A variety of programs prepare students for life after graduation

International schools in Shanghai offer a variety of programs to prepare students for life after graduation, while universities encourage students to gain hands-on experience.

Inno blends workplace skills and academic success

Shanghai American School offers a variety of programs that prepare students for life after graduation. One signature program that combines workplace skills and academic success is the school's Innovation Institute, commonly called Inno. This successful program for Grades 9 and 10 began at SAS Puxi, expanding to SAS Pudong in 2021.

Inno students study multiple subjects, science, design or art, English, and social studies in the context of interdisciplinary, project-based learning (PBL) that addresses real-world issues.

"Most jobs are actually centered around projects that attempt to solve a problem or meet a need," said English teacher Michael Crachiolo. "Whether it is an entrepreneur making the next pitch to investors about an innovative idea or a construction team building a new compound, people's work is often centered around projects. As such, PBL brings that same project-oriented framework to the classroom."

PBL helps students integrate learning from multiple classes while working collaboratively.

"In my view, today's working environment is increasingly interconnected – 'real work' is done not in isolation but with groups of people with different academic, social and other backgrounds," said Amanda Young, an Inno science teacher. "We must prepare students for work by allowing them to consider many perspectives and to engage in finding solutions – together."

Crachiolo agrees, noting "a major skill that Inno students have a lot more practice with compared to traditional classroom learning is teamwork. All PBL work is done in teams, which can be a huge challenge. Of course, we know that a desirable trait in the workforce is the ability to collaborate with others to make decisions and take action. By doing this again and again to address real-world problems, our students, with our coaching and via trial and error, come out at the end of each unit better and better in terms of working with others to achieve their goals."

Crachiolo asked, "while a student can be good at studying, taking tests, writing papers and giving presentations, what good will this be when they get hired if they can't work with others?"

A variety of programs prepare students for life after graduation

Grade 9 Inno students collaborate on a sustainability project at SAS.

Innovation Institute students have over the years gone on to demonstrate success in AP and IB results as well as university matriculation. However, Dr Benjamin Lee, the high school principal at SAS Pudong, asked, "When was the last time any adult had to take a test? Testing is not a part of adult life. When was the last time every adult had to collaborate with a team to accomplish a complex task? Yesterday!"

This spring, in their final project of the year at SAS Pudong, Grade 9 Inno students are stepping into the roles of museum designers, archivists, and public historians, while asking, "What gets remembered?"

One benefit of being founded in 1912 is that SAS's history mirrors the changes of 20th-century Shanghai. The culminating task for students is to design an immersive museum of school history based on their research. To be successful, students will consider the limits of past and present technology, examine digitized SAS materials from the Yale and Stanford archives, and develop narratives depicting life at SAS over the years.

They will even meet with alumna Betty Barr Wang, who graduated from SAS in 1949. Wang is a well-known author and a long-time Shanghai resident.

Maybe some people would find it odd to hear a history teacher say that memorizing facts isn't the goal. The key is thinking and application. What gets remembered are experiences and skills. The value of a program like Inno is that we explicitly focus on these transferable aspects of learning.

(The article is contributed by Samuel J. Richards, a Social Studies and Innovation Institute teacher at Shanghai American School's Pudong Campus.)

A personalized, tailored program of learning

Although academic achievement remains paramount, high schools and colleges focus on helping students navigate careers and ready themselves for work. Career and technical education combines academic achievement with career preparation.

The Western International School of Shanghai offers the International Baccalaureate Career-related Program (IBCP) to students aged 16–19. The IBCP has a three-part framework, blending academically rigorous IBDP courses and Career-related Studies (CRS) with the four IBCP core components. This unique combination provides students the opportunity to experience a personalized, tailored program of learning.

IBCP students benefit from the customizable nature of the program and the real-world application at the heart of the learning. The IBCP is the perfect option for students looking to fast-track their professional lives by exploring their passions.

IBCP students at WISS choose between pathways in Sports, Art and Design, Business and Sustainability, and Aeronautics. Each pathway is delivered by the WISS faculty or one of our CRS university partners.

