Whole School: 24/04/2020

Dear Parents,

None of us could have believed that for ten weeks now our students, teachers and parents would be called upon to reorganize habits, lifestyles and ways of learning / teaching. All this is undoubtedly also having an impact on everyone’s interpersonal relationships and emotional world. It therefore becomes increasingly important to continue to offer our students a positive daily focus, objectives to be achieved, the possibility of interaction even if virtual, together with much encouragement and warm emotional support.

In this context, we are considering and rethinking the learning evaluation system. If, on the one hand,  it must continue to be rigorous and strictly related to the criteria given by the IB, on the other it cannot be separated from considering all the fatigue and difficulties of young and older students during this unexpected and long period of distance learning.

At a full faculty level and in all departments, we are addressing the issue of year-end learning assessments with our teadchers. In this edition of the newsletter, we are  sharing some food for thought with you.

Despite the great difficulties and challenges to be faced, an extraordinary collaboration and sharing of ideas, reflections, projects and materials is emerging in the global educational world. Several of our teachers are participating in webinars, the coordinators are in constant contact with colleagues from the Inspired group and IB schools in Italy. I have been invited to contribute to a workshop within the Virtual Leadership Conference organized by the European Council of International Schools, I will discuss with other colleagues on the topic of what Education and School will be like after the Covid-19 challenge. http://www.cvent.com/events/ecis-leadership-conference-2020-madrid/event-summary-d34b6c0f4ec245aca8c74d82bd983883.aspx

I wish you all a good read and a peaceful weekend,

E. Ferloni


Assessment and online learning

I would like to share with you part of the pedagogical discussions that we are having in our leadership team meetings and in collaborative planning meetings with the teachers.

Why is assessment such a tricky issue in online learning?

Remote learning has placed how we assess at centre stage. You just cannot do it the same way you would in a physical classroom. This is evident in how all major examination boards have cancelled exams in the light of COVID-19

At every division and age level, teachers have to discover new ways to measure learning and new methods to determine each student’s level of engagement and understanding. The question, “How do we assess?” is essential to the conversation now and when we will return back to normal school.

This is a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to rethink and reimagine the role of assessment:

  • WHY do we assess: is the focus on formative or summative?
  • HOW do we reduce stress as opposed to adding to it in the way assessments can sometimes do?
  • HOW can we reimagine assessment to create greater student engagement?
  • HOW do we design assessments for maximum validity?
  • HOW do we provide intervention and support to students with special educational needs?
  • WHAT about grading: is it fair to grade in the same way?

Then we need to face the problem of academic honesty during exams and assessment tests. In this regard, I report what the IB says in a recent document

“Academic integrity is a fundamental principle of an IB education and should be embedded throughout the learner journey and school ethos. Teachers should follow normal procedures to authenticate work to the best of their knowledge and reiterate the importance of academic integrity with their students. The IB expects teachers to use best endeavor, but also recognizes the difficulties faced as the result of remote working. The IB will undertake additional checks for plagiarism and collusion.”

Virtual Mum’s Breakfast

This year I can invite you to a Breakfast … Virtually!  which will certainly allow us to celebrate the traditional Mother’s Day as usual.  Even if at a distance we will find ways to make it special. I eagerly look forward to seeing you on the BlueJeans link  https://bluejeans.com/901777293 which can accommodate up to 100 people.

Moms are playing a unique role in this tough test for everyone. During their day they are wearing a teacher and babysitter’s hat, at other times they are skilled bakers and cooks, it is often up to them to keep up the morale of everyone in the house, as well as to get distracted with the commitments of smart working.

Prepare yourself a well-deserved cup of coffee and maybe a sweet treat, then connect. I will be there from 9:00 on Friday May 8th. Do not miss it!

Earth Day & World Book Day

During the online lessons we don’t neglect to let the kids live the cultural calendar program. Between one lesson and another, in the past week everyone was busy reflecting and celebrating two important events and once again they surprised me with their fresh creativity. I share with you some of the many jobs they sent me.

On the occasion of the World Book Day the boys dG10 & 11 produced an audio book in Spanish: El Principito – audiolibro with text

To celebrate Earth Day, some Grade9 students prepared the video: Nature in the time of Covid-19

Here are some ideas that served as a trace for the work on Earth Day, as they can make us adults think a lot:

  • 5 facts to concern us – consideration of significant causes and impacts of climate change.
  • The Global Climate Risk Index – to what extent have countries and regions been impacted by weather related events and how can we measure such impacts? 
  • Climate change and the collective consciousness – how can the use of imagery – using cartoons and the digital remastering of Renaissance art – be used to stimulate the general public into taking notice of climate change?
  • Greta Thunberg – Time Magazine Person of the Year 2019 – The power of youth. To what extent do the students consider Greta Thunberg a role model for their generation? Includes a couple of interesting YouTube clips. 
  • Climate change and forced migration – an insight into the effects of climate change within Bangladesh. Consideration of the factors contributing to extreme weather events and flooding, displacement of rural communities, degradation of agricultural land and mangrove forests, increased salinity of water courses and arable land, rural depopulation and gender issues, rural to urban migration and the break-up of the family unit and an increase in the percentage of people living in informal squatter settlements. 
  • Climate change in Asia and the Pacific – an infographic – the social, economic and environmental impacts of climate change within this region – looking at the facts. 
  • The world in 2100 – what does the future hold? The Guardian 
  • Fleeing climate change – the real environmental disaster – a documentary focussing on the plight of marginalised communities in the Sahel.