What is inter-disciplinary thinking and its' benefits in the MYP Programme.
Welcome to our first Triannual Newsletter for the academic year 2021 - 2022.
The theme for the Triannual Newsletters will be based on Stonehill’s Guiding Statements as mentioned below.
The Newsletters will be divided into three editions, with a focus on technological innovation, sports and the arts.
Stonehill's Guiding Statements
We are an internationally-minded community of spirited learners, dedicated to the development of knowledgeable, caring, confident and responsible global citizens.
Our mission is to provide stimulating, engaging academics integrated with enhanced opportunities for technological innovation, sports and the arts.
In keeping with Stonehill’s Vision and Mission, the first newsletter will look at how Stonehill’s curriculum is integrated with enhanced opportunities for technological innovation, dedicated to the development of knowledgeable, caring, confident and responsible global citizens.
Let’s explore how Stonehill’s guiding statements are incorporated into teaching and learning across PYP, MYP, DP and Boarding at Stonehill.
They learned to use onscreen tools to achieve some of the collaborative strategies that we use in person - Mentimeter and Padlet to mention two.EPIC books and A-Z gave us access to reading material for instructional and recreational reading purposes.
Book Creator gave us opportunities to take our writing and publish it in a format that thrilled others. Mathletics, Youcubed and Khan Academy gave us opportunities to practice mental and inquiry-based mathematical skills.
In addition, we learned that Google Classroom has so much more to offer. Hangouts and Meets came in handy if we wanted a quick chat with each other; be that a learner stuck with an asynchronous task or a principal needing a quick answer from a colleague. Forms became our go-to feedback mode. Slides and screencasting gave learners opportunities to learn at their own rate.
Zoom was, of course, our video instructional tool but its associated tools enthralled learners and gave teachers opportunities to see the learning taking place - reading the chat, responding to the chat, emoji conversations, monitoring of connections and the recordings that we could share with learners who needed more time to understand a concept or with the learner who was sick.
Each and every tool had value to the online context. Our challenge is to utilise these successful tools in our face-to-face environment whilst rebuilding the interpersonal skills we value so much at the Primary level of schooling.
Over the past few weeks, I have noticed big sheets of paper with collective thinking appearing in classrooms but I have also seen our learners contribute to Padlet whilst at home so their learning can continue when they are next in school. I have seen learners Zoom in from home to create a whole class structure in the physical classroom.
I have watched teaching assistants working one-on-one on-screen with a child still at home who needs extra support.
It is an exciting time to have a mission statement that focuses on innovative technology use. The Primary School takes our Mission seriously as we prepare our learners for the 21st century and beyond.
Technology plays a key role in our inquiry-based programme. In the Primary School, we apply technology to facilitate and extend learning, and we adapt innovative ways to find solutions to challenges.
Over the last twenty months, our learners and teachers have embraced challenges and celebrated triumphs.
Discovery Week is our commitment to providing enhanced opportunities for our learners to express their creativity using coding, digital technology and critical thinking skills to create, design and innovate
When we moved online, we knew we had to deliver Discovery Week. We had a strong collaborative environment, so we were able to meet and plan in a digital landscape. Our commitment to personalised learning helped drive the discussions. During Discovery Week, our learners had access to a plethora of learning experiences. Equipped with natural curiosity and demonstrating a growth mindset, they discovered new information, created new understandings, and shared their ideas through various platforms.
Going further, we have seen new directions for Arts and Host Culture Week and a more holistic Primary Literacy Festival established due to continuous reflection. We continue to ideate, offering enhanced opportunities for technological innovations and experiences for our learners to build conceptual understandings, inside and outside the programme of inquiry.
For me, some of the most compelling technology-related lessons from the pandemic involved the improvised digital practices that have helped teachers, students, and parents ‘get through school at home’.
Primary school at Stonehill commits to and supports collaboration to improve transdisciplinary learning experiences and student outcomes.
Teachers collaborate within and beyond grade level teams about learning that takes place both inside and outside of the programme of inquiry.
They continually inquire into and reflect on learning and teaching as they collaborate with each other and with their learners who are seen as valued participants of the collaborative process. Learners demonstrate agency and their capacity to take action for their own learning by collaborating with teachers and their peers.
