Friday greeted us with some rainy weather, but the morning saw a different form of sunshine thanks to our PAFA group which helped fund the Teacher Appreciation Breakfast. It was a great spread of food and drink, and we on behalf of all the faculty, I just want to say thank you for the appreciation – and all that you bring to our community. Thank you!
This afternoon, Teacher Appreciation extends beyond the school day as we are looking forward to a Teacher Happy Hour to celebrate what has been a great year.
On Wednesday, our Upper School Athletics Banquet took place. Congratulations to our Athletic Director (AD) Coach Vic for putting together a meaningful night to honor our athletes and the dedicated coaches who make it all possible.
I ended the day today as a fortunate audience member and evaluator of the 11th Grade IB Science Presentations for their Group 4 Project. The project asked groups of 11th grade students to meet with Lower School teachers to teach a science lesson that is integrated within the Lower School classroom’s unit. The presentation were extremely insightful and reflective. The amount of planning and collaboration that was needed to effectively plan, teach and assess students as young as four years old is a challenging skill to say the least. Effectively integrating science concepts in a meaningful and engaging way, is a whole other challenge! Congratulations 11th Graders, and thanks for bringing your energy to the Lower School students.
It’s a short blog post this week, but I do want to ensure to encourage all of you to attend our 12th Grade Graduation Ceremony on Thursday, May 31 at 4:00. The ceremony marks the celebration of our Seniors, but it is also a celebration of all that we represent at SCIS. It is a unique ceremony – and you will have a chance to hear more from our Seniors about their SCIS experiences, and learn more about their next steps. They leave here with a great deal of pride in what they have accomplished. They have contributed to who we are. And, they leave SCIS prepared to take the next steps in their journey. I encourage you all to attend on Thursday.
Have a safe and relaxing weekend,
Head of School
Invitation To Parent: Sexuality and Relationship Curriculum Meeting
We are pleased to announce the new Sexuality and Relationship Curriculum, which is to be implemented in the 2018-2019 school year in grades 6-10. This new and engaging evidence-based program, based on the framework recommended jointly by the UNESCO, UNAIDS, UNFPA, UNICEF and the World Health Organization, was developed with the primary goal to equip our students with the knowledge, skills and values to make responsible choices about their sexual and social relationships.
We recognize the primary role that parents play as a source of information, support and care in shaping a healthy approach to sexuality and relationships. The new curriculum was designed to support and complement the role of parents by providing a safe and supportive learning environment for students to increase correct, scientific knowledge; clarify and strengthen positive values and attitudes; increase skills to make informed decisions and act upon them; and increase communication with parents and other trusted adults.
To learn more about the new Sexuality and Relationship Curriculum, we invite you to join us on June 5 at 9 am at the Counselor – Parent Coffee morning.
May is always a busy month for schools. The list of end-of-year events is both a celebration and a little chaotic. So, I want to extend a thank you to all the busy parents who are taking the time out of their schedule to be a part of so many of our activities. Last night, we help our Upper School Arts Night,
and the turnout was fantastic. Performances from visual artists, musicians, film makers, and actors showcased creative and thought-provoking student work. The arts is unique. It is an expression one oneself from one to many; this expression cannot happen without an involved and authentic audience – the SCIS Community. Watching the performances, and the interactions that take place on a night such as last night was an affirming confirmation of what makes SCIS special. Thank you to everyone for coming out.
And, last night was just one example. There are more to come.
Upper School Sports Banquet: May 23, 4:00 pm 12th Grade Graduation Ceremony: All parents are invited to this celebration of our Seniors! May 31, 4:00 pm Lower School Variety Show: June 1, 1:30 pm
Today marked the last day of IB Exams – and therefore the last official day for our graduating Seniors. I know you join me in congratulating all of them on reaching this major milestone. You are all invited to join in our Graduation Ceremony (above). It’s a true reflection from our students and faculty about how SCIS has made a difference in their lives, and how each of them has made a difference in who we are!
Our preparations for next year are certainly underway. We are working hard to project our growing enrollment and expand our facility with summer upgrades to accommodate our new students.
I also want to acknowledge that much of this growth has come from our community. As parents, you have been wonderful ambassadors for our program this year. We are appreciative of the feedback we hear, and remain open to additional feedback and opportunities about how we can provide a truly unique experience that best prepares our students to succeed in an ever-changing world.
I wish each of you an enjoyable and restful weekend with family and friends.
SCIS Learning Support: Furthering Our Mission
In a previous post, I shared a detailed description of our Learning Support Program. What it is? Why do we value it?
This post, the second of two-parts, will focus on how the Learning Support Programs is an integral part of how we strengthen our mission. To do that, it’s important to start with our mission statement.
