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Posts Tagged ‘AprilFoolsDay’

I know many of you have been following the process over the last several months as we name our new school opening this fall. We are always told to engage the community, so we did when it came to naming the school at the corner of Lipra Avenue and Loof Lane.  And today we are excited to see that we have come to the conclusion of this process.

Background

We began this process last fall.  While many school districts name schools after local individuals of historical significance or a name that reflects the local geography we wanted to give our new school a current and relevant name – the kind that truly spoke to the community. With all the talk about school relevance we thought we should start with the name.  We were excited to see how San Diego was choosing its name for its new MLS franchise by asking the internet (click on the link – it is a good read) – and we decided to do the same thing.  As we have embraced technology we have learned when you ask the internet a question, it always give you the best answer.  Initially we had over 100 submissions and then moved to the final 4 for the decision.  The Internet is always right.

Finalists

Based on the votes, the final 4 were:

Pamela Anderson Ethical Treatment of Animals Elementary – We assume that the community’s commitment to social initiatives led to this choice. There was also a lot of interest in a young lifeguarding specialty academy which seemed a good fit for this school.  It appeared to be an early favourite with Ms. Anderson’s roots in British Columbia, but concerns were raised around potential risque nicknames and logos attached to this school which did seem to cost it some support.

Mr. Dressup Traditional Values Elementary – This had a lot of sentimental support from parents that grew up with the show.  The vision of the school was that each day the entire school would watch the antics of Casey and Finnegan to start their day and that would set the tone for the rest of the day.  Like how some schools watch a news broadcast, the 4,000 iconic Dressup episodes featuring Ernie Coombes would be shown in sequence, so a ten year cycle of shows.

Justin Bieber Elementary School of Music– A school with a music focus made a lot of sense, so it was not surprising to see this as one of the finalists.  The supporters had already labeled the school’s teams the Bieber Beliebers.  Again the strong Canadian roots to this name were seen as a real positive.

Donald J. Trump Elementary School of Winning – This was the most surprising of the finalists.  The school’s vision was to be focused on winning, so much winning that those attending the school would be tired of winning so much.  While many had thought that a school named for a politician would more logically choose a Canadian like Justin Trudeau or Stephen Harper Elementary, Trump Elementary seemed to be riding the wave of public attention.  Some clearly felt the Trump name would be like having an IB designation – everyone would know what it meant.

Vote Results

Our New School

We are excited to be opening up Donald J. Trump Elementary School of Winning this fall.  In the end Trump Elementary received 46.1% of the vote – which is truly a massive majority of the votes.  If you get 46.1% of the vote, it is hard to say you didn’t get anything but an incredible majority in an election.  Through this process, we also learned a lot about our community.  In reviewing the list of those who voted, we learned that the majority of the Trump Elementary votes came from our Russian community.  We actually didn’t know we had a Russian community before this.

So now the iconic Trump brand, will now be on our elementary school.  With the excellent reputation of Trump University, clearly Trump has already made its name in education.   Beyond its focus on winning, it makes sense to also focus on literacy.  We can envision Mr. Trump’s recent quote about what he was reading to be the kind of quote that would inspire our students:

Well, you know, I love to read. Actually, I’m looking at a book, I’m reading a book, I’m trying to get started. Every time I do about a half a page, I get a phone call that there’s some emergency, this or that. But we’re going to see the home of Andrew Jackson today in Tennessee and I’m reading a book on Andrew Jackson. I love to read. I don’t get to read very much, Tucker, because I’m working very hard on lots of different things, including getting costs down. The costs of our country are out of control. But we have a lot of great things happening, we have a lot of tremendous things happening.Donald Trump to Fox News’ Tucker Carlson, March 15, 2017

And we know it will be a bigly popular school, the kind of school that needs a selection process – we anticipate some extreme vetting in how we choose our students.

Going Forward

We are not naive.  We know that a decision like this today, of all days, may surprise some in the community.  We know, the people are always right.  And this does carry-on our annual tradition of using this day to make bold decisions!

In 2012 I launched my FLOG.

In 2013 I made the announcement of Quadrennial Round Schooling.

In 2014 we formalized our System of Student Power Rankings.

In 2015 we created our Rock, Paper, Scissors Academy.

In 2016 we introduced the Drone Homework Delivery System.

