Learning at AISD
The American International School Dhaka provides academic programs based on American educational principles for an international community. AISD recognizes curriculum development as an evolutionary process, which is updated as new discoveries are made in educational research about teaching and student learning. AISD has a standards-based curriculum framework with a “backwards design”; approach to unit design and lesson planning. AISD is accredited by the Council for International Schools (CIS) and the New England Association of Schools and Colleges (NEASC).
The Elementary School implements the International Baccalaureate Primary Years Programme (PYP), which draws on research and best practice from a range of national systems and a wealth of knowledge and experience from international schools to create a relevant, engaging, challenging and significant educational framework for all children.
The Middle School aims to provide an age-appropriate, child-centered educational program in a safe and supportive environment. The six major elements of the middle school program are the core curriculum, the quarterly exploratory program, electives, the grade level advisory team, student support services, and the extra-curricular program.
In the High School, students are challenged to complete a rigorous series of courses to meet AISD’s graduation requirements. The International Baccalaureate Diploma Program (IB) is available to qualified juniors and seniors. All Grade 11 and 12 students benefit from the IB Standard Level offerings.
The following research-based principles are the foundation for how we support learning at AISD. All members of the school community—students, teachers, parents and administrators—play an active role in learning.
1) The learning environment is supportive.
- build positive relationships by knowing and valuing each other.
- support and show respect for individuals and our communities.
- encourage and help each other to take risks to learn.
- help each person achieve their potential through structured support, appreciation of effort, and recognition of work.
2) The learning environment supports life-long learning through independence, collaboration and self-motivation.
- take active responsibility for our own learning.
- collaborate and communicate with others to learn.
- use strategies to stay engaged as we learn.
3) Learners’ needs, backgrounds, perspectives and interests are reflected in the learning program.
- use learning strategies that match the needs, perspectives and interests of individual learners.
- build on prior experiences, knowledge and skills.
- use a range of appropriate learning tools, resources and technology.
4) Learners are challenged and supported to develop deep levels of thinking and application.
- create experiences to sustain learning over time and to focus on connections between ideas.
- have high expectations that are reachable and improve the quality of learning.
- use different strategies that support different ways of thinking and learning.
- develop inquiry skills, problem-solving skills and thinking skills.
- use strategies to develop adaptability, imagination, innovation and creativity.
5) Effective assessment practices are an essential part of learning.
Therefore, assessment practices…
- are designed to reflect the full range of learning objectives.
- make assessment criteria easy to understand.
- make progress toward learning objectives clear.
- ensure that learners receive frequent, useful feedback that encourages reflection and self-assessment.
- use evidence from assessments to support further learning.
6) Learning connects meaningfully across subject areas and with communities
beyond the classroom.
- try to interact with and apply our learning to local and broader communities.
- use what we learn in new situations.
Modified from the Principles of Learning and Teaching P-12 http://www.education.vic.gov.au/studentlearning/teachingprinciples/princ… Copyright owned by the State of Victoria (Department of Education and Early Childhood Development). Used with permission.
The aim of the Learner Profile is to help students develop the personal qualities and attributes necessary to realize AISD’s vision, “Preparing students to become stewards for a just and sustainable world”. Teachers nurture and encourage the development of the attributes of the Learner Profile throughout the school and encourage parents to do the same at home. The following is a description of the Learner Profiles:
They develop their natural curiosity. They acquire the skills necessary to conduct inquiry and research, and independence in learning. They actively enjoy learning and this love of learning will be sustained throughout their lives.
They explore concepts, ideas and issues that have local and global significance. In so doing, they acquire, in-depth knowledge and develop understanding across a broad and balanced range of disciplines.
They exercise initiative in applying thinking skills critically and creatively to approach complex problems, and make reasoned decisions.
They understand and express ideas and information confidently and creatively in more than one language and in a variety of modes of communication. They work effectively and willingly in collaboration with others.
They approach unfamiliar situations and uncertainty with courage and forethought, and have the independence of spirit to explore new roles, ideas and strategies. They are brave and articulate in defending their beliefs.
They act with integrity and honesty, with a strong sense of fairness, justice and respect for the dignity of the individual, groups and communities. They take responsibility for their own actions and the consequences that accompany them.
They show empathy, compassion and respect towards the needs and feelings of others. They have a personal commitment to service, and act to make a positive difference to the lives of others and the environment.
They understand and appreciate their own cultures and personal histories, and are open to the perspectives, values and traditions of other individuals and communities. They are accustomed to seeking and evaluating a range of points of view, and are willing to grow from experience.
They understand the importance of intellectual, physical and emotional balance to achieve personal well-being for themselves and others.
They give thoughtful consideration to their own learning and experience. They are able to assess and understand their strengths and limitations in order to support their learning and personal development.
Note: This Learner Profile has been established by the International Baccalaureate Organization and is used by schools throughout the world to clearly communicate the most important attributes and qualities schools wish to develop in their students.
Assessment is the planned collection and analysis of evidence about what students know and are able to do. The main purpose of assessment is to provide evidence of learning and timely and descriptive feedback to teachers, students and parents to improve student learning and “to provide a basis for future learning" (IB Towards a Continuum of Education 19).
The ongoing assessment of each student is crucial to the school’s mission of developing self-directed learners who “achieve their potential, become life-long learners and contribute to a changing global society" (Strategic Plan 2008-2011 11). Therefore, assessment is essential to all teaching, learning and planning at AISD.
