Thursday, 19 October 2017

Make It Relevant!

One of the best ways to engage students in learning is through the exploration of relevant issues and ideas. Allowing students opportunities for sustained discussion guided by the use of personal goal setting also enhances student engagement.
The Grade 11 FSL class depicted in this entry are exploring global communities, like Canada, that have Francophone cultural roots. In this instance, students read an article on Rwanda and listened to a song performed by a Rwandan musician who now lives in Montreal.
Before initiating the discussion, students set three individual goals to ensure that the discussion remained focused and personalized. The group used the Harkness Table framework, which encouraged students to take greater ownership of their learning, a desired outcome of engagement. When debriefing the activity, students indicated they really liked the topic, as well as the format of the lesson.


Wednesday, 18 October 2017

Prompted to Make Connections

While writing effectively is a skill that has long been emphasized in schools, having students learn how to learn is something that features more prominently in the set of 21st century skills.

Teachers at Greenwood use writing as part of the process of learning at various points in a lesson. English teacher Connor McFarlane likes to have his students start each class by responding to a writing prompt. These prompts connect with one of the big ideas of the course and allow students the opportunity to focus, make connections and get ready to learn.
Using their laptops, students write for 10 minutes with an emphasis on making as many connections as possible.

After the 10 minutes are up, students have an opportunity to share their work with a few peers. The thinking expressed in their writing enables students to then focus on the larger topic of the day, which in this case is an exploration of how anomie or social disorder is developed in the novel Perks of Being a Wallflower.
By engaging in an activity at the outset of the class, class time is used effectively and learning is enhanced.

Thursday, 12 October 2017

Collaborating to Learn

Historically, teachers often worked in isolation. When offered, professional development took place outside of the school on ‘PD days’ and at conferences. Since its inception, Greenwood has adopted a progressive approach to teacher development and has focused on job embedded PD that happens within the school on a weekly basis every Wednesday morning.
Research supports the belief that teacher collaboration is a powerful component of teacher growth. Rather than working in isolation, our teachers gather regularly to share their expertise or work on school-wide initiatives. By working in this manner, we have developed a professional culture in which learning together is a fundamental value.

Here is an example of our teachers working on the implementation of our new age and stage framework. Teachers first meet in grade level groups to determine how to incorporate elements of the framework into their classes and then re-group to share their thinking with the larger group so that all teachers have a sense of the overall framework.