Showing posts with label Adviser. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Adviser. Show all posts

Tuesday, 1 April 2014

Supporting Student Growth with Adviser Report Cards

As students learn and grow at Greenwood, their Adviser is always there as a consistent adult contact, advocate and guide. Adviser Coordinator Garth Nichols explains how Adviser Report Cards provide an exceptionally personalized experience for students.

At Greenwood, we strive to understand, educate and develop the character of the whole student. The new Adviser Program, implemented in 2012-2013, fosters a unique and supportive relationship between student and Adviser.

Some key features of this program are:
  • Students meet with Advisers at least twice a week.
  • Students keep an ePortfolio to reflect on their experiences and their personal growth.
  • There is ample coordination with and connection to students’ experiences in the community and school, and through outdoor education and community service.

As a result, Advisers can accurately report on a student’s individual character development and intellectual growth beyond their academic results. This is accomplished through the Adviser Report Card.

Each report is written with the express purpose of providing evidence of, and next steps for, student growth. The report itself is a 1500-character prose reflection written by the Adviser, rooted in their discussions with their advisee. It is a report about the whole child and how they are engaging in and growing from their unique Greenwood experience, whether it is through their diverse athletic, dramatic, academic or outdoor education involvement.

The new Adviser Program leverages the more frequent interaction between student and Adviser to help them personalize their overall education. The Adviser Report Card is an artifact of this. It also allows for parents to know where their child is on their journey, where their journey is taking them, and what the necessary steps will be to get there.

Tuesday, 24 September 2013

Building a Truly Student-Centred Program

I am delighted to kick off another year of blogging here on First-Person Plural. Our aim this year is to accentuate the title of this blog by having a number of our classroom teachers do some blogging about their experiences with personalized learning. This approach will provide followers of this blog with a real sense of this year’s personalized learning initiatives at Greenwood. Specifically, we are focusing on the following four areas:
  • More Blended Learning Courses: Aside from our existing blended learning courses in Grades 11 and 12, we have are now using this approach in Grade 9 Geography, Grade 10 Canadian History, Civics, Grade 11 and 12 Computer Science, Grade 12 Chemistry, and Grades 11 and 12 Physics. This approach will ensure that all Greenwood students have some exposure to this hybrid approach to learning.
  • Block Scheduling: We are piloting the use of a larger learning space, which will allow for more flexible grouping and interactive learning. We have planned our timetable so that students enrolled in Grade 7 English and mathematics use the same block of time. A similar approach is being used with Grade 9 Geography and Grade 10 History and Civics.
  • Major-Minor Choice in Grade 7 and 8 Arts: This year students in Grades 7 and 8 will choose to focus more of their time on Instrumental Music, Visual Arts or Dramatic Arts (“the major”), and study the other two mediums in a “minor” format. Next year, Grade 8 students will choose one art form as a minor and one other as a major.
  • Student Adviser: We are continuing to focus our advising program on individual advising rather than the traditional group approach used in most advising programs. Teachers acting as advisers have their teaching loads reduced so that they have the necessary time to meet with advisees. We are also continuing to augment our adviser program with the use of Hapara, a Google tool which enables advisers to use a digital dashboard to support student learning.
All of these initiatives are the result of careful research and planning over the past several years. Our hope, as it has been since Greenwood’s inception, is to continue to build a program that is truly student-centered.

Allan Hardy

Monday, 15 April 2013

U.S. Department of Education Focuses on Personalized Learning

It was interesting to read that the U.S. Dept. of Education selected personalized learning as the focus of this year’s Race to the Top grants. The department is giving the district winners $400 million in federal grants to help spur the redesign of the classroom experience for students. As Michele McNeil notes in Education Week (March 27, 2013), “many of these districts are embracing the philosophy that learning isn’t defined by time spent in the classroom, but by mastery of a particular subject or lesson.”

Districts applying for the grants had to define how they would use the funds to create a more personalized learning environment using “21st-century learning tools to customize instruction to the needs of individual students.” According to Michael Horn, co-author of Disrupting Class: How Disruptive Innovation Will Change the Way the World Learns, the Race to the Top grants will “elevate student-centric learning onto the radar.”

Several of the approved projects are similar to things being done here at Greenwood. $20 million was awarded to a New York State district to support the transition to blended learning. The development of e-portfolios and programs to track personalized learning appeared in several of the selected projects, as did the use of individualized goal setting and digital learning platforms and dashboards, tools which are currently being deployed in our redesigned student adviser program. 

