Showing posts with label Authenticity. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Authenticity. Show all posts

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.

Thursday, 20 April 2017

Giving Students a Voice in the Theatre

Students add depth to their voice work with movement during a recent Grade 7/8 Drama
Major class in the theatre.

Our new performance theatre isn't just for large-scale productions - it provides an authentic environment for classes and workshops, too.

Down in Greenwood’s theatre, Grade 8 student Gabe has finished his performance and is ready for feedback.

“He’s crying,” says a woman’s voice offstage. “He’s just so panicked.”

Gabe takes this in and nods. “Okay,” he says. “So do I keep the old one as well?”

“If you want to layer [your performance], you can add it on top,” the voice responds.

The reply comes from Melissa Altro, an accomplished voice artist with over 20 years’ experience in TV and film. (You might know her as Muffy Crosswire from TV’s Arthur.) She knows a thing or two about using her voice to create character, and on April 12 she shared that expertise with our Grade 7 and 8 Drama Majors.

An Authentic Learning Experience

Experienced voice actor Melissa Altro's visit was part of the "Sound and Foley" unit
for Grade 7 and 8 Drama Major classes.

Melissa explained to students that one of the most important elements in voice work is putting your whole body into the character. It’s not enough to just read the lines; your facial expressions and actions are what add depth to the performance. To reinforce this message, it’s important that students work in an authentic environment - which is where the new theatre comes in. Students took advantage of the excellent acoustics as they worked with Melissa to create different voices, and the theatre’s state-of-the-art lighting added an extra level of professionalism.

Melissa’s visit was part of the “Sound and Foley” unit in both the Grade 7 and 8 Drama Major classes. For Grade 7 students, this experience came at the beginning of their unit and was used to introduce the different elements of voice, including pitch, articulation and tone. For Grade 8 students, their work with Melissa consolidated their understanding at the end of the unit. Both groups learned how to use their voices to bring a wide range of characters to life. This skill will support the completion of their culminating activities a little later in the year.

Melissa’s specific feedback - and the willingness of our students to take it on board - was a big part of what made her visit so impactful. Check out the video below to see how Gabe ultimately incorporated her feedback to add more depth to one of his characters.

Thursday, 13 April 2017

Making the Case

Our new spaces give us tremendous flexibility when it comes to hosting big events.

On the morning of April 6, over 60 students are working hard in our new gym - but they’re not wearing shorts and sneakers. Dressed in their best business attire and seated in small groups, they’re reading case studies, conducting SWOT analyses and putting together presentations.

The working portion of the annual Grade 11-12 Business Case Competition - modelled after those students will experience in postsecondary business programs - has always been held in our gym. The large space accommodates all teams and ensures that they’re all getting the same instructions at the same time. 

Having additional space enabled all teams to present concurrently in order to get through their presentations by the end of the day. We had four rooms available for students to share their plans to help fitness giant Fitbit to maintain their market leadership position, each large enough to accommodate several teams and a judging panel.

We had four rooms available for students to share their plans to help fitness giant Fitbit to
maintain their market leadership position, each large enough to accommodate several
teams and a judging panel.

As always, our experienced judges added an extra level of authenticity to the case competiton. The panel included several successful businesspeople (including two Greenwood parents) in fields ranging from banking to entrepreneurship to marketing. We also had three alumni with business and mathematics backgrounds bring their knowledge to the competition.

Though the competition can be nerve-wracking, our students feel the experience is incredibly helpful. “I valued having experienced judges that asked challenging questions and made the presentation aspect of the competition much more engaging,” one Grade 12 student says. “I’m planning on taking a business program at university next year, and I definitely think that this case competition gave me a preview of what classes will be like.”

Thursday, 3 March 2016

Learning Plant Physiology Through Interactive Lab Experiences

As we begin the Plants unit in our Biology classes, we are emphasizing the use of inquiry techniques to investigate plant processes.

The Biology team has worked closely with the Vernier Summer Institute group to utilize a variety of labs geared towards helping students understand plant physiology.

After executing two Vernier labs within our Biology classroom (about seeds and leaves, respectively), we asked for student feedback about the experience. The response was overwhelmingly positive. Students:

  • Appreciate how well the labs connect to our course content;
  • Find the lab experiences particularly useful, saying these help them to visualize complex concepts, and dispel misconceptions about plants; and
  • Like that these labs allow them to explore the Plants unit in an authentic way, rather than focusing on rote memorization.

In addition, many students commented on how the new learning cycle that was developed for Biology creates predictability in the classroom, especially when they have missed class.

  • They appreciate the consistency and clarity within the note packages.
  • The question of the day gives students the opportunity to explore ideas that underscore the relevance of the content we are learning in class.

Overall, by creating opportunities for exploration and discussion with our Biology classes, our students are more engaged in the content, and in its application.

