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Elementary School news

International School of Panama’s Dolphins are always up to something good, and we want to share it with you. Catch all the good news and important announcements for our elementary school right here.

Student Learning Conferences-Thank You For Your Time!

A big thank you to our parents, students, and teachers for the work they put into our student learning conferences. Conversations between home and school are incredibly important and we are happy to dedicate this time to those conversations, twice per year. If you ever need to speak to your child’s teacher outside of conference times, please feel free to set up a time to connect.

We are seeking feedback on both conferences and our report card. We have a quick, three-question survey seeking your opinion. Please go to this link to complete the survey.

A Note from our Gifted and Talented Coordinator and Teacher-Sarah Schnack

Now that the first quarter of the academic year has ended, I want to connect with you about how ISP has been striving to support all of our students, including those with advanced academic needs. Over the past few months, I have been working with teachers, getting to know our students, and researching best practices around supporting gifted learners. I am impressed with the academic opportunities offered to students here at ISP and the multitude of ways our teachers are working to ensure that all of our children have challenging, respectful work every day. 

I’ve been tasked with the responsibility of outlining the procedure to identify gifted students, who show evidence of extraordinary capability in areas such as intellectual or academic fields, and who require services or activities beyond what is usually provided in the regular classroom. Identification of these students will help us ensure that we are providing them with rigorous educational experiences. It is my hope that we will complete this process by the end of the first semester. The process we will be using will look at students through data from four different categories: academic achievement, performance, aptitude, and behavioral characteristics. 

We have determined that the first step in this identification process will be administering the Naglieri Non-Verbal Abilities Test (NNAT3) to all students in second through fifth grade before the November break. In the future, we will give the NNAT3 to all second graders and new incoming students in third through 5th grades. The NNAT3 is a timed multiple-choice assessment and takes 30 minutes to complete, and will be administered during your child’s weekly computer lab time. Mr. Michael, Ms. Jeny, and I will be administering the assessment.

The NNAT3 is a non-verbal assessment of general cognitive ability without reliance on language or motor skills. It measures reasoning and problem solving using progressive matrices with shapes and designs that are not unique to any cultural group. Unlike achievement tests, the NNAT3 does not measure how much a student has learned, but focuses instead on a student’s ability to interact with new information and make sense of patterns and visual problems. This information is helpful for teachers to know as they plan learning experiences to best meet the needs of all students.

As we move forward in the identification process, we will compare the data from the NNAT3 with MAP results and classroom work, and we’ll ask teachers and parents to provide feedback on behavioral characteristics using a rating scale. A GATE Identification Committee including teachers and administrators will meet together to review the collected data and determine which students require GATE services. This identification will allow us to monitor student achievement throughout the year. We will notify parents about your child’s performance on the NNAT3 and whether your student will receive GATE services before the end of the first semester. 

Thank you, parents, for all that you do to support your students and ISP as a whole. Please let me know if you have any questions or concerns, whether it is about your student’s performance or ISP’s plans to support gifted and talented learners. 

Sarah Schnack
Gifted and Talented Coordinator

STEM In Elementary

By Rashmi Hemrajani, student 

STEM, which stands for Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics, is a program that has been integrated to the ISP curriculum over the last few years. In grades k-5, the STEM program has been growing and is now a fundamental part of the learning process in elementary school. From the eyes of a 5th grade student, STEM can be described as “When you basically try new stuff and like to experiment – an example of what we do in STEM is we did like with the water filtration experiments and we documented all the materials we needed and we tried it many times until we did it right. It was really fun.” 

The water filtration experiment, which was done by 5th grade students, is a great example of STEM-based learning in elementary school. This experiment consisted of firstly using materials such as water bottles, sponges, gravel, sand, and activated charcoal in order to create an inexpensive and portable water filtration device. Then, the 5th graders stacked these materials inside a water bottle depending on how they thought the water filtration would work best. The next step was to combine a cup of water with two teaspoons of soil. The solution was then poured into the water filtration devices created by the students and its effectiveness was then tested. If the result was unsuccessful, the kids were allowed to repeat the experiment until they got it right. 

STEM is a relatively new program around the world, especially in Panama. Yet, it is predicted by the United States Department of Education that all STEM jobs in the United States will increase 14 percent from 2010-2020, creating millions of positions. That is one of the reasons why it is of extreme importance to encourage learning in this method for children to have a wider variety of skills and opportunities by the time they graduate high school. STEM revolves around active hands-on learning, where students are encouraged to be curious, innovative, and creative thinkers. 

Elementary Scholastic Book Club

Our Scholastic book club is up and running! 

Go to the webpage for our book club to browse the latest books and order online. For every $1 you spend, our school will earn 20¢ in Scholastic Rewards. These rewards will go to support our ISP Service Program.

Please place your order online by October 25, 2017.

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