ML Muster: ShowTime and Focus Week

ML Muster: ShowTime and Focus Week

By Chad Walsh / March 08, 2023 / Middle Loop Muster

What a blast the last couple of weeks has been in the ML, coming off a very successful 5-6 & 7-8 Learning Lab ShowTime and fun-packed four days for Focus Week!

Thank you to the parents who came along to support the students' ShowTime. Our number one goal and priority were for students to develop their confidence in presentation skills and public speaking. We understand that each student is at a different point in their journey when it comes to speaking to a live audience. It is our mission to always consider how we can guide students to find their inner voice and share their learning with greater confidence. 

There were a number of parents who were able to attend both the 5-6 and 7-8 Learning Lab ShowTimes. What was striking about being in the audience for this was seeing a true progression of how the 5-6 experiences build towards an impressive group of students who were articulate, had stage presence, and spoke with such conviction. It is this very learning continuum that takes time to develop as each ShowTime experience is like taking another step towards where we want our students to be - confident communicators.


What does this look like?

At our school, feedback and reward for student work happen through regular
sharing and public display of student work in exhibitions and publications. An exhibition of this kind provides a chance to celebrate and highlight diverse ways of learning and contributing. Students show what they have learned and demonstrate progress beyond the traditional transcript and report card.

Guided reflection and documentation help them capture the unique and nuanced learning that they are doing, compare their progress to others, and keep track of how much they have grown over the course of time.

5-6 ShowTime

Our 5-6 students are beginning their journey of developing their presentation skills. This experience highlights the difference between rote learning and actually knowing something because you have personally engaged in the experience. Our students have been exposed to advanced financial plans and business proposals when really, a lot of this content is not covered till later in their schooling life, if not university, depending on the degree students take. 

For students to have already begun on this journey as they build their knowledge of what a business means, different roles within a business, and their purpose, along with developing a business language is quite an impressive feat. We are laser-focused on guiding students to be 'equipped to transition' for the future. We are very proud of how the students showcased their work.

7-8 ShowTime

Just about a month ago we hosted VERSOHACK, our school's signature hackathon event for students in Thailand. This is something that I saw first-hand in getting a glimpse behind the scene for the full two days. 

The audience was buzzing with excitement because we were blown away by the pitches from each and every business. The 7-8 ShowTime was just as strong as the hackathon contestants, if not even stronger!

 Their ideas, ideation, prototypes, and ability to respond to challenging questions from the judges on the fly were thrilling as a spectator. If this is the standard our 7-8 students can perform at, then the future is bright. This experience was awe-inspiring to witness as a spectator. Thank you to our VIPER judges: Nick Garvin, Mihoko Chida, and Tinny from the Communications Team.

Congratulations to the entire ML Learning Design Team and students for making ShowTime such a success! Our students stepped up when the lights were brightest! 

UBUNTU and Community Time

Every two weeks we host an UBUNTU. This is an African ideology from Nelson Mandela.
                         "People are people through other people."

It's a time for the entire Middle Loop to come together and once again provide different opportunities for students to step outside of their comfort zone and sing, dance, present, or share something that enriches our learning community. This is another way we invite and challenge students to develop their confidence to lead their own journeys. The more opportunities we provide for students to get up in front of others, the more comfortable they become being in the spotlight. We all know that the spotlight is not for everyone; however, there comes a time when we all need to lean into the moment and be ready for it when the opportunity knocks.

 We always start off with Community Time each morning and wrap up the day in the afternoon. Each Community Time is a little different and is a way to build rituals and deepen relationships with their peers and LDs. The above photo shows one of our Community Time groups doing a mindfulness session (mediation) to help students get in the right frame of mind for the day. The week before that they were playing monopoly together and this week they are playing a timed quiz game. Each week there is a different focus for our students to feel connected and confident in trying different things in a relaxed setting.

