March 11, 2022

Dear Elementary Families,

For our SPOTS post this week I have asked our Assistant Principal Ms. Bishara to write a blog post. Please enjoy reading about inquiry learning at DAA which is part of Ms. Bishara’s leadership portfolio.

Thank you as always for your continued support of the school.


Craig Cantlie

Executive Principal, Elementary

Ms. bishara's blog

My name is Noha Bishara and I am honored to be one of the elementary school assistant principals at DAA. In addition to supporting Gr.2 and Gr.3 students, my portfolio of responsibilities is primarily focused around supporting inquiry approaches to learning from KG to Grade 5. 

Natural curiosity is what led to the world’s greatest inventions throughout history. Observing the world around us, asking relevant and deep questions in addition to pursuing investigations is how humans have come to understand the universe. These reasons are precisely why we choose an Inquiry Based Learning approach for our students. Our approach leads to availing opportunities for children to guide their learning, to be fully engaged and to have the freedom to be more curious about topics that matter to them.

Inquiry based learning can incorporate a range of forms and could vary from structured inquiry to free inquiry. With differentiated levels of scaffolding and learner agency, inquiries can be initiated by individuals or groups of diverse sizes and purposes, through the lens of essential questions, provocations, problems or other pressing issues.  

As learners gain more experience with this approach and develop the necessary foundational skills and understandings, they become more successful inquirers, and hence become able to drive their learning further in a more independent manner. In essence, the children master the art of learning how to learn, in a way that can be applied and adapted to any challenge, question and/or situation. 

At DAA, we aim to facilitate learning experiences for our students to reach the most complex levels of creating new knowledge, new ideas and new products. As they engage in such creative processes, they develop their ability to evaluate existing knowledge, as well as understand the culture and attributes that lead to such understandings. It is then that they are able to successfully take their new creations to the next level and become impactful learners who can lead, inspire and change the world. The Solution Fluency Model provides a framework for our children to do so with automaticity. It aids them with articulating their curiosities; and by following a familiar non-linear process, they actively engage in finding answers to non-Googleable questions in addition to creating solutions to problems that matter to them.  

Effective integration of technology within our children’s learning experiences from the tender age of 4, allows them to create this new knowledge and understandings, as well as design, and virtually test their solutions! Utilizing the Apple suite of creative apps encourages and allows students to believe that they can be pioneers like Philo T. Farnsworth, who at age16 dreamt up a tele-communication device, and within six years made his dream a reality when the first TV signal was transmitted in 1927! 

Adopting an Inquiry Based Approach to learning in addition to effectively using technology for creation, allows our students to reach the Flow State of intrinsic motivation!  Csikszentmihalyi (1990, in OECD, 2007) characterizes this state as one manifested through intense emotional and intellectual excitement, while Friesen (2007) describes the learner’s engagement level during the Flow State as so intensely focused, that time itself seems to vanish. Achieving this “Flow State” helps our children continue to find joy and fulfillment in the learning process. 

Equipping our teachers with the right tools and training to facilitate such engaging learning is paramount. Our approach to professional development ranges from utilizing the expertise of renowned educational consultants and leaders such as Kath Murdoch, Basil Ayass, Tonya Gilchrist and Lee Crocket, to hosting in-house Inquiry Learning PD sessions for teachers by teachers. Feb.17th, 2022 marked the beginning of our new inquiry focused PD series titled Inspire ES. Our ES pedagogical leaders alternatively known as elementary teachers, hosted a wide variety of sessions for their colleagues throughout the day. Members of staff signed up for two sessions based on interest and/or need, and collaborated with colleagues on enhancing their own approach and understanding of inquiry learning. 

Our journey with inquiry learning formally started as part of DAA 2.0. It is one that we plan on continuing to prioritize and refine, as an integral aspect of who we are as leading innovative elementary school. 

Student Led Conferences

These are an opportunity for your children to share and demonstrate their learning across the disciplines with you. Your child will share examples of their best work and growth work across the disciplines, explain the skills they have gained, and proudly showcase their efforts. Parents, we ask you to spend time prior to the student-parent-teacher conference and have your child lead you through their work. Your teacher will explain more about this in the coming week. This is an excellent opportunity for your child to share their student voice, personalize their experience and demonstrate their pride to you as learners. 

Student-Parent-Teacher Conferences (March 16 & 17)

This will be an opportunity for teachers to share with you and your child the 3 areas of strength, and 2 areas for development your child displayed this term. Celebrating student success and growth areas with both you and your child are important ways to deepen student ownership of learning. These conferences will be 20 minutes long. 

As always, we will be using School Bookings for our Student-Parent-Teacher Conferences.

The booking system was opened at noon on Monday, March 7th and will close on Tuesday, March 15th at 11:30am.

Link: Schoolbookings

Booking Code: zevsa

Report Cards

Our report cards will be sent to families on March 24. Term 2 report cards communicate student learning by providing an overview of grade level learning and your child's achievement within the standards taught this term.

joy, happiness and excitement in early years

This week brought us much joy in the Early Years when KHDA gave us the go-ahead to take down our plexiglass dividers! The teachers and students could not contain their excitement as our learning spaces opened up for more collaboration, teamwork and friendship-building. We assure all community members that we continue to maintain social distancing and safety regulations.


Here’s a video clip and a picture to share our joy, happiness and excitement:


KG1 Learning

This week our youngest learners kicked off the Month of Reading by spending some time with their favorite books in the Elementary Library.

They also learned the importance of school safety by practicing their fire drill.

KG2 Learning

Quote of the week:  "Don't give up! I believe in you all! A person's a person, no matter how small!" - Dr. Seuss

In KG2FP class, we were hands-on with many science experiments. We inquired about “How does the sun affect the earth?” We made predictions and did investigations to find out which materials/objects melted in the sun and which didn’t, and why. We spoke about “heat” and did an experiment with a magnifying glass and a piece of paper. The children were really amazed to see the paper burn and have holes in it! In class, we discovered “what melts ice faster?” We also did an experiment to make a Rainbow on a plate by using candy (Skittles) and warm water. 

In math, the children have been learning various addition strategies and they are now aware that addition can be done in different ways – by counting through fingers, a number line, a tens frame, through pictures and addition stories.

In literacy, we have been focusing on “How to” books. The children have been reading a lot in class using their reading powers. They are learning about blends and digraphs, and are applying their knowledge while reading and writing.

The children were really excited as we began the month of March by reading various books and talking about authors. They looked very cute in their Pajamas on the “World Read Aloud day.” We also celebrated Dr. Seuss’ birthday on 2nd March by reading his books and by making the patterned hats.


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key contacts

Should your child(ren) need to be away from school due to illness or appointments, please contact our School Secretaries.

KG1 - Grade 2: Shirley Vas  s.vas_daa@gemsedu.com / 04 704 9705

Grades 3-5: Rene Botha  r.botha1_daa@gemsedu.com /04 704  9724

General Elementary Inquiries:  elementary_daa@gemsedu.com

Craig Cantlie 

Executive Principal of Elementary (K - Grade 5)c.cantlie_daa@gemsedu.com

Nathalie Salemeh   

Elementary Principal, Grades 4 and 5n.salameh_daa@gemsedu.com

Noha Bishara              

Assistant Elementary Principal, Grades 2 and 3n.bishara_daa@gemsedu.com

Tooshna Gandhi          

Assistant Elementary Principal, KG1, KG2 and Grade 1t.gandhi_daa@gemsedu.com