Summer Reading

In tandem with our summer activity goals is the summer reading list for project based learning. Stay fun and engaged this summer.

 At Clarion we encourage reading all year long. Over the summer reading is best way to support academic growth. It will help prevent the “summer slide” in which a child loses reading levels over the summer and spends the early school months catching up again.

Daily reading in summer can be fun and exciting. With extra time to visit libraries regularly, explore new books, keep a reading journal and engage in project-based learning, your child can grow as a reader and develop new interests.

-Your Clarion Teachers


Iggy Peck Architect by Andrea Beaty

If I Built a Car by Chris Van Dusen

If I Built a House by Chris Van Dusen

The Most Magnificent Thing by Ashley Spires

What to Do With A Box by Jane Yolen

Have Fun, Molly Lou Melon by Patty Lovell


The Curious Garden by Peter Brown

The Gardener by Sarah Stewart


One Hen by Katie Smith Milway (part of a series)

Beatrice’s Goat by Page McBrier

The Water Princess by Susan Verde


Hello Ruby: Adventures in Coding by Linda Liukas

Rosie Revere, Engineer by Andrea Beaty


How Much is a Million? by David M. Schwartz

The Doorbell Rang by Pat Hutchins


Help! We Need a Title! by Herve Tullet

The Wednesday Surprise by Eve Bunting

Author: A True Story by Helen Lester

You can read this article here as well:

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10 Ways to Enjoy Summers!

10 Ways to Enjoy Summers!

10 ways to keep your child active, engaged and creative this summer.

Summer months are long and hot, and with less structure, it can be hard to know what to do with your children all day. At Clarion School, we suggest parents keep three main goals in mind – to stay active, engaged, and creative. These goals can help you make the most of this unstructured time with your children.

Here are some ideas to help.

 Keep Active

When children have a chance to expend energy through physical activity each day, they feel better and develop better sleeping and eating habits. They are also more able to focus and learn. With hot summer temperatures, being outdoors can be hard, but there are some easy things you can do to help.

  1. Get out for a walk, run, bike ride or swim early in the morning, before the heat becomes unbearable.
  2. Find indoor equipment to allow for physical activity. A gym mat, knee hockey set, chin up bar or doorframe basketball hoop can bring hours of exercise indoors.
  3. Use online tools or other resources, such as children’s exercise and yoga programs, to make exercise an interactive learning experience.
  4. While we suggest keeping video games to a minimum, programs such as GoNoodle or Wii sports can increase activity and become fun for the whole family.

Stay Engaged

To prevent the summer slide that can happen when children are not in school, it is important to for them to stay engaged in learning.

  1. Create a daily reading routine. This prevents children from falling back in their literacy growth.
  2. Keep a summer journal. Writing a few sentences every day is a great way to capture the fun of summer and practice skills. Parents can write for very young children.
  3. Plan field trips to kid-friendly places, including parks, museums, and even restaurants and stores that may present an opportunity to learn about a different culture.

Be Creative

Summer is a perfect time to explore some of your child’s creative interests. While camps often present opportunities for children to grow creatively, a creative home environment can make for a productive summer.

  1. Update your art corner. Clear out old art supplies and replenish with some new ones, making sure that you have plenty of open-ended opportunities with water colors, crayons and blank paper.
  2. Talk to your child about the creative things they like to do at school and find ways to incorporate them into your home, such as a building area or a dramatic play corner.
  3. Look for ways that you and your child can be creative together. Many children’s books inspire creative projects. Visit our list of summer reading suggestions.

Screen Time

Do your best to avoid lengthy screen time or any screen time if possible. Hopefully getting active, engaged and creative will help you avoid turning to screen time for entertainment over the summer.

“Screen time…it is great and it is wonderful. The possibilities for learning are limitless. But, the possibilities for inflicting harm is also limitless. Schools worldwide are dealing with an epidemic of online bullying and people taking advantage of innocent, and unknowing children. The online world is intruding itself into the daily life of schools and homes in ways never imagined. Screen-time is provides students the opportunities to engage in stimulating, imaginative and illuminating information, but it is also providing opportunities for students to engage in damaging social behavior. This technology is disruptive in many ways and parents need to help students navigate this virtual world so the result is more constructive than destructive in the real world.”

-Dr. Paul Lieblich

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Deep Learning: A Shared Mission of Teachers and Students

Clarion aims to build a deep interdisciplinary curriculum that honors the individual strengths of each child and teacher while using ongoing assessments to ensure everyone is thriving.

