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Reflections from Grade 3 Personal Development Week
Laura Carlson, Grade 3 Team Leader

“I didn’t think PDW (Personal Development Week) would be this much fun.”
“I am surprised I’m not as homesick as I thought I would be.”
“Here, let me help you, you’ve got this. It’s not that scary!” (during the ropes course).
“I learned that nothing is impossible!” (after the ropes course).
“I like the rooms. We tell stories and jokes. And the breakfast – it’s my favourite smell!”.

For many Grade 3 students, this was their first time on an extended stay away from home. The trip began with nervous excitement, a bit of worry about being away from family, and many thoughts about what to expect in this unfamiliar place, Les Elfes in Verbier.

After a windy drive up the mountain, the buses arrived at the lodge. Squeals of delight could be heard as children learned who would be in their sleeping rooms. After getting settled and eating a delicious lunch, the activities began. Throughout the week, students were provided with real-life opportunities to develop the attributes of the learner profile and to apply the transdisciplinary skills that are taught in the classroom. They participated in a variety of team challenges, practicing social skills such as cooperating, group decision-making and adopting a variety of group roles. The hike in the mountains allowed them to engage in a typical Swiss fitness activity and encouraged them to show curiosity, ask questions and interact with their new environment. Tackling the obstacles at the ropes course and zip-lining through the trees taught them more about how to be a risk-taker, taking care to be safe and responsible, and helping others when needed. Visiting the salt mine allowed students to become more knowledgeable about one of Switzerland’s great historical sites.

Another benefit of PDW is how it links to the transdisciplinary units students inquire into at school. Connecting to the Who We Are unit, students showed how they can be role models and learned more about how their choices and actions can influence others. The hike and visit to the salt mine were exciting and relevant tuning-in experiences for their upcoming unit about how the world works. Examples included learning about how mountains and valleys are formed, how glaciers and erosion can change the surface of the earth and inquiring into other ways that the earth has changed over time.

Before the trip, students set goals of what they would like to achieve during their PDW. Some of the goals included making new friends, not being homesick, being responsible by keeping their belongings safe, and being open-minded to try a new game or a new food. Each night, students reflected with their teachers to see if they were meeting their goals and many chose to set new ones as the week progressed.

It was a wonderful experience to observe all the learning that happened outside the boundaries of our ISZL campus. Students built closer relationships with their teachers and peers in their grade level, developed greater independence and responsibility being away from home, increased self-confidence and took risks in trying new activities. They are already asking where they will go for next year’s PDW!

  • Grade 3
  • Local Connections
  • Personal Development Weeks
  • Primary School
  • Unique Learning Experience

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