Thursday, June 30, 2022

School

Introduction to Personal Projects

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source - https://blogs.ibo.org/blog/2020/11/23/why-i-think-the-myp-personal-project-is-the-best-preparation-for-the-fourth-industrial-revolution/

By Tara Hebbar and Diya Barmecha

The Personal Project is an IB requirement for all 10th graders to participate in, that through a project, encourages the students to present and showcase the skills that they have picked up through their years in the MYP (Middle Years Program). Over the course of a few months, students will brainstorm, plan and execute a product that aligns with their interests, in addition to a 3500 word report that summarizes their process of creation and ideation. It is a great opportunity for students to be able to express themselves, while exploring areas of their interest and pursuing a project that they have been passionate about. 

During the course of the personal project we have to do two components, a report that goes to the IB and a product which you develop over the course of the project. The report consists of 3 criterias which aim to work on the development of your own project, the use of various ATL (Approaches to Learning) skills and then the reflection of the project. This report is done by the student over the course of the project and consists of 3500 words.This report is what the IB assesses the student on. In addition to this report, the student is also required to create a product which can be anything like a book, report, documentary, etc. These products have to work towards a learning goal that the student has and also adhere to a success criteria and a product goal that they have designed. 

For all of this, they are assigned a personal project mentor who helps them throughout this process and clears any doubts. This mentor is the sounding board for any ideas and concerns that a student might have for the project. During the course of the first semester and the first few months of the second semester, the student is expected to write a report and create a product that adheres to their learning goal and product goal. To make this easier, by the end of ninth grade, we had started brainstorms for our ideas and started to think of things that we liked that we could convert into a long term project.

In our 10th grade class, this year, there have been a wide range of projects. Some of which include a blog, books of various genres, documentaries and videos, podcasts, business proposals, websites and pieces of artwork. This not only shows the range of interest within the classroom, but the fact that they all would have had a different and unique journey while working on this project. One student, Ishaan Shetty, worked on a documentary on the journey of filmmaking. This is what he thinks about their journey with the project. “I interviewed a lot of people, I went on film sets and bought products for the equipment I needed and met a lot of different people – all these activities gave me a lot of real life skills. Another student Jaana Sinha, who made a candle stand using the shape of a woman’s body to inform and raise awareness about the objectification and exploitation of women in certain industries thinks that, “It was difficult and was frustrating at times, but producing the product was a fun experience that taught me a lot.” 

All in all, for us, the personal project has been a way to get an idea into what real projects looked like. It has presented us with the opportunity of trying new things that we are curious about and also building skills. We encourage the coming tenth graders to be excited about this opportunity and choose their projects wisely. Although, coming all at once the tenth grade could be a little stressful. On the whole, it is a holistic and wholesome experience.

The Case Against Online and Offline School

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Source - https://ltl-school.com/online-vs-offline/

by Pritha Nag

On the 21st of January, the BMC (Brihanmumbai Municipal Corporation) allowed schools in Mumbai to reopen from the 24th of January after the third wave driven by Omicron had started to ebb. This reopening was initially only planned for post 15th of February, as the Maharashtra government had announced all classes would be held online from the 3rd of January till February 15th, due to the third wave. However, this was pushed back as the peak of the third wave hit Mumbai and Maharashtra, and many parents and teachers alike protested for school reopening. Many parents and students were shocked by this switch back to online classes after spending all of October, November and December in person, then online and then back to in-person and this time in less than four weeks. In-person school is great and essential for any student, however, the constant switch between online and offline classes has its issues, and those aren’t always just academic. 

Online classes are unpopular among students, mostly for the fact that one feels lazy doing school from home, you don’t get to meet or be with your friends and you have to stare at a screen and absorb information. It’s tiring and has gained a bad reputation and many could say rightfully so. On the other hand, in-person classes are the most popular amongst students, as they are in the company of your friends and are a lot easier to absorb and understand when a teacher is in front of you rather than on a screen. A survey done by EducationWorld says that 65% of students feel sleepy during online school. But after doing a year and a half of online classes you get used to it, and then going back in-person at first is hard and then you’re used to it, going back online once again is hard but you’re again used to it and then back in-person and now you’re just tired. This constant switch three to four times in a short span of three months can be tiring and sometimes even lead to burnout. Students can feel lazy and out of school without a proper routine or sense of rhythm in their school week, and with the constant adapting it poses difficult to have a routine and structure to your week. A lot of times students can even see it as unnecessary to find a routine because they could be going back online within a few weeks, or they could be going back in person within a few weeks. But how do students feel about this? 