“To develop inquiring, knowledgeable and caring learners who contribute positively to their communities.” – SCIS Mission Statement
One important way that we can develop “inquiring, knowledgeable, and caring learners” is to implement a research-based, world-class curriculum; one that is filled with authentic, real-world learning experiences. We don’t want students learning ‘about’ a topic, we want them engaged in the learning with the hope of using their learning. In short, if the goal is to have students meet our mission statement, then you have to provide learning experiences that give some them something to be genuinely “inquiring, knowledgeable, and caring” about. These experiences are documented in our curriculum, and strengthened by the IB frameworks and philosophy. All good schools should have learning experiences like these; but they are only half the battle.
Since SCIS opened its doors in 1996, it has always placed a high value on the diversity of its population. In a sense, we consider this diversity one of our strongest assets – and our best teacher! We believe that students learn best when they are socially learning – learning from one another. To add value to any social learning experience, it is vital that different perspectives are represented.
For example, it is one thing to learn about different cultures. As an American, I can learn about Indian cultural views about religion, family, or race. I can try to compare that with my own views. But my learning is strengthened – and it is so much deeper – when I am placed in a supportive, respectful environment where my views are constantly in the minority. I am interacting with Indians, Germans, Brazillians, etc. I am naturally in a more inquisitive state of mind about my perceptions of the world, what defines me, and what other people believe. That diversity makes me stronger. I am not simply more knowledgeable; I am more empathetic, more aware of the diversity of views that exist, and more aware how my previous (American) experiences have shaped by views – for better or worse.
The International Bacculareate’s (IB) own mission statement says it best.
“The IB aims… to create a better and more peaceful world through intercultural understanding and respect…to develop challenging programmes of international education and rigorous assessment…(to) encourage students across the world to be active, compassionate, and lifelong learners who understand that other people, with their differences, can also be right.”
Our Learning Support program is a fantastic, tangible way in which we try to strengthen this mission. Our students learn that we all come from different backgrounds and with different learning styles. We all come to better understand that differences are not negatives. We understand that we all come to school with different strengths, weaknesses, perceptions, and skill-sets. And finally, we understand that we will become a better version of ourselves when we seek to learn from each other; we do that best by being part of a diverse community.
Read below to find out a few of the big events this week around SCIS. And, don’t forget to scroll down to read more about our fantastic group of new educators joining SCIS in 2018.
PAFA Executive Council Meeting 2018-19
We had a very productive PAFA meeting on Thursday highlight the opportunities ahead of us in the 2018-19 school year. Additional PAFA Executive Board positions were described, and a productive discussion ensued to address what is working well, and what future steps are possible to help PAFA to additionally support. Many good ideas were shared to highlight potential ways that we can leverage our active and involved SCIS Community to better serve our studnets. Parents also began the nomination process for next year’s PAFA Board members. I encourage all parents to find ways -small or big – to to our our program, strengthening our sense of community and giving our students a more unique experience.
SCIS Pudong will have a Summer Camp!
We are pleased to announce that we will soon begin accepting applications for our SCIS Summer Camps for children from Pre-School to Grade 5. Like previous years, we will run 4, week-long camps starting on June 18 through to July 13. Participants can sign up for one or more weeks, depending on preference/schedule. These are always fun sessions for students including arts, crafts, stories, dramatic play, swimming, and more. Download the brochure and learn more here.
There is an early-bird payment discount for those paid by May 18!
Some Interesting Student Meetings
Today, I was fortunate to take part in a few interesting student meetings.
In the morning, our Grade 5 students met with Upper School Principal Dr. Volpe, US Counselor, Maja Kelly, and a host of Upper School teachers as part of our 5th Grade Transition Process. The students were able to hear about life in the middle school, meet a few of their future teachers, and ask questions about homework, expectations, and (the all-important) lunch!
In the afternoon, Lower School Principal Liz Gale, Operations Manager Nichael Yang, and I met with both 4th grade classrooms. Groups of 4th graders had worked the last week, to develop proposals for revitalizing the outdoor spacebehind the school (behind the pool). The quality of thinking and evidence was really remarkable, and I feel quite confident that their research and presentation skills will lead to some upgrades to the space. (Great job 4th Graders !)
Meet The New Pudong Teachers for SCIS Pudong, 2018-19
For families and faculties, the international lifestyle is inherently a transient one. People come into our lives, leave their mark on all of us, and then we say goodbye as they make their way to their next exciting adventure.
This is true for families each year – and it’s certainly true for some special educators who will sadly leave SCIS at the end of June. Our Principal’s Newsletter shared a special goodbye to that amazing group. I know you join me in wishing them well in their next opportunity. They know that they are always welcome back to SCIS: “Once a Dragon, Always A Dragon.”
With transition, comes the opportunity to welcome a strong group of new educators ready to join the SCIS team in August. Please join me in welcoming this experienced, energetic group.
