One of the many aspects that make the learning experience so unique at Cairo American College is the firm belief that learning extends well beyond the classroom walls. Learning is based on encounters and experiences and this is what our two projects at middle and high school are based on. Week Without Walls for our high schoolers, and the PRIME Trips program for our middle schoolers. These are two uniquely-tailored programs that enable the students to travel each year to a different location where they learn, explore and have fun.
WEEK WITHOUT WALLS
WWW has always been a very popular and busy week for the students. While this had to be put on hold for the past two years due to Covid-19 measures, this year we were successfully able to bring it back, bit by bit. Due to the relaxation of some of the Covid-19 measures, CAC was able to host local trips this year to : Alexandria, Aswan, Fayoum, Marsa Alam, Hurghada and Siwa. These ranged from culture and society trips to adventure and scuba diving experiences.
It is through these types of trips that students learn to partake in service and become engaged in experiential learning, which is one of the essential components in the development of the “whole child” and one of the major building blocks in helping each student reach his or her personal potential.
To learn through hands-on projects and to work as members of a group to achieve major goals enhances the learning experience. When students can internalize learning, they begin to develop lifelong learning skills. Moreover, when they have the opportunity to serve others, it touches their hearts and minds in ways that can’t be measured through tests and exams. It is that human touch that students learn in programs such as Week Without Walls that defines them and guides them toward future ideals and decisions that will impact their world in ways that we may never be able to quite describe in words.
Below is a glimpse of some of the amazing memories that the students will be able to cherish and reminisce about as they grow older.
The same applies to the middle school PRIME Trips. This off-campus activities-based program offers students the opportunity to extend the curriculum beyond the classroom walls in exciting ways in a new environment. They are also able to develop new friendships, try new experiences, and build self-confidence.
Students will be able to extend and apply curriculum work in an authentic and exciting environment, improve physical and mental health, develop a sense of personal involvement, deepen their relationships with their friends and colleagues, develop a fuller understanding of their environments, and develop self-reliance skills as well as self-esteem.
This year, our middle schoolers were eager to have the opportunity to go on these trips back again, and the campus was buzzing with excitement as they all gathered with their different groups to start their trips. The day trips included day visits to Wadi Degla, Sakara and Dahshur, Abdeen Palace, Museum of Civilization, Pottery Factory, Islamic Arts Museum and Ain Sokhna,
Below are some of these unforgettable moments that the students got to experience.
Students are often deeply impacted by these kinds of experiences, fondly remembering them long after their days at CAC are over. These encounters help to define CAC students and may guide them toward future ideals and decisions that will shape their world in ways that we may never be able to measure on paper.
School Owned iPad Program
Each student in PK - grade 2 is assigned one iPad for their learning in the classroom. Teachers use them to provide activities that promote exploration of the concepts and skills that are being taught.
Grades 3-5 LAPTOP PROGRAM
School Owned Laptop Program
Students in grades 3-5 are assigned an appropriate device to use in their classrooms to support them with research, exploration and other tech related educational needs.
Grades 6-7 LAPTOP PROGRAM
School Owned Laptop Program
Students in grades 6-7 are provided with a Macbook Air for them to use during the year. The students can take it home to aid and support them in their learning inside and outside the classroom, and return them to the IT department at the end of the year.
GRADES 8-12 LAPTOP PROGRAM
BYOD (Bring Your Own Device)
As we continue to streamline the use of technology in the classroom we will be phasing in a Bring Your Own Device (BYOD) program in the middle school. Starting from grade 8, onwards, the laptop program shifts to BYOD. This step provides more flexibility in device selection based on personal preferences. In addition the laptops are not turned in for the summer, and the students are local administrators and can install software of their choice. This also means that one computer can be used to serve both home and school needs, and that the students have a larger responsibility to care for their own devices.
