AN IB WORLD SCHOOL

Academic News

An SGS senior has used the International Baccalaureate Diploma Programme to explore the meaning of characters created by a major Spanish author.  

EE Highlight: Senior Cambrie Rickard is writing her Extended Essay on the book Caperucita en Manhattan (Little Red Riding Hood in Manhattan) by Carmen Martín Gaite, one of the most important and influential Spanish authors of the 20th Century.  Cambrie is writing about the representations of freedom (libertad) and solitude (soledad) in the novel as portrayed by some of the characters, especially Miss Lunatic. 

CAS Project Highlight: Reagan Ivey and Adelaide Lennemann will be starting a clothing drive to donate clothes to the Teen and Kid Closet. They will promote the drive with posters and other means and will deliver the donations to the closet. The drive will run for 2-3 weeks. Details will be coming out soon. 

CAS Experience Highlights: CAS experiences for all of our Upper School students (in the US and in China) include  the lifetime fitness class, learning to sew, skiing on Mt. Spokane, learning about human trafficking and making care packages w/ Spokane Girl Up Club, OUR, and International Network of Hearts, restarting the writing center, skiing, setting up Christmas lights, building a snowman, playing ping pong, doing Among Us drawings, painting a picture, and creating a game server.

IB Question of the Week:  What is the IB doing about exams during the pandemic?
The IB continues to release updated guidance for schools regarding assessment since the pandemic started.  Their documents aim to supplement the subject guides and existing teacher support material (TSM) for DP subjects and to share guidance and advice on how teachers can support students working remotely to undertake this work.

Last year, the IB established a non-exam route as a result of the pandemic and came up with a course grade for students using their Internal Assessments (IAs), predicted grades from teachers, and past predicted grade reliability.  

Schools who tested in November 2020 were given the guidance that they could opt in or out of exams.  If they opted into exams, a student’s course grades would be based on their exams, IAs, predicted scores and past predicted grade reliability.  If schools opted out, course grades would be based on IAs, predicted grades and past predicted grade reliability, like in May 2020. 

The IB has not yet sent official and final guidance for the May 2021 cohort. They have told schools to look at the guidance given to November 2020 schools for what to expect.  Schools have been told by the IB to expect an official guidance to be released in late January/early February.  So far, for the May 2021 cohort, it is official that all IAs will be sent to the IB examiners, and not just a sampling as in a normal year.  We are waiting to hear about the exam and non-exam choices and routes. 

IB Overview:  The Diploma Programme (DP) curriculum for grades 11-12 is made up of six subject groups and the DP core, comprising Theory of Knowledge (TOK), Creativity, Activity, Service (CAS) and the Extended Essay (EE).  Please refer to our IB webpage and to the IB Resources page in PowerSchool Learning for detailed IB information. 

All of the Lower School celebrated 2021 Seconds of Reading on Jan. 8 by dressing in their pajamas and bringing their favorite books and stuffed animals to class.  Unlike past years, the reading was done in their classrooms or from their homes.  Some of the teachers and students also read books to their Distance Learning classmates who are at home.  See photo galleries of the Kindergarten Readers, the 1st Grade Readers, the 2nd Grade Readers, the 3rd Grade Readers, the 4th Grade Readers, and the 5th Grade Readers!  

The 7th and 8th grade English students were asked to take a photo of an object that symbolized the year 2020 to them and write a poem about it.  Here is a Photo Gallery of their thoughtful responses.  They also were asked to photograph an object to symbolize the year 2021 and write a poem about it.  Here is a Photo Gallery of their hopeful responses!

One aspect of the International Baccalaureate Diploma Programme is CAS (Creativity, Activity, Service).  SGS Upper School students (in the US and in China) performed a wide variety of CAS experiences during the holiday break.  

CAS Experience Highlights: Delivering cards and gifts to nurses, cleaning up their neighborhood, making a Cindy Lou, participating in Operation Christmas Smile, dog walking, learning breakdancing for fun, participating in the US door decorating, teaching themselves to play Stairway to Heaven, playing tennis, skiing at Silver Mountain, a week of exercising a dog, debate tournament, participating in the 2nd Harvest Food drive, making Christmas cookies for friends, picking chrysanthemums, visiting a Panda base, mentoring, making a grocery basket to donate, learning a new gymnastic drop using silks, wrapping gifts, decorating advisory doors, going to a barbershop and learning about a new culture.

IB Question of the Week:  Are there any YouTube videos that help students/parents further understand the IB and also that help students navigate IB courses?  
Yes, often times IB alumni will post YouTube videos, either explaining the IB or helping students with certain tactics they learned when taking certain courses and studying for exams.  All ages can benefit from watching these videos because KNOWLEDGE IS POWER!  Here are some relevant videos:
> Ivy Lilia’s video on “IB EXPLAINED | everything you NEED TO KNOW about IB” can be found here: https://youtu.be/6mRI6Mcp5hM.  Ivy has lots of IB videos out there so check out her channel.
> One student who got a 45 (the highest score you can get) explains her top ten tips here: https://youtu.be/dk4y0jWdKgI
> Diana Ang gives her tips from “a realistic IB student” here: https://youtu.be/jq7ZGRbOxzw

IB Overview:  The Diploma Programme (DP) curriculum for grades 11-12 is made up of six subject groups and the DP core, comprising Theory of Knowledge (TOK), Creativity, Activity, Service (CAS) and the Extended Essay (EE).  Please refer to our IB webpage and to the IB Resources page in PowerSchool Learning for detailed IB information.  