I asked Dheer Jain from 9th grade if he thought that online and offline was tiring, and this is what he had to say– “It is, especially once you see what offline school is like. I do genuinely feel that I’m much more productive offline.” Dheer continued by saying that although he did see why it had to be done, and fully understood. Going on with that when asked if he felt it affected his mental health, he said– “I do feel like everyone needs that social interaction, with the online school it doesn’t really present that opportunity, however, in offline school you can see people in corridors and things like that. However, in offline school, you have to pursue people, which is easier said than done.” Dheer went on to say that his academics had, “Definitely been affected by the constant switch, especially given the fact that productivity standards have dropped given the last two years. During the switch, it was hard to get to a routine, which made me feel less productive. And I’ve always thought of it like “if school is not a place to sleep then home is not a place to work.” From this, we can see that not only does a student’s academic performance get affected by the switch but also their mental health, however, students through the past two years have understood why this needed to happen, and although may not have loved it, have dealt with it. 

In March 2020 when the whole world felt like it went upside down, for all students, their world went online. It’s difficult as a student to experience such a quick and big change just over a weekend. Your teachers expect you to follow through with assignments when you’re still trying to get used to online learning and the shift took a while for students to adapt to. For many of us, it was our first time using apps like Zoom or Google Classroom, now we can navigate them, but back in 2020, it took a bit. After spending twenty months online and then going back to in-person school, you might not like online school, but you’re used to it, and all of a sudden it’s in-person. This proves that it’s hard to get used to. Online and offline are taxing in their own ways, they’re tiring and have their advantages and disadvantages. But constantly switching from one to the other and back is hard. How is a student ever expected to turn in assignments, have a social life, do school work when sometimes all they’re trying to do is get used to online or offline classes. It can disrupt students’ workflow, and that’s why staggered approaches are great, but not always realistic. They can pose an even greater challenge to students for doing in-person learning some days and online other days, and this can cause a sense of complete disorganization throughout the whole week. The second time that we went back to school it wasn’t staggered. It was five days online one week and five days in-person the next. It’s hard to get used to, and when teachers and people around you expect you to adapt and get used to it within 24 hours and that can cause stress. 

This can also affect a student’s academics and throw them off their academic game. When Tara Hebbar from the 10th grade was asked if this affected her academics she said– “Yes my academics have been affected because my attention span in online school was a lot better, so when we came back in person I was trying to get used to it however as soon as I try to get used to something it’s changing.” Continuing on that note if mentally and physically her health had been affected she said “It’s extremely tiring not only mentally but I’ve found even physically, because once you get used to sitting during online school for so long, and then all of a sudden moving around constantly it’s a tiring change. Also, it’s mentally tiring to get used to something, and then have to go back to something else and vice versa.” From Tara, we can see that this switch has also physically left some students tired, and when they attempt to try and get used to offline school they’re all of sudden back online. 

So, what’s the solution?

 In-person school is the way school is supposed to be, it’s the way it was designed and the way a child can learn best. However the constant switch back online and offline, even for a short period of time, can affect a student. It’s tiring, taxing, and affects them mentally and academically isn’t ideal. Although these times are difficult and always uncertain to deal with, we do understand that it can be unsafe to do offline school, as students it’s difficult and the constant back and forth can stunt our education. A solution needs to be made, one which permits students to continue doing in-person learning without costing themselves, their education and their future. 

Ascending to a New School Building

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By Meera Somaiya

On some days, it hits me that 12 grades as well as grades such as KG 1 and KG 2 are all crammed into Ascend International School’s 6 floor building, and one of the floors haven’t been used for classrooms, as it is a pool. Seeing the school be able to fit all these people, sometimes I relate it to the Mary Poppins magic bag. It seems weird, doesn’t it? The constant yells of younger students, the confusion and the continuous changes on who goes where for what class, either each year or each semester. But now, after 10 years of the school’s opening, we can see a new building which according to the Chairman of the school, Mr. Aditya Patil, they have an “ambitious goal” of being finished at the end of this academic year, May 2022. So what problems does this building solve? What is the need for this building? What problems will the building create? So to get answers, I’ve set out to ask people around the school about the upcoming building, from the administration; who play a crucial part in the development of the new building, to the students and teachers, as I think everyone in the community should voice their opinion. 

