Why we have provocations

Too often we give children answers to remember, rather than problems to solve. (Roger Lewin, 1974)

Why we have provocations.

When we first approach a new unit of inquiry, one thing that needs substantial planning is the provocation. The provocation is meant to ‘provoke’ or inspire inquiry, and create an experience that gets the students thinking and asking questions. It is a hook, that grabs hold of the student’s attention and helps them to think differently. Provocations are there to connect our 3D curriculum; knowledge, skills and concepts, and develop student questions about the new unit of inquiry. Teachers use the provocation as a way to assess prior knowledge, and give students a small ‘trailer’ of some of the learning to come. It is also a way to identify any misconceptions that will need to be addressed in later learning.

So what does a provocation look like?

As you can imagine, the provocation needs to be something new, and needs careful planning and consideration. Teachers ask themselves what experience the students could have that supports not only the new unit of inquiry, but is appropriate to the age of the students. To do this, during our collaborative planning sessions, the grade level teachers, along with the coordinator, ask themselves if the provocation is going to;

  • spark inquiry?
  • generate questions?
  • leave a lasting impression?
  • support the construction of new knowledge, skills and conceptual awareness?
  • be meaningful, interesting, exciting?

Below are some examples of provocations that students at SEK-Qatar have experiences during hybrid learning.

Preschool 5 – How the world works

Central Idea: Scientists study the properties of light to use in daily life

Our Pre5 students arrived to the classroom with the doors closed. I watched on as the students stood outside for a while, and then hesitantly knocked on the door, asking if the teacher was in there. Inside the classroom was completely black. The windows had been covered up with card, and there was no light coming in apart from the crack in the door. Once inside, students were given the opportunity to explore different sources of light that were around them; torches, light cubes, all had different brightness and some had different colours. The students were excitedly whispering to each other about what they could and couldn’t see, and were seeing if they could make our the details of the classroom. The students asked questions about where light comes from, how our eyes work in the dark, and why we need light to see and do things.

Grade 2 – How we organize ourselves

Central Idea: The organisation and operation of marketplaces is determined by the communities in which they are located

Our Grade 2 students had a different experience to the Pre5s. There provocation happened in the corridors, to enable more social distance and safety. One morning, the G2 students, while walking through the corridors on their way to class were met with stalls set up, tills ready, and stock on shelves. A mini market place. After some small instructions from the teachers, the students were able to take on the role of the vendors or the customers. (Usually, students would have more of a free reign over what choices they made, but with our current protocols we had to plan with safety in mind) Immediately there was a buzz. What am I selling? How much will this be? Do I need more of this? Can I sell this to you because I need more of this….. They had taken on their roles with vigor, and soon posters were made advertising what they were selling. While the stores were getting set up, these customers had made their own money, written shopping lists and thought about how much they wanted to spend. Then the customers were able to, with physical distance in mind, ‘visit’ these other stores to see what they needed. This role-play enabled students to think about the role of marketplaces in Qatar and in the local communities, think about what markets used to look like and inquire into markets of the future.

Grade 3 – How the world works

Humans manipulate materials to meet their needs

In G3, students were given a task, create the tallest tower using only the materials available to you. Students at school were supplied with 4 sets of materials that they could choose from. Students at home had been told which resources they needed to have available ready for the activity. This synchronous task happened at school and at home, and the competition was fierce. Student used their scientific thinking to predict which materials would be best for them to create the tallest tower, and during the activity you could hear them speak with their friends about making the right or wrong choice. Students used their prior knowledge of structures and materials to create their towers, and reflected on both the process, and the materials used, sparking questions about the use of appropriate materials for the task and how these materials can be manipulated.

Grade 4 – How the world works

Space exploration leads to new discoveries and understandings

For this provocation, since due to our current circumstances we could not visit a planetarium, the planetarium was brought to them. The grade level teachers transformed the auditorium into a planetarium using a variety of projectors and speakers to give the students an immersive experience. Students were shown videos of outer space, the solor system, and exposed to the gentle hum of space. The students were in awe as they were taken on a journey into outer space, and many made comparisons to the journey to mars that humans are currently planning.

