The Western International School of Shanghai (WISS) shares with IB World Magazine how it turned the challenge of school closure during the COVID-19 (Coronavirus) emergency into a learning opportunity for students.
With COVID-19, also known as Coronavirus, sweeping across China, schools around the country have been closed for over a month. The Western International School of Shanghai (WISS), a full continuum IB World School in China, has had to make a significant shift from learning in a traditional classroom setting to an online model of learning to ensure the children to not miss out on their education.
During this time, students at WISS have been learning online, some from their homes in Shanghai and others spread out over more than 30 countries.
“It is vital that they balance their time carefully to ensure they are staying physically active, spending time with their family and friends while also getting the schoolwork done”
Stewart Patterson, IB Career-related Programme (CP) Coordinator at WISS, explains the challenges and says IB learners are well-equipped to be able to direct their learning independently from home: “Throughout this difficult period, our CP students have faced the additional challenge of managing their learning across multiple platforms, such as ManageBac, Zoom, Sports Brain and MySCAD. These platforms account for the IB Diploma Programme (DP) classes, the CP core and the CP Career-related studies.”
“The ability to not only cope with these challenges but to continue to progress demonstrates the independence, organization and resilience of our CP students. Their intrinsic motivation and passion for their studies have certainly been a huge positive factor in driving them on with their self-directed learning.”
Students demonstrate IB learner profile attributes
Through online learning, students have exemplified the IB learner profile attributes daily. Across all grade levels, students have shown to be risk-takers and have taken more risks when uploading assessments, projects and tasks with less feedback than they usually receive in the traditional classroom environment.
Working this way does create different issues for students. Physical Education Teacher Gary Halcrow says: “I think one of the most important aspects of the IB learner profile at a time like this is for students to be balanced. It is vital that they balance their time carefully to ensure they are staying physically active, spending time with their family and friends while also getting the schoolwork done and not falling behind.
“Some of the physical health education (PHE) work has involved physical tasks, and the students have been excellent in creating their own fitness regimes and carrying them out. Hopefully, this has helped them balance their time between being active and sitting facing the computer screen,” he adds.
Primary Years Programme (PYP) students are also displaying learner profile attributes in their online learning every day. Students are interacting with each other through an online learning platform called Seesaw. PYP students give each other feedback on assignments, share ideas and can respond through recorded video messages.
“This gives the students more ownership of their learning and allows them to become, ‘mini-teachers’, where they practise being caring, principled and good communicators in giving advice and feedback to others,” says Teacher Kiri Grimwood.
“One of the preparation activities is to think about questions they would ask an epidemiology expert if they were journalists”
Learning about Coronavirus
COVID-19 has not only affected how educators at WISS teach but also what they teach, using it as an ideal learning opportunity. Middle Years Programme (MYP) Spanish Teacher David Vega has created an assignment for the Nuestro Mundo (Our Planet) unit. Students are creating a formal speech for the Spanish community explaining general information about the virus, how to prevent infections, the role of the media in the world and how to avoid misinformation.
Vega says: “This assignment showed students can be: inquirers as they research about COVID-19 and how the information is covered in the media; knowledgeable as they use their previous knowledge of the language and their experience of living in China to create their speech and thinkers as one of the preparation activities is to think about questions they would ask an epidemiology expert if they were journalists, then research and answer those questions.”
As an international school in China during the COVID-19 epidemic, WISS has faced numerous challenges and had to get creative to continue delivering an IB education. Both students and staff have turned these challenges into learning opportunities, demonstrating that learning never stops.
Learn more about the Western International School of Shanghai (WISS) by visiting their website or following them on Facebook, Instagram and Twitter. Look out for more blogs on online learning and how schools are coping during the COVID-19 outbreak. For more advice download the IB’s Online learning, teaching and education continuity planning for schools.