The IBCP-Sports CRS is delivered through the Pearsons BTEC International Level 3 Subsidiary Diploma in Sports. Students will engage in career-related learning focused on physiology, anatomy, training and testing for optimal sports performance, sports business and coaching, and leadership. Coupled with a bespoke IBDP course selection, this CP pathway will prepare students for a career in any sports-related profession.

A variety of programs prepare students for life after graduation

Stewart Paterson is career-related program coordinator at WISS.

IBCP-Art and Design is delivered in partnership with the Savannah College of Art and Design (SCAD). All aspects of this CRS are taught and assessed by SCAD professors. The course is taught online through the MySCAD platform and is a combination of synchronous and asynchronous learning activities. IBCP-SCAD students can engage in university classes focused on graphic design, advertising, branding, user experience, photography, fashion, game design and development, beauty, fragrance, and many more. IBCP-SCAD students will complete five SCAD classes and earn 25 university credits; these credits can be applied to fast-track undergraduate studies with direct entry into Year 2 at SCAD (grade dependent).

IBCP-Business and Sustainability is delivered in partnership with the Sustainability Management School (SUMAS). All aspects of this CRS are taught and assessed by SUMAS professors. The course is taught online and is a combination of synchronous and asynchronous learning. IBCP-SUMAS students engage in classes focused on business, leadership, the principles and fundamentals of sustainability, and sustainable innovation.

IBCP-SUMAS students will earn 12 university credits throughout this IBCP pathway and will be prepared for a career as a business leader in a wide range of industries.

IBCP-Aeronautics is delivered in partnership with Embry-Riddle Aeronautical University (ERAU). All aspects of this CRS are taught and assessed by ERAU professors in the US and Singapore. The course is taught online and is a combination of synchronous and asynchronous learning activities. IBCP-Aeronautics students can engage in university classes focused on physics, engineering, design, the business of aviation, unmanned flight systems, aviation safety, crash investigation, and much more. IBCP-Aeronautics students will complete eight classes and earn 24 university credits; these credits can be used to fast-track undergraduate studies with direct entry into Year 2 at ERAU (grade dependent).

(The article is contributed by Stewart Paterson, career-related program coordinator at WISS.)

CTE helps students discover their career options

Students enrolling at colleges or universities should have an idea, before leaving school, of how to achieve their career goals. Too many students graduate without knowing what they want to do. But at its root, modern career and technical education (CTE) is career-focused.

This practice of getting youths to think about their future proves to be beneficial for all students.

The earlier students begin to explore their career options, find their passion and use school to accomplish their goals, the more successful they will be in the future. When students fully understand the skills, demands and pathways to their future careers, they are more likely to actualize their dreams and find success.

With CTE programs, students are able to see their options outside of traditional four-year colleges and get a head start on finding a career suitable for them. Overall, introducing students to CTE programs gives them a better chance to succeed both in skilled craft careers and in any path they may choose.

A variety of programs prepare students for life after graduation

Daniel Gould is university counsellor at Shanghai Singapore International School.

At Shanghai Singapore International School, through encouraging students to explore career options, giving them the skills to succeed and introducing them to high-demand, high-paying jobs, CTE programs are well-equipped to help students be successful after high school. CTE programs put an emphasis on career readiness, and teach important employability skills that are currently in high demand.

Soft skills, such as attention to detail, effective communication and critical thinking, are the most in-demand skills in today's job market. CTE students are taught these competencies as they prepare for the workforce. They will have an advantage over their traditional schooling counterparts. They will be able to take these employability skills with them as they enter another field or go through universities or internships.

Students learning how to problem solve and use critical thinking is valuable regardless of their goals and aspirations. Schools utilizing CTE programing emphasize hands-on learning. These aspects create a more engaging school environment that is linked to higher graduation rates among students.

When students are able to link traditional lessons to real-life applications that apply directly to future careers, they are more invested in their learning and education and are better prepared for their future journey into adulthood.

(The article is contributed by Daniel Gould, university counsellor at Shanghai Singapore International School.)

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