Tuesday, 13 June 2017

The Results of Change

A transformative year in Greenwood’s history is coming to a close. In his last blog address of the school year, Allan Hardy evaluates the results from two student surveys, and reflects on how our evolved facilities have impacted the Greenwood community.  

It’s hard to believe we have almost completed our first year in our new space. While our community began the year with great excitement, there were also real questions about how our new building would alter the school and the quality of the student experience. Would our larger physical space detract from Greenwood’s strong sense of community? Would new different classroom structures hamper personalized learning, or enable it?

Over the past several weeks we have conducted two separate student surveys that shed positive light on questions like these. When asked on the student engagement survey, conducted by researchers at the University of New Brunswick, to list some of the things they liked about Greenwood, students overwhelmingly cited their teachers and our school’s strong sense of community. This result was echoed in another student survey, conducted by Panorama Education which focused on students’ perception of their teachers and classes. Student relationship with teachers, which looks at how well they think their teachers know them, ranked in the 90th percentile.

On the student engagement survey, we posted modest gains from last year in our students’ sense of belonging and their development of positive friendships. Both scores also exceeded Canadian school norms, as did student involvement in athletics and clubs. Gains were also noted in interest and motivation, as well as being challenged at the appropriate level. This latter result was close to 30% higher than the Canadian norm. Our biggest gains over the December Panorama survey were in students being able to explain their thinking and trying different strategies when they get stuck. Both gains, as well as the strong result in being appropriately challenged, speak to a growing ability to self-direct one’s learning, which is a key outcome of personalized learning.

We also took a close look at the results from students who were in co-taught classes, as there have been many questions about this approach throughout this year. Survey results in co-taught classes showed improvement in learning how to direct your learning and understanding content. These improved results were equal to those of a traditional classroom. Survey results also indicted that engaging all students consistently and managing the learning environment effectively are two areas to continue to work on next year with the co-teaching model.

These surveys, as well as other feedback gained throughout this year, will inform our planning for next year. We are going to be more intentional about how we schedule co-taught classes. Many of the teachers participating in our Summer Teacher Institute will focus on further developing our use of co-teaching. Students also indicated they would like greater access to the gym, the fitness centre and the theatre, so we are going to see what can be done to accommodate this need.

I am really pleased with these results and by how hard our teachers and staff have worked to achieve them. Though there is still plenty to work on next year, these results emphasize that the changes we have made are meeting the needs of our students.

Thursday, 1 June 2017

Drawing Conclusions in Advanced Functions

The CN Tower was one image students could choose to recreate with the graphing
software Desmos.

Math has lots of applications, but you may not have known that drawing pictures was one of them.

A big part of truly understanding mathematical functions is understanding what they look like. How does an adjustment to a function affect how it looks on the page?

Our Grade 12 Advanced Functions classes recently got more familiar with visualizing functions by doing something you might not expect: drawing. Each student was challenged with replicating one of several existing sketches in the graphing software Desmos using functions alone. Students applied their knowledge of what each function looked like to get just the right series of lines and curves to create images from butterflies to the CN Tower.

“We used this as a fun assignment last year, and the students not only enjoyed it, but found it to be really valuable,” says Advanced Functions teacher Megan Clark. “We formalized the assignment this year as a great way to get students more comfortable with visualizing functions.”

One student chose this especially complex "extension" image for her project (and she
made sure she didn't miss any of those eyelashes!)

The project is the perfect lead-in to the class’s upcoming short culminating evaluation. Each student will create a roller coaster path, but this time they’ll do it algebraically.

As Megan explains, the drawing assignment also allowed students to group themselves by readiness. “Each student chose a ‘Level 3’ or ‘Level 4’ image to replicate,” she says. “They then had the option to add difficulty to their chosen picture based on their comfort level. For example, some students opted to add more complex functions to their pictures.”

No matter which image they tackled, students were excited to take on this new challenge. One student even affectionately named her function-elephant “Peanut.”

“Everyone was really into it!” Megan says.

This student even took the time to graph out her elephant's name.

Thursday, 25 May 2017

To Market, To Market

What better way to put your marketing skills to the test than by designing and pitching your own product? This week, we've got a guest post from marketing student Conor Alexander ('18) exploring what students learned from this experience.

As the academic year comes to a close and culminating activities are fast approaching, Greenwood’s Grade 11 marketing class is completing one final project of the year - the biggest one yet!

Students in this course were tasked with developing, marketing and pitching an original board game to a group of ‘stakeholders’; no simple feat to be completed in only 3 weeks! Recalling and applying skills acquired over the course of the school year, business teams of four selected a target market, performed primary consumer research, developed a business plan and, during the week of May 22, will pitch their product in a simulated “Dragons’ Den” to a mock-game-company CEO.

Students in this course were tasked with developing, marketing and pitching an original
board game to a group of "stakeholders."

"This project made me consider the challenges associated with taking a product from the conception phase to actually putting it on the market,” says Grade 11 student Jade. “I would have never believed just how difficult it would actually be to come up with a unique product idea, let alone develop an entire marketing plan and create a prototype from scratch. I’m really proud of my team; I think we have a great product and I’m confident we’ll do well during the Dragons’ Den on Thursday.”

From games about stocks and investments to those about lost museum artifacts, the student-created products instilled real-world commerce skills in Greenwood’s future business leaders. And hey, you may even see the products hitting game store shelves sometime soon.