Primary School: 20/03/2020

Welcome to our next edition of the ISC Blog.  I would like to thank the community for their resilience, patience and determination to bring the PYP to life from around the globe.  We really do have our PYP children scattered across the globe and I would like to thank everyone who is participating with a positive mind-set and supportive energy.

So here we go….

Tweaks to Virtual Learning:

We are now at the end of our 4th week of Virtual Learning.  Each week we have made small adjustments to the process to ensure it caters for the wide variety of needs in our community.  We are trying to listen to parent feedback on how to improve virtual learning but at the same time ensuring the school determines the direction and quality of what is provided to each class.  Here are some of this week’s updates…

Drop in sessions – This week we began drop in sessions with the Homeroom Teachers so that your children can log-in to Google Meet and ask a question.  This is often quicker than email and the teacher can then ensure the child fully understands.  This week we have also seen students coming to these drop in sessions as they have wanted to help their friends.  This is a wonderful demonstration of the Learner Profile in action.

We have also added in Assistant Teacher Helplines scheduled throughout the day if your child has a question on their work:

To reach the Assistant Teachers please use this GoogleMeet:

The Helpline link will remain the same for the duration of Virtual School.

Times of the Help Line are:

10.30 – 11.30  Mr. Leon
11.30 – 12.30  Ms Michelle
13.00 – 14.00  Ms Susan
14.00 – 15.00  Ms Rachele (English & Italian support)

Our Teaching Assistants are here and ready to help.

Assessments – It is very important that teachers continue with their formative assessments, monitoring which children are completing work and how the work is completed.  These are shared with me every Friday.  We will at times need to send home end of unit assessments in G2-G6 and we kindly ask that parents treat these in a principled way and leave their child to answer the questions independently.  Early Years Homeroom teachers will also start sending home the weekly Snapshot to summarize and share the learning of the week.

Virtual Learning Packs – For those children who do not have access to a device, we are now providing paper booklets for Maths, English and Unit of Inquiry work.  These are designed for children who need to work on paper and follow as closely as possible the objectives of the Virtual School.  The packs are not designed as a Virtual School PLUS Learning Pack, families may opt for a blended approach, if you are unsure if your child would benefit from using the packs, please speak to your Homeroom Teacher.

G3 21

Essential Agreements – whilst most children are using Google Meet responsibly, we do have some children who need a reminder of how to be a responsible digital citizen.  The PYP teachers have therefore put together these guidelines on how to behave responsibly when online.

  • Children should mute their mike when the teacher or another child is talking
  • Children should not use the chat function during the lesson unless instructed by the teacher
  • Children must not start chatting over the teacher as it interrupts the lesson
  • Recording or photographs of the Google Meet are not allowed
  • Parents are welcome to sit with their child and support them to participate however the Google Meet is not a time to speak to the teacher about their child or give comments on the lesson
  • It is forbidden for children to “kick” other children out of the meet
  • It is forbidden for children to “mute” each other’s microphones
  • Children should be appropriately dressed for the Google meet

I would also like to clarify our communication policy during Virtual Classroom.  Parents who have a comment or question about their child should please contact the teacher directly rather than placing comments on the Class Dojo Wall.  The Wall is already very busy and often comments are not related to the entire class.  Criticisms and comments of a negative nature placed on the wall will not be tolerated as these put  the well being of everyone at risk.

The Timetable – this sets out the tasks for the day but the timings are flexible and are there only as a guideline. Please plan your day suiting your family needs.  If you need help prioritising the timetable, please speak to your child’s homeroom teacher.

Virtual Assemblies:

Each Friday, a virtual assembly with “the Dragon” is sent out via Dojo.  Thank you to everyone who sends such lovely photos and comments of their children interacting with the assembly.  If your children have any ideas of what they would like to see in upcoming assemblies please do send in the ideas.  I know Daikin the Teddy is very much looking forward to making a live appearance when school reopens.

Italian in Virtual School:

Each week the Italian teachers send me a document which monitors which children are submitting work.  There are a large number of children not handing in work or not communicating with Ms Silvia, Ms Chiara and Ms Valentina.  I would like to remind you that from G2-G6 Italian activities should be completed.  This is particularly relevant for Grade 6 students who have the 5° Elementare Exam just around the corner.  Thank you for your cooperation in this area of learning.

Grade 6 Exhibition:  Virtual Style

Our Grade 6 students, have embarked on their Exhibition using Virtual School.  The Exhibition is a 7 week project where each child selects an area of interest, designs their own unit of inquiry and takes action.  There is a presentation to the school community at the end of the process.  Our Grade 6 children are the largest group of children we have ever had in Grade 6 – we have mentors joining from around the globe such as Ms Kirsty Pyner – our 2016 Grade 6 teacher and Ms Miklejohn our Student Teacher from the acclaimed Dundee University.  A HUGE well done to our Grade 6 students for such a positive start.

The Grade 6 children would usually ask questions to experts in the community and included here are the list of topics the students have chosen.  If this is an area you have knowledge of or if you know an expert in this topic please do let Mr. Humphrey, Ms Besim or myself know.  Here are the broad range of topics selected and on behalf of Grade 6, thank you for any support you can give.

  • Self-esteem (connection to place attachment)
  • Polluting the environment
  • Over use of Technology
  • Child Poverty in Italy
  • Endangered Animals
  • Coronavirus in Italy & Global Pandemics
  • Hydro conic greenhouses and life on Mars
  • Black Hole
  • Pollution free houses
  • Pollution of the earth – focus on car pollution
  • Role of dogs and mistreating of dogs
  • Ethical Animal tourism (ethical vs exploitation)
  • Equal rights for the gay community
  • Impact of the Fashion Industry – regenerative agriculture
  • Calabrian Mafia
  • Addiction to Video Games
  • Racism in Sport
  • Global Warming – impact on lakes, seas and oceans
  • Fair Trade
  • Global Warming – ways to reduce it
  • Pollution of oceans
  • The image of the military
  • Protecting wild horses in the US
  • Saving the Amazon Rainforest – deforestation
  • Animal Extinction in rainforests
  • Pollution of the Antarctic – particular focus on penguins in Antarctic

What have Grade 6 been up to for the Exhibition this week?
In their first week the Grade 6 children have been:

  • Writing their Central Idea
  • Writing their Lines of Inquiry
  • Connecting these to Key Concepts
  • Beginning an Exhibition Planner from the IB
  • Meeting with Miss Whittle to clarify the central idea and lines of inquiry
  • Meeting with mentors to plan a goal for the upcoming week
  • Receiving training on using Padlet and Google Sites for the Exhibition Journal

Plus every Wednesday is mid-week reflection time where the children have a set of questions or thinking routine to complete.

It has been a busy first week and I am sure there is lots of exciting things to come!

Student teachers:

I don’t think anyone will be surprised to know that our eight student teachers have all had to cancel their placement at ISComo this year.  Some have continued supporting teachers whilst waiting for their placement to start and I am sure you can imagine how sad they and we are not to support them in their journey.   Doors are not closed with the universities and we hope that these student teachers will be able to come back in their next year of university.


Thank you for reading our PYP Blog and I am looking forward to following more Virtual Learning adventures next week – it is delightful to see the different ways your children approach the tasks set and please let them know we are all very proud of them.

Jane Whittle