So what’s so special? Well, we need a new school. Sure, that’s true, but there is a sort of big deal about it, as there are going to be major changes happening almost everywhere. We’ll see new systems in place, subject based classrooms, new facilities coming into place and old facilities being revamped, and a lone building turning into a campus. 

Let’s talk about the main change for both students and teachers; the subject based classrooms. It doesn’t seem like a huge change at first, but when you look more closely at the main changes, it is. First of all, less walking for the teachers, more walking for us. From what I got from Ms. Varsha Agarwal Rodewald, the MYP-DP head of the school, “the subject based classrooms will make it easier for students and teachers to transition, as well as having the resources being available on the board, and a whole different atmosphere for each of the classrooms.” But the main question is; what problems do we have already that have been normalized into becoming daily activities? Change. Change is inevitable at the end of the day, but too much change isn’t the best, is it? But in our school, it was a bit different. Nobody had the ability to keep up with all the changes happening. First the school couldn’t keep up with the amount of students piling in, and then students who were already there couldn’t keep up with the change in where they were placed, making them more confused than ever, and then at the end the amount of changes happening became normal. I personally think that subject based classrooms will change that, as our L&L teacher Ms. Leslie Bartley had brought up a point saying; “our memory of what we learned in class would be better if we stayed in a classroom dedicated to that subject.” But what are those classrooms going to be?

The more I’ve asked people the more answers I get, undeniably. So when I was thinking about the academic influence for the reasoning for the new facilities which are going to be added, it was surprising to get a very miniscule amount of information, until it hit me. The new facilities in the new school aren’t defined by their purpose or their use; it’s everything about it. A lot of the current classrooms in our school have a unideal design where people in the back aren’t able to see the board or hear the speaker when they’re presenting or teaching, and this causes a problem, doesn’t it? Think about it, have you ever been in a class where you couldn’t see the board? Or a classroom where you couldn’t hear the teacher? In the new school, the new facilities seem to be made in such a way that everyone can see and hear when they need to, and maybe things won’t be as colorful as they are now, as the current school we get our education from is made primarily for the PYP; the Primary Years Program. That includes color all over the school, windows at random places, green chairs and triangular desks. Some of this could be distracting, and some of these elements could be important to Ascend’s way of teaching and learning. So how do we differentiate the important features and the distracting ones? It’s complicated. To me, the triangular desks may be cool; but not practical. The windows are definitely distracting; seeing people outside, your friends could easily wave to you leading to you saying “Hi!” back. It’s a distraction. It may be cool, but a distraction nevertheless. A lot of color is also something which can be both distracting and necessary. Color stops a place from being a boring, bland environment, as my friend, an 8th grade student at Ascend; Tarana told me that “I told my friends that I was excited to go to school, and they said “why?” because they didn’t realize that I actually was excited to go. In Ascend I was always excited to go to school, and I think that’s partly because of the colors.” Color is something important to the culture of Ascend, but an overuse of it is a distraction. But if we think in the practical terms of a facility, would you think about new rooms that we would be able to use? But what would that mean, academically? Labs. Having labs in a school which is struggling to find timings for each class to use the one lab for all three of the sciences; physics, chemistry, and biology. Having new labs would mean they would be more complex, and more studies would be able to be done, as well as the fact that there would be more time available to use the labs. As a student, I know we have lab timings and it can be frustrating for some of the teachers as I’ve seen formative dates being shifted for the purpose of lab timings. That’s not convenient for a bunch of teachers or students, I assume. The new labs will make way for more convenient work timings and it would be easier to learn in the new environments. But there’s got to be more spaces, facilities, like the lunchroom, for example. 

I personally think that the lunchroom in our new school is the main thing that shifts our lone building into a campus, like I said before, in the second paragraph. Why is the lunchroom out of all things something that makes our building a campus, though? Why not the fact that there’s a whole other building? Let me answer that. A campus environment is different from 2 buildings next to each other with no fence in between. So in order to have a campus environment, there needs to be a need for us to use our current school. The need is that our lunchroom will be smaller than our current school’s lunchroom. That makes way for informal spaces to be placed around the school’s exterior and I was told by Mr. Aditya Patil that we as students would be allowed to use the lunchroom in the current school building. This gives us space to sit where we want. To interact with people around. To walk from one side to the next. A campus environment can change a community completely. A campus means that you can see people everywhere. It feels comfortable to walk around and see some familiar faces. You would know more people, as well. And that takes me into the community activities. 