The past twenty months of distance and remote learning allowed the Primary team to innovate and rethink the practices for collaboration on a much deeper level.
Our Primary learning community inquired into multiple online collaborative platforms and used them successfully to bring learning teams together, communicate anytime, and learn anywhere. With an innovative mindset and a problem-solving attitude, we realised collaborative learning does not stop but the opposite is true. The challenge became an opportunity to be more collaborative and more cooperative than ever.
We reached the understanding that technology can improve the collaborative process and enhance learning. Jamboards and Padlets allowed us to brainstorm new ideas, express different points of view and make connections to other people’s thinking in visual ways. Zoom and break out rooms helped us become more patient, respectful and clear communicators.
We learned how to use the chat feature effectively and purposefully to express ideas in writing. Google Classroom with all its features allowed us to work on collaborative projects, feedback to each other and set next steps for moving forward. Toddle enhanced the way we document learning and keep evidence of progress. Flipgrid, WeVideo, iMovie and online drawing platforms inspired our learners to work together, bounce ideas from each, keep the creative juices flowing and share our creations.
In the development of the School’s Mission Statement, Stonehill International School set itself a challenge to provide students with ‘enhanced opportunities for technological innovation’ alongside a programme of engaging academic experiences.
In the secondary articles in this newsletter, we will be sharing specific examples of the technology-based courses that we have opened up over the past few years, as well as work produced by our students which has demonstrated enhanced use of technology.
Alongside these examples, I would also argue that ‘innovation’, particularly with communications technology, is now the default modus operandi for both students and teachers at the school. The onset of the pandemic and the forced closure of schools resulted in teachers and students discovering all kinds of new ways to organise their work, collaborate and communicate effectively.
It is now fairly common to see on a daily basis:
...and many more ways of being ‘innovative’ in order to improve the learning experience for everybody in the community.
Now that we have opened up every technology-based course available in the IB programmes (Digital Design and Product Design in the MYP, Computer Science and Design Technology in the DP). Our next step will be to build up an inspirational set of After-School Activities that allow students to explore technology and push the boundaries of innovation at school.
Our students are certainly capable of coming up with wonderful ideas and producing fascinating products and solutions.
In the MYP, students have an opportunity to explore their creativity through the MYP Digital and Product Design courses.
In every class, lessons are interlinked, giving the students a wide range of understanding and skills necessary for university.
Students use the Design Cycle as a way to structure:
In this process, they acquire 2D vector art skills where they learn making shapes and designs, prior to being used in a laser cutting machine to make the final product. This process has taught them to inquire and gather information and analyse the product before actually making the final product.
The students formulated a design brief according to given design specifications. They acquired skills to sketch their ideas, select the best idea and justify their selection. They have developed a plan of resources and time spent to make the products.
The M3 Digital Design students are working on a unit where they design and create a website using HTML. It gives students an insight into how the World Wide Web works through an open-ended task where they find their own client for their website. This project prepares them well for M4, where they will have to use this knowledge to design and create a web application.
Technological innovations have a significant impact on educational systems.
At Stonehill, technology and innovation is at the heart of our Mission.
Our faculty leverages technology across the curriculum to best meet the needs of the learners.
Technology is used to provide opportunities for our students to maximise their learning, creatively express themselves, and prepare them for success after Stonehill
Rigorous and practical problem-solving courses in the Diploma Programme (DP) such as Computer Science and Design Technology show our commitment to our mission. Our purpose-built STEM building features mathematics learning spaces, science, design and technology laboratories equipped for resistant materials and robotics. Specialised and futuristic courses such as mobile app development, graphic design, game design are taught.
The use of Information Communication Technology (ICT) extends to teaching and learning in all subjects across the curriculum. The effective use of ICT is an 'Approaches To Learning' (ATL) skill, a whole school approach that allows our students to develop information technology literacy and become competent users of computers.
Arguably, the global pandemic has accelerated matters, and the recent campus closures which moved schools online also ramped up speed for having technology and innovation at the centre of teaching and learning. Online courses, teaching aids, educational software, social networking tools, and other emerging technologies disrupt the traditional classroom environment. And as we gradually remove ourselves from being in a Zoom "box" on the screen back into a more physical learning space, we can once again feel the buzz at the Stonehill STEM Block!
