Thursday, 16 February 2017

From Costumes to Haute Couture: Fabrication Room

The fabrication room gave our Junior Play crew the space they needed to create these
amazing costumes, sets and props.

Greenwood’s recent production of The Lion King Jr. was our most ambitious ever. Our new fabrication room played an important role in bringing the Serengeti to life.

Putting on a play like The Lion King takes lots of costumes, sets and props - and somewhere to create them. In the runup to opening night in December, the fabrication room provided plenty of space for students to work on everything from painting scenery to sewing a gown.

On show nights, the fabrication room also doubled as a dressing room.

Move-in day is challenging for any school production. The large scale of the sets for this year’s Junior Play made this task even more challenging. Having the fabrication room located within steps of our performance theatre, minimized the moving distance (and the risk of accidental damage to sets and props). Additionally, the doorway of the room is designed to accommodate an 8-foot scenery flat with ease.

During the performance, this area also doubled as a dressing room. Reconfiguring the furniture provided an ideal surface for applying makeup, styling hair and making last-minute costume adjustments before students took the stage.

Creating Catwalk-Worthy Looks


Amelia Ferguson ('17) models one of her fashion creations at our Winter Arts Showcase.
"It felt professional - like a real fashion studio," she says of the fabrication room.

The fabrication room isn’t just for plays; it also supports our senior fashion classes. Rather than being packed away after each use, sewing machines are ready to go throughout the semester, providing students more work time by reducing set up and clean up time. Recently installed shelving also allows students to safely store their work between classes.

Amelia Ferguson (‘17), a fashion student and Junior Play crew member, has really enjoyed her experience in the fabrication room so far this year.

“It felt professional - like a real fashion studio,” Amelia says. “There was so much usable space, and I loved having the sewing machines already out before every fashion class. For the play, it was amazing having everything stored in one area and being able to grab anything we needed quickly.”

Students have already produced amazing work in this space. We look forward to seeing what they create next!

Thursday, 9 February 2017

Ensuring Continued Growth: Greenwood's Expert Teacher Program

Expert teachers Tony Costa (pictured left with teacher Alex Hurley) and Amanda Lester
provide conversational coaching to teachers who have been at Greenwood for 4+ years.

How does Greenwood stay on the leading edge of customized learning? Ongoing professional development is a big piece of the puzzle. Expert teachers Tony Costa and Amanda Lester work with experienced Greenwood teachers to ensure their continued growth.

What is the Expert Teacher Program?


Working out of the Greenwood Centre for Teaching and Learning, Tony and Amanda - both accomplished Greenwood teachers - work with colleagues who have been at the school for four or more years. In addition to providing conversational coaching to these teachers, Tony and Amanda are a professional development resource for all teachers. They also meet weekly with Mary Gauthier, Executive Director of the Greenwood Centre for Teaching and Learning, which supports their growth as expert teachers.

Why become an expert teacher?


For Amanda, the expert teacher role seemed like a natural next step. “I had already been a subject team leader and a mentor for newer teachers,” she says. “I really enjoyed collaborating with teachers, so this opportunity really excited me.”

In Tony’s case, he saw the potential of the role and wanted to be a part of shaping it. “I felt it was so important that this position was conversation-based, and that it was a two-way exchange of information,” he says. “Amanda and I are always learning, too.”

Supporting Professional Growth for 4+ Teachers


In keeping with Greenwood’s customized approach to learning, the coaching Tony and Amanda provide is tailored to each teacher’s specific needs. “Depending on where people are in their careers, they may have very different goals,” Amanda says. “We work with teachers to mutually identify areas where there is opportunity for growth.”

Some examples include:

  • Refining the use of our Learning Communities
  • Using assessment to drive learning 
  • Finding new ways to incorporate technology in the classroom

After goals have been set, Tony and Amanda observe teachers as they teach; based on these observations, they provide suggestions on how teachers can incorporate new ideas and approaches into their lessons. It’s important to note that teachers are not “assigned” to one expert teacher; they can choose to meet with either Tony or Amanda, and have either expert observe their lesson. “Having two people involved adds richness to the conversation,” Tony says. “Amanda and I have different perspectives and see different things.”

Amanda and Tony observe teachers in the classroom several times throughout the year. At the end of the year, teachers will reflect on their growth and set goals accordingly for next year.

Celebrating great teaching is also key to the expert teacher role. “So many teachers here are doing amazing things,” Amanda says. “We want to ensure that their work is supported and celebrated.”

Providing & Developing Resources


Our expert teachers act as a resource for all teachers, no matter how long they’ve been at Greenwood. If they’re looking for an outside perspective on a lesson or wondering about a new classroom management technique, Tony and Amanda are there to help. They also contribute to Greenwood’s Wednesday morning professional development program - for example, they most recently ran a session on relational teaching. In delivering these PD sessions, they consistently model effective teaching practices.

In addition, Tony and Amanda regularly send teachers resources - including articles, videos and podcasts - that are targeted to their specific goals. “We don’t want to inundate people with information,” Tony says. “We want to send them resources that we know are going to be useful.”

Friday, 3 February 2017

Focusing on Fitness and Sharpening Skills: Volleyball/Basketball Specialist Course


One class per week is dedicated to conditioning, while another focuses on students'
sport of choice.

When we say our new volleyball/basketball specialist course is intensive, we mean it.

Greenwood students have a high level of interest in these two sports, and this new course reflects that interest. Through this course, students not only sharpen their setting, bumping, and  dribbling skills, they also significantly increase their overall physical fitness. Carla DiFilippo and Elanna Robson are two of Greenwood’s most accomplished coaches and athletes. Carla runs the volleyball portion of the course, while Elanna teaches basketball.

How does the course run?

One class per week is dedicated to conditioning, with increasing vertical jump and power - skills highly applicable to both sports - a major focus. A sample workout is:

  • 30 minutes to complete as many rounds as possible of the following three exercises:
    • 200 skips
    • 15 goblet squats (squatting while holding a weight against your chest)
    • 12 one-arm snatches per arm

Another class is devoted to students’ sport of choice. Carla and Elanna work with students to strengthen both the individual and collaborative technical skills that will take them to the next level in volleyball and basketball.  

Teachers Carla DiFilippo (left) and Elanna Robson are two of Greenwood's
most accomplished athletes and coaches.

After March Break, students shift focus to three other areas: Ultimate, rugby and personal fitness. Again, our teachers for these units have significant expertise in their sports: Carla leads the Ultimate unit; Elanna teaches personal fitness; and Jamie Lester, Greenwood’s senior coach and a former professional rugby player, teaches rugby. As with all PHE courses, health education is a compulsory component. Students complete their health units in a self-paced online format.

What do students think?


Carla and Elanna knew that this course would be demanding, but their students have proven throughout the year that they’re up to the challenge. According to Ms. D. “Everyone who signed up came ready to work and they have given it their all in every class.”