The community is something that is incredibly important to Ascend’s culture. Ascend is all for interconnectedness and helping each other. The new facilities which are coming in could help strengthen our community by letting us have more club spaces. We’re going to have a choir room, which means a school choir, a black box theatre which means better drama plays and musical performances, and maybe even the Ascent and Interact Rotary Club could have their own designated space, where they can have planning sheets on the wall, different whiteboards, places to put their work, and so much more if they just had a classroom dedicated to their club. These new facilities could strengthen how productive the clubs are, or how the teamwork builds up. Everything could change so drastically without me being able to explain as the changes are so small but they can make such a difference in our community and our school environment. 

But, what’s going to happen when we go? Well, when we move into the new building, our current fourth and fifth floor will be converted into spaces for the PYP. I was told by the PYP head, Ms Radhika Rajgarhia, that they would want to convert our floors into more classrooms for the PYP, of course. The extra space would let the school expand their quantity of people, with what Mr. Aditya Patil told me about how they currently have an A and B of each class, they’d like to extend it to an A, B, and C classroom based system.  Long story short, the school is growing really fast, and the new school is one of the biggest signs of that growth.

Patil, Aditya, and Meera Somaiya. “Chairman Interview – Ascend New Building.” 26 Nov. 2021. 

Rajgarhia, Radhika, and Meera Somaiya. “PYP Head Interview – Ascend New Building .” 24 Nov. 2021. 

Rodewald, Varsha Agarwal, and Meera Somaiya. “DP/MYP Head Interview – Ascend New Building.” 3 Dec. 2021. 

Ramachandra, Tarana, and Meera Somaiya. “Student Interview – Tarana – Ascend New Building.” 7 Nov. 2021. 

Semester 1’ 21: Wrapped

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The Ascent Claims No Ownership Over This Image

By Pritha Nag

On the 3rd of August, 2021 Ascend opened for its 11th academic year. The year started differently, with all of us joining the lens fair from our laptops through zoom. The first semester to any academic always holds prospects of what’s to come, meeting new classmates, getting settled into new classes, new teachers, new styles of learning and so much more. The year started off a bit different, online, however as the semester progressed we started going back to campus, getting a few events like Diwali to dress up, Halloween and more. So, what exactly did this semester have to offer? 

On the 27th of September Grade, 9 and 10 students went back to school for the first time, since March 2020. It was the first time the MYP opened its doors back to students, and it was a significant change. However Ascend opted for a more staggered approach, with PYP and MYP students going back once a week. Following the week of October 17th, school opened thrice a week for two weeks, following that school opened four times a week, and then fully functioned 5 days a week for MYP. Every week students have to take a covid test to make sure that we all stay safe and that no one is causing anyone harm. Social distancing rules are put in place and are sometimes followed, with masks always being up, temperature checked every morning, no more than five in a lift and etc. When Ishaan Rajan who had recently joined Ascend this year in the 9th grade was asked what he though of the staggered approach and coming back to campus, this is what he had to say– The switch from online to in-person may have been a bit hard to adapt to, however, the schedule that was followed, it made coming back to school feel easier. 

However, although the semester was staggered and half online and half offline we did get some great events! We got Halloween where students dressed up as anything, we saw an array of unique costumes such as pirates, cows, fairies, vampires, draculas and more! We got Diwali day where students showed up dressed in Indian traditional clothing, the fourth floor was lit up with vibrant colours and elegant clothing. The DP presented to us their TOK (Theory of Knowledge) presentations, and what they had been working on as an exhibition. All MYP grades went to see it and all of them loved it! Furthermore, the long-awaited DP fest arrived on the second to last day of the semester, with parents visiting Ascend for the first time in years. Blah blah about the DP fest. So, although the semester started a bit later, and in a different way than all of us imagined, we still got some of the special events and days that make school just that bit more memorable! 

As the semester started online, and only since early October did the MYP start frequently going back, many events such as parent night, a concert, photo day and more got cancelled. However, as the second semester is just around the corner, and if all goes well, some events that we could potenially get is the infamous sports day, project day, art shows, concerts, GPSF (Grandparents and Special Friends Day) and more! When Kavya Hebbar was asked what she was looking forward to about the upcoming semester this is what she had to say. 

Living in a pandemic always shows uncertainty even at times when you think normal is returning, we know better and so does the pandemic. The second semester is hoped and said to be started physically, and although all of us hope it to stay that way with Covid one can really never tell. However, these past few months slowly coming back to school, seeing familiar faces, reconnecting with people, sitting at desks, eating lunch together has shown us to enjoy what we have right now and not to worry too much about the future. The second semester holds a lot, and let’s hope it’s a fun, exciting and academically rewarding for all of us! 

