GEMS Secondary Years Principal Updates

By Jan Stipek, Secondary Years Principal September 13, 2018
GEMS Secondary Years Principal Updates

I have recently read an interesting article on writing across disciplines. In this context, I am referring to writing as a cognitive skill, not the mechanical skill of handwriting. The article argued that in some schools, writing is 'locked out' of the classroom despite the many benefits, such as an opportunity to articulate, revise, and strengthen their ideas, as well as to present and communicate students' thinking.

This made me reflect on the GEMS (Singapore) MYP and DP programmes, taught in the Secondary Years, on a cognitive level. During our lessons, the students are required to articulate their ideas and share them in writing on a daily basis.

By collaborating with others and receiving constructive feedback, students have a chance to improve and strengthen their ideas. The evidence of learning in an IB World school is rarely simply the end result, usually, there is a documented process of learning (using formative assessments along the way), leading up to the final piece (the summative assessment).

In a traditional educational setting, students mostly write to 'get a good grade'.  Writing in the IB is frequently shared with a larger audience. A subject like Language and Literature encourage students to 'write with an audience in mind' in order to understand how to target the audience. In addition, our students are encouraged to reflect on cross-disciplinary concepts through writing, such as patterns, change, structures, systems.

We believe that a careful use of educational technology can help students in developing writing skills. For example, through creating blog posts students learn various writing techniques and continuously work on their style to keep their audience interested and engaged. Platforms like Google classroom or Google Docs connect students around the world and provide a great opportunity for collaboration and improvement. 

I will end with one of my favourite quotes: 


Working in digital environments also encourages students to compose multimodally – considering how words, images, and sounds work together to create and shape meaning.


Source: “Three Rules for Writing-Rich Disciplinary Classrooms” by Rick Coppola and Becca Woodard in Education Update, June 2018 (Vol. 60, #6, p. 2-3, 6-7), (available for purchase for non-ASCD members)



Please don't forget to book your calendars for the Parent-Teacher Conferences which will take place on Thursday 4th October and Friday 5th October 2018. These conferences are an important opportunity for teachers and parents to discuss your child’s progress in school and enhance a successful two-way communication.


  • Each conference is booked for 10 minutes and all teachers will be meeting you in the Auditorium lobby & Auditorium (Level 4) or in the Library (Level 2)
  • Each booking is made via an online portal, which allows you to better manage the conference schedule to suit your personal availability.
  • The online booking system will open at 10:00 am on Monday 17th September and will close at 10:00 am Monday 1st October.
  • Please be advised to use either Safari or Chrome browser platforms and not Firefox when making bookings in the system.
  • Please contact your child’s subject teacher directly if there are no available or suitable times to arrange an alternative meeting outside the official conferences.
  • Please note that the 4th and 5th of October are not regular school days for students, however, students are encouraged to attend the conferences with their parents.


Jan Stipek, Secondary Years Principal


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