Clarion is a school that thrives on innovation and sharing of ideas between teachers and students. It is a place where the strengths of all members of the community are valued and where deep learning takes place to further the growth of each individual student and as a collective. Unlike more traditional schools where the curriculum stays the same from one year to the next, Clarion’s progressive approach is one in which the curriculum is shaped by the individuals engaging in the learning. In this ongoing dynamic exchange, it is important that students are active participants in their learning, curriculum is interdisciplinary and achieves content mastery, students are assessed regularly, and teachers have opportunities to develop their practice.

At the core of Clarion’s approach is a belief that when children are invested in their learning and are active participants, they feel motivated to acquire skills and knowledge. This learning environment requires a combination of high expectations and individual choice that allow a child to use their strengths to demonstrate their understanding. For example, in a study about communities, students may be expected to learn about how a community’s needs are met, from jobs that people play to services provided and where food comes from. They may then use their own interests and skills to demonstrate this understanding. Some children may choose artwork while others write a story and a third person may conduct interviews. While the children may choose the project of greatest interest to them, they will also be practicing other skills such as complex reasoning and problem-solving that will enhance their overall learning.

While Clarion’s progressive model gives flexibility within the curriculum to allow children to make choices, it relies on consistent measures and an interdisciplinary structure to ensure that each child is acquiring core skills and information. Teachers work together to share the main objectives of the curriculum, and they outline places for interdisciplinary work. Music, math, reading, writing and social studies do not exist as distinct studies but as ways to enhance learning for depth and breadth. In the community study, students may learn songs that capture the many people in a community. They may do math problems to determine the number of cars, schools or houses in a community. They read books about how communities work and they demonstrate their understanding in writing. When a study is structured well, the main concept are reinforced in a number of ways while also allowing students to develop their skills in a range of subject areas.

In the Clarion model, assessment is critical to ensuring that students are learning these core understandings and skills. While we do not rely on traditional worksheets and tests, students are being assessed frequently in a number of ways to identify areas of strength as well as areas that require further instruction.  Teachers note responses of individual students in class discussions, they engage in one-on-one conversations with students during work periods, and they use carefully-designed rubrics to evaluate students’ work and see that it meets benchmarks. They also have external tools and measures that they use to determine if certain students require learning support beyond what they are currently providing in the classroom. These assessments all take place as part of a positive classroom environment, reinforcing the concept of each child being an individual.

At the center of Clarion’s progressive teaching model is skilled teachers. Teachers, like students, are encouraged to be hands-on learners. Clarion understands that teachers learn best in active learning environments where they learn new ideas, practice the implementation, and get feedback on their progress. Our faculty engage in an ongoing professional development model with coaches who help them implement new curriculum and practice new skills in the classroom, in an authentic environment. This helps our teachers to organically embed practices in their daily teaching routines. It also contributes to the development of a shared language among the many faculty members and a consistency across classrooms and grade levels that amplifies learning outcomes.

Deep learning at Clarion is something that sets the school apart from other independent schools. It is at its center an active learning environment for students and teachers, and one in which new ideas grow from a foundation of high expectations and best practices. With roots in the merits of progressive education, Clarion aims to build a deep interdisciplinary curriculum that honors the individual strengths of each child and teacher while using ongoing assessments to ensure everyone is thriving.

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Walk In Someone’s Shoes: Can We Teach Empathy, Compassion and Kindness?

Walk In Someone’s Shoes: Can We Teach Empathy, Compassion and Kindness?

In recent years, educators have put a great deal of emphasis on the importance of helping children develop a growth mindset rather than have a fixed mindset when it comes to understanding their abilities and potential. Teachers and parents play an important role in this when they learn to give specific, descriptive praise and to label behavior rather than the whole child. For example, saying, “You have been very focused during math class. It seems you love learning about fractions” is much more meaningful than saying, “You are such a good math student!” When it comes to personality traits, though, adults sometimes slip into their old habits, labeling children as being kind, caring and patient or impulsive and self-centered, rather than describing the behavior and seeing the opportunity for growth in these areas as well. While some children understand empathy and develop patience at an earlier age than others, these skills are something that can be taught much like reading and math. It takes practice and explicit teaching, and elementary school classrooms are the ideal environment to help children grow in how they treat others. With a strong home/school connection, parents can support this development at home and in other social settings.