Going Back to School!

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By Pritha Nag

It was almost 20 months ago when we were told to stay home for two weeks and do school through a calling app called Zoom. Since then, a lot has changed. A devastating pandemic wrecked families killing a reported 400,000 people in India, a vaccine was found for the pandemic, things reopened and then shut almost as fast as they first did. During April and May of this year, India experienced its deadly second wave, which peaked at a devastating 400,000 cases a day. But as the rains came to wash over India during Monsoon it almost felt as if it washed away that devastating second wave, and here we are now. Although Covid-19 is still as ever-present as before,
with the current low transmission rate present in most of India and Maharashtra, Mumbai (touchwood!) schools have been permitted to reopen, after a long 20-month gap. But what is a school like during a pandemic, and how much has changed in those long 20 months?

Living in 2021 calls for modern-day education, but along with that it also calls for modern-day restrictions. The restrictions that have almost made us question how we ever lived before them also come into play with school reopening. Each student must maintain a 3 feet distance from another student, and 6 feet with the teacher. One student per table or a maximum of two.

Although these restrictions do change up school a bit, being back in the building still makes the school feel even a bit like before. Every school is likely to take a different approach, but Ascend took the gradual easing into it type of approach. At first, it started with the lower grades coming to school once every week from 7:50 to 1:10, and then eventually the upper grades. And for the next two weeks before Diwali break grades 9 through 12 will be coming three times a week, and grades 6 through 8 twice a week and lower grades all coming once a week. Post Diwali Break grades 6 through 8 go thrice a week and grades 9 through 12 will go four times a week.

Coming to school during a pandemic calls for restrictions and requirements to follow. Although the building is the same, the people are the same, the classes are the same and the teachers are the same, the school is completely different than before. 3 feet is to be kept from students to students as a measure of social distancing and 6 feet for students to teachers. Although this means that you can’t hug your friends, and it’s a maximum of two at a table, it’s a price we’d all be willing to pay to just be back in the classroom! Masks are fully mandatory, and the only time you can take them off is when eating, and that too at a distance from all of your friends. Although the restrictions do change school a bit and it’s not fully the same, being back at school is something that we’ve all just been wanting to feel.

But do teachers and students share the same sentiments for school reopening? When chemistry and 11th-grade homeroom teacher Ms Zarna was asked what she thought of school reopening she said– “I’m very glad because students can have the whole learning experience of how the unit should be and how they should work collaboratively with each other. They’re also in contact with more people beyond just their friends during the online period, which I think is good.” Ms Zarna continued by saying she’s “very happy” to see most people back at school. When asked if the restrictions in place make a difference Ms Zarna answered with– “Yes, just for the simple fact that we have to wear masks, and a struggle I face is sometimes I’m just not audible from across the classroom because of my mask. The students can’t really be in contact with each other, but I think at the end of the day being back outweighs the restrictions.”

But how must it be to have joined school online for it to now start in person? When asking Ishaan Rajan, a new student in 9th grade what he thought about school reopening this is what he had to say– “I’m very happy to be able to meet everybody for the first time. Joining online was obviously a bit of a struggle socially, but meeting everyone and interacting has been really enjoyable.” But what do students who have been here since school was shut in March 2020 think of school reopening–“It’s been really fun, and it’s been really nice to get back and see everybody, and do the in-person learning that I’ve wanted to do ever since things shut down in March.” Said 11th grader Manavi Nag.

When 10th grade student Anya Daftary was asked what she thinks of school reopening– “The space of our school is just so different and unique and the real learning happens in that space, which obviously it was a bit difficult to adapt online. And even though it’s been two years now of online school, coming back to campus, it’s starting to feel normal.” Carrying on with that Anya thought that “The pace of learning and teaching is really different because of that switch from online to offline.” Anya thinks “It’s been a bit difficult for both teachers and students but just being in the campus with teachers and students and anybody for that matter just feels so nice.” Moving forward Anya felt like “The restriction make a difference per say, I think we are a pretty small school, so in school everyone abides by the restrictions and we’re really safe and careful about everything, and we know that just one case can shut everything down and everyone just knows how much this matters, so we don’t want to put that in jeopardy. I don’t think the restrictions really affect the learning or teaching, I think it’s more of a social thing, which we can all adapt to!”

