Newsflash: March 20, 2020

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Admin News

Dear CIS Community,

I am very proud of the way everyone has stepped up and made our transition into remote learning very smooth this week. This was a new paradigm for many, and change in times of danger can be challenging and stressful, so congratulations everyone!

I want to thank PARENTS for their superhuman efforts at home this week. It was a new experience for many, and I think at some point, most of us had the thought, “wow, I did not realize home learning could be so challenging” – whether it be due to excited children in the ES, not so excited children in the MHS, or the new tech tool challenges some faced!

STUDENTS in the MHS transitioned very smoothly as they were more used to remote learning and using Google Classroom, but the ATL skills of time management for many are being tested. Remote Learning will require these to be well-developed, so thank you in advance parents for working with the teachers and students to ensure this happens. ES students seemed to find the transition exciting, but most will take a little time to settle into the new learning style and routine. Please continue to have patience with them as we all redefine our roles and make sacrifices of the things we are used to doing.

Our TEACHERS have done an outstanding job leading the transition for their classes! The prep over the last few years to get to this point really paid off – but we still have ways we know we can work on to continue to adapt.

And finally, I want to also thank all of our academic, business and outsourced support STAFF, for their continuing and steadfast support for us all over these unusual times!

The Covid-19 situation around the world continues to be a concern in many countries. On the positive side, there have been a few promising signs indicating that with appropriate action, we can get through this. For example, both China and South Korea are now looking like they have contained their outbreaks, and a particular milestone for China was no new daily cases (originating from within China) yesterday! As of writing, we only have 1 case of covid-19 in Cebu, and we support the authorities attempts to use social distancing in order to attempt to avoid a serious outbreak. Please continue to follow their advice, and keep a focus on your own health and wellbeing. For ideas on how you might do this is to consider the IB Learner Profile Attributes applied to our specific situation, as presented by J. von Estorff:

Finally, I wanted to share three relevant sources of information for those who might find it helpful:

Have a safe, restful weekend, you have earned it!

Dr. Gwyn Underwood, CIS Superintendent

Middle and High School News

by Mr. Dale Wood, Middle and High School News

We trust that your children’s first week of remote learning has gone relatively smoothly. We understand that this new learning format presents challenges and that our children (as well as their parents) may have had some ups and downs this week, but things should normalize to some extent once our students increase their level of comfort and adeptness with the tools we are using to help make dynamic learning possible. In rigorous courses it can be very challenging to catch up once you fall behind, so our teachers have been actively communicating and conferencing with students and proactively following up with those who are having trouble or missing assignments. Students in this learning context must also become very adept at self-management and be proactive in their communication as the teacher cannot physically see them in the classroom.

Teachers have also been collaborating remotely with each other, sharing methods and ideas and evaluating and refining practices. Here is a sample of some of the feedback we have received from our students this week:

  • So far, so good!
  • The teachers are doing well!!
  • Mandarin group chat was enjoyable.
  • Students are thankful for the personalized feedback via Comments Section in Google Classroom or email.
  • Everything is fine… except that I already miss school.

This week we have been visiting classes virtually and want to share a sample of the learning experiences our students have been engaged with. To echo Dr. Underwood’s words from last Monday’s info brief, I invite our MHS community to share appreciation for our faculty for all of their hard work as they had already been working overtime behind the scenes for weeks to prepare for this eventuality. This remote stage we are now in, when conducted effectively, also requires more work than preparing and teaching our regular classes. Our teachers have done a stellar job preparing for a smooth transition and implementing effective remote learning, as I have seen first hand. Keep in mind over the next few weeks that this is a learning experience for all of us.

Some highlights on remote learning this week

Our grade 6 students began the very first day of remote learning by conducting IDU (interdisciplinary unit) presentations. This project has been going on for several weeks focusing on designing and creating solar lamps, a project combining scientific understanding and design concepts and skills. Students were scheduled to make their presentations this week, and rather than allowing our situation to interrupt their plans, the two teachers, Ms. Uy and Mr. de Villa, made adjustments, gathered their students together and helped them conduct these presentations for the rest of the class remotely. MYP strongly emphasizes interdisciplinary units as opportunities for  students to draw on expertise from more than one discipline to develop a more complete or complex understanding of a phenomenon. In the context of this unit, Science class concentrated on the ideas of circuits (series and parallel) while Design focused on the effectiveness of the solar panel encasement.