And today we announce our plans to open up Donald J. Trump Elementary School of Winning.

Hopefully you are enjoying today as much as me!

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homework1

We have a reputation for being on the cutting education of technology and education in West Vancouver and we are again today with the launch of our new program to support homework completion.  We know that it can be hard to remember to bring homework home, and heavy textbooks can also hurt the back health of our students – today we are eliminating these problems.

I am pleased to announce that we are first school district in North America to be using the DHDS (Drone Homework Delivery System) in our schools.  We have purchased four drones for each classroom that will be used to deliver homework directly from classroom to homes.  This is a major investment, but one we think will lead to a huge increase in student achievement.

I know this bold decision will raise eyebrows, but since Amazon made the announcement to look toward drone delivery of its parcels, we have been working with many of the same people to see how we could take this technology and apply it to schools.  We are excited to have been selected as the location that will pilot this new technology that will dramatically change the home – school relationship.  Working with partners in Sweden – the Lirpa Sloof Yad Foundation we will be tracking this work and sharing our story with others.

Drone2

So, just how does it work?

We do not yet have one-to-one drones available.  We currently have four drones for every classroom.  At the end of the day students line-up their textbooks and workbooks. The drones will then make multiple deliveries.  In most cases the books will be delivered to the front door of the house, but we also have the technology that if a window can be left open in the house, the homework can be dropped off directly on the student’s desk at home.   The process happens in reverse each morning, as drones return to the homes and pick-up the homework and deliver it to school. With four drones per classroom we will have approximately 2000 drones in the air at any given time.  They are part of an interconnected network and will fly at high speeds in a low air space to not interfere with commercial flights.

Why are we doing this?

There are many reasons why we are doing this.  In recent years, there have been multiple studies questioning the validity of homework.  We think homework needs to become cool again.  And we know whenever you add technology to something that makes it feel modern and hip.  So delivering homework by drone will make homework the new thing to do.

A major health concern is neck and back pain caused by heavy backpacks.  DHDS solves this problem.  No longer will students have to lug heavy backpacks of textbooks to and from school – they will now be there waiting for them when they arrive.

We also know that being a student is hard – there is a lot to remember.  No longer will students have to make excuses for forgotten homework.  And if a student says, “My drone didn’t deliver my homework” we can send the drone to make an immediate pick-up and have the materials brought to class.

Future Applications

We know homework is just the start.  There are many other ways our drones can help make school-life more convenient for students.  Next fall in at least one of our schools, we will pilot the drone lunch delivery program.  Once all homework is delivered, the drones can be used to deliver student lunches.  So, instead of parents having to come to the school and drop off the forgotten sandwich or deliver local takeout for their child, drones can be programmed to do this.

Drone1

Conclusions

We take pride on being the learning leaders not just locally but nationally and internationally.  And with our announcement of the DHDS today we maintain our position at the top.

This is the latest in what has become an annual tradition at this time of year to launch innovative initiatives.

In 2012 I launched my FLOG.

In 2013 I made the announcement of Quadrennial Round Schooling.

In 2014 we formalized our System of Student Power Rankings.

In 2015 we created our Rock, Paper, Scissors Academy.

And today we launch the DHDS – destined to revolutionize the student homework experience.

Hopefully you are enjoying today as much as me!

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rpsImg

The West Vancouver School District has become synonymous  with excellence and innovative programming.  In recent years this reputation has been bolstered by our commitment to a range of sports academy programs.

I am thrilled today to announce the latest in the long list of innovative programs – our Rock, Paper, Scissors Premier Sports Academy.  It is tremendously exciting that we are going to engage our students with this sport that has worldwide popularity.  There is great pride in being an international community and our Rock, Paper, Scissors Academy will support this.

The world is changing and we need to embrace traditional sports like fencing, soccer, hockey, baseball and basketball and also look at new emerging sports.  That is where Rock, Paper, Scissors fits in.  We know that there will be tremendous excitement over this announcement, and student-athletes will come from many surrounding communities to be part of our Academy Program.

Rock, Paper, Scissors is a sport that anyone can participate in from 5 to 85.  It will help foster lifelong fitness.  While many have raised concerns about the lack of physical activity with our youth – Rock, Paper, Scissors, gets our children away from the video games and engaged in physical competition.

