Lahore American School’s Vision of Teaching and Learning
The Importance of a Vision of Teaching and Learning
Successful schools require a concise Vision of Teaching and Learning to help guide their thinking and planning. A simple, unified vision can inform all a school does from curriculum development and pedagogy, to professional development and teacher training. This vision can help clarify the direction of professional conversations, while educating school community members in practical ways about what is expected of graduates of this institution.
Our vision combines the powerful pedagogies of Inquiry/Project-based learning with a Capstone Intensive Model, allowing our students to discover their passions and hone skills and processes that will ready them for a word of high-level academics.
What is Inquiry/Project-based Learning (IPBL)?
In the realm of international education much is made about the pedagogical framework of inquiry and project-based learning. Combining these two formidable educational concepts into a unified teaching ideology will give our school powerful tools that empower our learners to discover their world while mastering key academic, emotional and social skills.
Inquiry is a method of learning that deeply involves students by connecting to their real-world experiences by utilizing high-level inquiry, investigation, and discovery. It promotes students' participation in experiential learning and allows them multiple opportunities to solve complex problems, while Project-based Learning is a mode of learning that builds student knowledge and skills through the use of authentic projects, giving them hands-on insight into finding positive, practical solutions to problems inherent in the real world, both locally and globally.
The combination of these two methodologies intertwines the two basic tenets of bottom up, student centered education, which is at the forefront of educational pedagogy in the U.S. and has inspired frameworks like the IB Diploma and AP Capstone. It helps simplify our approach to teaching and learning by clarifying certain outcomes. For example: Process over Product, Projects over Traditional Assessment, and Discussion over Lecture, while still respecting the need for direct instruction depending on context and content.
A Student-Centered Model
Consequently, the vision of Lahore American School is to build anInquiry/Project-based Learning (IPBL) model, which is studen-centered and bottom-up in its approach, emphasising project/experiential learning.
Capstone Intensive Learning Model (CILM)
A good way to highlight this concept is the culminating experience of the AP Capstone, which is a 4,000-word research paper based on a topic of interest to the student. (It’s also important to keep in mind that at some point we may decide that all seniors need to do a culminating research project, regardless of whether they enroll in the AP Capstone.)
Using the AP Capstone as inspiration, the concept is to put into effect an innovative curriculum designed to deliver a unified network of projects leading to series of Capstones (“expertise markers”) at the end of each progressive learning stage. Ultimately, age-appropriate capstones would occur in grades 5, 8 and 12, at the end of our Elementary School, Middle School, and High School. The program will begin this year with Capstones starting with the 5th and 8th grades. We’ll have a “Capstone Day” in April of 2023.
This is called “The Capstone Intensive Learning Model (CILM).” An important part of it is devising our own rubrics and processes in grades 5 and 8 for these capstones (AP Capstone has a prescribed rubric.). For instance, in 5th grade students might research topics as a team and present their findings as dioramas or videos on Capstone Day.
This integrated web of Inquiry/Project – based learning follows a process that helps ensure key elements are always integrated.
The AP Capstone’s Seminar and Research courses follows the process of these 5 Big Ideas, called QUEST (These steps can be simplified for grades 5 and 8.):
- Question and Explore
- Understand and Analyze
- Evaluate Multiple Perspectives
- Synthesize Ideas
- Team, Transform, and Transmit
Units of Study
Leading to each capstone and embedded through each stage of learning is a web of connective tissue: Our Units of Study, which are housed in Atlas Rubicon, our curriculum repository and analysis tool.
In theory, each unit should include a “question and explore element” and culminate with a project-based assignment that reinforces the learning process and helps students make connections to the outside world. For example, a unit on Shakespeare’s Romeo and Juliet could end with projects that compare newer versions of the play with more traditional ones. This might require students to research critical essays on the play, write a paper outlining their ideas, and create a unique method of presenting their final project, maybe as a play or Shakespearean sonnet. Furthermore, a critical analysis of the play could lead to examinations off cultural norms and mores in other global contexts.
This learning paradigm encourages students to explore and question their world and to devise solutions that are researched-based, locally/globally relevant, and personally meaningful. It opens a world of possibilities and welcomes students to an array of units in which questions are the catalyst for discovery. It also:
- Reinforces the school’s vision and mission.
- Develops mastery through replication of, and reflection on, the QUESTprocess.
- Hardwires the scientific method in all aspects of learning.
- Creates laser-like focus on key skills. It ensures that all students’ research accurately, read deeply, write clearly, think critically, and present engagingly, Consequently, we stress reading, writing, research, reasoning, and rhetoric from the Early Years Program on up through high school.
Clarity of Vision
Furthermore, one of the most critical points is that by making expertise markers an element of each learning progression, all students, teachers, and school community members automatically become more focused on high-level academics and the goals outlined in our school mission. The overall school vision is crystal clear.
Teachers, for example, are able to precisely articulate the specific end goal and work backward (UbD) to develop programs and curriculum to support and achieve it. No confusion exists as to where teaching and learning is heading. The entire learning community is on the same page and unified in its desire to see all graduates master the necessary skills and processes needed to achieve, not only at our school, but also as future leaders in Pakistan and the world.
Finally, the Capstone Intensive Learning Model closely aligns with the school’s Mission and Profile of Graduates:
- It develops passion, innovation, and, ultimately, empathy, through the choice of topic and its connection to altruistic ends.
- It embraces independent and critical thinking through its laser-like focus on skills like critical thinking and research. It builds community, collaboration and develops global citizens through projects that connect students to local, national, and global issues and organizations.