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Navigating the 18-month CAS journey within the International Baccalaureate Diploma Program is a transformative experience that fosters personal growth, cultivates skills, and encourages active engagement with the community. This comprehensive guide aims to provide educators and students with practical insights, best practices, and actionable advice to complete the 5 Stages of CAS.

Drawing from key materials such as our CAS Induction Workshop, and the CAS Shorts video series — these resources serve as invaluable tools to navigate the CAS journey effectively.

Understanding the Three Strands of CAS

The foundation of CAS lies in its three core strands: Creativity, Activity, and Service. Creativity encompasses a wide range of artistic endeavors, from visual arts to performing arts, while Activity promotes physical well-being through sports, fitness, and outdoor activities. Service, perhaps the most impactful strand, encourages students to volunteer and engage in activities that benefit others without financial compensation.

To ensure a balanced CAS experience, students need to incorporate activities from all three strands into their CAS journey and portfolio and demonstrate that they have engaged with the 7 Learning Outcomes. This not only broadens their skill set but also reinforces a holistic approach to personal development—and is a great way to uncover new passions at a young age!

Module 1 of the CAS Induction Workshop delves into the significance of each strand, providing a solid foundation for students to explore and engage with. Module 2, meanwhile, digs into how educators can encourage students to contribute to ongoing projects that ensure sustainable benefits for communities — shifting the focus from short-term fixes to long-lasting change. Modules 3 and 4 are dedicated to the CAS Project and Reflection, respectively. 

Month-by-Month Roadmap: A Detailed Breakdown

While this journey may initially seem daunting, following a structured roadmap can help clarify any questions and provide a better understanding of this rewarding and enjoyable aspect of the IB curriculum.

Month 1: Getting Started 

The first month sets the foundation for the CAS journey, with students conducting preliminary research and exploring potential activities and projects. Key tasks include:

  • Getting to grips with the fundamentals of CAS and familiarizing oneself with the program requirements. Check our Module 1 of our CAS Induction Workshop for support. 
  • Exploring personal interests, skills, and passions to identify potential CAS activities. Check out the CAS section of our blog to find plenty of inspiration. 
  • Experimenting with various reflection methods and mediums to find what works best. From keeping a traditional written journal to creating a photo or video diary — the options are endless. Check out our Understanding Reflections video and Reflection Center for guidance. 
  • Scheduling an initial interview with a CAS supervisor to discuss ideas and set goals for the journey ahead.

Month 2: Planning Ahead

In the second month, students transition from exploration to planning, developing a comprehensive CAS plan and identifying resources for their activities. Our 5 Stages of CAS and Action Plan Worksheet are great resources to support this process. Key tasks include:

  • Creating a detailed CAS plan that outlines goals, activities, timelines, and resources.
  • Researching opportunities for CAS activities, including local organizations, events, and initiatives. This brainstorm worksheet is a great way to identify issues in your local community. And Module 2 of our CAS Induction Workshop will help set the groundwork for making a lasting and meaningful contribution. 
  • Drafting a CAS project proposal for more extensive endeavors. Such as:
    • Developing a proposal for organizing a charity fundraising event, such as a concert or art auction, to support a local cause or charity.
    • Creating a proposal for starting a community garden project to promote sustainability and provide fresh produce to underserved communities.
    • Drafting a proposal for launching a peer mentoring program at school to support academic and personal growth among students.
  • Seeking input and feedback from CAS supervisors, teachers, and community mentors to refine the project proposal and ensure its feasibility and impact.
  • Incorporating activities into a calendar or schedule to ensure a balanced and manageable workload.

Months 3-16: Taking Action

With a solid plan in place, students embark on their CAS activities, documenting their experiences and reflecting on their progress along the way. Key tasks include:

  • Participate in CAS activities across the Creativity, Activity, and Service strands. This includes taking regular steps back to evaluate progress, identify challenges, and set goals for growth. Modules 3 and 4 of our CAS Induction Workshop provide ongoing support and guidance throughout this phase.
    • 3. Seamless Integration: The module provides insight on how to integrate CAS into their curriculum organically, aligning with academic timelines while maintaining its core essence.
    • 4. Fostering Reflection: Reflection is pivotal in extracting valuable lessons from CAS experiences and it is important to ensure reflections evolve alongside the CAS journey. The resource serves as a guide to reflective practices that enhance students’ understanding and personal growth.

Month 16-17: Reviewing Progress

As the CAS journey nears its conclusion, students review their progress, ensuring alignment with the Seven Learning Outcomes (including evidence!) and addressing any gaps or deficiencies. Key tasks include:

  • Conducting a thorough review of the CAS portfolio to assess completion and quality of activities.
  • Identifying areas where additional evidence or documentation may be needed to fulfill requirements.
  • Seeking guidance from supervisors or mentors to address any outstanding tasks or challenges.
  • Reflecting on the overall impact of the CAS journey and preparing for the final interview.

Month 18: Final Reflection and Celebration

In the final month, students undergo a final CAS interview, reflecting on their journey, showcasing their achievements, and celebrating their growth. Key tasks include:

  • Conducting a comprehensive reflection on the CAS journey, highlighting key experiences, challenges, and accomplishments.
  • Demonstrating personal growth, resilience, and ethical awareness developed throughout the journey.
  • Celebrating the completion of the CAS journey and preparing for the next stage of academic and personal development.

Congratulations! By completing the 18-month CAS journey, students have not only met the IB requirements but also developed essential skills, made meaningful contributions to their communities, and embraced a lifelong commitment to learning and service.

The 18-month CAS journey is a transformative experience that empowers students to explore their passions, develop essential skills, and make a positive impact on the world. By following this comprehensive guide and embracing best practices, students can embark on a journey of self-discovery, growth, and fulfillment that extends far beyond the classroom.

Check out our resource section for more support tools, and find plenty of CAS inspiration on our blog