Students are always excited when met with new leaning, and talk about these experiences for months after they have happened. When you receive the newsletter advertising you children’s new unit of inquiry, please make sure you ask them about their provocation, and what questions they had that they want to answer.

Physical Education Lessons Outside

The PYP students have been outside beginning of Term 2.

They are using the football and basketball courts as well as the shaded areas when they have PE lessons in the latest hours of the day.

The safety protocols are still in place, keeping social distancing and using hand sanitizer or washing their hands before and after we go outside.

We are currently not using any equipment, but when times comes for us to use it, the school’s cleaning crew will help us sanitizing every object after each time we use it.

We have started our unit games and Athletics and the kids have been enjoying their time outside, they get excited and have a great time during our lessons.

This week the PHE team were able to resume back to teaching physical education lessons outside and started with badminton, the students were so excited about this.

We are very proud of SEK students for following all safety protocols and ensuring they keep a safe distance while exercising.

Students have been able to develop their social skills and explore ways on how to adapt games to suit the current social distance rules.

During this unit, we will be aiming to successfully build the student’s communication skills in a number of ways, with the chance to competitive participate in a range of games.

We look forward to the student’s having this time to be outside and be physically active.

Science Lab Outside

This week our Grade 6 students explored concepts on speed and motion by challenging themselves in a fun activity that took place outside on the school grounds. Students worked in teams to collect data related to distance and time in tasks that involved walking in four different paces. The teams took to measure a path of 30 meters to walk along and used timers at the start of their 0 meter mark for each task.  In the upcoming week students will process the data that they collected by calculating and graphing their speeds to understand the relationship between distance and time.

Qatar National Day 2020

18th of December is the day that nationals and residents come together to celebrate the National Day of Qatar. A national commemoration of Qatar unification in 1878.

Due to COVID-19 regulations and protocols we cannot host parents and all the students at the same time in the school premises. So, this year at SEK International School Qatar we celebrated the event online rather than having a ceremony at school.

Even though COVID-19 restrictions made celebrating this day different for all of us, we put out our best decorations and all the flags! The student spirit was up lifted and ready to make this year’s National Day celebration even more special.

Pupils from all grades participated in making this very exceptional presentation of talent and national pride, for everyone that considers Qatar there home. Poems and speeches from MYP students. Folkloric costumes with traditional songs, performed by PYP students. 

Inside their classrooms there were activities, prepared by the teachers, for the children that attended school.

We would like to thank all the teachers and the Qatar National Day Committee for putting everything together. We are grateful to our wonderful students for there performances which united us all and made us all feel appreciative for living in Qatar.

SEK showcases its future education model and learning technology at World Education Week 2020

SEK Education Group has taken part in World Education Week, an international event on education that was held, virtually, 5 to 9 October, with the participation of SEK-Qatar representing SEK Group.

SEK-Qatar, selected as one of the 100 schools that was represented at this event, gave several presentations including those by Verónica Sánchez – Head of School at SEK-Qatar, Daniela Kemeny – Deputy Director of SEK Schools, and Joaquín Rodríguez -Director of design, innovation and educational technology at SEK Group, with the shared theme of “Promoting the Science of Learning and Teaching”.

Agency, Co-creation & Self-directed Learning

Daniela Kemeny spoke on the benefits of giving students the ability to choose and direct their own learning. At SEK Education Group, as Kemeny stated, “we have implemented self-directed learning by students, where we aim for students to take the initiative, choose how they are going to learn, follow their interests, explore their talent and ambitions and set their own educational goals.”

Speaking about the role of students in shaping their learning, the Deputy Director of SEK International Schools said that “it is important to create an educational community in class, in which students are just as important as teachers when it comes to identifying what they know, what they can and what they want to do with their learning and actively participate in its design”.

The importance of implementing a Collaborative Planning & Professional Learning model for teachers  

Verónica Sánchez, Head of School at SEK-Qatar, explained during her panel that, as part of the SEK International Schools educational model, both students and their teachers are responsible for learning and teaching. “All the members of SEK schools learn and lead learning at the same time, not just the teachers,” she asserted.

