SSIS School Announcement: Project X

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Dear SSIS Parents,

SSIS is known as being a leader of innovative practices and exceptional teaching and learning which has led to our school gaining a reputation as the premier school in Vietnam and, as an Apple Distinguished School, a global leader in education.

Project X is a unique opportunity for teachers and students to become immersed in the process of authentic inquiry. It is an exceptional learning opportunity that promotes innovative thinking. For our students, this is a very real opportunity to make use of the skills that are so critical to success in our changing world.

The second annual “Project X” will take place on March 25-29.  The questions and answers below may help you understand more about why we are so excited about this innovative learning experience at our school.

Q: What is Project X?

Students in grades 1-8 will be involved in a week-long challenge involving innovative approaches to learning.  In small groups, students will be selecting a topic of their choice, investigating it, identifying a question, and creating a project to answer that question.  Using the process of Design Thinking, students will have exactly one week to take their project from start to finish.

Q: When will Project X take place?

A: During the afternoons of March 18-19, students will be involved in experiences that prepare them to begin the following week.  Project X occurs full-time during the week of March 25-29.

Q: Which grade levels will be involved in Project X?

A: All students in grades 4-8 will be involved in the full Project X experience.  Students in grades 1-3 will experience a modified Project X, called “Project X Jr.”  The information below describes Project X for grades 4-8. (For grades 1-3, Project X Jr. is modified for younger learners and will be self-contained within their own classrooms.)

Q: Is Project X required?

A: Yes, Project X is a required part of the SSIS curriculum for all students in grades 1-8.  Because it is a required part of the curriculum, many things remain the same:

  • Attendance: Attendance is required and will be taken regularly.  All regular attendance procedures apply.
  • Assessment: Students will be involved in daily self-assessment, as well as a formal summative reflection at the end of the Project X week.  No, the results of Project X do not appear directly on student progress reports. However, the skills they develop during Project X will help your child succeed throughout the school year.

Q: Will parents be able to see Project X in action?

A: Yes!  Parents have two unique opportunities to see Project X in action: a guided tour and a world expo.

  • Guided Tour: Thursday, March 28 (8:15 – 9:30), the Principal’s Coffee Workshop will allow time for parents to take a guided walking tour to see Project X in action.
  • eXpo: On the morning of Friday, March 29, parents will have the opportunity to see students present their finished projects at the Project X “ Expo”.
  • Video: A general video of Project X will be produced and shared on the SSIS social media sites.  If parents are not able to attend the live guided tour or world expo, they will be able to see the video after the fact.  You may also share this video with family and friends from around the world.

Q: What makes Project X so unique?

A:  During Project X, traditional structures of school, such as ages, grades, divisions, departments, schedules, rooms, and courses are temporarily adjusted to create an exciting incubator of educational innovation.  In other words…

  • Teams: Students will be working in multi-age/multi-grade/multi-division groups, with teachers across multiple grades, departments, and divisions.
  • Schedules: Instead of following their normal schedule and assigned classrooms, students will have more open choices for where and when they do different parts of their project.  The normal school schedule for the week will be altered to maximize time for students to work on Project X.
  • Rooms: Students will not be in their regularly assigned classrooms, but will be working in various rooms, depending on the needs of their project teams.
  • Roles: Rather than students taking separate course subjects, students will be challenged to apply their knowledge from all subjects to solve their self-designed problem.  Project X is a week where the roles of teachers and students are transformed: teachers coaching student-directed learning becomes the norm.

Q: Why are we doing Project X?

A: There are many reasons for our school to do Project X.

  • Thinking: Project X is a week-long intensive focus on a variety of skills, including design thinking, inquiry, research, problem-solving, critical thinking, and collaboration.  Students are challenged to take all of these skills and apply them to a self-directed project in a small team.
  • Innovation: Project X is a week-long intensive incubator of innovation in education.  By challenging the traditional structures of schooling (ages, grades, divisions, departments, schedules, rooms, and courses) that may reduce collaboration and creativity.  By challenging these structures, the roles of teachers and learners may be transformed into an exciting and inspiring environment for learning.

While last year’s focus of Project X was on the explicit teaching, learning, and application of “Design Thinking” and “Collaboration”, this year’s focus is on developing research questions and implementation plans.

Q: How is Project X organized?

A: Each year, Project X will have a different theme.  This year, our theme “Time.” Based on student interests and ideas, they are organized into multi-grade teams of varying sizes.  Teams are assigned a room to serve as their ‘home base’ for the week. Staff is assigned to each room to help facilitate the student project work.

Q: What else do we need to know?

A: There are a few other questions some parents may have:

  • Curriculum: The typical curriculum for the week is altered; there is nothing that students will need to ‘make up.’  Rather, curricular skills like design thinking, inquiry, research, problem-solving, critical thinking, and collaboration are sometimes best learned during experiences similar to Project X.
  • Choice: Project X gives more choice to students than they might often experience during the school year.  Students will be involved in the decisions making of how they are grouped and what project they will work on.
  • Outside of school: Working beyond the hours of school is not a requirement of Project X.  However, many students are highly motivated to continue work beyond regular school hours, and may even want to bring materials from home, or purchase materials at stores.  We are providing many materials and supplies to students, but they are certainly welcome to bring in additional materials as they choose.
  • Projects: At the end of Project X, the students will need to decide what will happen to their finished project.  In some cases, SSIS will need to collect small pieces of technology that may have been used in some projects.

Please feel free contact Mr. David Rynne at drynne@ssis.edu.vn for more information on Project X.

We look forward to Project X and to the opportunities it will bring our students to further their skills as critical thinkers, innovators, design thinkers, and effective communicators – skills that are critical for success in today’s world.

The Project X Team