Each member of the AISD community benefits from assessment when:
- Students can use assessments to demonstrate and share their learning with others. They can use self-assessment and peer-assessment to understand and evaluate their own learning needs and to create personal learning goals as well as select the appropriate learning strategies to further their learning (Making the PYP Happen 46).
- Assessment results give teachers evidence of learning, which allows them to adapt instruction to meet student needs and to collaborate with students to reflect on and evaluate progress toward learning goals (Making the PYP Happen 46). Based on the evidence, teachers give students timely, descriptive and specific feedback, which allows students to achieve their potential and make progress toward the learning goals.
- Assessments allow parents to see evidence of their child’s performance and development, thus helping them understand and support their child’s learning (Making the PYP Happen 46).
- The school administration can use assessment data to evaluate the effectiveness of the academic programs and the whole school curriculum.
How do we assess at AISD?
Teachers evaluate student performance and understanding in relation to the learning goals for the units. The evaluation of students’ learning is specific to each division and more specific information can be found in their respective student parent and faculty handbooks.
Teachers collect evidence of student understanding by administering a combination of formative and summative assessments. "It is not the nature of the test that earns the label formative or summative but the use to which that test’s results will be put" (Popham 18).
Formative Assessment (Assessment for Learning) "is a planned process in which teachers [and] students use [evidence] to adjust what they’re currently doing" (Popham 17) to improve learning.
Effective formative assessment are diagnostic in nature (Churches 3) and occur regularly during a unit to monitor what students know and are able to do throughout the learning cycle. Based on the evidence, teachers adjust their instruction to meet student needs and to give regular and frequent descriptive feedback to students in relation to their performance of the learning goals to help students make adjustments to improve their own learning.
Framework for Formative Assessment
Source: Wiliam, Dylan. "What formative assessment is (and isn't) and practical techniques for implementing formative assessment." N.d. PDF file. From NWEA web site: http://info.nwea.org/rs/nwea/images/Formative_Assessment_Practical_Techniques.pdf
"This [feedback] helps learners to improve knowledge and understanding, to foster enthusiasm for learning, to engage in thoughtful reflection, to develop the capacity for self-assessment, and to recognize the criteria for success" (Making the PYP Happen 45). "Effective learning feedback aims to guide future learning" (Ritchhart 1) by describing students' strengths and areas of improvement in relation to the intended learning goals (Chappuis & Chappuis). Effective descriptive feedback guides students in "a route of action [they] can take to close the gap between where they are now and where they need to be, takes into account the amount of corrective feedback the learner can act on at one time, and models the kind of thinking students will engage in when they self-assess" (Chappuis & Chappuis).
Examples of formative assessments include:
- using a visible thinking routine or drawing a concept map to check understanding of a topic
- observing a student during a lab, practice game, etc. and recording the observation using a checklist or anecdotal note (Formative Assessment loc 495)
- giving students guided practice and constructive feedback on a project, essay or presentation, etc.; feedback can come from teachers, peers or through self-assessment
Summative or Mastery Assessment (Assessment of Learning) "is the culmination of the teaching and learning process" (Making the PYP Happen 45).
Summative or mastery assessments are often evaluative (Churches 3) and are a snapshot (Churches 7) usually at the end of the learning cycle, an instructional unit or grading period of what students know and are able to do in relation to the learning objectives selected, such as standards and benchmarks. Engaging summative assessments involve "rich real-world tasks, higher-order thinking skills and collaboration" (Churches 8).
Traditional Examples of summative assessments include (Eberly Center):
- a midterm or final exam with assessment types that require higher order thinking
- a final project that applies the knowledge and skills learned
- a paper that applies the knowledge and skills learned
- a performance, demonstration that applies the knowledge and skills learned
Summative assessment results are used to judge the quality of work or to evaluate learning by assigning it a value, like a scaled score or descriptor. Summative scores are often used to establish what grade a student will receive in the subject area or course for the grading period. However, "[a]ll available information about a [student's learning] should be used in the determination of his or her final status or his or her summative score." (Marzano) Summative assessment results can also be used formatively "when students or faculty use them to guide their efforts and activities in subsequent units" (Eberly Center) as well as to "evaluate teachers' instruction" and to "measure program effectiveness" (Chappuis & Chappuis).
Students need to be digitally literate members of society in the workplace and in the social environment of the 21st century. Therefore, students need to learn to use the tools of technology to navigate and be successful in an ever-changing world in which digital literacy is an essential part of our daily lives.
“Empowering diverse learners to extend our understanding of the world.”
(AISD Philosophy Statement for Technology)
Technology supports and extends diverse learners of all ages and abilities within the learning community enhancing critical and creative thinking skills (S4); it is a tool to communicate ideas, forge collaboration (S2) and spur research (S3) and innovations that enhance both our local community and beyond (S1). The purposeful use of technology (S6) helps students become responsible global citizens in an interconnected world. Through the use of well defined and understood standards learners within the community develop skills and attitudes that support the development international mindedness through leadership and innovation, by enabling them to become effective communicators (S5).
* (number) indicates ISTE NETS for Students
Facilitate and support a learner centered vision with the four domains teaching, learning, leadership, and innovation as guiding principles.
By the end of this year we want…
1) The school community is familiar with the vision of tech integration and the standards that frame the articulation for both students, teachers, and leadership team.
2) Learning community members will use technology to support the articulation of the vision.
Reference AISD Technology Integration Web Site https://sites.google.com/a/aisdhaka.org/aisd-technology-integration/