As Sánchez reported in her presentation, at SEK-Qatar, time for professional learning has been implemented since last year within the school calendar. Three days a week have been set aside for this, and each Thursday two hours are used for professional learning and collaborative planning.

As the Head of School at SEK-Qatar said, “learning occurs in optimal conditions as a result of the development of a community of learners who interact with each other, not as a group of people who simply attend classes, workshops or courses”.

The teaching model being used by SEK Education Group, in the words of Verónica Sánchez, “encourages teachers to be researchers, to work together and collaborate with each other to improve the quality of teaching. All the discoveries that result from these enquiries are shared with the rest of the teachers so that everyone can benefit from them”.

The importance of technologies to enrich learning, collaboration and communication

Joaquín Rodríguez, Director of Design, Innovation and Educational Technology at SEK Education Group, outlined in his presentation how “technology helps improve creativity, communication and collaboration.” As Rodríguez explained in his panel, five years ago, the SEK Group began to imagine how lessons would be in the future, and following a Design Thinking process, they designed four principles on which classrooms would be based in the coming years.

“The first principle is that any student can learn anywhere and at any time; the second, that any student should have access to the tools and content necessary for their learning; the third, that any student should have continuous contact with all their classmates to develop real collaborative work; and finally, that every student should have tools on which to reflect on their learning process and the results of it”, said Joaquín Rodríguez.

The role of technology in this process is key, as Rodríguez says, and that is why the SEK Group has created MySEK, a digital ecosystem with several personalised applications for all members of the educational community. “With the advent of the pandemic and lockdown, all the advances we had made proved extremely useful. We had provided our community, in advance, with an answer to a question that they had just asked us,” he says.

This ecosystem, as Rodríguez explains, currently contains tools for videoconferencing; for collaborative work; for educational challenges and projects that can be used by both students and teachers; immediate access to the physical and digital catalogue of school libraries; personalised access to textbook content; digital notebooks; and even a video platform with recorded classes and support webinars.

“We have to use educational technologies to improve analysis, critical thinking, collaboration and self-directed work. We must bear in mind that technology is, at the same time, a tool that facilitates and supports our work, but also helps us to generate new ideas to create and develop our educational process”, concluded Joaquín Rodríguez.

First day of school begins as a complete success!

To everyone’s delight, we received our first group of students to inaugurate the opening of our school after almost 6 months of closing our doors due to COVID-19. What a long time it has been, and how we have missed having our students’ lively energy with us!

We are happy and proud to say that students, parents and staff collaborated to keep all safety procedures and protocols in order, ensuring an absolutely successful day.

Parents of the little ones were glad to see how all preschools students were welcomed and received at the main gate of the school by their teachers and teacher assistants, who guided them to their classes with umbrellas to protect them from the sun; and we are grateful and proud that students from grades 1 to 12 showed great sense of responsibility by going to their respective entrances and classes.

Throughout the whole day teachers made sure that students got familiar with the new “look and feel” of the school. We now have stickers that show the directions to walk, physical distance warnings, hand sanitizers all around school and posters that remind us all of the health and safety protocols we all need to follow.

Thank you so much for working with us as a big community. This fantastic beginning of the school year would not have been possible without your continued support!

And so it begins… We’re back at school!

After 5 months away from our desks and a particularly quiet summer vacation, our staff has come back to work in school premises, preparing everything for the comeback of students, and we are excited!

One of the most essential processes happening before children return to school is our induction programme. During the next two weeks, new teachers, returning teachers, admin and academic staff will take part in truly important sessions that work to set the cornerstone of everything we do along the year.

Everyday teachers and staff meet to create bonds that will enable teamwork and cooperation amongst them to continue with their own process of life-long learning. This is amazing, because by being a living example of how we can learn throughout our life, children discover and comprehend from their teachers that this is a never-ending journey!