The members of the 8th grade received their own personalized SGS Dragons sweatshirt from one of the juniors or seniors (some of them older siblings) in a socially distanced event in the Upper School Courtyard just before Winter Break.  Each of the older students also offered a piece of advice for success in the Upper School to the 8th graders.  See a Photo Gallery of the ceremony and the entire Class of 2025 in their new sweatshirts!

The fourth graders made beeswax “velas” (candles) after a week of learning about the traditional Christmas celebration of Las Posadas in Spanish class.  See a Photo Gallery of the creative process and the final results.

Dear SGS Community,
 
Happy Holidays!  Break has officially begun. Congratulations on the accomplishment of completing 80 school days of the 2020-21 school year!!
 
Wednesday was a fairly noteworthy day in terms of COVID and schools at the local and state level as SRHD and the Governor announced new guidance for student return to schools.  The bottom line is they are trying to get students back in school and involved in activities.
 
We are still waiting for more details around the guidance locally and often see clarifying points at the state level after the initial announcements.  Our planning is now focused on the January return.  Our multi-week plan is based on county activity and clarity in guidance by SRHD and subject to change if needed.  
 
The week of January 4, we will begin with the same schedule we have had in place for the last several weeks. 
 
The week of January 11, our K-8 schedule will remain the same, but we will “target” grades 9-12 to a 4-day week (T-F) of hybrid instruction.
 
 
Timing Rationale:
- There is an ongoing concern related to mental health and engagement while students are out of school.
- Data continues to show low transmission in schools when safety precautions (masks, physical distancing, cleaning, etc.) are in use.
- This “target” date is dependent upon county COVID Disease Activity, Hospital Bed Capacity, and other relevant metrics.
- This will provide a 10-day period from New Year’s Day to when grades 9-12 would be together.  This would be a buffer of sorts with disease activity and potential symptomatic individuals being identified during that time.  
- Monday, January 18 is MLK, Jr. Holiday and an extended weekend after the pilot week of “4x4” in the high school. This would be a 4-day week for all students.
 
Our next meeting with the SRHD is scheduled for December 30.  I will send out the next bulletin to families the first week of January to update our plans.  Ryan Peplinski will continue contact tracing any reported cases during the break.  Reach out to him if needed so we are prepared for the return to school on January 4.
 
FYI – SGS will be closed over break!
 

Regulatory Oversight Update: 

Spokane Regional Health District: The SRHD announced they will be updating their guidelines and processes related to “opening” schools.  We hope to receive the updated guidelines during a meeting on December 30th.  This could reflect new guidance from the Governor and the Washington DOH.

Governor Update:  The Governor held a press conference on Wednesday as well as announcing new guidance on re-opening schools.  https://www.governor.wa.gov/news-media/inslee-announces-updated-school-guidance-person-instruction .  We will continue to review and comply with the guidance provided.

Operational Issues Update:

Since the school year began, Ryan Peplinski, COVID-19 Coordinator, has been communicating with families that have been impacted by COVID-19 in their family and then working with the SRHD team to assist with contact tracing.  The SGS families have been very cooperative and proactive in notifying the school if they have come in close contact or if a family member has tested positive.  This community effort strengthens our risk mitigation protocols in reducing the spread of COVID-19 if we have a case on campus.  During break we ask you to continue to email with Ryan Peplinski if there are COVID-related illnesses to report! 

 
Thank you and take care of yourselves over the Holidays!  
 
Jamie Tender
Head of School

An SGS senior has used the International Baccalaureate Diploma Programme to explore a topic of particular interest to him -- heavy metal contamination.

EE highlight: Senior John DeForest chose to write his extended essay on a topic in Chemistry, a subject he is passionate about.  His EE question is: How is the rate of diffusion of iron through hydrated sediments affected by the presence and properties of solid layers?  His advisor, SGS chemistry/biology teacher Ian Townley, and partners at Kaiser Aluminum are helping him.  What inspired John to pick this topic?  “I read an article in a local online newspaper about heavy metal contamination in nearby Lake Coeur d' Alene -- scientists were concerned about rising fertilizer runoff into the lake and surrounding tributaries causing heavy metals from decades of mine tailings to release from their resting place in the sediment.  Nowhere in the article did it mention just how fertilizer was causing the heavy metals to leach out, and I was intrigued by this.  Thus began a long process of digging through the literature, calling local tribes and researchers, and connecting with local manufacturing companies to find answers." 