Several of the district coordinators who were interviewed note that the ultimate goal of these personalized learning initiatives is to have students truly own and be responsible for their own learning and to have teachers rethink the way instruction happens within the classroom.

Allan Hardy

Thursday, 21 March 2013

2.0 Schools: Learning in the 21st Century

One of Canada’s most influential voices on the future of digital technology is Don Tapscott. The author of numerous books and articles on this topic, Tapscott has long been an admirer of Greenwood’s use of learning technology. In Growing Up Digital (2009), he referred to Greenwood as an excellent example of a “2.0 school.” Tapscott defines a 2.0 school as one which prioritizes learning over teaching, customization over a one-size fits all approach, and interactive learning over the broadcasting of information.

More recently, Tapscott was featured in a Globe and Mail interview in which he reiterated the need for schools and universities to work harder to transform themselves into 2.0 schools. According to Tapscott, “we have the best model of learning that 17th-century technology can provide.” For education to equip students to participate fully in the 21st century, Tapscott argues that schools must “use technology to free up instructors from transmitting information to curating customized learning experiences,” and have “learning occur through software programs, small group discussion and projects.”

One of the oft-expressed concerns about moving schools in this direction is that it will minimize the importance of the teacher or professor. However, Tapscott disputes this assumption. Instead, instructors will have greater opportunities to “listen and converse with students” and accordingly, will be better able to “tailor the education to their students’ individual learning styles.” This goal can be accomplished, according to Tapscott, by allowing computers “to provide instruction for anything that requires a right or wrong answer.”

Much of what he outlines in the article resonates with Greenwood’s current approach to personalized learning. Our blended learning approach allows students to use online resources to direct their learning and collaborate in both face-to-face and virtual media. Our use of Hapara in our student adviser program provides advisers with genuine opportunities to customize classroom programming for individual students. I am sure that if Don Tapscott were to revisit Greenwood, he would be impressed by how far we have come with digital learning since his earlier visit to our school seven years ago.

Our use of Hapara in our student adviser program provides advisers with genuine opportunities to customize classroom programming for individual students.

On a closing note, a recent editorial in The New York Times endorsed the use of blended or hybrid learning. Columbia University’s Community College Research Center released a study which tracked the results of 7 million students enrolled in online courses and concluded that students in these courses were more “likely to fail or withdraw than those in traditional classes.” However, the Centre also found that students “in classes that blended online instruction with a face-to-face component performed as well academically as those in traditional classes.” This result was attributed to students’ need for engagement with their teachers.

Allan Hardy

Wednesday, 27 February 2013

How a Student's Adviser Helps Further Personalization

Sir Ken Robinson's interview at The Blue School is one that speaks strongly to the role that the Adviser plays in personalized learning at Greenwood. In it, Sir Ken Robinson speaks of knowing the students, when to push and challenge, and when to calm and support. Personalized learning is so much more than just what happens in the classroom. At Greenwood, the Adviser program is being built to foster and support strong independent learning skills in our students from grade 7 through to 12. Advisers meet with students anywhere from two to five times a week and get to know them for who they are as a whole person, their strengths and areas of growth, their involvement and level of engagement in the whole community. Through the use of Eportfolios, students actively and purposefully reflect on their skill development, and character growth. For example, following each Outdoor Education experience, students are prompted to reflect on what they learned about themselves, but also what they can carry forward into the classroom, such as resiliency. Through the use of Hapara (a GoogleDocs management system) adviser can help monitor students’ executive functioning and time management skills. Hapara also facilitates the communication between teachers, advisers and students.

Every student is different, and so too are the relationships that advisers have with their students. The large group meetings, once a week, help to build community and positive social norms. They are used to help coordinate larger grade events, such as Stand Up 2012, and Challenge Day. It is in the small-group, and one-on-one meetings that the relationships are structured to the individual needs of the students. And, as students’ needs and interest change, so does the program to ensure age and stage appropriate support and programming.

The Adviser's role is to nurture social-emotional functioning so that students can find a place and people to help them be their best selves. Also, the Adviser works to develop positive habits of mind and executive functioning to help them manage their time, balance their commitments and develop their learning skills.

The specialized role of the Adviser is to help guide students through their journey at Greenwood.  The Adviser helps students select appropriate areas in which to engage and supports the development of their learning skills for success in the 21st century.

Garth Nichols
Assistant Director of Personalized Learning