Each group was tasked with creating both an oral (using Google Docs for notes/script) and a digital presentation (using Google Slides) to demonstrate the learning process they experienced and the value of each subject, science and design, within the process. Some of the key scientific understandings students had to master were Energy Transformations, Energy Resources, and Electricity and Circuits. For Design students had to explain their procedure in creating the design of the lamp, explain the design specifications and present justification for their decisions.

Student Reflection:

While designing the lamp, we had to consider the specifications. After making the sketch or design official, we had to sketch the design from another angle to make sure we got the idea of what it would look like. After finishing the design, we had to label what we sketched just in case we forgot one of those components. Or so we could once again get the idea of what it would look like.

There are 4 parts of the design specifications we had to consider: Portability, Enclosed or corrosion-free, brightness, and how robust the lamp would be. 

  • Portability includes weight, length, height, and thickness. 
  • Enclosed or corrosion-free focuses on the coverage of the batteries and sealed encasement. 
  • Brightness includes watts, light meter length, and how long the light can last.
  • Robust includes what height it could be dropped at, how long it can be submerged in water, and what temperature it can withstand.

There were a lot of challenges we faced, especially because we would want to get a higher score in the specifications. Creating the encasement was the biggest challenge. We had to make sure it was usable for the clients from the situation we were given. To make sure it was usable, we use the specifications. Also trying to make the lantern foldable was hard, because we wouldn’t know what to use to make it foldable. Some of us eventually accepted the fact we wouldn’t make the lantern foldable but make sure it’s not big. There was also a struggle of not having the supplies we had in the design. That wasn’t a big problem though, because we’d redesign it.

Learning from two different teachers for the same project was quite easy, but also pretty hard. The easy part was that we would just have the same project and not two separate ones. 

The hard part was having to add a lot of effort into what we do. Like the site, there is only so much to add. Which is one of the reasons why we found more work in design. 

Writing up the specifications, using the specifications, creating the video, and adding up to the site. We had to make sure we recorded everything we did, or at least most. – Kasey, Haylee, and Yuyu

An illustration from Kasey, Haylee, and Yuyu’s presentation highlighting potential and kinetic energy.

English 8 classes have been preparing to conduct a mock trial to master elements of persuasive communication and refine their public speaking skills. Instead of postponing this project in light of the possible challenges posed by our school building closure, Ms. Kohlmeier and her students are carrying on with this project remotely. The theme of this trial is Companies that “flaunt” culturally diverse ads, something that is both engaging and certainly relevant to our diverse international community.

This week in class students had to refamiliarize themselves with the components and order of a mock trial. Students designated as lawyers are working to prepare opening statements, witnesses are preparing witness statements, while jurors and the judge are working on composing a verdict statement. 

To prepare for the upcoming trial, students have been tasked with not only preparing to execute their own roles, but watching and evaluating examples of other student mock trials. Each role also had research to conduct, including examples to watch and reflect on.

Bearing in mind the importance of continuing to address the needs of the whole child, Grade 8 PHE is carrying on and striving to keep our children active in the midst of this situation. Students are tasked with choosing two of the four following options that best fit their interests, their level of comfort, and their learning environment at home. In each case students must produce evidence so that their teacher can hold them accountable to ensure that they are remaining physically active.

  1. Students can create and perform a Martial art Dance/routine (students have already learned relevant skills in class). They must create a full demo video of the routine and upload the video into their E-portfolio. Students are not to share the video with anyone.
  2. Students can download and utilize the Runtastic App, which is an app that encourages and records the distance a student runs. Students are required to use GPS to track their distance and run a minimum distance of 3K per scheduled PHE class. 
  3. Students may participate in the Tik Tok Dance Challenge, creating at least three Tik tok dance videos every PE remote class schedule. Students must be sure that the music they use be clean (no bad words or double meaning). Students must upload their videos into your E portfolio and share the link in Google classroom. Students are not allowed to upload the video onto social media.
  4. Students are to keep a Fitness Diary with clear instructions to ensure effective participation. For this option parents are asked to check each day to confirm that the exercises are happening.