Hi! My Name is Lana Revutsky, and I’m excited to be teaching at SCIS! I have a Bachelor’s Degree in English Literature from Binghamton University, a Dual Master’s Degree in Special and General Education, Birth- 2nd Grade from Touro College, and an Advanced Degree in Applied Behavioral Analysis from Florida Institute of Technology. Prior to Shanghai, I worked as both a Teacher and a BCBA. I have served children with Autism and Neuro-typically developing students in the NYC and Hawaii area for almost 10 years, working as Classroom Teacher and Clinical Supervisor. These multitude of experiences have helped me evolve into an individual, who takes each students’ unique goals, needs, and interests into account when creating lessons that propels them into the most well rounded version of themselves. When I’m not teaching. I’m enjoying exploring, traveling, and yoga. I look forward to an exciting year!
Greetings, SCIS! I am very excited to join the Pudong community as a US Mandarin teacher. Originally from Guangzhou, I earned a doctorate in Linguistics and Applied Linguistics from the College of Chinese Language and Culture at Jinan University. Previously I have taught Mandarin in Australian for four years and in the International School of Dongguan for two years. In these years, I have developed skills to provide differentiated instructions and meet the needs of diverse learners. I am passionate about embedding Chinese culture to daily language-teaching. Outside of the classroom, I love traveling, enjoying the nature, reading, and swimming! Working in Shanghai at SCIS is going to start a new chapter of my life.
My name is Michael Nicholaides and I am from South Shore Boston, Massachusetts. After earning my Bachelors degree in Social and Behavioral Sciences from the University of Massachusetts Amherst, I began working with at-risk youth as a social worker for several years. It was during my time working with youth that I fell in love with teaching and began to pursue a career in teaching, by going down the international route in 2014. Prior to coming to SCIS in 2018 I have worked in Dhaka, Bangladesh, and in Manila, Philippines. I am very passionate about learning and believe that education can lead to a sustainable and peaceful future. In my free time, I love to read, write, and play sports. I always aim to bring my energy and enthusiasm into the classroom and am very pleased and excited to be apart of such an energetic community at SCIS! Go Dragons!
Hello! My name is Tami Litzelman and I am so excited to be coming to teach at SCIS! I have taught the PYP Pre-K and KG the past four years in Korea utilizing play based models. Previously, I have worked at the Rabat American School in Morocco for four years while enjoying an amazing country and vibrant culture.Being a Colorado native I naturally love to be outdoors hiking, camping, and snowboarding. I am deeply invested in the play-based ideals and look forward to being a part of the early years program at SCIS. I believe that children learn best when they have the opportunity to naturally explore what they love. I enjoy engaging in the learning that is discovered by playing. I am so excited to explore China and be a part of the vibrant SCIS community!
Hello! Teaching is my passion! I started as a MS wrestling coach in college which led to an Education Degree from the University of Dayton. Since then, I have worked at a boarding school, Pikes Peak Community College and public & private day schools. Since consciously coupling with my international travel partner, now wife, we spent four years teaching in Rabat, Morocco and most recently four years teaching at Chadwick International School in Korea. I can’t image doing anything other than teaching at international schools, especially SCIS. The opportunity to teach and inspire young problem solvers & designers on a global scale is important in an era of autonomous driving, home drone delivery, and who knows what tomorrow will bring.
Hello, I am so excited to be a part of the SCIS family! I have been teaching for 10 years in North Carolina in both the middle school and high school settings. I have taught all four core middle school subjects, as well as special education and high school science and social studies. I attended Jacksonville State University in Jacksonville Alabama and completed graduate coursework at the The University of North Carolina at Charlotte. I enjoy spending time with my family, reading and travelling, sports, and hiking. I am looking forward to exploring China with my youngest daughter Piper who will be joining me at SCIS.
My name is DeVeor Rainey and I greet you with great excitement. I am so psyched to teach at at SCIS. I received a B.A. in English at the City University of New York, and a M.A. in Music and Music Education at Teachers College, Columbia University. I am a native New Yorker who taught elementary music a public school located in East Harlem (El Barrio). I developed the music program for students in grades prekindergarten through sixth, in which I organized music presentations and performances for weekly community meetings and annual winter and spring concerts. In 2001, I established a percussion ensemble as an after-school program that later transformed into Speaking in Rhythms, a 501(C)(3) nonprofit organization. After teaching in the New York City public school system for 15 years, I decided to teach internationally. In the summer of 2014, I began to teach at Gems American Academy in Abu Dhabi, UAE. I worked with an arts team that collaborated on developing a music curriculum, an arts Program of Inquiry (POI), and annual arts festivals. In addition, I collaborated with classroom teachers on planning transdisciplinary units within the PYP framework. During my many years of teaching, I have come to believe that a strong music program should create opportunities that will foster musical thinking and creative expression in an engaging and innovative learning environment.
