What’s up with SA?

and other stories...

Part of the Middle School’s Middle Years Programme, is a module called Service as Action (SA). To better understand what this interesting part of the MYP involves, SA Coordinator, Ms. Giovanelli shared some recent stories of what the students have been doing with us!

Service as Action Assistants First Solo Workshop

Service as Action Assistants (SAAs) from Grades 7 and 8 held their first solo SA workshops on Friday, August 30. Presenters paired up in each homeroom from Grades 6 to 8 to teach students the steps to write and upload an SA proposal, how to save it, and how to use the SA handbook. These young leaders are taking on bigger roles every month and with every year, they are acquiring more and more experience in many areas while perfecting their Approaches to Learning Skills. This group of thirty-two kids prepared for two weeks and finally delivered their presentations. They prepared their own presentations, information, and images. What an amazing performance of 21st Century skills, perseverance, initiative, and much more.

Becoming SAMCS (Service as Action Mini-Coordinators)

A group of selected Service as Action Assistants (SAAs) is taking on a bigger role. They are now turning into mini SAA Coordinators. This small group of Grade 7 and 8 SAAs is training groups of Grade 6, 7, and 8 students to become supervisors (SAAs). They are giving up part of their lunchtime to make sure that BWYA has new supervisors for the many students that have to start or continue their journey in Service as Action. Once ready, they will assign the new supervisors 4-5 students to mentor while they will deal with bigger things. This is a major accomplishment for these young people who are doing the job of adults and learning important skills. All this will look amazing on their ‘Brag sheet’ the day they apply for college! There’s nothing above an SA Mini Coordinator (We are calling them SAMC, but we are still not sure). I am extremely proud to see my little ones grow into leaders that make decisions on their own and solve problems that may arise during the training, like location, technology, and more. Truly an impressive preparation and show of responsibility.

(From left to right: Yolanda, Ella, Crystal and Eva. These are just four of the SAMCS)

MYP to the Core

IB is not just a program, it’s a philosophy. In IB/MYP classes, the student is at the center of the learning and teaching, so you will never see teachers lecturing students for hours, or students sitting side by side in silence. IB/MYP classrooms are filled with noise and chat and discussions and students standing or walking around. Classrooms are full of life and discovery. That’s the IB philosophy. We teach by concepts not by topics but we let the students discover and set the direction of the unit. It’s a journey during which students discover and deepen understanding of complex ideas while they discover themselves, their potential, their abilities, and their talents. The teacher is a mentor, a guide, who supervises and learns with them. 

In the pictures below, you can enjoy some of the work done during the second and third week of school. From illustrating abstract concepts to rephrasing the IB Mission Statement to generating questions based on the Statement of Inquiry I provided them with. The results are jaw-dropping. Their insight shows that the two weeks of preparation for the MYP are not only important but absolutely necessary for the understanding of the program. Giving the students a voice and choice in the direction of the unit empowers them and will make their learning more purposeful.

Florida-China Exchange Project

SA Across the Ocean Project. Grade 6 and 7 Language and Literature students are participating in another huge project started by their English teacher, Ms. G., and turned into an SA project. The project follows the example of the famous Kakuma project with the only difference being the other participant school is in Boca Raton, Florida, and not in Kenya. However, the idea came from that project for which I volunteer. Students from Saint Andrews School in Boca Raton are studying Chinese for the first time, so what better opportunity for our native speakers to help them improve? And so it started. My dearest friend and IT director of the school, Kelley Briceno, created an online platform used only by the Chinese teacher in Florida, Ms. Florence, our students, and myself. How does it work? Students at Saint Andrews upload short videos of themselves speaking in Chinese. The video is screened by their teacher and approved and then shared with us.

On our end, our students select the videos they want to watch and listen and then record their own video response back in both English and Chinese. I screen the video and then approve them. The videos we receive are mainly of basic Chinese sentences about names, family, what they do and study, and the like. It’s a major success. Students from Saint Andrews are becoming more motivated to study the language and our students are becoming teachers and practicing many skills. The project is called ‘Florida-China Exchange’ but I call it ‘Breaking Walls’. While the students at Saint Andrews work mainly in class, our students can work both in class and at home. The students at Saint Andrews will then be tested on what they have learned while our students receive SA credits and the great feeling of helping others.