Project Innovate

Canadian International School of Hong Kong has been at the cutting edge of education for the last 30 years, since its founding in 1991. Project Innovate takes the culture of innovation flourishing at CDNIS to the next level, providing an exciting vision for future-ready learning.

According to the World Economic Forum (WEF), we are entering the Fourth Industrial Revolution, which will fundamentally change the way we live, work and relate to each other.

Our current education systems, which were designed to prepare students for a different world to the world we are living in now, need to be transformed to prepare students for the world they will encounter when they go into the workplace.

Project Innovate provides a comprehensive framework for future-ready learning, developing the skills, mindsets and dispositions students need to be successful in this era of rapid change.  

The three pillars of future ready learning are:

  1. Foundational Skills-Literacy, Numeracy, Science, Information and Communication Technology and Civic and Cultural Literacy.
  2. The 21st Century Competencies of Collaboration, Communication, Creativity and Critical Thinking.
  3. Character Building-developing resilience, initiative, curiosity, empathy, leadership and adaptability.

Project Innovate moves the focus of learning away from the mere acquisition of knowledge to the development of skills, which enable students to apply what they know, to identify and solve problems, through the creation of new ideas.

This approach empowers students to take ownership of their learning and follow their interests and passions. This allows students to develop into highly motivated individuals who are able to prove their capabilities and adapt to a constantly changing environment.  

At CDNIS we believe the future is full of hope and promise. Project Innovate provides each student with the learning experiences they need to maximise their potential and make the most of the exciting opportunities that the future holds, for the benefit of themselves and to help make the world a better place.

Project Innovate and the IB
The International Baccalaureate (IB) was established to provide a challenging and comprehensive education that will enable students to understand and manage the complexities of the world and provide them with skills and attitudes for taking responsible action for the future.

The principles of Project Innovate fit seamlessly with the philosophies of the IB, which place an emphasis upon:

  • structured inquiry into knowledge and complex problems;
  • learning through doing in the context of practical, real world experiences;
  • fostering curiosity, creativity and collaboration and
  • the development of character through the Learner Profile.

Project Innovate in the Classroom
Foundational Skills

With the recent adoption of Ontario Mathematics in the Lower School, we have a fully aligned Mathematics curriculum from Grade 1 through to Grade 12.

In the Early Years and Prep, students develop mathematical thinking through a play-based approach. From Grade 1 through 8 the Ontario curriculum builds conceptual understandings, where students are given opportunities to investigate ideas and concepts through problem solving.The acquisition of operational skills remains an important focus of the curriculum.

The Grade 9-10 programme continues to emphasise the importance of problem solving in real world contexts. The curriculum is designed to foster the development of the knowledge and skills students need to succeed in their subsequent mathematics courses. The IB requires students to study Mathematics through to the end of Grade 12 and offers students a range of courses in Grades 11 and 12, depending on their career aspirations, needs and interests.

Language and Literacy
The development of language is fundamental to the need to communicate; it supports and enhances our thinking and understanding.  All IB programmes value language as central to the development of critical thinking, which is essential for cultivating intercultural understanding and responsible membership in local, national and global communities. Language is integral to exploring and sustaining personal development and cultural identity, and provides an intellectual framework that supports the construction of conceptual understanding.

Science is a required component of all three IB programmes: the PYP, MYP and the DP. All IB programmes share common beliefs and values about teaching and learning science. These include:

  • Inquiry-based
  • Learning through investigation
  • Collaboration
  • Relevance and authenticity

In the PYP, teaching and learning experiences challenge students to be curious, ask questions, explore and interact with the environment physically, socially and intellectually. In the MYP students develop an inquiring and reflective approach to science learning, as well as critical-thinking and problem-solving skills. They will be able to apply and extend these in their choice of DP science courses.

Information and Communication Technology
CDNIS was one of the first Apple Distinguished Schools in Asia and remains committed to infusing state of the art technology into each classroom to maximise student learning. Starting with a 1:1 programme in 2006, the first in Hong Kong, CDNIS continues to refine its 1:1 integration, with students in Grades 1 to 3 using personally owned iPads and Macbooks in Grades 4 to 12.

Teachers and students work with:

  • web-based applications, including Seesaw and Google Apps for Education;
  • computer-based applications, such as GarageBand and iMovie;
  • professional software like Adobe Creative Suite and
  • virtual classrooms, such as Google classroom.

Students develop their personal digital portfolio from Grade 1 up to enable them to reflect upon their learning and share it with others.

An exceptional programme of robotics and coding is embedded across the school, starting in Prep, and includes 1:1 robots in some Lower School classes, enabling students to take their learning to the next level. In Upper School robotics is integrated into Science. Blueprint Club offers those interested opportunities to explore how far they can take their learning. Additional technologies include a media studio with green screen and audio recording facilities, Augmented and Virtual Reality, as well as 3D printing and laser cutting to support our Lower School maker culture and MYP Design programme.

21st Century Competencies

Collaboration is a core principle of the IB philosophy and is deeply embedded within the CDNIS culture, both inside and outside the classrooms.

Collaborative learning:

  • develops the social and self-management skills;
  • develops critical thinking and problem solving skills;
  • Increases engagement and motivation through active and empowered learning;
  • improves communication skills.

Collaborative Learning at CDNIS
Collaboration is embedded into the learning process at every level at CDNIS. In classrooms across the school you will see students working together in pairs or small groups, with each group working in a different way. The teacher moves around the room conferring with groups. The classroom is alive with energy, with all students highly engaged in their learning.

The teacher strategically groups students in a variety of ways depending on the task but grouping is always purposeful and designed to support the learning process. Students teach and learn from each other as they actively exchange of ideas.