Hello! I am honored and thrilled to be a part of the SCIS community. Originally from Tennessee in the Southeast USA, I received my Bachelor degree from Tennessee Tech and my Master of Science from Mississippi State. After taking some time to serve in the US Army, I started teaching in 2000 because I love getting students excited about the natural world. I have taught everything from elementary to college science classes, with a special concentration in Biology. I enjoy sponsoring student clubs and believe strongly that teachers should facilitate student-driven interests. I have lived in China since 2015 and consider it my second home. My hobbies include traveling around Asia and attending live music shows, and I have a special appreciation for Korean food and culture. I have two grown children who live and work in the United States.
A quick Monday note to share a few informational items.
SCIS Pudong will have a Summer Camp!
We are pleased to announce that we will soon begin accepting applications for our SCIS Summer Camps for children from Pre-School to Grade 5. Like previous years, we will run 4, week-long camps starting on June 18 through to July 13. Participants can sign up for one or more weeks, depending on preference/schedule. These are always fun sessions for students including arts, crafts, stories, dramatic play, swimming, and more. Learn more here .
There is an early-bird payment discount for those paid by May 18!
On April 26, our PAFA hosted a parent session featuring Katherine Humphries. Ms. Humphries spoke to parents about the issue of raising children in a world where digital sexual content is so prevalent. What does it mean for the development of our children? How can we talk with our children to help them better understand the values your family establishes? We posted a video of that presentation here for those parents who were unable to make it.
For those of you who were unable to attend this year’s musical, Thoroughly Modern Millie, we have posted the recorded version on our SCIS Livestream. Enjoy the performance!
Speaking of talented students, a big congratulations to our fifth graders and Ms. Clodfelter and Ms. Peterson for the fantastic PYP Exhibition on Friday. It’s a great example of students learning about real-world issues with a focus on taking action. I have included some photos from that showcase event below.
I want to remind everyone of the PAFA meeting at 10:00 am Tuesday. During the meeting, we will be hoping to hear ideas for next year’s PAFA as well as nominations for the 2018-19 PAFA Board Members. Parent involvement is so vital in shaping our SCIS community. I encourage you all to get involved and play a role in helping to make SCIS a special place for children.
How did we get to May so quickly? The year is wrapping up far too quickly, but it has been one of growth on many levels. Next week, we’ll share the biographies of a strong group of educators we have already hired to join our SCIS faculty for the 2018-19 school year. Student enrollment is growing, and we continue to be appreciate of all the parent referrals we are seeing as new families come to tour our campus.
Of course, we are well underway in our planning for next year. There is so much more to be accomplished. And, it is as good a time as any to acknowledge the dedicated work that our faculty has put into this school year. I feel fortunate to be working with the teachers and administrators who are forward-thinking and committed to students. It’s not always calm – but it is certainly rewarding.
As always, we are humbled to have your trust and the privilege to work with your children.
This week, like many other, offers a glimpse into some of the unique moments of life on our campus. Enjoy this week’s post, and have a relaxing weekend.
Head of School
This afternoon, our 5th Graders presented one of the culminating aspects of the PYP Program as they shared their PYP Exhibition Presentations with an audience of approximately one hundred. Let me start by saying a big thank you to all the parents who came to support the students’ work, ask them questions, and give them feedback on their process and product. Engaging in a real-world learning is a defining aspect of the IB program, but one important element that adds to areal-world experience is an authentic audience to share and critique their work. It’s a fantastic experience that pushes the 5th Graders to pick a personal project of choice, and work as a team to analyze and take action upon it. More details can be found in our Lower School Newsletter from Ms. Gale. (Photos from Exhibition will be included in next week’s newsletter.)
This week, our Seniors started their IB Exams. This is a three-week process where 12th grade students all around the world take exams at the same day and time. The exams are the culmination of These exams are marked externally, and they represent one of the more tangible ways that we are able to judge the quality of our programs – and they give us objective data to allow us to measure our performance relative to other schools. The IB Diploma Program is generally regarded as the most rigorous, university-prep Diploma in the world, yet still stresses the development of the whole child.
We track this data every year to monitor our effectiveness, primarily in two areas:
The average IB scores of our graduates is 34 (out of a possible 45). The world average is between 29 and 30 each year.
SCIS is an inclusive school. This means that we strive to include all of our students in the program – not simply our highest achievers. Research tells us that the main factor in university success is not the score a student achieves in the IB Diploma program, but the exposure to the program itself. For this reason, we aim to personalize our approach to keep students motivated and ensure that each student has the knowledge – and more importantly, the skills and habits – to succeed in the program. Historically, we are proud that approximately 85-90% of our graduates each year complete the full IB Program. It’s a statistic that defines SCIS as an inclusive school within Shanghai, and speaks to the academic rigor our students are able to achieve.
SCIS Expands Learning Support
Speaking of rigor, this week we held two parent meetings to share information about our newly developed Upper School Learning Support Academy Program. A more detailed explanation of our Learning Support philosophy and program were outlined in last week’s post. But one aspect of this week’s presentation that is worthy of sharing here is the unique way in which we define rigor.