When introducing these skills, classroom teachers can do many things to set the stage and offer opportunities to practice. Children love new vocabulary, and a Community Word Wall that includes words such as kindness, empathy, patience, respect and generosity is a great place to start. Introduce one word at a time and help children understand the meaning by role playing, sharing during meeting, and reading literature that supports that concept. As the classroom community and the list of traits builds, children will begin to identify their own examples of these and can label and describe what they see. Responsive Classroom lays some of the groundwork for this, and when I teacher weaves these concepts into the week with short, frequent lessons and a shared vocabulary, it can go a long way in providing opportunities for children to develop.

Using empathy as an example, a trait that some people see as being difficult to teach and an innate strength that some people have and others lack, we can better understand how even a complex trait can be taught to young children. Sympathy is when we feel sorry for someone else, even have compassion for their situation. Empathy takes this to the next level. To feel empathy for someone, you understand how they are feeling and can put yourself in their shoes. This simple definition and the imagery of putting oneself in another’s shoes makes sense to children. They can understand it, and then when given opportunities, they can practice it, both in real situations and through response to literature.

Simple communication between the school and home can provide parents with the same resources to teach these skills. Parents can mirror classroom practice by seeking books that address the skills their child needs to develop and reading these at bedtime. Casual discussions about the characters often lead to real-life discussions about events that happened at school or at home, and become wonderful teachable moments. Here are some of our favorite books to teach empathy to early elementary school students:

Wilfred Gordon McDonald Partridge by Mem Fox

The Invisible Boy by Trudy Ludwig

Chrysanthemum by Kevin Henkes

Hey, Little Ant by Hannah Hoose and Philip Hoose

A Chair for My Mother by Vera B. Williams

Have You Filled a Bucket Today? by Carol McCloud

Chapter books that make great read-alouds for discussions about empathy include Wonder by R.J. Palacio, The Hundred Dresses by Eleanor Estes, The Miraculous Journey of Edward Tulane by Kate DiCamillo and Charlotte’s Web by E.B. White.

The interesting thing about literacy links for one positive social-emotional behavior is that they often work for other concepts, as well. Many of the books that are popular for teaching empathy to children can also be used to teach respect, kindness, inclusion and diversity. When we teach children to see the world through the eyes of others, they become increasingly aware of their own behavior and how they impact their community. For more information on teaching complex emotions to children, we recommend this article:

Also, here’s a book list from R.J. Palacio, best-selling author of Wonder:

At Clarion, we believe we can and should teach empathy along with other social-emotional skills, both in school and at home.

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Screen Time Addiction in Pupils

Screen Time Addiction in Pupils

There are ways that technology and screen time can make the classroom bigger. But again, screen time has to be used mindfully.

Academics in America have developed the first tool in the country to measure screen media addiction in children aged four to 11. It could also change how parents think about monitoring screen time. The study published in a journal of The American Psychological Association pinpoints nine specific behaviours to look for including unsuccessful control, loss of interest in other areas and a pre-occupation with smart devices.

Other indicators that could relate to addiction issues are screen time interfering with family activities, and issues with withdrawal, tolerance and deception. If screen time is acting as an escape or to relive mood, that could also indicate a child may have a problem.“A guiding purpose for screen time, both in-school and at-home, is purpose,” said Dr Paul Lieblich Director of Schools at Clarion School Dubai. “If a child is engaging in screen time that serves a certain purpose, such as an interactive literacy app or a math game that a parent or teacher has approved, this can be both fun and educational. “Parents and teachers should always know how the programs they allow their children to use, work, what the appropriate age is for use, and what the purpose is in reaching learning goals. “With these things in mind, technology and screen time can enhance learning and help teachers differentiate and assess students in the classroom.” Schools and education specialists in Dubai are reacting to what are the signs of screen media addiction, and what parents can do to guard against it.

On a regular school day in a classroom at Clarion School, instruction-based screen time is a way to complement other experiences rather than replace them. It is limited, directed and supported by teachers who are constantly discussing, evaluating and learning about the impact of technology to ensure the best outcomes for their pupils. “The Fourth Graders use iPads for research purposes and they are allowed to look topics up on the internet,” said Emily Boudreau, a Grade 4 teacher at Clarion School. “Google Earth is an incredibly useful tool and a great way for pupils to explore the world around them and also places that are not immediate to them. “There are ways that technology and screen time can make the classroom bigger. But again, screen time has to be used mindfully. “It isn’t just about getting the children to sit and do a quiet activity – It is about creating an experience for them to discover.”