Collaborative learning can be short term, such as Think Pair Share, where students are briefly paired to share their thinking before feeding back to the whole class, or take the form of long-term projects, which may last for many weeks.

Critical Thinking
Critical thinking supports complex problem solving enabling students to evaluate sources of information and draw reasonable conclusions. Critical thinking is one of the most sought after skills by universities and employers.

Critical Thinking at CDNIS
The IB Learner Profile and all three IB programmes emphasise the importance of critical thinking. Research shows that inquiry-based and inter/transdisciplinary learning,core features of everyday learning in the PYP and MYP,  promote enhanced critical thinking skills. At DP level, Theory of Knowledge sets out to explicitly foster critical thinking in Grade 11 and 12 students.

CDNIS students engage in complex, strategic problem solving and higher order thinking through our comprehensive robotics and coding programme. Starting in Prep, students have the opportunity to develop their analytical skills  and make decisions drawing upon logic and reasoning, using a range of hardware and software.

The PYP Exhibition at Grade 6 and Personal Project at Grade 10 are capstone experiences where students can draw upon and develop their critical thinking skills to investigate and solve real world problems.

Creativity is the ability to produce new and unique ideas, looking at things from a fresh perspectives with freedom from rules and norms. Creativity, the driving force behind innovation,  will be the number three most important skill needed in the workplace by 2020 (WEF, 2016). Studies have demonstrated a strong correlation between excellence in creative subjects and high scores in languages, maths and science.

Creativity at CDNIS
The IB supports the use of  tools to encourage creative thought and behaviours to help students to develop creativity and recognises that the visual and performing arts are natural starting points for this.

CDNIS has an exceptional programme of performing arts, based in our Leo Lee Arts Centre. The programme includes specialist Dance in the Lower School, in addition to a holistic approach to drama and music. The Upper School programme includes Drama and Music at MYP and Music, Theatre Studies and Film Studies at DP level. Visual Arts has a high profile across the school, culminating in the IB art exhibition at Grade 12. We also have an exceptional makers’ culture flourishing in our Lower School classrooms and in MYP Design, where students use design thinking to innovate, create and make, in a hands-on learning approach, using traditional tools and materials and the latest technology to prototype and build.

Communication is the foundation of all human relationship, helps people to express their ideas and feelings and facilitates the process of sharing information and knowledge. CDNIS students are able to express themselves confidently and creatively in various ways and in more than one language. The emphasis upon collaboration builds essential communication skills to empower students to express themselves confidently and creatively. Students are also explicitly taught the skills they need to present their thinking coherently in a range of written media. Digital portfolios provide students with a vehicle through which they are able to record their ideas and showcase their learning to an authentic audience.

Character Building

Resilience is the ability to recover from setbacks, adapt well to change, and keep going in the face of adversity. There is increasing research to show that resilience has a significant impact on academic success and social and emotional health.

At CDNIS teachers support students to develop a growth mindset through valuing effort and hard work and discussing the concept of growth mindset with them. Students are encouraged to reflect upon the challenges they face and are taught that as failure is part of normal life and fundamental to learning, it should be embraced as a pathway to success.

Studies of human resilience are integrated into the curriculum so that students can draw inspiration from the experiences of others. For those who take part, our exceptional sports programme plays a key role in developing persistence and grit.

Initiative is the ability to be resourceful and work without being told what to do. Students with initiative can think for themselves and take action when necessary.

Inquiry based learning and action, key components of the IB programme, emphasise the importance of initiative. Students make decisions about the direction of their learning and are encouraged and supported to take action throughout their learning journey at CDNIS. The PYP Exhibition in Grade 6, the Personal Project in Grade 10 and the Community, Action and Service (CAS) programme in Grades 11 and 12 are capstone opportunities for students to demonstrate their initiative.

Curiosity is the desire to learn or know something and is a key ingredient of learning.

Curiosity makes learning more effective and enjoyable. Curious students not only ask questions, but also actively seek out the answers. Research shows that curiosity is just as important as intelligence in academic success. Nurturing curiosity is a key principle of the IB programme and the foundation of inquiry based learning. At CDNIS students are encouraged to pursue their interests, ask questions and explore as part of the daily learning process.

Empathy is an awareness of the feelings and emotions of others. Empathy helps us understand the needs and situations of others and makes us open to connections and relationships. The importance of empathy is at the core of the IB’s vision to recognise our shared humanity to create a better world.

At CDNIS empathy is embedded into our programme as students learn about the lives of others, in their local community and around the globe and develop an understanding of their situations, challenges and needs.

Adaptability is the ability to respond to new situations and learn from experience. Adaptability is a key skill required by employers in the 21st century but it is also an important life skill in this era of rapid change.

At CDNIS, we actively seek out opportunities to take students outside of their comfort zone, to enable them to gain confidence in unpredictability, in real life settings. In the Lower School students from Grade 3 up attend annual camp, where they face a range of new challenges. In the Upper School students take part in annual Experience Week and CAS week, while the Hong Kong Award for Young People (AYP) provides a programme for students to challenge themselves through leisure activities and voluntary service.

Leadership fosters collaboration, communication, empathy, resilience and initiative. It helps student develop their organisational and social skills. Most importantly, it empowers students to take control of their own learning and take action on things that matter to them.

At CDNIS student leadership is at the heart of everything we do, through formal and informal channels. Formally, students may represent their peers in student council or as a digital ambassador. Informally, students are leading initiatives around the school, from increasing our sustainability through the SEED Committee, setting the direction of digital technology in the Learning Technologies Council or taking part in hundreds of smaller projects initiated and run by them.