Traditionalists envision rigor as a bar that everyone has to achieve. During our presentation, Upper School Principal, Dr. Volpe, shared our belief that rigor is actually a much more personalized approach to helping each individual reach their potential. We base our belief on the research work of Strong, Silver and Perini’s (2001) Teaching What Matters Most: Standards and Strategies for Raising Student Achievement:
Rigour is the goal of helping students develop their individual capacity to understand content and approach dilemmas that are complex, ambiguous, provocative and personally, physically or emotionally challenging.
Instead of simply setting one bar of attainment, this challenges educators and schools (and by extension, students themselves) to work to personalize the context of the learning so that it is relevant and challenging. It forces us to rethink ways that our system can better fit the child, instead of forcing children to continually fit into our system.
Our Learning Support program is one way that we do this, but the conceptually based MYP Program is based on students constructing their own understanding of big-idea concepts. This type of learning personalizes the learning by forcing students to build their own understanding of the concept – allowing students of all abilities to be challenged in a rigorous environment.
PAFA 2018-19: Executive Board: Nominations Open
Meeting Tuesday, May 8, at 10:00 am
Our PAFA is an incredibly important part of what makes the SCIS Community so special. Next week we take the first formal steps toward building the PAFA leadership and goals for the 2018-19 school year. We need your help. Please review the list below. We have positions that need to be filled. Additionally, we have ideas for ways that we can expand PAFA to better support parents and the students within the community. If you have any questions, contact Trish Castillo. We look forward to seeing you on Tuesday, and hearing your ideas for additional ways to help families be a part of the SCIS experience.
Proposed Executive PAFA Postions, Pudong Campus
President: The PAFA Pres. is responsible for charing monthly PAFA
meetings, giving general guidance and support to the PAFA committees,
and working with executive committee and the administration to create the
activity schedule for the year.
Treasurer: The Treasurer is responsible for creating a yearly budget plan,
keeping track of all PAFA funds, recording expenses and income, and for
signing off on all finances approved by the Executive committee.
Communication Coordinator: This will be a new position on the
Executive Committee. He/or she will manage the PAFA Fantastic Parents
We Chat groups and White board. They will stay in communication with the
different department heads, administration and the PAFA Board to be a
conduit between school events and the parent community. They will take
notes at the monthly meetings and post them on the PAFA website plus
maintain the PAFA website. This position would also coordinate the grade
reps from Pre-K to 12th grade.
Events Coordinator: The Events Coordinator may oversee and/or appoint leadership for all annual events that require organizations. Such PAFA sponsored events may include New Student Orientation, Welcome Back BBQ, Bingo Night, Winter Festival, Family Food Festival, Art Auction, Parents Night Out and parent
day outings. The Events Coordinator will need to work with the Executive
Board and the administration.
Food & Beverage/PAFA Supply Manager: The F&B manager will
coordinate any purchased needed for PAFA sponsored events. They would
keep and maintain inventory of the PAFA room which includes beverages,
alcohol, food, popcorn supplies, coolers, tables, table clothes etc. They will
need to keep the Treasure informed of cost and supplies.
BINGO/Art Auction Chair: Since, these two events are PAFA’s largest
fundraising events. They should be represented on the Executive
Committee. It does not have to be the same person.
Any of the approve positions can stand in for the President if he/or she is
unable to attend the general PAFA meetings.
General PAFA Positions
Swim Team Committee
Grade Reps Pre-K through 12th grade
On another PAFA-related note, please reach out to the our PAFA to help support the May 25th Teacher Appreciation Day. (In advance, we thank you!!)
It’s been another busy, but productive week at SCIS.
We’ll start with our Upper School Musical – Thoroughly Modern Millie. It’s not too late to join us for the final show at 6:30 pm tonight (Friday) at 6:30 pm. It’s a spectacular production, and a big shout-out to the cast, crew, and the dedicated leaders of the show (Ms. Riddle, Mr. Demas, Ms. Whiteside, and Ms. Williams). And, special thanks to our PAFA and Student Council who are selling drinks and snacks to help make the night even more enjoyable. Come out and see what our amazing Dragons can do – or check out the performances via the Livestream
It’s been a special Spirit Week at SCIS this week, as the photos below will showcase. The Fourth Graders led yesterday’s Lower School Assembly with an excellent learning skit on the Age of Discovery. Spirit Week culminated today with a Green & Jeans day, an “Upper School Lunch Time Karaoke” (featuring risk-taking students and teachers!), ice cream sales, an Upper School Assembly from Slam-Poet Luka Lesson from Australia. The students have been truly captivated by his style, teachings, and message. (Thank you PAFA !)
A thank you to Catherine Humphries for her work with our students the last two weeks. Catherine came from the Shanghai Community Center to speak with our Upper School students about dealing with sexualilzed content on digital media appropriately, and developing a values based framework to help students understand their beliefs and live closer to them. Catherine also gave an informative parent presentation at the school on Thursday, April 26. The video of that presentation will be shared on our portal shortly.