From what the students and teacher we can see that going back to school and being back in the classroom is just what all of us have been wanting. Even with the restrictions in place, although they do make a difference we can see that just getting the chance to be back in school is worth it!

All in all, coming back to school and the feeling of normalcy is something most of us have been craving to feel. Being back on campus doesn’t just mean in-person classes, it means fun events, laughs with your friends, snack and lunch with your friends, meeting new people and experiencing something that should be so normal. Living in a time like the pandemic has been difficult and a weird experience, but a sense of going back to a new type of normal is something very necessary.

Ascend’s Spooky Season Back Again! + Photos

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By Manavi Nag

Pictures by Sara Moskovitz and Manavi Nag

To welcome the Spooky Season this year, Ascend got into the Halloween spirit. After nearly a year and a half of remote learning and online events, the MYP got to experience the excitement of being back in school for Halloween.

Although not as extravagant as previous years, because of the necessary safety precautions put in place, the MYP still enjoyed dressing up as scary and mythical characters. From pirates to fairies, teachers and students alike, all got into the Halloween spirit by dressing up. The MYP fourth floor was also decorated in some spooky decor with spiders and other creepy things.

Given the ongoing pandemic, the MYP’s Halloween this year was different but that didn’t mean it was any less fun. No matter what you were dressed up as, there was an undeniable excitement on the 4th floor, one of normalcy and optimism.

Shruti and Keya dressed as Pirates
Sara dressed as a fairy
A hooded figure looking out of the window
Some spooky decor

Physical School 2020

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Source - https://educationandbehavior.com/is-physical-education-important-in-schools/

This was made before the quarantine started.

We are more than 6 months into school. Everyone agrees school this far has been amazing, even the people who hate school – believe it or not. We decided to interview a few people from each grade and ask them ‘what is something you’ve learnt this academic year?’ or ‘what’s some advice you would give people?’  Almost everyone had something to say. 

Jeongwon Choi from 6th Grade said she’s learned a lot of Spanish and really enjoys it. As for Lakshya Agarwal (also from 6th grade), he said he’s learnt how to make a circuit and is certainly very good at it (he won the $M check at the 6th Grade Shark Tank.) Anya from grade 6 says; she’s learnt the importance of research and keeping things organized. Like, keep track of all HW. 

“I really like the precautions they are taking with the whole coronavirus is going on but I feel like in some unit the time management is not as good and it is hard to keep up sometimes. I love the method the teachers are taking to teach about different units. Socially I feel like there are a lot of ups and downs but overall school is going great!” Said an anonymous student from the seventh grade. 

“School can be really fun and we learn so much.  Sometimes I feel like school can be slightly overwhelming because we have so many summatives in every single subject along with extracurricular activities it can be a little hard to manage all of it at once.” Says Kavya Hebbar, a new seventh grade student who joined at the beginning of this academic year. “Something I feel like balances this out is the freedom we have in school, we have the choice to do things which I think is really what makes Ascend special. We also get a lot of opportunities which expand our learning and really deepen our school experience,” she said. 

Diya Barmecha from 8th Grade said she learnt to have a voice of her own by protesting (The AIS MYP Greta Thunberg inspired protest.) Next up, Tara Hebbar said she learnt trigonometry. 

Rishi from 9th grade stated that he learnt Research Skills, it can be really helpful for people’s careers. Arthur also from Grade 9 said he learnt how to trust people. It will be very helpful when working in teams. 

Siya from tenth grade advised young prodigies to start making their college resumes from 6th grade!!! As for Mihika she put in a very philosophical point, “One bad test does not define your career.” Our last Interviewee Aaryan Gondal said he learnt time management skills which can be a very valid skill to use as you go forth – in any forte.

This year, so many people from all the grades have learnt and done some mindblowing things this academic year. Our teachers have taught us so much and have really expanded our learning experience! Thank you so much to all interviewees, teachers, staff and admin for this amazing experience you’ve put together for all of us. We really appreciate it!

