Saturday, January 28, 2017

Chinese New Year at Seisen!

What a treat the Elementary Students and teachers had during their lunch period on Friday when renowned musician Ms. Chen Min and mother of On in 2B visited with her students to play traditional Chinese Music to mark the beginning of the Chinese New Year!

Our Chinese mums collaborated with Ms. Ingrid Chen from our Media Centre to hang Chinese New Year decorations in the cafeteria and to organise a traditional Chinese game and New Year's sesame dumplings for the girls to experience and enjoy. A big thank you Ms. Chen and our Chinese mums!

Thank you to the staff from Cezars' Kitchen who arranged a special Chinese themed lunch for the day!

View a video of the performance  here

To view more from the day visit the news section of the Seisen website here

Chinese New Year celebrations at Seisen

Ms. Chen Min & her students 

Ms. Chen Min introduces her Erhu

Ms. Ingrid explains the origin and significance of the color red in Chinese culture

On introduces the pieces her mum and Grandfather (a musician and Chinese Opera singer) will play to the elementary students 

The Seisen sisters enjoying the music and New Year Dumplings

Ms. Chen Min, her students and our Chinese mums share some Chinese food

Naga City, Philippines hit by typhoon Nina!

In the midst of settling down to create a Blog post to thank our Seisen families for their generous donations during Carol Night and throughout the December Classroom Coin Drive...happily planning to post holiday greetings shared between St. Raphaela's and Seisen Elementary (below), we sadly learned...

On January 15th, when power and Wifi was restored, that St. Raphaela's had been hit by super typhoon Nina (Nock-ten) over the holidays.

Nina, a category 4 typhoon with wind speeds of 155 mph flattened the homes of 5 students and damaged walls and roofs of other families homes. The roof, ceiling and some windows in the school were damaged as well as the homes of some of the teachers.

Sr. Francia, Head of School shared:

"We were badly affected by the typhoon, it was terribly strong, our convent was flooded inside, some of the windows and part of the roof of the school was destroyed but worst was the destruction to the small houses of our children and also some of our teachers. We have 5 cases - homes totally damaged, nothing left for them and a number of them where roofs and walls are gone."

Ann, Curriculum Coordinator at St. Raphaela's wrote:

"I can't explain the experience, this was the worst typhoon. The wind was so strong and the rain so hard. In school, some of the ceilings were destroyed. But the homes of some of our pupils and teachers were really damaged. I've sent some photos..."

Devastated homes of students from the St. Raphaela Community

Happily, from Seisen's Social Justice Committee's reserve fund, we were able to make an immediate initial contribution which the sisters are using to begin reconstruction efforts. We would like to do much more to help rehouse these students and get the school up and running to full capacity again.

The Elementary House Captains are organising a whole school (K-12) fund-raising dress day on Friday, February 3rd. Students and teachers are encouraged to come to school dressed in red, blue, yellow and / or white, the colors of the the Philippine flag. Further information will be emailed directly to families from the House Captains on Monday, January 30th. The House Captains also plan to set-up iPads at locations throughout the school where members of the Seisen Community can send video greetings and messages solidarity to 
St. Raphaela's.

House Captains meet with Mr. Brittain, Seisen's Communications and Public Relations Coordinator to plan how to communicate the impact of typhoon Nina on St. Raphaela's with students and families at Seisen.

Thursday, January 19, 2017

Our Approaches to Teaching Writing Are Changing

Over the past twelve months all homeroom teachers, along with the Principal and PYP Coordinator have been involved in an internal inquiry-based self study.  We have been examining our own practice with a fine-toothed comb to try and understand how our teaching is impacting students' writing development. As a result of this self-study, teachers have been analysing student work samples and data, observing each other's classes, and participating in professional development to identify ways of improving our students' writing.

As a result of this ongoing inquiry, the Writing Workshop model is the approach we have decided to implement across all Elementary grades. Since August 2016, all classes have been using the Writing Workshop model with their students.

On Friday February 10th we will be hosting a Coffee Morning to explore this Writing Workshop with parents.  This will be held in the Multi-Purpose room from 8.45am - 10am. The workshop will be hosted by our Phase Level Leaders:
  • Mr. Mat Brigham, Phase Level 2 Leader (Grades 1 and 2) 
  • Ms. Mollie McAllister, Phase Level 3 Leader (Grades 3 and 4) 
  • Mr. Mikie O'Shea, Phase Level 4 Leader (Grades 5 and 6) 

Upper Elementary students working on their independent writing

Feedback cards help students in Phase 2 (Grades 1 and 2) to identify their next steps

Below is a brief summary of the Writing Workshop model.  However, for an in-depth explanation and exploration, we would like to encourage all parents to attend the Coffee Morning to learn about:

  • The structure of the workshop
  • How it will affect your daughter's engagement with the writing process
  • How you can help support writing development at home. 

What is the Writing Workshop?

The Writing Workshop is a daily structure that allows students to inquire into specific genres of writing.  Students work for a sustained amount of time inquiring into a specific genre.  During these inquiries, teachers explicitly teach students techniques for developing the structure, elaboration, craft and conventions of their writing.

How does it work?

Each workshop session starts with a short mini-lesson, where teachers connect the session to previous skills taught, teach and model a specific strategy and actively engage the students to try the strategies. However, for the majority of the workshop the students are engaged in independent writing.  Students work at their own pace to progress through the writing process (collecting ideas, planning, drafting, revising, editing and publishing) on topics of their own choosing.   During this time, the homeroom teachers confer with individuals or small groups to offer feedback and advice on their next steps.  Each unit ends with a celebration of the writing, where students get to share their work as authors with an authentic audience.

Why are we changing our approach to teaching writing?

The workshop model has been used successfully by PYP and non-PYP schools across the world.  It allows students to see what successful writing pieces look like through the use of mentor texts, and gives them very explicit genre-specific goals to work towards in the form of student checklists.  The shared approach also provides us with more opportunities to strengthen the connections between grade-levels since the workshop provides us with a continuum of student work samples at different levels.

We hope you can make the time in your busy schedules to join us for the Writing Coffee Morning and look forward to working with you to share some samples and student writing journeys!