Lastly, I have been getting questions about whether SCIS Pudong will run a Summer Camp this summer. The short answer is: “I hope so.” Please hold your questions for one more week, and we will have an answer and more information!
Today is a big milestone for our Seniors. It is their last day of full classes before the IB exams begin in May. As a tribute to our outstanding group, we led them through a surprise “Walk Off” tribute, allowing them to get high-fives and congratulations from all the students as they left campus today. We wish them luck on their upcoming exams!
Don’t forget, Tuesday May 1 is a national holiday. There is no school for students.
The day started with approximately 30 parents joining our Grade One Classrooms to observe teachers Ms. Myers and Mr. Schultz in their
delivery of the Columbia Teachers College Readers / Writers Workshop (TCRRW). The Workshop approach is our agreed upon belief in best practices in literacy instruction. Our Lower School teachers have worked hard this year to become stronger practitioners in this student-centered, naturally differentiated method of reading and writing instruction. We often say that we do our best to value the thinking and feeling of our students, and the Workshop approach is one example of that philosophy in action.
Later in the day, I was able to see and speak with many of you present in school for the two Lower School Music Celebrations. Congratulations to all of our Lower School performers, and especially Ms. Macoskey whose spirit and warmth comes out in the smiles we see on stage.
At lunch, the Upper School Student/Faculty Ping Pong Tournament ended with a crowd of close to 100 watching the action. Congratulations goes out to the following teams:
4th Place: Mr. O’Reilly & SeJing (Gr. 9)
3rd Place: Mr. Thomas & Sandy (Gr. 7)
2nd Place: Mr. Schultz & Miguel (Gr. 6)
1st Place: Coach Vic & Giacomo (Gr. 12)
But of course, an even bigger congratulations go out to all the students and faculty to who joined together to make this a fun event.
Looking ahead to next week, we hope each of you can join us for the Upper School Musical, Thoroughly Modern Millie. Performances are on Thursday (4:30) and Friday (6:30). Come out and enjoy what our dedicated Arts Department and students have put together.
Today’s post includes an important (but rather long) article proving an overview of the SCIS Learning Support Program. It is Part One of a two-part article I am writing to share with you and the international school community.
Enjoy all the articles and photos below, and we look forward to continued success the rest of the year.
Head of School
SCIS Pudong Learning Support Program: Past, Present, and Future
Like many international schools, SCIS has been no stranger to change and growth over the past few years. Specifically, the past three years has seen SCIS Pudong has focused growth in two significant areas which complement each other well.
the development of our through-school (PYP, MYP, DP) International Baccalaureate Program, serving students Nursery to Grade 12
the development of a robust Learning Support Program to better support all of our students.
These developments have made us a leader within international schools, and provided strong foundations upon which we can grow our mission to serve all students in an inclusive, academically-rigorous, community-minded environment.
We are excited to share our plans to further develop our programs in 2018-19 by expanding our Upper School Learning Support Program. Starting August, 2018, we will open our Upper School Learning Support Academy, providing specialized opportunities for a few students in grades 6-11 to take part in the SCIS program. More information will be shared about the Academy in a later post.
Part of any change process involves communicating with stakeholders. Ultimately, a community is strengthened when we share a common belief. This article is part one of a two-part series where we want to share more details about who we are, and why we chose to further develop this area of our school program. To begin, it’s best to start with the basics.
What is Learning Support?
All international schools offer competitive academic programs and stress the holistic development of the children they serve. We all know that children learn differently. Therefore, almost all schools provide some level of support to help students who learn differently so that those students can find success. This is usually done by hiring additional teachers, and those teachers have specific, training and skill-sets ready to help students who may need help with speech/language, reading, math, or executive functioning to name just a few of the common areas of support.
What is the history of the Learning Support Program at SCIS Pudong?
In 2015-16, the Board of Directors agreed to fund a pilot program to strengthen the Learning Support Campus at the Pudong Campus. This was no small decision. It involved hiring additional teachers, and investing in the goal of differentiating our learning to better meet the needs of all students. Each year, after evaluating small steps of success, we have increased our commitment, bringing us to the expansion of our services again in 2018-19.
Why did SCIS make the decision to expand our Learning Support services?
Compared to my home country (USA), the level of support in most international schools is scarce. This usually means that most international schools cannot accept students who have mild or moderate learning needs, they simply do not have the resources to adequately support those students in meeting the challenging curriculum. Put simply, we believe that there are students in Shanghai who do learn differently, and can succeed in the most challenging academic program (The IB Diploma Program is generally regarded in this regard.) as long as they are placed in the right environment and with the right support.
In what ways does the Learning Support Program benefit all students at SCIS and make us a better school?
We believe our Learning Support Program is an important part of who we are and strengthens our mission on two distinct ways.
We believe it makes us a stronger academic school.
