If you are familiar with the IB Diploma Program, you have likely heard the term "CAS" used many times. CAS stands for Creativity, Activity, and Service; and is ultimately an opportunity for students to demonstrate their learning and growth outside of the classroom. For CAS, you will create a portfolio on a Google Site and reflect on all of the things you do that fall under Creativity, Activity, and Service. The activities you log in your CAS portfolio must be things that you ARE NOT getting paid for! So, if you have a job, unfortunately that does not count as CAS because you are getting paid for it. However, once we dive into the three different categories of CAS, you might realize a lot of these things you are already doing! So, let's take a closer look at what you can do for Creativity, Activity, and Service.
Do you like to draw, play music, write, or perform? All of these are great examples for creativity! Creativity in CAS just means an experience in which you used your own creativity or an experience that helped you get creative. Some things that count as Creativity for CAS are: making a drawing for fun, starting an art class, playing an instrument, getting creative inspiration from a museum, creating a blog, writing a short story or poem for fun, getting your creative juices flowing by way of listening to music, performing in a play, or writing your own music! If you love to draw, you can reflect on your drawing and your process (we will talk about CAS reflections and journaling later in the article). Same with writing or performing!
Activity refers to physical activity, such as playing a sport, going on a walk/run, or going on a bike ride. However, I must give a big disclaimer before we dive any deeper into Activity: being on a competitive sports team at your high school DOES NOT count as CAS. If you are the team captain or manager and have extra responsibilities, then those count as CAS, but just being a player on the team does not count, unfortunately. If you play on a team outside of school, though, that can count as CAS. You might be wondering: what if I'm on Science Olympiad or MUN? If you have a significant leadership position on an academic team such as those, you can log those as CAS, but being on the team does not qualify for CAS. Overall, if you take walks on your own, play sports outside of school, ride bikes with your family, or swim outside of the school swim team, those all count as CAS! As you can see, the activities/experiences you do for CAS can be very simple!
Service is the most black-and-white of the CAS strands. If you volunteer at a soup kitchen, tutor for a nonprofit, volunteer at a hospital, or have any other similar volunteer experience, those all qualify as CAS! But, you don't necessarily need to be a volunteer somewhere to have service for CAS. For example, if you and your siblings helped your neighbor clean up their yard without getting paid, that counts as service! If you helped your mom or dad with housework without getting an allowance, that is also service! So, don't feel too overwhelmed about service! You are likely serving the people you care about in more ways than you know!
Now that we have gone over the three categories of CAS, how do you get a grade for doing all these things? First, open up Google Sites and create a "Student Portfolio". You should title your website with "*Your Name* CAS Experiences", and then as a subtitle include the years you will be in high school (for example, 2019-2023: shout out to Class of 2023!). On your home page, you should quickly define what CAS is and then define each of Creativity, Activity, and Service.
Then, create three new pages where you can write what are called your CAS reflections. CAS can only include the activities you have done from the summer before your Junior year to the day your CAS website is due to the IB Coordinator at your school, so the first new page you created will be the year of the summer and fall semester before your Junior year, the second page will be the spring semester of Junior year and the fall semester of Senior year, and the third new page will be your spring semester of Senior year. Now that you've divided your website into three years, you can start writing your CAS reflections! So, what is a CAS reflection? Well, it must include the following:
By Canon Pham
Canon Pham is an IB Diploma Candidate and Junior at Glen A. Wilson High School who is passionate about using her voice to raise awareness of important issues and build community among like-minded people. After her first semester of Junior year, she started the IB Student Chronicle to help provide more information about the IB experience for prospective and first-year IB Diploma Candidates. She also writes for The Teen Magazine, tutors with Reading Partners, holds several leadership positions at school, and plays varsity tennis. Canon enjoys spending time with her two younger siblings, her adorable puppy dog, and her incredible group of friends.