Dear CIS Community,
As we reach our Christmas break, I want to thank you all – students, parents, faculty, staff and supportive CIS community members – for everything that you do to support our students. When considering the evidence of learning we have over this semester, you can all be proud of how you have done your part in facing the challenges to learning during a pandemic.
Regarding the question on when we can return to having classes on campus, based on current and projected conditions, we will need to continue with our remote learning program when we resume classes on January 5th.
For those of you who are longing to return to campus, please hang in there, things do seem to be getting better, even if it is much slower than expected, and we hope to get back sometime in semester two, as soon as it is deemed safe to do so. In the meantime, as I mentioned in my assembly message, it is reassuring to have current research from the company that produces the Measure of Academic Performance (MAP) test that we use, indicating students can maintain academic progress via remote learning. Please also help us to help our students to manage the challenges to social and emotional learning (SEL) while they are stuck at home. This is a huge challenge as students have different preferences and personalities, so their needs when facing relationship challenges are different. With support, we can mitigate potential feelings of isolation, however, and we continue to trial various ways of supporting SEL remotely.
We look forward to working together with our community to strive to deliver the most impactful learning program we can, regardless of the limitations we face and the mode we use, so as to reach our mission and vision. I encourage you to read the sections below from our principals Mr. Davies and Mr. Wood, as they also elaborate on our efforts in each division.
Merry Christmas, and a Happy New Year!
Please have a wonderful, safe break, and I look forward to seeing you all back refreshed in January.
Dr. Gwyn Underwood,
College & University Acceptances 2021
by Mr. Glenn Davies, Elementary School Principal
Dear CIS Community
As I sit here reflecting over Semester 1, my mind is drawn to the afternoon of Friday, 13th March 2020. This was the last time each of us were here on campus learning together. No one could have imagined at that time that our lives were about to change so drastically. ‘Maybe a couple of weeks away from school while the dust settled’, is what most of us thought. The following Monday my calendar said, “No school due to Covid 19”, as you can see in the screen-shot below.
Once it became clear that we would not be returning to school within two weeks the conversation began to explore the possibility of not returning to school before the summer break, but honestly, no one thought it would last that long. Then as our summer break faded into long days of watching Netflix, the conversation began to explore whether it would be possible to begin a school year remotely. I can now say with certainty and conviction that indeed we can finish, and begin a school year remotely, and succeed in ensuring all students are engaged in a quality program of learning and teaching. Each week in this newsflash we highlight learning that has taken place in our classes. We have learned that school is not defined by a building or a campus, rather school is defined by a community of learners who live, work, and learn together. During these months, despite our distance, we have stayed in relationship, and we have progressed as a community. I am so proud of our community!
To our CIS parents: What has been achieved would not have been possible without you. As a school, we acknowledge Remote Learning not what you signed up for, and in many cases, you have been co-teaching your children at home with us over these past months. We are indeed grateful for your support.
To Our CIS Teachers: You have courageously embarked on a very steep learning journey. As professionals who derive their motivation, enthusiasm, and energy from face to face contact with students, you have recreated yourself as facilitators of learning through mediums of technology, This is an incredible achievement and I feel privileged to be working alongside such an incredible group of professionals.
To our students: You are the real champions here! The levels of independence you have developed have been truly astounding. Day in and day out you have managed your complex schedule of classes to connect with peers and teachers to explore important concepts, gain new knowledge, and develop new skills. You continue to surprise us, and we adults have learned how capable you really are.
I wish you all a very restful and enjoyable break, and for those who choose to celebrate, a very merry Christmas celebration.
Remote Learning in the Elementary School
Learning in the Early Years
In our unit Sharing the Planet, the Early Years shared their knowledge and understanding on Living things and how they depend on each other for survival. As part of our Unit of Inquiry, we explored different opportunities to expand our understanding, formulate questions, and respond to each others’ questions by looking into different resources available to us. As we end our unit, we read the book “Pattern Bugs” written by Trudy Ludwig. This week, we focused on the Integration of knowledge and ideas by comparing, contrasting and categorizing to develop our literacy skills. Based on the book that we read, students chose two insects from the story and began to compare them by looking at their physical appearances, how they move, and the food they eat. In addition, our young learners also compared how living things are similar and different from non-living things. Through our video calls and Seesaw Engagements, it gave our young inquirers the opportunity to share their knowledge of the characteristics of living things by playing our very first virtual board game.
The series of engagements had led the students to reflect on how important living things are to each other. Our responsibility towards living things has helped them to reflect on different scenarios in order to find ways to respond to situations and show our responsibility to all living things. It’s absolutely important for our students to understand the value of every living thing on this planet. Definitely a productive, reflective, and meaningful way to end our unit!