We believe it strengthens our mission, strengthening the values of diversity and inclusiveness, benefiting all of our students.
The goal of this article (Part 1) will focus on how the program makes us a stronger academic school.
We should start with the most common question surrounding learning support. Many parents fear that if students with learning difficulties are in a classroom with their “regular education” student, then the teacher’s attention will be diverted or the rigor of expectations of the entire class be deceased – resulting a poorer learning experience for the regular education student. Simply put, this should not happen if there is a strong support system in place for the child. A properly structured learning support environment will benefit all learners.
At SCIS, it’s important to remember that we follow the IB Programs, including the DP Program in grades 11 and 12 which is externally moderated. This means that the students’ final grades are determined by different IB educators all around the world who assess each of our students’ exams. There is no chance (or benefit) from any of our SCIS teachers in decreasing academic expectations. We have typically had 85% of our students achieve the full IB Diploma – an impressive amount which speaks to the level of scholarship at SCIS. Additionally, all students take some IB courses. So, we know our bar is high, and it is moderated by outside educators to ensure our quality is consistent. It means we can focus on supporting students in achieving within the IB Program, not worrying that any standards are being compromised. Here’s how our Learning Support Program does just that.
We have additional Learning Support teachers, able to work with all learning support children and support our regular education classroom teachers. These teachers have a specialized skill-sets in content areas that are not present in most schools. All students (regular learners and those who need additional support) are always on a learning spectrum with strengths and weaknesses. Regular learners still struggle with reading, math, etc. Having trained experts on staff who speciailize in these areas helps all of our teachers become better skilled at what strategies work and what progression of skills are needed to support each learner’s area of need.
An easy example comes within Math. Consultant and math specialist Erma Anderson is currently working with our faculty by visiting our campus 5 times over the next 18 months. One of her main points to emphasize is that we usually think of math as a very procedural. When students struggle, inexperienced teachers try to repeat the same procedure, give students opportunities to practice, and hope that the procedure sticks. (Well-meaning parents usually try this method too. I am guilty of it!) Unfortunately, repeating and practicing math procedures is not what research says supports student understanding. Students might learn the procedure in the short term but fail to understand the conceptual understanding behind the procedure, and therefore have only a superficial level of understanding that will be easily forgotten in future years. In contrast, math specialists like Erma Anderson and Learning Support teachers who specialize in the area of math instruction can pinpoint the progression of math skills previously needed to understand a current concept. They are skilled in teaching conceptually, providing three or four different ways for students to see how the math concept works. They ask students to explain “Why does this method work?” or “How do you know you’re right?”, and their specialty in math allows them to know what to listen for.
In addition to specialized skill-sets in different content areas, all Learning Support teachers are uniquely skilled in differentiation. Having this knowledge and expertise in the building makes all of our teachers better. Their training and experience is grounded in assessing individual students, understanding that student’s unique learning style, and crafting an Individualized Education Plan to meet that student’s needs. Of course, this is very beneficial to the students who are in the Learning Support Program. But there is another positive benefit; Learning Support teachers work closely with each of our classroom teachers. Through collaboration and co-teaching, the Learning Support teachers bring a perspective and an array of strategies that help our regular classroom teachers better identify learning needs – and know what strategies to employ – within their whole-class environment.
While the points above focused on additional staffing and skill-sets, the last way in which a strong Learning Support program strengthens the academic growth of all students is more philosophical in nature. It is no less important, and likely more important. Our school has become better focused on seeking out strengths and embracing the unique learning style of every child. When students struggle, we are less likely fall back on the default response of asking students to work harder to focus on “learning it the way I’m teaching it.” Instead, I find we are more willing to sit down and recognize that there is a wealth of expertise in the building. We approach student learning from a mindset that a solution exists, and we simply have not (yet) come up with enough information and strategies to help the student succeed. We are by no means 100% successful all the time, the philosophical change is an important one in how we approach obstacles.
We are proud to continue to make advances to our Learning Support Program. We see the academic benefits it brings to our IB program. And, stay tuned for the second part of this article when we share more about how our Learning Support Program supports our school’s mission, the IB’s mission, and expands our students’ experience by strengthening our school’s diversity and inclusiveness.
Expanded Upper School Sports Offerings for 2018-19
With the 2017-18 ACAMIS (Association of China And Mongolia International Schools) sports seasons now finished after a great showing by our Girls (1st) and Boys (2nd) soccer teams this past weekend, we can begin looking forward to the 2018-19 sports seasons. In an effort to continue to try to expand our Upper School sports opportunities, we have identified several individual sports currently offered under the ACAMIS umbrella where we feel that some of our students may be able to share their passion to compete. These include the following possibilities: Tennis, Badminton, Cross Country, Table Tennis, and Golf.
