Congratulations to our Grade 10 students! They have been working very hard over the last seven months on their Personal Project journey. Our students have created an amazing range of products, from teaching tennis to creating history books, magazines, and social media content.
The Personal Project is an important part of the MYP and for preparation for the DP. Students have to bring together skills they have learned in order to be successful. They are called upon to use subject specific skills as well as their ATL skills – in particular time management which is also an essential for doing well in the DP. We have been pleased by how well students have balanced all their commitments this year, despite the pandemic. Students are continuing to work hard and explore their interests which is evident in their PP exhibition Microsoft Sways.
Although we cannot gather in person, we hope you enjoy this virtual gallery showcasing the Grade 10 students creativity, hard work, and growth as MYP scholars.
You can also use your VR glasses to walk through it!
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;
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.
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.
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.
This month Mr. Diego Encinas Colilla, SEK Qatar’s PYP Spanish teacher, had the opportunity to participate in a poetry contest organised by the Qatar Poetry Center (@Diwanalarab_qa) and the Spanish Embassy in Qatar.
The topic of the contest was “The importance of living in society”, and Mr. Diego focused his poem on how he feels about Qatar, it’s culture and people. We are very excited to share that Mr. Diego’s poem has been chosen amongst many and he was the winner of the poetry contest.
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.
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!
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.
Yesterday was the last day of classes for our students at SEK-Qatar! COVID-19 has shown us that education is a team effort, and that the work teachers do is truly invaluable.
But during this 2020 summer we will still live with some restrictions for going out. We all need to keep being careful, so staying more time at home during the break (and even avoiding traveling at all) will be the reality for many families.
Learning new skills is definitely one of the best ways to go into this situation. You and your child can keep entertained, inspired and motivated by engaging in a few online courses and activities. Wouldn’t it be awesome to have each member of your family learn something different, and then share it with the rest of the family members over dinner, or by planning special workshops or exhibitions at home during the weekends? Parents and kids, all learning and sharing their newly acquired knowledge with cool projects. Yes, that sounds like something we want to do!
Here are some resources that you may find spark an idea to enjoy this summer with your people -you may even include grandparents, aunts, uncles, cousins and they can join online with you!
Summer SEK: SEK Education Group has opened 8 courses that our SEK-Qatar students can join, as they are in English and online, a wonderful thing to do to meet more members of the SEK community around the world! Find all about them HERE.
Microsoft Family Learning Center: Microsoft is always offering fantastic resources to families, and this is no exception. In HERE you will see games and activities that will give you and your child something to bond over. Here’s just a tiny taste of what you will find:
Online Summer Camps in Qatar: We have compiled a list of courses offered by some of our trusted external providers -universities included for MYP and DP students! Check them out HERE.
Qatar Museums: We highly recommend the virtual tours of MIA, Mathaf and National Museum of Qatar, which you can access HERE. Visit also the online activities and educational resources put together by MIA and Mathaf.
We hope you will find joy, amusement and inspiration from these and other activities to do over the summer. Remember there’s no need to rush, let’s strive to be grateful and caring during this time while we all adapt to how things will continue to work.
Have an awesome family time, and happy summer from all of us at SEK-Qatar!
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