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Head of School Reflections


 

A New Year - New Beginnings

School is unique in that every year we get another chance to try to have the best school year ever. But what is "best"? At ISA, “best” is when our school embodies the mission and vision of the school in everything students do. Each spring, as we design curriculum and programs for the coming school year, we reflect on the ISA Vision and areas we want to accentuate through our programs. This year, there are three parts of the Vision that we have designed innovations to augment.

  1. setting high expectations challenges everyone to reach higher levels of achievement.
  2. developing skills including critical thinking, collaboration, and problem solving are essential to be successful in an ever changing world.
  3. a partnership amongst school, family and community is essential to foster further development and learning.

The new programs and initiatives include:

  • Measured Academic Progress (MAP) Testing
    Measured Academic Progress tests were piloted last year, and this year will be given to all students in grades 3-9. The tests focus on the standards and benchmarks for learning in Language arts and Mathematics. Teachers will be able to have an external standardized picture of student strengths and weaknesses, and tailor their instruction to provide both challenges and support. Parents and students also will be able to gain a deeper understanding of where the student is on the learning continuum.
  • Stronger Technology Infrastructure
    With new routers strategically placed around the campus, students and adults have stronger access to the internet. If you are a guest on campus, you can access the wifi access “ISA-Guest-Wifi” with the password: welcome2isa.
  • i-pad Pilot in Grade 4
    Grade four has a class set of i-pads to create a more highly interactive educational learning experience for the students. Beyond the immediate classroom applications, students will be able to explore the worlds beyond Aruba in a guided setting.
  • New PC and Mac Labs with 20 Stations Apiece
    We are excited to offer two fully functioning labs for class and individual student use. We believe students should be comfortable on both the PC and Mac platforms to ensure they are ready for any future work environment.
  • Humanities Curriculum in Grades 6-8
    Harvard recently reconfigured the social sciences department and created a new course of study called Humanities. ISA has followed suit by having language arts and social studies curriculum blended into a Humanities model. Why Humanities? As reported in Harvard Magazine, the new framework and studio courses aim to introduce students to the interpretive skills that are the hallmark of the humanities by developing habits of mind: the sense of how to reason rigorously, the means to express ideas in a compelling way, and the ability to write well. All of them depart in interesting ways from the traditional lecture course.http://harvardmagazine.com/2014/05/toward-cultural-citizenship#.U1gcWrVA3ZM.gmail
  • Renewable Energy Class
    Aruba has a goal to be self-sustaining by 2020. ISA has adopted the same goal. The renewable energy class serves dual purpose: it provides a high level math/science applications class for high school students, and helps the school determine the feasibility of wind and solar energy development on campus.
  • Maker Class and Space
    Students so often do things on their computers disconnected from tangible products. The Maker class enables students to design products and then to create them physically. As written in the course catalog by teacher Lewis Gunn: Making promotes lifelong learning by fostering learning by doing and has been shown to stimulate interest in science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM). ISA's Maker program will be inviting to all students. The noncompetitive environment will enable students to do something because it is fun and reflective of their own interests and learning goals. ISA's Maker program is guided by activities rather than curriculum. Students move through hands-on, design-based activities at their own pace while problem solving and devising self-made solutions on the fly.
    • Students will have the opportunity to build, make and create.
    • Children make something (design process) versus doing experiments (scientific process).
    • Programs follow a set of planned activities, however, trial and error, individual creativity and experimentation are embraced.
    • Children own their creations. When a project is completed, kids take their project home.
    • Programs are long enough in duration that children immerse themselves and benefit from meaningful experience.
    • The Maker program values and encourages the sharing of ideas, projects, skills and knowledge.

There are many more new and exciting things happening, as well as the tried and true ISA endeavors, and we are enthused for another year of focused, productive, joyful learning.



Posted by on Monday September, 1, 2014 at 23:16
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