Although the school cannot provide coaches for all of these sports (we can for most), we know that many students practice and train outside of school and we would be happy to give them the chance to represent their school in the regional ACAMIS competitions. More information and a survey will be coming out soon from our Athletic Director, “Coach Vic” Caban. (firstname.lastname@example.org)
PHOTOS FROM AROUND THE CAMPUS
Due to timing, I wasn’t able to include photos from today’s Lower School Music Celebrations. Look for those in next week’s Head of School Update.
Just a quick mid-week post to highlight some upcoming events.
This Friday, April 20 will beGreen and Jeans Day for Upper School Students and all faculty. (NOTE: Because of our Lower School Spring Musical Concerts, Lower School Students will not be in Greens and Jeans. Lower School students will be dressed out-of-uniform on Friday according to Ms. Macoskey’s instructions.)
With so much to celebrate, it seems like a great day to showcase our Dragon Spirit. “What’s going on?” you ask.
Our Varsity Boys and Girls Soccer Teams placed 2nd and 1st respectively in the ACAMIS Soccer Tournament in Beijing this past weekend. Congratulations on the fantastic results.
We are finishing up our two-week March Madness, Faculty/Student Doubles Ping Pong Tournament on Friday.
Our Lower School Spring Concerts will take place on Friday:
PK-Grade 1: 10:30-11:15
Gr. 2-5 1:30-2:15
Next week, our Upper School Musical, Thoroughly Modern Millie. Our students have been preparing for months for this showcase. We hope you and your children can attend one of the shows.
Thursday, 4:30. With advance sign-up, we will provide student bussing for MS/HS students who wish to attend.
Friday: 6:30. (NOTE: We made an error in one bulletin, stating the start time was 6:00 pm. The correct start time is 6:30 pm.)
Snacks and drinks will be sold during both shows.
And, of course, this Saturday is our Annual Art Auction, starting at 5:30 pm and lasting until midnight! Bring your appetite for fun.
Last week, our PAFA held a preliminary meeting for the 2018-19 school year. I will be summarizing that meeting shortly with a request to all parents to help take part in PAFA next year. One of our defining elements at SCIS is our sense of community – and the backbone of that community is the parent involvement we see throughout the year. Your involvement truly adds value to what we are able to offer all of our students. Please stay on the lookout for my upcoming email, and in the meantime, consider the unique ways that you and others might be able to contribute to PAFA and the SCIS community next year. I want to also take this time to say a big thank you to our current PAFA President, Trish Castillo, and all of the PAFA parents who have given of their time, energy, and passion to make this school year such a success. From all of us, thank you!
Speaking of contributions, please support the important clothing drive below from the MaiTian group of parents. Your effort supports migrant children in Jiangsu Province. In advance, thank you for your generosity.
Lastly, enjoy a few photos from around the school thus far this week.
The weather has smiled upon us lately, and allowed a few classroom activities to take place outdoors.
This weekend, our Varsity Boys and Girls Soccer Teams are competing in Beijing at the ACAMIS Tournament. Both our teams have had successful starts to the tournament (they are in action as I type!). If you wish to follow the action, you can find the LiveStream link at https://www.isb.bj.edu.cn/page.cfm?p=1621 Go Dragons!
We are in the midst of our March Madness Ping Pong Tournament (even though it is April). The tournament is modeled after the American college basketball tournament in March. However, this is a purely a fun-filled way that students and faculty build our SCIS Community. Faculty members and students are randomly partnered up to form a team. We have 64 teams in our draw, and the action started on Tuesday and continues through to the Championship Game on Friday, April 20. You will see from many of the photos below – this is truly a fun activity. Many of the participants have never played ping pong before, but it doesn’t stop us from having a little fun competition during lunch.
In addition to the normal variety of photos below, you will see two events from this week that merit a bit of description.
Professional Development for our Lower School Faculty with Chris Frost
Chris Frost is an IB Trainer and Workshop leader who also happens to have a strong background in the Columbia University Teachers College Readers and Writers Workshop approach to literacy. Chris visited SCIS Pudong for two days this week, meeting with teachers and administrators to strengthen our literacy practices and better integrate them into the PYP philosophy of inquiry.
Student/Staff Doubles Ping Pong Tournament
And, you may be wondering about our last picture, the 2nd Annual Student/Staff Doubles Ping Pong Tournament at SCIS. The picture is of the tournament draw which we released this week. This is one of those fun, community-building events that helps builds relationships with students and staff. While it is structured as a tournament, this is a fun event. Ping pong experience (and even talent!) is optional in order to participate. What is not optional is a fun attitude. The actual tournament begins in April and short games are played at lunch. Perhaps the SCIS sports pages will be able to help everyone keep up to date with the action.
Lastly, don’t forget about the upcoming Art Auction on April 21st. The lobby has turned into a display center to showcase just a few of the pieces up for sale. This is one of those can’t-miss experiences on the SCIS calendar. See the PAFA Post for more information about the event.
Wishing everyone a safe and relaxing Spring Break.