The 6th-grade Trip to Hampi (Hospet)

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Source - https://www.holidify.com/places/hampi/

By Aahana Khemani, Ayraah Lodha, Anoushka Kumar, and Anja Jhalaria

Our 6th grade trip to Hampi will definitely be very memorable. We brought back so many memories, new friendships, and different experiences; all the way from hiking up a hill, to knitting with banana leaves. This trip was definitely a great end to a long term and year! We saw a lot of different exquisite flora and fauna like Sloth bears and Spur Fowls (not to mention we saw and learned how to make snake trails!)We also planted plants with an expert. We saw many banana plantations and rice plantations on our way to the crafts village in a tractor! In the crafts village, we bought woven-banana-leaf things for us and our family. The infrastructure over there was breathtaking, we saw extremely old temples, buildings, secret passageways, and wells. We had an amazing treasure hunt – going under and overall these ancient infrastructures! We also became archeologists for a day, finding artifacts in our allotted area. We had to dig A LOT and record it. We got some delicious traditional food made by the locals over there and got some refreshing coconut water and harvested baby bananas. We made many fun memories in our bus and in our rooms. We vlogged a lot and we played loud music with speakers on the bus – I swear the teachers got annoyed! On the last day, almost every single person got sick. While teachers were helping people, the 2 or 3 people who weren’t sick did everything they could to help. We came back with many life – learnings, lessons and most important of all FRIENDSHIPS and different experiences with cultures! I doubt anyone in our grade will ever forget this fun-filled memory!!! Thank You for this wonderful experience! Our 6th grade trip to Hampi will definitely be very memorable. We brought back so many memories, new friendships, and different experiences; all the way from hiking up a hill, to knitting with banana leaves. This trip was definitely a great end to a long term and year! We saw a lot of different exquisite flora and fauna like Sloth bears and Spur Fowls (not to mention we saw and learned how to make snake trails!)We also planted plants with an expert. We saw many banana plantations and rice plantations on our way to the crafts village in a tractor! In the crafts village, we bought woven-banana-leaf things for us and our family. The infrastructure over there was breathtaking, we saw extremely old temples, buildings, secret passageways, and wells. We had an amazing treasure hunt – going under and overall these ancient infrastructures! We also became archeologists for a day, finding artifacts in our allotted area. We had to dig A LOT and record it. 

On-Campus Day: Grade 7

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Source - https://indianexpress.com/article/cities/mumbai/many-schools-in-rural-areas-of-maharashtra-set-to-reopen-on-november-23-7060745/

Recently, Grade 7 had an on-campus day at school! The event was on the lawn, where  there were three tents and three activities; physical education, science, and language & literature. We were divided into groups where we rotated from activity to activity. In this article we have four 7th graders who will be sharing their insights with us, on this now-a-days rare event!

When we were at the physical education station, we exercised and did different physical exercise challenges! This ranged from cardio exercises, to core strength tests, to agility drills, all testing how much we actually exercised during lockdown. During the science activity we learned how to practically reflect light through lasers and mirrors, and a chart. Finally, at the language & literature stall we enacted a scene from our lit circle books! All of this was done regarding the COVID-19 safety protocols of wearing a mask, and regular sanitation. In this article we are going to look at what students thought of the on-campus day! 

Meera Somaiya, from grade 7A says “It was okay. There were some people who didn’t understand social distancing so I had to stay a bit away from them, it was hard though.” Meera also comments on the activities saying they were really fun, “I got to experience real school again even if it was like a lens fair.” Meera said in reference to lens fair, an annual event, where students and teachers alike display their learning. Expressing delight to see the teachers again in person, Meera says “I think I want another on-campus day and I want the school to start when I become vaccinated or my parents to be vaccinated. I’m still unsure and uncomfortable around some people.” 

Arvid Bhatiya, from grade 7B was also an interviewee. Arvid’s opinion on the event was that it was pretty fun and that it was nice to see most of the people. He added, “I also think they did the best they could with the day considering the limitations.” Additionally, Arvid comments on the groups saying that “The only thing I think made it a bit less exciting was that I didn’t really get to see most of the people while I was there, as we were separated into 3 different groups, but I understand why they had to do that, and again I had already seen most of the people there, so I didn’t really care.” Arvid in conclusion said that he did enjoy the activities, and thought it would be cool to do another on-campus day! 

Shiv Doongursee, from grade 7A comments “I think it was really fun but I think the teachers should have made us be more productive, like learn things which would be hard to learn online. The only thing I really learnt was the science stall about reflecting lights.” Shiv pointed out an interesting view, it would have been good to learn things that were harder to learn online since a lot of people were so hyped about school! He also said that he had fun seeing friends and teachers. He also adds on, “I want school to start, some people don’t but I think we hardly learn things online and in real school you remember things better.” 