Every bit of information our teachers learn about the IB curriculum, about how we work at SEK-Qatar, our mission and vision; and about the IB learner profile with all its marvelous qualities, helps our team to develop in our students the attributes that we want to root in their minds and souls. We place special attention to these qualities because we strive for our students to become citizens that stand out for showing international mindedness; for being risk-takers, reflective, knowledgeable people with a caring and principled nature.

This induction process is certainly being original and unlike anything we’ve ever done! A mix between online and face-to-face modalities with our teachers has taught us that, even under uncertain and stressful circumstances, with flexibility, optimism and support from your team, a great learning experience can be delivered and human connection can be achieved.

SEK Qatar joins Safer Internet Day

February 11th was a special day as countries all over the world celebrated and continued to work toward a safer internet for our children -and for everybody! At SEK Qatar we took the occasion very seriously, for we know how the present times require all of us to be online at a certain degree. This online presence has a deep effect on our lives, which is why we want to truly educate our students, staff and families on this vital topic.

To join the global initiatives our ICT team prepared presentations for each year group. With these, PYP teachers held assemblies to expand on the topic, while MYP-DP students had the opportunity to share with their teachers discussions that sparked conversations on how to be free, respectful, responsible and careful online.

This year Safer Internet Day encouraged young people to explore how they manage their online identity and how the internet shapes how they think of themselves and others. The idea was, and continues to be, to use the internet to celebrate our differences all the while working towards creating a truly inclusive space where everybody feels free, welcome, included, represented and fairly treated.

Some of the queries students got to explore were: How do people express their identity online?​ Is the internet a safe and welcoming place for all?​ Do people feel free to be themselves online? Questions that, no doubt, you can expand at home!

If you’re wondering “What can we do?” here are some tips to become allies and fight for a safer internet for your kids and for your whole family:

  • Report negative comments/posts you find online.​
  • Reach out to your kids and loved ones when you see they’ve become isolated, sad, or are showing a distinct behavior -it might have something to do with online struggles.
  • Broaden your feeds, trying to include positive representation of different types of bodies, abilities, nationalities, cultures -our brains understand ‘different’ better when exposed to positive images of that which is different to us.
  • Think about what you share and how it might portray others.​
  • Make use of campaign hashtags and graphics to raise awareness and support for others.​
  • Tell your kids to come to you or a trusted adult when someone else online has worried or upset them, or has asked them for their personal information, photos or videos.

If you’d like to expand even more, you can visit https://www.saferinternetday.org/

Grade 10 students enjoyed a successful Personal Project Exhibition

Our grade 10 students have been working endlessly to complete their personal project, which represents the culmination of knowledge and skills gained throughout the MYP (Middle Years Programme), and this Wednesday, 12th February the students had the chance to display their hard work at the Personal Project Exhibition.

By sharing the steps taken to reach their goal, students and parents were enlightened by the achievements and learned about many topics such as first aid respondents, how to turn trash into treasure and developing more sustainable ways to use resources -all relevant to the global problematics the world is facing in the present.

It was a pleasure having parents and even siblings here supporting the students. We can say it was a time that really sparked everyone’s curiosity!

MYP-DP Sports Day was a win for everybody!

Today our MYP and DP students spent the day moving, cheering, playing and overall having tons of fun with their teachers and classmates during the 2020 MYP-DP Sports Day.

In total, the students had to go around nine stations to determine the winning house which, at the end, would go into the traditional battle with teachers playing tag of war. The nine sports stations were a 1km run, vortex throw, javelin, 100m run, vertical jump, high jump, shot put, broad jump and throw to win -a diverse and fun selection which made everything even more interesting and engaging.

A special recognition and thank you needs to go to our DP students, who organized this event with the mentorship of Ms. Canan as part of their CAS Programme; and to the teachers who gave their support and got involved in the activities: you are amazing!

And of course, a round of applause must go to the winning team, the Yellow Scorpions, who not only took the most points, but who also beat the teachers in the very anticipated tag of war.

We hope everyone had a great time today and that the Preschool, PYP, MYP and DP sporting events we celebrated the last two weeks serve as the perfect introduction to February 11th, when the whole country will move to celebrate Qatar National Sports Day!