Middle and High School News
by Mr. Dale Wood, Middle and High School Principal
As we reach the end of a semester most of us are likely to never forget, I want to reach out and thank our parents for their steadfast support throughout these challenging months. We know that helping your children manage their courses and assignments, as well as navigating times of internet disruption, has not been easy.
I also want to thank all of our students, who have met this semester’s challenges with courage, hope, and resilience and have helped to make our school situation somewhat resemble what we would have experienced on campus. While you may not know it, you have certainly helped us in navigating these challenging times over the past 5 to 10 months. Your resilience, positivity, and empathy is extraordinary. We are so thankful to be working with students who truly are so genuine, responsible, respectful, and who appreciate the fact that we have been able to be in school and learn effectively when so many in the Philippines simply have not had that same opportunity.
Last but not least, I want to publicly thank all of our teachers and support staff in MHS. When I think of the incredible work our teachers have done over these five months of Semester One, the word that comes to mind is tenacity, defined as “the ability or fact of being able to grip something firmly.” Whether teachers have always felt able to hold on, the fact is that they have done so admirably. What we love, what really motivates us as educators, is the excitement and joy of working with young people and contributing, whether in big or small ways, to their growth both as students and as human beings. We also genuinely like our students, and CIS students are very easy to like; it has been more difficult nurturing the kinds of relationships we cherish without being able to see our students face-to-face each day. Our teachers have also worked hard to develop new skills and to incorporate (with care and discretion) technology tools to help make learning dynamic and student-centered, all the while committing additional energy and creativity in helping to implement the MYP program.
What this past semester has shown to me is that, in spite of our frailties and imperfections, we can make it through anything when we have the right mindset and when we commit, with stubborn optimism, to work together toward fulfilling shared and noble goals.
At the end of the day, we want to know that, as a school, we have done an effective job of helping our students to learn and grow, both academically and as persons. To this point, the following homeroom reflections from our students serve as heartwarming testimonials as to the learning that has taken place within this challenging context:
“All our knowledge begins with the senses, proceeds then to the understanding, and ends with reason. There is nothing higher than reason.”
This is an Immanuel Kant quote that I have selected to describe this semester of remote learning at CIS. Over the course of the semester I have reflected on the reasons for learning and how it has been accomplished through new and interesting methods. I have particularly enjoyed the Personal Project. Being based on personal interests and experiences, I appreciate the level of creativity this emancipates and is limited only by my imagination. Based on the feedback I have received from teachers, I have set myself the goal of learning and thinking more about how I can apply knowledge to the real world. This would let me know I have really understood the true meaning of the lessons, and have figured out the reasons for them.
“In the rush to get back to normal, use this time to decide which parts of normal are worth rushing back to.”
This is a Dave Hollis quote I have selected to best describe this semester of remote learning at CIS. As everyone waits for quarantine and corona to end, I recognise this will not be happening anytime soon. Instead I have seen the importance of taking advantage of the situation, using the time to reflect on myself as a person and how I might better myself. In addition to participating in Dragon’s Print, the Social Club, and the School Production, I have helped set up a Student Support Club for those not coping so well with the reality we find ourselves in. A highlight from this semester has been the times in Homeroom when everyone – students and teachers – would be talking randomly about their day, just casually communicating. I remember those moments because they are some of the few times we get to just talk to each other like we are still in school. This is something quite important to me, and why I remember those moments. One constant message from teacher feedback has been to ‘explain further’ or develop my writing more. Reflecting on this feedback, I have been trying to make brief outlines of what I specifically want to write, then expanding further, developing the writing so it is more specific and clean.
“The struggle you’re in today is developing the strength you need for tomorrow. Don´t give up,” and, “It is not the strongest or the most intelligent who will survive but those who can best manage change.”
These are a pair of quotes from Tew and Darwin that I have selected to describe this semester of remote learning at CIS. As a new student I have needed to adjust to a new system, socialise, and make friends on-line; however, I feel going through these obstacles and hardships has made me a better and stronger person for tomorrow.
“We must have a pie. Stress cannot exist in the presence of a pie,” – David Mamet ‘Pie’ symbolizes breaks, and these breaks have done a lot to keep me going. I have been able to recognize moments when I am not in a state to work, and allow myself to take a break, ‘to go get some cake’ so that I can be in the mood to work again. In addition to participating in Guitar Club and Dragon’s Print, I have co-run the Student Support Club, for those students not coping with remote learning as well as others.
Thank you to all our wonderful students, we take as much inspiration from you as we like to think you take from us.
Happy Holidays All!
With the semester over and Christmas rolling around, what better way to have fun during the holidays than with food? Dragon’s Print has listed some simple Christmas-themed recipes that you can try to make and share with your family this Christmas break. Find them on http://dragonsprint.cis.edu.