Last but not least, Xai Sarkari from grade 7B says “It was great to see my friends and teachers, and fun to do an actual school day. Just being in the building was great!” However, she adds “I feel like they could have given us just like half an hour after activities to just hang out with our friends in the lawn, provided we followed COVID rules!” Xai said that she really enjoyed the activities, but wished we had more activities! Also hoping that we could have picked out our own groups, rather than having them picked out for us. She concludes by saying, “I wish we had more time with each other because I only got to spend time with the people in my group, that too whilst being rushed from activity to activity! Just wish we got to really meet everyone! I learnt that I think we are all ready to follow safety regulations just so school can open!” Concluding her view on the event, Xai really wants school to start, just things like hanging in the common space, having a locker, and eating in the cafeteria together are things she, and alike a lot of people miss. 

Weighing the pros and cons of this event based on the students’ opinions, it seems as if a lot of students enjoyed the event, but would have preferred some individual time with their friends too! 

In conclusion, the event was amazing, and a lot of people just wanted more of it! Thank you to all of the teachers who put in hard work to make this event possible, and to all the interviewees for taking time out for this interview! 

A Teacher’s Life In The COVID 19 Pandemic

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Source - https://blog.coursify.me/en/how-to-create-online-classes/

By Aahana Khemani

Needless to say, lockdown has had a rippling effect on those from every walk of life. May it be an entrepreneur, influencer, musician, or doctor! Although, let’s zoom in and take a look at a teacher’s life in lockdown and during the pandemic. With online learning being something that millions of people worldwide are committing to, teachers would definitely have a lot of work and their own insights to share. Through this article, there’ll be two extremely knowledgeable and intellectual teachers from AIS itself, sharing their experiences with us. Mr. Henry Emerson, and Ms. Leslie Bartley!

While both of the teachers are extremely grateful to be meeting their students (even if it’s just online), they have had their fair share of challenges. Let’s take a look at these challenges! 

Mr. Henry informs, “There are a couple of big challenges with online teaching: the first, which everyone is facing, is just missing face to face time and being in the same room as other people.” Many teachers really value the social and interpersonal moments in the classroom that cannot be replicated and hence they are really missing that. “Another big challenge of being disconnected is not having a good sense of what students connect with or not.” It’s harder to tell if the students leave class with a better and more thorough understanding of the taught matter. 

Ms. Leslie feels like teaching online is a “WHOLE. NEW. WORLD!” Which can definitely be agreed with! She further mentions “I feel like I’m just up in students’ faces all the time.” 

I think we all can agree that we’ve all somewhat adjusted and tweaked our ways to fit in with  the new ways of online learning. However, everyone’s coping methods and mechanisms are quite unique. Let’s see what the teacher’s have to say about their coping mechanisms! 

Mr. Henry says, “The biggest thing with helping me overcome these challenges has really been changing my mindset. I am no longer comparing online discussions to the ones that we have in school because they simply can’t have the same excitement and feeling.” Nonetheless, that being said, Mr. Henry has been exploring new technology platforms such as Zoom, Screencastify, and Edublogs. “These are all helpful tools that I’d like to try to incorporate to classes even once we are back in person.”

Ms. Leslie reports, “Ha! Still working on this one.” However, I’m just trying to get students talking, interested.” 

Well, knowing the challenges and benefits of something is extremely important. It helps you analyze further. Now that we’ve talked about the challenges that teachers face during online teaching, what are some of the benefits?

Mr. Henry says, “A couple of benefits are not having to commute to work and being able to wear pajama pants! I’ve enjoyed working with my cat too!”

Ms. Leslie says, “Teachers and students are finding new ways to be creative. We talk more on hangouts. I have relationships with students who aren’t as outgoing in person but really blossom in online spaces.” 

It’s always important to reflect and see how some things have helped you and these teachers are prime and perfect paragons of that! While teacher’s may prompt us with this question often while writing reflections, let’s ask them how online teaching has helped them!

Mr. Henry prompts, “Something that I’ll take with me is just getting more familiar with technology platforms. There are lots of different platforms that teachers have been forced to learn. Ideally we’ll return to classroom learning and won’t have to rely on these tools quite as much. However, it will still be great to use some of these and apply them!”

Ms. Leslie mentions, “Shift, pivot, GO! Meaning, just keep going. Some days I miss students and teachers and school so much, but we all do. We have to keep trying, inventing, talking, laughing.” I personally think this is an extremely valuable lesson that all of us have learned through this experience, and that we should continue applying, even when this pandemic ends. 

In conclusion, we got an extremely insightful experience from a teacher’s eye and point of view. They’ve faced multiple challenges, but yet, bounce back up, which is a lesson that we all can adopt to help us get through these unothortodox times!

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