Technological Innovation in the Diploma Programme (DP) Focus
In the Diploma Programme, Computer Science and Design and Technology are offered as subjects.
Here are some insights into these subject areas:
Students in Computer Science have been working on a range of topics that involve both theoretical and practical approaches to understanding how computational thinking can be applied to solve particular problems.
The students have developed an understanding of a range of Abstract Data Structures like 2-Dimensional arrays, stacks and queues. Here's a visual representation of Push and Pop mechanisms in stacks.
Aside from this, the students in both year levels have been working on a hands-on project involving the design and development of an online web calendar/to-do list utilizing the PHP programming language to interact with a MySQL database. The students have been designing the database schema, developing the SQL queries needed to retrieve data and figuring out how to manage sessions to keep track of the users logged into the system.
The students are preparing for the IB external examinations. They have an understanding of authentic software development practices with a hands-on approach that helps them develop real-life skills that software engineers need.
In the Design Programme, a solution can be defined as a model, prototype, product or system that students have developed and created independently. Design courses can be offered as:
The students have the opportunity to work on Product Design (Woodworking - both hand tools and Power Tools and Computer Numerical Control (CNC)machines), Electronics and Combined Design.
As part of the design and creation process, the students have been making products that would enhance productivity of the target audience. The way products are designed are influenced by the beliefs/values of a community.
We support students to make products that promote inclusivity
The students have produced various products which include board games, stools, desk organisers, tables, wall clocks and coasters. They have acquired skills to identify materials to make various products. They have also acquired skills to join wood using wood joinery techniques such as mortise and tenon, half lap and box joinery. Developing ideas is an important part of the design process.
The students are encouraged to develop multiple ideas before making the products. Hence, 3D modelling and prototyping is an important part of the process. They get an opportunity to evaluate and test the final product against design specifications. We prepare students to become competent designers at Stonehill.
The knowledge, skills and attitudes that students develop in design courses, provide a meaningful foundation for further study and help prepare students for careers in:
The design facility has 3D printers, robotics, electronics and a facility for making graphic design products. The product designing facility has the following tools and equipment:
Digital Technology is one of three areas of enhanced opportunities at Stonehill and we have enthusiastically embraced the use of technology in our boarding too.
Students today are growing up with extensive exposure to technology in a constantly evolving world.
They have instant and easy access to information via smartphones and computers. At Stonehill boarding, we believe technology is beneficial provided there are set boundaries. Our focus is to help students learn and master useful technological skills, in a safe, responsible and effective manner. We educate students on best practices and the ethical use of the Internet.
While we address challenges, there have been many positive outcomes from the use of technology as well. They include the use of boarding management software to streamline systems and processes across our boarding houses.
Boarding has integrated technology through the REACH boarding management system which gives students freedom and independence while allowing staff to keep track of their activities and ensure they remain safe. The staff use technology to help monitor pupil well-being and provide the individual care they need.
During remote and distance learning, our boarders have learnt to adapt and use technology to express their ideas through online presentations. During the lockdown, the boarding community connected with each other on Zoom and put together fantastic virtual weekend plans.
Stonehill boarding is committed to providing learning experiences that are challenging in a modern and connected environment.
What is inter-disciplinary thinking and its' benefits in the MYP Programme.
Recently two members of the PYP SSS Department, Ms. Kassandra Rieck (LS) and Ms. Madhavi Sindhe (EAL) attended a course online taught by Dr. Virginia Rojas, a world-renowned expert in language acquisition on the changing demography of international schools and its impact on teaching and learning with EAL students. read more about it here.
My experience at a two-day NEASC Visitor Training Workshop (Part 1) held at the International School of Hyderabad, facilitated by Darlene Fisher, the International Accreditation Leader (IAL) at NEASC.
Over the course of two inspiring days on the 8th and 9th of September, educators from diverse backgrounds gathered at Panyaden International School in Chiang Mai for the "Advancing Service Learning: From Ideas to Action" workshop led by the renowned Cathryn Berger Kaye, an international education consultant offering award-winning expertise in Service Learning and engaging teaching methods.
A video blog on my experience at the Apple Education Leadership Summit Workshop held in New Delhi in August 2023.