Academic & Learning
Teaching and Learning at SAIS:
Teaching can be defined as engagement with learners to enable their understanding and application of knowledge, concepts, and processes. It includes design, content selection, delivery, assessment, and reflection.
To teach is to engage students in learning; thus, teaching consists of getting students involved in the active construction of knowledge. A teacher requires not only knowledge of the subject matter, but knowledge of how students learn and how to transform them into active learners. Good teaching, then, requires a commitment to a systematic understanding of learning. The aim of teaching is not only to transmit information but also to transform students from passive recipients of other people's knowledge into active constructors of their own and others' knowledge.
An important element of our School Improvement Plan is our commitment to being a Professional Learning School. For this reason, commitment to high-quality professional learning is central to what we do.
Have high expectations of all students.
Understand that learning happens when students think hard.
Emphasize the importance of effort.
We also reflect on our professional practice through a range of activities including:
Developing Subject Expertise Groups that allow us to remain abreast of current subject-specialist thinking.
The craft of the Classroom meetings and briefings allow us to continue to develop our classroom pedagogy.
Professional Learning Groups that allow us to engage with research evidence.
Iterative Observation and Feedback allow us to improve our individual practice.
Team Review allows us to improve our team practice.
Engagement with Whole Education allows us to improve our school practice by working with other schools.
Student Learning Styles:
CAT 4 Testing
At SAIS we refer to the Cognitive Abilities Test (CAT4) which is a diagnostic assessment that is designed to help students and their teachers understand how they learn and what their academic potential might be. It assesses how students think in areas that are known to make a difference to learning.
Results from the CAT4 data enables teachers to adapt their teaching approaches, materials, emphasis, and pace in the classroom to meet individual student needs. Our students in G3-G9 take the CAT 4 test once upon joining the school so we can identify their learning styles and tailor this learning style into differentiated instruction within the classroom.
CAT4 assesses four types of reasoning, one for each of the four batteries:
Verbal Reasoning: the ability to understand ideas and reason through words is essential to subjects with a high language content and the most obvious skill picked up by traditional assessment.
Quantitative Reasoning: the ability to use numerical skills to solve problems – applicable well beyond mathematics.
Non-verbal Reasoning: problem-solving using pictures and diagrams – skills which are important in a wide range of school subjects, including maths and science-based subjects.
Spatial Ability: the capacity to think and draw conclusions in three dimensions, especially important for many STEM subjects (science, technology, engineering, and mathematics) but not easily measured by other sources of information.
NWEA Map Testing
Our students in G3-G9 take the Map test during three windows throughout the course of the academic school year. Map assessments are computer-adaptive and produce accurate, reliable data that reveal the precise learning level of every student, regardless of the student's ability or grade level. Map identifies areas of strength and opportunity at the goal level of a subject, as well as overall performance.
IBT Arabic Testing
To meet the expected standards of attainment of Arabic Language Proficiency, our school participates in taking the IBT Arabic exam conducted by ACER. The IBT Arabic assessment is designed to give an international benchmark of your child’s performance vs. other participating countries in the region and around the world.
The New Group Reading Test (NGRT) is a standardized assessment to measure the reading skills of students aged 5-16 years against the national average. Through a variety of exercises, NGRT can assess students’ knowledge of phonics, comprehension, decoding ability, vocabulary, grammatical knowledge, deduction and inference skills, authorial intent, and ability to deal with figurative and idiomatic language (depending on the age of the student and test selected). Tasks include sentence completion, passage comprehension, and phonic exercises. NGRT tests not just the ability of students to decode what they read, but also to comprehend and apply meaning.
There are four different categories of assessment:
Formative / Ongoing Assessment (homework, classwork, exit tickets, class projects, etc.)
Summative Assessment (quizzes, tests, exams, etc.)
External Assessment (MAP, CAT4, PSAT, SAT, Arabic ABT, etc.)
Categories A and B can be administered during both face-to-face and distance learning as per the teachers’ discretion; however, all assessments in categories C, and D must be administered on campus when the students are physically present in the school. This will ensure the reliability of the assessment data.
With the blended learning framework plan / alternating days approach, every assessment in categories B and C should be prepared in two completely different versions so that students will undergo equitable assessment experiences. Also, when group 1, for example, is taking an assessment at school, group 2 should be engaged in a well-designed, meaningful learning experience, and vice versa.
Those students who have the school approval to be engaged in distance learning only will still have to report to school and take all their assessments in categories C and D with the direct supervision of their teachers/supervisors. There will be special arrangements / flexible timing for such cases if being among others is considered a risk factor and poses a threat to their health.