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High School Social Studies

As you well know, Quarter 4 was conducted online because of Covid-19. On Friday, March 13, students left school looking forward to spring break. That was our last ‘normal’ day on campus. It’s been 10 weeks of online home learning. It has been a huge challenge with a massive learning curve for everyone involved.  

AP Classes: AP Psychology, AP World History Modern, AP MacroEconomics

Many SIS students take Advanced Placement courses at SIS and the Covid-19 pandemic really impacted the exams this year. The College Board still offered the exam but in a hugely modified format that greatly affected AP Psychology, AP World History Modern, and AP MacroEconomics. The exam is a mixture of several essays and multiple choice questions, but this year it involved just one or two essays with no multiple choice questions. This meant that the students had to adjust their test taking strategy. It also meant that the teachers needed to focus more on writing. The month of April was spent writing and writing and writing by our AP students. I’m sure many of them disliked it but they also knew that it was necessary to prepare for the AP exam which was completely written. Now that the AP exams are over, I am sure the students are quite happy to be done. 

World History 9

Grade 9 World History wrapped up its study of the Middle Ages with a final research project and presentation done through a Google Chrome web extension. Most students chose to use Loom which allows students to record a video of themselves and their computer screen as they present their material. The Grade 9 students researched well and put together in depth presentations on their topics which included The Great Famine, the First Crusade, the Black Death, the Spanish Reconquista, Hundred Years War, the Fourth Crusade and the Latin Empire, and a few more interesting medieval topics. I was very impressed with the level of hard work and dedication the students put into their research and presentations. I hope the students have a wonderful summer break as they prepare themselves for Grade 10. 

Middle School Computer Science/IT

Middle school computer science students finished the year with hands-on learning of coding using programming languages such as python and JavaScript. Students designed algorithms and created programming solutions to a variety of computational problems using an iterative development process. Programming problems include mathematical and logical concepts and a variety of programming constructs.  The goal was to develop students’ computational thinking practices of algorithm development, problem solving and programming with in the context of problems that are relevant to the lives of our students. One of the key take-aways from the remote/online learning computer science classes was developing self-management of learning. If students are going to be responsible for the quality of their thinking and learning, they need to develop and regularly use an array of self-monitoring and self-management strategies. These meta- cognitive skills include noticing when one doesn’t understand something and taking steps to remedy the situation, as well as formulating questions and inquiries that let one explore deep levels of meaning. Students also manage their own learning by evaluating the feedback they get from the teacher; bringing their background knowledge to bear on new learning; anticipating learning difficulties and managing their time accordingly and judging their progress toward a learning goal. These are strategies that good learners use spontaneously and that all students can learn through appropriate instruction and socialization. Learning environments should be designed to model and encourage the regular use of self-management strategies.

In addition to developing self-management of learning, the online learning also provided an opportunity to develop an effort-based curriculum, whereby a sustained and directed effort can yield in higher achievement for all students. All of the online lessons in the past several weeks were organized with clear expectation of what students will learn, with fair and credible evaluations that supported students to put forth sustained effort over time.

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