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Are You a Progressive Parent?

It is critical, now more than ever in this exponentially changing world, that children develop a love for continual learning.

1. Do you believe there is one right answer?

 In a world filled with change and differing perspectives, expecting only one right answer can be both stifling as well as a dead end. Children need to understand early on that there can be many correct answers and many ways to solve problems. They need to appreciate multiple approaches, perspectives and answers in learning and be comfortable and tolerant of ambiguity.

2. Do you believe the biggest impact on a student is the quality of the teacher?

We believe the quality of the teacher has the most significant impact on learning outcomes and research supports this. This is why at Clarion we are extremely selective as to the educators that make up our Clarion Faculty. All our Classroom Educators have a Master’s Degree in Education and all our Assistant Educators have a Bachelor’s Degree in Education.

3. Do you believe that students develop greater meaning and understanding when they are active participants in their own learning?

At Clarion, we are dedicated to experiential, inquiry-based learning. In every class and in every grade, Clarion students are active, thoughtful participants asking questions and searching contextual applications for their knowledge. Teachers are there to guide and facilitate these learning opportunities and see themselves as partners with their students in the learning process.

What we are not is teacher directed learning.

4. Do you believe in a one size fits all approach?

At Clarion, not only is our instructional practice differentiated but our curriculum is responsive. That means that the teacher is not driven by the lesson plan but to the needs and interests of the child while always being aware of the learning objectives. This way the child is continually interested and engaged in what they are learning.

Teaching is not a checklist approach for us.

5. Do you believe that tests are an effective assessment of your child?

While standardized testing and summative assessments are useful sources of data to inform teaching and learning, they provide just part of the insight into your child. Taken in isolation, they can be more harmful than helpful. For that reason, you need a more holistic snapshot of your child. At Clarion, we support a range of authentic assessment tools including teacher observations, peer assessments, portfolios of work and demonstrations of learning. Assessments at Clarion also contain a large component of self-reflection. Teachers and students alike reflect on their learning, not only to evaluate past progress but also to inform the next challenge.

6. Do you believe in learning outside the classroom?

 At Clarion, we believe that learning does not just happen within a classroom but within a child. Our goal is to facilitate as many rich, powerful and meaningful learning opportunities as possible inside and outside the classroom. Many such opportunities exist when children engage with the world around them. Field trips are an important, experiential part of the school program. All such excursions are carefully pre-visited and pre-planned by the teachers to take a child’s learning as deep as possible.

7. Do you believe in parent engagement?

 At Clarion, our vision and values are centered around the student. We know that for a student to succeed there needs to an effective and aligned partnership between the school and the parents. Clarion parents are very much part of the fabric of the school and very engaged. They meet and hang out in the Parent Café, are invited into the classrooms, engage with administration through the Parent Council and conduct various initiatives to support the Clarion Community.

8. Do you believe that your child will inherit a world similar to the one today?

 At Clarion, we do not believe that the old, traditional approach will lead to future success. It works well when you are “processing” children to be factory workers. That is not what we want for our children and most of those kinds of jobs will be done through mechanization anyway. If the world of tomorrow is different from yesterday and even today, shouldn’t our approach be different as well. At Clarion, the approach to learning is to ensure that our children are future ready – that they not only have the academic mindset but also the skills and character traits that are required to engage and thrive in an uncertain world.

9. Do you believe learning should be an arduous or a fun endeavor?

 We are sometimes asked whether learning is happening in the school because the students look very happy. That was not the case for many of us where school was a painful but necessary rite of passage. At Clarion, we believe that learning is most powerful when it is joyful. That is when students get engaged in their learning and develop a real love for learning. We intentionally make our learning joyful, by making it relevant and meaningful, and where student are co-participants in the learning process with the teacher.

It is critical, now more than ever in this exponentially changing world, that children develop a love for continual learning

10. Do you believe that the person who wins at Trivial Pursuit is likely to be the most successful person?

 A good analogy of how one can think about learning is to think about the game of Trivial Pursuit. Across the categories, there are a lot of fascinating questions and some very esoteric answers. Any there is always that one person who usually wins. Seldom has that person been the most successful. After all, how many times have you solved a workplace problem, resolved financial matters, dealt with a social situation or been interviewed where any of those Trivial Pursuit questions really matter.

It is not important how much you are learning if what you are learning is not relevant, important or valuable to society.

Ask yourself how much you remember or applied from what you learnt during your K-12 years. Now imagine how much more prepared your child can be.



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