Learning Lab Self Assessment

As part of the Middle Loop Learning Lab experience, students are now analyzing and evaluating their own progress over the past 7 weeks. This is an opportunity for students to recognize their efforts on where they see themselves in their learning. Once they have identified where they see themselves in the things they achieved they will then have a ConVERSO with an LD to conference, confer, and reflect on the feedback they have received over the course of the learning lab. These conversations are very powerful as they serve as a mechanism for students to justify and defend their perspectives in consultation with the LD input.

The photos above show an assessment rubric where students will highlight what they think they achieved using specific criteria. They then will write a student reflection that will be transferred to their VERSO 360 Quarterly Report. This is an authentic process that promotes student voice and agency. LDs also share their evaluations based on the evidence of learning provided during and at the end of the assessment task. 

We believe in the power of students having ownership of their learning and being constructive as to whether they reached the goals they set out to achieve. This is pure learning and empowers them to be successful.

Grade 8 to Upper Loop Transition

One of our objectives during Focus Week was to provide an opportunity for the Grade 8 students to get to know the UL students and learn a bit more about the UL program. 

Students came together to play volleyball, ultimate frisbee, and dodgeball as a fun way to introduce themselves.

Upper Loop Cohort Leader Suzanne and the UL students also ran a 'marketplace' for the Grade 8 students to introduce more about what to expect in terms of the curriculum and program. This was the first step in helping our ML students transition. There will be more opportunities such as this as the year comes to a close to further acclimate our ML students.

While we may feel a little sad for our Grade 8 learners to move to UL, we know they are in excellent hands and know they will continue to thrive and learn in the UL.

Explore Projects

For those who have visited us in the Middle Loop, you would have noticed that each student has their own Explore Project portrait with their driving question.

As the students are finding a new focus for their Explore Project, we are going to update their Explore Project portrait with their new driving questions.

To shake things up, we decided to capture each student in their own Explore space so there would be diversity from photo to photo. We hope to have these photos printed and ready to present very soon. When a student graduates from the Middle Loop, they get to take their photo frame with them and all the Explore project photos they accumulated over their time with us. We also hope this becomes a rite of passage as they transition to the Upper Loop.

It's a great way to capture special moments and share important milestones in their Explore Project as a keepsake of their learning story along the way.

Substance Abuse and Online Presence

John Schachnovsky has spent 25 years in the FBI and currently works in Thailand as a security advisor for private firms. From his vast experience, he presented to the ML and UL students about online presence and substance abuse.

Our Student Success Team (Wit and Sapphira) will continue these conversations in their Student Success workshops to help support students in making good choices during their informative years as adolescents. The students had many excellent questions and were fascinated to learn more about his experiences as an FBI agent.

Muay Thai Workshop

As part of our Thai cultural studies, this week we had 6 professional Muay Thai boxers come in and run workshops for our students on different techniques.

It was such a hit that the students even stayed during their lunch time to continue to practice and spar up against the pads.

For us, this is what VERSO is all about and the importance of offering opportunities such as FOCUS WEEK to do things a little differently. When students open their minds to try different things, it often leads to new doorways for them to walk through.

It is this very spark that allows students to be curious to explore and inspired to connect as they connect with their personal identity and engage with the world around them.

We start our next Learning Lab project today, 8 March and this will be the final LeLab project as we see the 2022-23 school year conclude. John and Jennie will be the lead learning designers for C5-6 and Shanna and Ashley will be the lead learning designers for C7-8. Our LDs move from one learning lab project to another, so their skills and knowledge align with the LeLab projects being taught in terms of the subjects being integrated.

C5-6 Driving Question

"How might we use performing arts to demonstrate how innovation and technology impacts lives?"

C-7-8 Driving Question

"How might we create a viable community through our understanding of closed looped systems?"

That's the Muster for this week. We are very proud of all the Middle Loop students for making FOCUS WEEK such a raging success. It truly was special to have fun and focus come together! 

Fun + Focus = Engagement

Have a fantastic week everyone!

Chad Walsh

Middle Loop Leader