What is the Isithelo project?

The Isithelo project:

·         Is a significant piece of work (product or outcome) produced by a student over 10 days.

·         Is a product of a student’s own initiative to develop a product or outcome

·         Must reflect their hobbies, talents, interests, dreams and passions

·         Opportunity to undertake something truly personal and creative

·         Must be able to complete the majority of the work on campus 


Will there be exams in Grade 9 and 10?

There will be time in the school calendar for end of year assessments. These might be written exams or could be final assessment products that depends on the course.

When will end of year assessments take place?

Assessments in individual subjects will take place at the beginning of May. They will take exactly the same format as in previous years. The Isithelo Project is intended to give students an opportunity to demonstrate their learning in a a way that the student selects and through something that is not tied to a specific subject. It is for this reason that the Isithelo Project is very much part of the assessment of students learning in Grades 9 and 10.

Why is the Isithelo Project taking place at the end of the school year?

In the last weeks of the school year we have some flexibility with our schedule. The reason for this is that the Grade 12 students will be sitting their IB Exams. This allows us to be creative with our scheduling and maximize the effectiveness of these week. 

Grade 11s will be schedule to have focused time in the Higher Level IB subjects and we will be able to reschedule our teaching faculty to enable them to take on mentorship roles in the Isithelo Project.

Aside from these practical considerations we feel that the Isithelo Project give students the opportunity to demonstrate how much they have grown as learners, it therefore follows that the timing of this should be at the end of the school year.

What are some items to be considered / checked off before the project is initiated?

·         Is there a clear goal ? (specific, measurable, achievable, results-focused, and time-bound) 

·         Why it is important to the student ? Is there a personal connection ? Inspiration ? Can the student articulate this?

·         Does the student have any prior knowledge in this topic/endeavor? If so, it should be explicitly stated

·         Will any new techniques/skills be needed to be learned to complete the project?

Can students work with a partner or in a group?

Students who elect to work in pairs or small groups (max. 3) must prepare a proposal to show how each member will have distinct roles, an equal and appropriate amount of work for the duration of the project. Mentors will determine if a proposal is approved or not. All reflections must be done individually and each student will be assessed individually.


Can students go off-campus for their project?

Students will not be allowed to leave the campus during school hours.  If they need to be off-campus, they must arrange to do so outside of school hours, with family approval/supervision.

What are some skills that will be developed as part of this endeavor?

Thinking /communication / problem-solving/ social / research/ creative/ time-management skills


When will students be working on their project and how much total time should be spent on it?

Students will have 10 days - May 13 to May 22.  Students will complete the bulk of the work during these 10 days, but may also choose to work outside of school hours.

How will the students be assessed on their Isithelo Project?

There are 4 key checkpoints for students and their mentors:

Topic decision: decision-making immediately after retreat.

Success criteria written: 2 weeks after the retreat

Project action plan: completed 1 week before Isithelo 

Evaluation of success: day before exhibition

Assessment will be....

… carried out by students based on their own success criteria.

… assessed by teachers using our Isithelo assessment criteria. 

Students will be assessed on three criteria:

·         Creation of product in response to their criteria.

·         Thinking and planning skills.

·         Communication and social skills.

What if the product fails?

Students will be assessed on the process and learning demonstrated.

What are some recommended steps?

The process should be heavily rooted in the Design cycle and should show evidence of Investigation, Planning , Taking Action/Making, Reflection/Exhibition

Students could use a Gantt chart to plan the various stages involved.

How do the mentors help students?

The mentor/supervisor meets regularly with students to guide them in making decisions about their project. The supervisor will also provide guidelines about staying focused. Students may ask their supervisor for help when they struggle for ideas or experience difficulties.


Is there a school budget allocated for this activity? How much will this cost the student/parent?

No. There is no specific budget allocated for Isithelo. 

The school will be able to provide some resources for students to complete their project. If students require additional supplies, not available at the school, they will need to purchase on their own. When determining their Isithelo project, student must be mindful of this, and communicate with parents.

Are there limitations as to how the product can be created? What materials/resources/supplies are available?

Any resource that is already available in the school should be used within reasonable limits. Students should talk to mentors/ teachers regarding availability of resources. (eg: Science teacher to get science equipment, Art teacher for Art supplies etc) 

Some examples:

·         Technology resources include robotics equipment, cameras for photography and filming, tripods, projectors, lighted stage in the FAC and Theatre, microphones and speakers.

·         Art supplies include paper, paints, clay

·         Drama supplies include a variety of props, furniture and costumes.

How will the student document their progress?

Students will keep a process journal from start to finish - written, visual, audio or a combination of these.

How will students be supervised and held accountable with the flexible schedule?

Wellness is a key aspect of the Isithelo project. Every day starts with a variety of "headspace" activities that students can sign up for in advance. Students start working on their project during "action" time.

All headspace activities will be supervised by a teacher hosting/leading the activity.

During the action time, students will have an opportunity to use various venues and spaces throughout the campus, such as the golf green, the gym or the maker space. As such, to ensure that students are on task and safe during this time, mentors will be checking in with students at randomized times.  Student whereabouts must be established with the mentor prior to Action Time. A mentor can limit a student’s freedom if it is found that a student is not where they should be, or not doing what they should be.

How will students showcase their product or outcome ?

Students can choose to write a report/ do a presentation. There will be a formal exhibition to showcase the final product or evidence of outcome.

Can the student continue to work on the project after the exhibition?

Yes, in their free time.

What is the procedure in the event of inclement weather?

Students must leave all outdoor spaces if the weather siren is heard and move indoors immediately.

In which language can a student produce their project?

Students may work in any language, but their reflection and final presentation must be in English.  

What are some examples of projects that students can work on?

• A written piece of work on a special topic (literary, social, historical, etc.) 

Learn a new skill

• A piece of literary fiction (creative writing, poetry, short story, etc.) 

• Presentation of a developed business, organizational plan, etc. 

• Original work of art (visual, dramatic, performance, etc.) 

• Invention or specially designed object or system 

• Original science experiment 

• Informational talk or formal talk, i.e. training workshop, radio broadcast 

• Film or documentary 

• Campaign 

• Make a model or life-sized item

What is the research on this approach?

Good general rationale for PBL:


Good article that argues PBL is also good for building knowledge, understanding and skills, beyond just being an application of what students already know:


Together we dare to imagine, inspire to succeed and courageously make a difference.

Together we dare to imagine, inspire to succeed and courageously make a difference.

Together we dare to imagine, inspire to succeed and courageously make a difference.

Together we dare to imagine, inspire to succeed and courageously make a difference.

Together we dare to imagine, inspire to succeed and courageously make a difference.

Together we dare to imagine, inspire to succeed and courageously make a difference.

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