IB Art Exhibition

The IB Art Exhibition is an internal assessment (IA) component of the IB Diploma Visual Arts course which students at both SL and HL are required to complete by their senior year. Students submit a selection of their artworks for assessment to show evidence of their technical accomplishment during the course; these selected pieces also demonstrate an understanding of how the application of materials, ideas, and practices can be used to realize and communicate their intentions. Students design their individual exhibitions to also show evidence of their decision-making process which supports their selection of the connected and cohesive body of work in the form of a curatorial rationale.

During the exhibition, students showcase the skills, techniques, and art styles they have developed to produce their own independent work in a variety of media and art-making forms. Each resolved artwork is supported by an exhibition text plaque which includes a brief outline of the original intentions of the work and any reference sources which have influenced the individual piece. In addition to the exhibition text, students draft a curatorial rationale which is a description of why specific artworks have been chosen and presented in a particular format. It further explains the challenges, influences, triumphs, innovations, and issues that have impacted the selection and presentation of the artworks, and the context of how the body of work presented connects and communicates with the viewer.

As IA’s are required by IB, the timing of the school closure did create a challenge for us. The G12 IB DP Visual Arts class of 2019-2020 exhibition conducted a “soft opening” on March 16, 2020 in the cafeteria annex. A few parents and some students were available as we officially opened the exhibition. Individual student exhibitions were placed both in the Studio and Canteen Annex to accommodate the combined number of resolved artworks of our 14 students this year. Due to the current health crisis, the G12 visual art students were not available to parents and other community members during the opening to usher them and respond to their concerns, questions, and comments about their work. However, we will in the following days, create a virtual gallery to provide everyone a chance to experience this year’s exhibition.

Elementary News

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

Dear Elementary Community,

This week has been a very different experience for everyone, and I would like to acknowledge the wonderful work you have done as parents to support us as a school, and to support the learning of your own children. I know this has been challenging and has involved a steep learning curve for many. As a parent, I have spent each evening planning the next day’s learning with my children to ensure they have a clear plan to follow, and this has also meant that I have had to set boundaries and consequences to ensure the learning tasks are completed before recreationalactivities can take place. I acknowledge that this is not always easy.

One thing I have found very encouraging over this past week have been the messages of support and encouragement from families toward our teachers. Like you at home, our teachers have invested many more hours and are working more intensely than usual while they learn how to cater for,  and respond to the needs of many individuals learning remotely. This is different to teaching a class of students learning in the same location and requires a different mindset and skillset. On Wednesday the CIS elementary teachers held their first remote faculty meeting using Google Hangouts. This allowed us to connect professionally to consider the approaches that have been working well and are sustainable, verse the approaches that have been less successful and less sustainable. One of the traps with online learning and online working is that it is possible to be connected for many more hours than when working at a physical location. This is mentally taxing and exhausting. During our meeting on Wednesday, we discussed ways to help teachers manage to learn and planning time more effectively.

Learning at Home

There once was a girl who missed school,
And she hoped that it was still cool,
She loved writing stories,
While munching on candies,
Hopefully, we’ll soon go back to school. – by Arrianna, Grade 4

Finally, I would like to thank the parent community for your formal feedback through the surveys sent on Tuesday evening.  The data from these surveys helped us identify the approaches that are working well, while also providing us with data on how we may fine tune the remote learning process. It has been encouraging for our teachers to find the learning engagements have been instructional appropriate and challenging.  Please see the charts below from the survey:

Figure 1: Here we can see how the elementary community is feeling about the clarity of the learning engagement instructions.

Figure 2: Here we can see how the community feeling about the amount of screen time required to engage in remote learning. 

Figure 3: Here we can see the community feeling about the number of learning engagements given

These feedback help teachers to modify and adjust learning to meet needs. Although we are unlikely to be successful 100 percent of the time, your feedback is valuable. You are also encouraged to connect with teachers directly to enable them to meet needs more effectively by providing helpful and constructive updates about your individual home learning situations.

We do wish you all a safe and restful weekend.

Dragon’s News

Today marks the end of the first week of remote learning for all CIS students! In today’s article, which can be read on https://dragonsprint.cis.edu.ph/, seniors Andie C. and Sij S. documented their first three days of adjusting to studying from home. Keep an eye out for remote-learning-related content in the next four weeks while we continue to work from home. Stay safe and healthy, Dragons!

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