Device CAC recommends an Apple Macbook that can run the current MacOS system, also a PC Laptop with Windows 10 or higher (English language only) can be suitable. Memory (RAM) * Lack of RAM can result in severe degradation in speed for the students. Audio / Video Keyboard Wireless Any reliable laptop will fulfill the needs of the program. Using a new laptop is not necessary. The 13-inch MacBook Air is the recommended model but others are acceptable also (see information). Most of the software, below are free or open source. Our Technology Department is happy to take an initial look at student machines. We also provide an optional service system for students who wish to drop off their laptop and receive a quote for repairs through our school-approved repair company. In most MS and HS classes, students are required to use technology when appropriate. The preference of some students to use laptops for note-taking and other routine uses will be respected, but there will be times when teachers will ask all students to comply with a “lids down” or “no laptops for this next activity” request.
Chromebooks and Ipads will not have the capacity to run some programs if required. (Ex: Adobe Creative Suite or Loggerpro)
Battery needs to last during the entire day of work. please make sure it comes in good condition.
Please also consider the weight as the device will be moving among classrooms, so heavy laptops are not the best idea.
- 8 GB or more is strongly suggested
- Students will need headphones or earphones as well as a built-in or external microphone.
- Web camera
- Must be suited to touch typing. (Keyboards used in school are with United States layout.)
CAC has a modern wireless network compatible with most of the latest technologies available, any modern laptop nowadays will have good compatibility.
- Browsers: Latest English version of Firefox and Google Chrome
- Plugins: Latest versions of Flash, Java, Silverlight
- Acrobat PDF Reader 10 or above or Foxit Reader
- Office suite such as MS Office, iWork, OpenOffice 3.2
- VLC Media Player
- Antivirus (Free versions such as AVG or avast! are sufficient)
- Students should have sufficient rights to update and install appropriate software
CAC recommends an Apple Macbook that can run the current MacOS system, also a PC Laptop with Windows 10 or higher (English language only) can be suitable.
* Lack of RAM can result in severe degradation in speed for the students.
Audio / Video
Any reliable laptop will fulfill the needs of the program. Using a new laptop is not necessary. The 13-inch MacBook Air is the recommended model but others are acceptable also (see information).
Most of the software, below are free or open source.
Our Technology Department is happy to take an initial look at student machines. We also provide an optional service system for students who wish to drop off their laptop and receive a quote for repairs through our school-approved repair company.
In most MS and HS classes, students are required to use technology when appropriate. The preference of some students to use laptops for note-taking and other routine uses will be respected, but there will be times when teachers will ask all students to comply with a “lids down” or “no laptops for this next activity” request.
This year, with the ease in Covid-19 travel restrictions, we were successfully able to host a Harkness training session for our high school teachers. The school hosted Ms. Molly MacKean, who used to work at Phillips Exeter Academy where the Harkness approach to learning was developed. She is currently the Upper School Division Head at Germantown Academy in Fort Washington, Pennsylvania.
Harkness is a student-driven approach to learning with a focus on collaboration and respect. A group of students and one teacher sit around an oval table and discuss the subject at hand. At the table, all voices are equal; students explore ideas together, develop the courage to share their thinking, and through a compassionate approach to listening they develop the empathy to understand one another and the subjects being discussed. It’s not about being right or wrong or winning a debate, it is about building deep, meaningful connections and understanding through dialogue.
The Harkness approach has been used at CAC since 2014 and teachers in the English and Social Studies departments engage regularly in the discussion-based learning that is central to the philosophy. This training allowed teachers to further develop their skills and techniques for use in the Harkness classroom as well as developing resources to use with students in future. The experience was enriching and stimulating and teachers left the session feeling excited to dive straight into more Harkenss discussions around their tables in the coming weeks.
This is in line with CAC's focus on encouraging teachers to pursue professional development opportunities that not only enhance the CAC education experience, but also enhance the overall teaching standards for our faculty. "The English and SS department's were fortunate to have a great deal of time to work one-on-one with Molly regarding our recent Harkness training. We were able to ask questions, problem-solve and just freely discuss our experiences, concerns and understandings about what Harkness looks like here at CAC," was what the one of our HS teachers, Ms Ashley Gramolini, had to say about the training she received.
"At the end of the day, my biggest takeaway was that Harkness is a philosophy, not a table nor a style of teaching, and thus can look differently in different settings and situations. It's about empowering students and treating them like human beings and being a partner in their growth and learning. As teachers, we should never stop being role models of learning and humility for our students," she added.