I want to check back in and share some of the work going on in West Vancouver. I last blogged about Some West Van Stories in November.
Director of Instruction Lynne Tomlinson got a boost for her most recent post on our district arts showcase – The Lighthouse Festival – when Sir Ken Robinson shared the post with his 167,000 Twitter followers. Lynne highlighted the diversity within the arts at our schools:
The festival is indicative of the many programs offered in our district. The variety of the performances provides a rich schedule of entertaining events as each teacher’s program is unique and highlights different aspects of performing arts. We have enjoyed performances including: spoken word, theatre, choir, soloist, band, pop musical, flash mob and varied dance.
And she concluded, “This is public education at its finest.” – So true! It is great to expose the larger community to the great work in our schools, and give our students the opportunity to share their work with the “real world”.
Fellow Director of Instruction, Gary Kern, recently shared some of the initial feedback around our 1:1 Action Research. There has been the good, the challenging and also the surprising. Included on the surprising list from teachers:
- It surprises me that people feel that students having 1:1 access to technological devices at any time at school is anything but to be expected. Many have their own iPads, or iPods in their backpacks. At home, although they often must share devices with other family members, all of my students have access to technology almost anytime.
- How fast it is to find information (instant) when we are discussing things in-class
- How much having google images supports our ability to “see” what we are learning
- How many options exist/how many things we can DO with technology to show what we know or find things out
- For educators too, tech opens up endless teaching and learning opportunities that far-outweigh the frustration of slow Internet, missing chargers, and access denied messages!
- I was surprised when a teacher said, how can the students take notes from my lesson if they are ‘playing’ with their devices. I figure the students take snaps and vids when they need to. A paradigm shift needs to be made here.
- It surprises me that children think that computers are smarter than they are. When they figure out that they are in fact in the driver’s seat of these powerful tools and that the sky is the limit, they begin to see and think over the rainbow!
Sticking with technology, Caulfeild parent Andrea Benton wrote a guest post on Principal Brad Lund’s blog sharing her thinking as to why she supports and encourages the use of technology in their school. Her post inserts itself into the discussion of what is the right balance in elementary school. She argues:
Some people believe that technology shouldn’t be in schools. For me, this is short-sighted. Schools shouldn’t be teaching for today but should be educating students for the jobs of tomorrow. This includes project management, critical thinking, problem solving, teamwork and collaboration. Technology is here to stay and it is only getting more complicated.
Hollyburn Principal Val Brady recently used her blog to nicely outline the WHYs and the WHATs to writing in elementary school. Her useful post looked at the purpose of writing and what has been changing:
The philosophical underpinnings of teaching writing have shifted over the years. Developing student skills in writing is still important, but engaging students in writing for real purposes leads to joy in writing and at the same time develops communication skills that will serve students a lifetime. Whether students put pen to paper, or fingers to keyboard, engaging in writing for real purposes gives voice and structure and develops thinking ability.
For West Bay Vice-Principal Tara Zielinski, a lot of focus in her class has been on Exhibition – the final stage of the PYP experience for grade 7’s:
In one sense, it’s a rite of passage. However, after having both participated in and led Exhibition for five years now, I know it is so much more. There have been and will be moments when our students feel like I did on the zip-line platform – fearful, intimidated, and adverse to things they have not yet faced. Writing a Central Idea and Lines of Inquiry over and over demands resiliency. Collaboration requires reflection and metacognition. Interviewing experts takes organization and calls for effective questioning skills. However, each year it is one of the most rewarding components of my job to observe and support our learners as they integrate the essential elements of the PYP and more than six weeks of intense erudition into a final presentation.
At Pauline Johnson, they have just been through the student-led conferences, and Principal-designate Chantal Trudeau shared her thinking around their power:
The student-led conference is a wonderful opportunity for the students themselves to take ownership of their learning and to show their parents and guests what they have learned over the course of a term. Students invariably feel pride in what they have accomplished. They feel independent, confident and important as they read their favorite stories, lead their parents in the calendar routine, show science experiments or Social Studies projects. Research shows that student-led conferences is a method that better helps students improve their learning, improve parent engagement, and get higher learning results for our students
Ridgeview grade 7 teacher Cari Wilson shared the story of her students inspirational meeting with Molly Burke:
One of the big privileges that comes with being in Grade 7 is the ability to join your school’s “Me to We” group. Last week many students in School District 45 joined thousands and thousands of other students in Me to We’s “I am Silent” day. It is a day of silent protest and solidarity, designed to bring awareness to the plight of the millions of children worldwide who are not listened to. The children who have no voice.
This year, on the day before “I am Silent” day, 5 lucky Grade 6 and 7 Ridgeview students got a chance to meet Molly Burke, a remarkable young Canadian who although blind has found her voice and is using it to inspire young people.
And finally, also with a large serving of inspiration, West Vancouver Secondary Principal Steve Rauh had his blog taken over by John Galvani a grade 12 student in a wheel chair:
I am John Galvani, I am 17 and I am in a wheelchair. For my Global Education class I organized for wheelchairs to come to my school. I wanted to spread awareness and education about what my life is like in a wheelchair by giving my class the experience of being in a wheelchair for the day.
I contacted BC Wheelchair Basketball Association and arranged for them to deliver 10 wheelchairs on April 10. Ten students volunteered to be in a wheelchair. They went to their classes, recess, lunch and some even went to P.E.!
We should do this for all grades so that they can see and feel the challenges that people in wheelchairs go through everyday.
Lately I have been seeing a lot of what I do as being the amplifier of good ideas – whether that is done face-to-face or in the digital world, my job is to tell our good stories and connect and network them to others. And, there are lots of good ideas to share!