and dispelling rumors. Provide comfort by reminding them that there are groups like the World Health Organization and local organizations who are working very hard to help people stay safe and healthy.

Tip #3  Consider media consumption

For older children, have a conversation about getting information about the COVID 19 situation from quality sources.  You can ask them about what they’ve seen on social media and how to tell if it is real or fake news. Remind your children that the media often uses shocking or disturbing headlines to attract and “hook” its readers and that often any good and helpful information is not reported. For younger children, you may wish to limit what they’re hearing or being exposed to.

Tip #4 Eliminate Stigma

It is easy to default to basic human emotions like fear and blame in the midst of a crisis. When talking to your children about the situation, it is important not to assign blame to any particular person, organization, country, or race. Remind your children also that symptoms of a cough or fever don’t necessarily mean that a person has the virus.

Tip #5 Boost your coping strategies

Invite calm conversation about how your child is feeling and offer reassurance.  Model taking breaks and practicing self care by turning off the news and doing something else. Since our families are spending more time at home, replacing outings with activities like family games or movies, baking goodies, reading books, doing crafts, rearranging furniture in your child’s bedroom, cleaning some areas in the house, or practicing some mindfulness before bedtime.

Lastly, if you notice your child is still worried or fearful, reassure him or her that what they are feeling is normal. If you find that additional support is needed, please do not hesitate to reach out for help. You can reach out to any of us or to me as the school counselor if need be.

We are also sharing a 5-minute animation by Dr. Russ Harris which illustrates how to use ACT (Acceptance and Commitment Therapy) to deal with the Covid-19 crisis and the fear, anxiety and worry that goes with it.

Grade 10 Personal Project, a Sneak Peek

by Jonathan Denton, MYP Coordinator

The Grade 10 Personal Project is the culminating event of the Middle Years Programme, and 2019-20 it is in its first year at CIS as we plan for our MYP authorization. It is a long-term individual research based project that develops the student’s personal interests and talents. It serves as a research capstone experience similar to the PYP Exhibition and the DP Extended Essay, and at a level which is developmentally appropriate for Grade 10 students. The project assesses self-management, research, communication, critical and creative thinking, and collaboration skills, and is designed to connect classroom learning engagements with personal experience, and to develop their own interests for lifelong learning.

On April 3rd, the Grade 10 students submitted their personal exhibition, the fruits of eight months’ planning, research, taking action, and reflecting. The Exhibition, which gives us the opportunity to celebrate their achievements and congratulate them on their inspiring works, has unfortunately had to be postponed due to our current situation. We hope to hold a smaller version of the Exhibition when we get back to school.

One of the biggest challenges of the project is that students are called on to select a topic they are truly passionate about. Often many are left pondering and have to do some soul-searching to determine what their interests are and what they are truly passionate about. Completing the project helps many students clarify what they genuinely are interested in, and, in turn, opens their eyes to potential career opportunities and paths. This year we had a wide variety of different topics including 3D animation, Folley artistry, coaching, film auteur, juggling, re-cut trailer (turning the film Frozen into a suspense/horror picture), boxing, e-sports, film editing, fashion, historical documentary, children’s novels- quite an impressive and diverse range.

It is amazing to both hear and read how well each student is able to articulate the subject specific knowledge they gained, and how deeply the project has impacted their lives as learners. On a personal level, I am always impressed at how well the Middle Years Programme develops within our students the skills and confidence required to complete such a demanding project.

I would like to give a big shout to our supervisors Gerri, Mike, Dale, Jaydil, Elaine, Nice, Jean, Nick, Jessie, Noelle, Steve and Stefanny. The students will be forever grateful to you, for the guidance and support you gave them.

Above all else I would like to thank all of our Grade 10 students for their hard work and commitment, we promise to do all we can to enable you to share your wonderful products with our CIS community.

Here is a link to the site I am building to display student works, and get feedback. The content here are just samples of the students’ products. The due date for the product is Friday. I will then be uploading these over the break.

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