Our curriculum will be based on resources available through the World RPS Society.  Students will learn about the history of the sport that is traced back to the Chinese Han Dynasty.   And the training will both be in the classroom and in the gym.  Competitors at the top-level need to be both physically and mentally sharp.  As any of our instructors will tell you, Rock, Paper, Scissors is far from random, and over time through deep study, athletes in the academy will become familiar with the various algorithms of their opponents selections.

As student progress through the grades, the academy will allow them to explore higher levels alternatives including rock-paper-scissors-Spock-lizard and other East Asian Hand Games.

This academy is completely aligned with the new curriculum – focusing on a series of competencies and embracing cross-curricular connections.  Students in the program will receive credit for English, Math and Physical Education.

Our Academy Programs have always been about supporting students through being academic athletes and taking their talents to the next level.  It is exciting to think the next World Champion might be sitting in our classrooms now and all they need is this type of program to catapult them to the world stage.  Here is a video of the 2014 United Kingdom finals:

We know that our Rock, Paper, Scissors Academy we are launching today has the potential to be as succesful as our many other academy programs.  Anticipating its success we are already considering adding other emerging sports including cheese rolling and toe wrestling.  It is all about getting our young people active and excited about activity!

Finally, to quote our Academies Principal Diane Nelson, “Today marks a special day in the West Vancouver School District as we announce the very first Rock, Paper, Scissors Premier Sports Academy in the world.  We are honoured to welcome some of the region’s most talented athletes.  I am equally proud of this truly special sport as it continues to delight people of all ages with it’s quantum indeterminacy.”

This is the latest in what has become an annual tradition at this time of year to launch innovative initiatives.

In 2012 I launched my FLOG.

In 2013 I made the announcement of Quadrennial Round Schooling.

In 2014 we formalized our System of Student Power Rankings.

Today we add our Rock, Paper, Scissors Premier Sports Academy to this list.

Hopefully your first day of April is as fun and exciting as mine!

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Student Power Rankings

PowerRankings-1

It is with great excitement I announce the launch of our Student Power Rankings. This is an exciting time that will push education into the 22nd century.  You have already heard a lot about 21st century education.  Some have said, “Well yes, but the 21st century is already more than 10 per cent over.” There is strong evidence that we need to focus on preparing students for the next century.  And, the next century will not be about lowering the stakes, but raising them — that is why we are launching our Student Power Ranking System today.  We know there is nothing more important than knowing if your child is doing better than the child sitting next to them in class. Now, on a weekly basis, you will have that answer.

So, just what are Student Power Rankings?

Student Power Rankings will allow you to see exactly how your child is doing in comparison to every other child in the class, school, province, country and beyond. Key factors include:  IQ, recent test results, attendance reports and Body Mass Index; these numbers are then crunched into a numerical result accurate to 3 decimal places. Rankings will be updated each Monday morning (or next school day in the event of a holiday).

The rankings will be posted at each school and on each school website.  It is all about transparency so, once per term, results will be also posted in the newspaper including our “Top 20” Team with the highest scores in each grade across the district. Rankings will also be employed to determine and assign students to classes and to assist them in making appropriate career choices. Also, based on the power rankings, the bottom 10 per cent of students at any grade level will be placed on probation and, of these, 50 per cent will be held back. It is important that the rankings have rigour.

The top 10 per cent will receive a T-shirt marked “I am better than 90 per cent of you”.

Why do we need Student Power Rankings?

We need to prepare students for a world that is more competitive.  We also know there has been no better way to improve schools than school rankings based on test scores. Since we know school rankings improve schools (no citation necessary), it is quite obvious ranking students will improve their results. If a child sees himself near the bottom of the rankings, they will work harder to raise their score. It is also not appropriate to think that all students can actually be “good students” — there are always some who must “be better than the others” reaffirming this important principle.

There is also a powerful focus on early learning right now, and we will be launching our Pre-K Power Rankings — allowing the community to celebrate their highest-ranked, three-year-olds.  If we can let three-year-old students (and their parents)  know they are behind (and losing) they can improve.

How are the Rankings Unique?

One might think anyone can do this, so how are our Student Power Rankings unique? While we have listed several factors that will go into the rankings, the actual algorithm is proprietary and we are not revealing all of the criteria that will be utilized. It is a bit like the Colonel’s secret chicken recipe, or the secret of the Caramilk Bar — one of the key elements in the ranking is an unknown.  If we revealed all of the criteria, students could then work toward meeting this criteria and have equal levels of success. Since this is not real life, not 22nd century education, this is not part of our program.