"I discovered that it was more of a biological process than a chemical one," John says.  "Bacteria eat the iron that stores the heavy metals, releasing them into the sediment and water column.  I reassessed with my advisor and decided that the release process was too complex in both scope and equipment, so I turned to a different factor that affects heavy metal release.  Layers of ash from the Mt. St. Helens eruption appear to have blocked the movement of heavy metals complexed in the iron (which would prevent them moving to areas with bacteria).  So I am designing an experiment to discern the chemical and physical properties of sediment layers that block this process.”

Once again, we love to see how the process of choosing a topic comes to be and evolves with research.  We cannot wait to read this full EE in January.

CAS Project Highlight: Five graduates from the DP program, in places spread all over the world, reflect on the values and benefits of CAS in this article: https://blogs.ibo.org/blog/2019/11/01/cas-service-benefits/

CAS Experiences Highlights: CAS experiences for all of our Upper School students (in the US and in China) this week included participating in the mentor program, making videos for Lower School students, raking leaves for the Ronald McDonald House, making cards for the police and sheriffs, cleaning up a yard for a cancer patient, creating flyers, skiing, adopted family Christmas shopping, taking a CPR, BLS and First Aid class, curating a cheese board, tutoring, 

IB Question of the Week:  Why is it important to choose an extended essay topic that a student is passionate about? 
DP graduate Stephanie Stan, from Bloomfield Hills High School, offers her advice on how to make the extended essay transform from just an assignment to a project that expands upon your own knowledge of a topic.  See her article here: https://blogs.ibo.org/blog/2018/05/02/extended-essay-topic/

IB Overview:  The Diploma Programme (DP) curriculum for grades 11-12 is made up of six subject groups and the DP core, comprising Theory of Knowledge (TOK), Creativity, Activity, Service (CAS) and the Extended Essay (EE).  Please refer to our IB webpage and to the IB Resources page in PowerSchool Learning for detailed IB information.  

A SGS senior has used the International Baccalaureate Diploma Programme to explore a topic of particular interest to him -- winning at Black Jack!
 
EE Highlight: Henry Xu is writing his Extended Essay on the common casino card game of Black Jack.  His research question is: What are the right strategies to win Black Jack?  In his research reflections, he writes: "To explore the counting method, I had doubt about why the players are more likely to win when there are more big cards.  So I decided to list and figure out the possibility of each result for the house under different card deck situations by writing a program, leaving out the special strategy like double down and split aside for now, and researching more only about the ordinary situation.”  Once he began researching and planning, he "figured out there are way too many possible situations and that it could take my computer years of time to test all the situations.  As a result, I am using probabilities."  He decided he will "find out what a player should do based on the shown card of the dealer, which is a valuable advantage for the player."  We look forward to reading his essay!
 
CAS Experiences Highlights: CAS experiences for Upper School students (in the US and China) this week included correcting atrophy in a student’s horse, participating in an SKBT investment competition, being a helper with the SKBT investment competition, doing a presentation on influenza, creating a flyer to inform the public about infectious diseases, helping with drywall installation, raking leaves, donating blood, skateboarding, learning to crochet, helping fix the bearings on a car, surfing, decorating a pie, teaching a friend to ski, participating in the peer mentor program, upcycling jeans, helping a fellow student with an experiment for a class, and tutoring in Math.
 
IB Question of the Week:  In each IB class, what are the Internal Assessments and the External Assessments? 

The IB uses both external and internal assessments in the Diploma Program (DP) to assess student learning.
 
• The External Assessments (EA) include the exams in May of a student’s senior year. These EAs count for 70 - 80% of the score in an IB course. The EAs are sent in to the IB for grading by IB examiners. If a student takes IB Visual Arts, their EA is an exhibition. In addition, if a student takes a Language A HL course (Chinese A Literature HL or English A Literature HL), they also produce a written assignment. These assessments are called “external” because teachers outside of SGS assess and decide what grade they earn. IB examiners and assessors are all over the globe but trained by the IB to ensure uniformity.
 
• The Internal Assessments (IA) include the many investigations and projects that students undertake here at SGS during the two-year program. Some 20 - 30% of the student’s score is derived from the IA. SGS students complete an IA in each course. The grade for the IA is assessed by the SGS teacher but it is externally moderated by the IBO (International Baccalaureate Organization), meaning they are reviewed for grading accuracy.
 
Here's a link to more information about Diploma Programme grading and assessment.  
 
IB Overview:  The Diploma Programme (DP) curriculum for grades 11-12 is made up of six subject groups and the DP core, comprising Theory of Knowledge (TOK), Creativity, Activity, Service (CAS) and the Extended Essay (EE).  Please refer to our IB webpage and to the IB Resources page in PowerSchool Learning for detailed IB information.  

Seniors spent time in the Biology Lab learning the different orders of life forms by taking photos or drawing examples from bugs to birds to mammals.  See a Photo Gallery of them pulling together images of a variety of creatures.


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