Are the Rankings accurate?

Simply put, it is all done by applying a mathematical formula accurate to 3 decimal places. Therefore, a student with an 86.435 will be better than a student with an 85.232 ranking.  Math doesn’t lie.

Many of you have heard me speak in the past, and I have often complained “With all due respect, If we can rate professional football quarterbacks for passing accuracy, surely we can rank Grade 2 students for the world to see.”  Starting today, we will do just that!

It is an incredibly exciting time for our district.  It almost seems like an annual event that we have this day to make big announcements.

24 months ago we announced The Flog.

12 months ago we announced Quadrennial Round Schooling.

And today, we announce our Student Power Rankings!

Hopefully, your first day of April is as much fun and exciting as mine!

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DECADE Calendar

Recently, there has been a lot of attention given to setting school calendars.  I have written about the interest in year-round schooling currently being explored in many Metro Vancouver School Districts.  And, Maple Ridge’s Kanaka Creek,  is often referenced for its three-month on, one-month off model. While just a few weeks ago it looked like all districts were going to move to a fairly standard calendar for next year, I am pleased to announce a new initiative I will be championing, starting today —  BC’s (and perhaps North America’s) first Quadrennial-Round School System.

The Quadrennial-Round (four-year calendar) School System, employs the best of what we know about year-round schooling and extends that learning further.  This calendar model is quite simple with students attending school on a three-year continuous basis, after which they have a  full year off.  The Quadrennial-Round calendar would have a total of four cycles.  Students would go to school Grades 1-3, take a year off; then attend Grades 4-6, with another year off, and so on for Grades 7-9 with a year off before moving to the graduation program and Grades 10-12.

Why a Quadrennial-Round School System?

  • we know students can have learning losses in the summer. These are eliminated since students would attend school for three years at a time — no Christmas, Spring or Summer breaks
  • the system naturally divides the primary, intermediate, junior and graduation programs, and gives students enough recovery time between grade levels
  • if students fall behind, they have an entire year to catch up
  • it gives families who are considering having more than one child some options — like having them three years apart so that their children are off together, or having them closer together, ensuring their children never have to share breaks and the stresses that come with this
  • some families plan big vacations that eat into school time, with this calendar option, they will be able to plan six-month vacations and still have the other half-year for an even longer break
  • there is a lot of research on the need for students to be bored, and to be okaywith it;  having a 12-month break gives them a lot of time to be bored
  • it will lead to an increase in facility efficiencies, they will be used for 12 months and, at any point, 25% of students will be on their sabbatical year, meaning less demand on the schools
  • if year-round schooling is good for learning, this is bound to be great

Of course, there will be questions about the substantiveness of the research. The system was originally adopted from a model in Sweden. It actually has its origins in the British Agricultural Revolution when they rotated wheat, barley, turnips and clover over a four-year cycle.  With this, we take the best of what we know about crops, and apply it to kids (they both grow, don’t they?).  According to Swedish Professor Loof Lirpa, they have run the Quadrennial-Round system successfully for a number of years.  In my work with him, he is also suggesting that within the Quadrennial-Round system, we have a day-round system, where students are schooled on eight-hour shifts, further increasing learning efficiencies by utilizing all 24 hours of the day, in addition to addressing the unique needs of teenage learners who are often already awake half the night. But, I think for now we’ll just go with the four-year calendar with the option to revisit the day-round system in the fourth year off of the calendar for the next round of grades.

We have been preparing to launch this very new calendar initiative for several months, but were worried other districts might scoop us — we do like to be first! If other districts had adopted a year-round school system, our calendar promotion and advertising  would have been “Year-Round Schooling is Good but Quadrennial-Round Schooling is Four Times Better!”

We are looking for volunteers to step forward and pilot this initiative, and it is appropriate that I launch this today, as it was exactly one year ago today, I launched my FLOG. So, from this point forward, all information on our Quadrennial-Round School System calendar option will be shared through my FLOG and associated public floggings.

I always appreciate the keen reader interest of the Culture of Yes,  and I am hopeful that many of you will step forward to bring the best of school calendars to BC, as well as to North America. Finally, I hope your first day of April is as good as mine!

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