Nancy Clarke and Vanessa Floras
Science Teachers

Thursday, 25 February 2016

Dispatches from the Field

Grade 10 Canadian History students get out of the classroom to experience history first hand.

Greenwood's history department maintains
a close relationship with the Sunnybrook
Veterans' Centre.
Greetings from the world of Grade 10 Canadian History! Previously, Eugene Henry blogged about new approaches the Canadian History team has taken to teaching the Second World War by making use of the blocked schedule and blended learning strategies. As well, we are focusing on authentic and experiential learning to further promote historical thinking. With the students having just returned from their “streamed” field trips, this blog installment appropriately focuses on the authentic and experiential learning element of this new direction.

Early in the second term, the students were asked to choose which lens interested them the most about WWII. Their choices were:
  1. WWII technology and the tactics that made use of that technology 
  2. The Legacy of the Holocaust 
  3. Living History: the legacy of Canadian veterans and our public memory of their contributions 
Allowing the students to follow their interests, they were reorganized into new groupings based on the above three ‘streams’. Deep into their studies of the Second World War, it is safe to say this approach has been met with great success, and student interest and engagement is higher than ever. Recently, the students headed out of the school to engage in authentic experiences tailored to these three streams. Here again, the results were better than we could have imagined.

Learning about WWII is an overwhelming experience and the statistics from this conflict are unprecedented. Giving our young historians the opportunity to engage in authentic and tangible historical inquiry by meeting the people and being able to reach out and touch the machines that fought this fight undoubtedly helps to breathe life into the history textbooks.

Technology & Tactics

Students of the “technology and tactics" stream headed to the Canadian Warplane Heritage Museum, where they met with veteran air men and women and mechanics, to witness first-hand the magnitude of some of the most impressive Canadian warplanes that helped the Allies to victory - and still remain in operation today. The students’ experience was focused on stream-specific themes and provided them with opportunities to follow their unique interests in, and purposefully research real world examples of, technology and tactics used in war. They immensely enjoyed the rich experience!

Legacy of the Holocaust

For students of the “Legacy of the Holocaust” stream, the trip to the Neuberger Holocaust Education Centre was an experience that will not soon be forgotten. Following a morning of interactive programming focused on the legacy of the Canadian Holocaust experience, the students met with Holocaust survivor Vera Schiff. During the afternoon, students worked in the Centre’s research library further researching survivors of the Holocaust and, in some cases, students’ own family experiences in this awful event. This proved a powerful and emotional experience, and here again the students’ interest was high and their time at the Centre was most rewarding.

Living History

Finally, students in the “Living History” stream spent their morning with seasoned tour guide Richard Fiennes-Clinton of Muddy York walking tours. The first stop on the tour was the Queen’s Park War Memorial, commemorating all of the wars that Torontonians have participated in.
The highlight of the walking tour
was the famous Soldiers' Tower,
which is rarely open to the public.
From there, the group explored war memorials in and around the University of Toronto. The highlight of the walking tour was the trip up the famous Soldiers’ Tower, which is rarely open to the public!

During the afternoon, the group visited and interviewed WWII veterans at the Sunnybrook Veterans’ Centre. The Greenwood history department maintains a close relationship with the Centre through annual visits and a special visit in October to celebrate the 70th anniversary of the Liberation of the Netherlands. Students greatly enjoyed meeting the veterans and hearing their unbelievable stories of survival and heroism, and walked away with a new appreciation of the sacrifice made by these men and women. 


All in all, these trips helped the students to further grasp history by allowing them to follow their interests and to experience history in a real and authentic way. We may not be able to live during past events, but meeting the people and touching the artifact from these bygone eras has proved immensely helpful in bringing our history to life!

Charles Jennings
History Subject Team Leader and Adviser Coordinator

Thursday, 4 February 2016

Grade 10 French: Reading and Google Forms in the Learn Lab

The learn lab classroom allows
teachers to offer students different
different approaches to understanding
a graphic novel like Persepolis.
As the Grade 10s finish up the second unit, L’enfance et l’adolescence (Childhood and Adolescence), we look at how personalization continues to be offered in the learn lab.

In this unit, students:

  • Interviewed a peer and wrote a biography based on taken notes;
  • Read and reflected on the graphic novel Persepolis;
  • Interacted in small-group literature circles;
  • Spoke in a conversation assessment about their goals, preferred strategies and impressions from the childhood experiences depicted in the novel; and
  • Compared and contrasted how youth in different countries express themselves informally, with their friends and on social media.

Reading an authentic graphic novel is a challenging task, so having two teachers in the learn lab classroom allows us to offer students different approaches to understanding the novel.

  • Some students may prefer a more structured reading environment: where they are coached on specific strategies and discuss with the teacher as they read.
  • Other students may work independently: with a set of guiding questions and a teacher available if they encounter a stumbling block.
  • Still others prefer to read aloud to a peer and create their own summaries and notes.

The flexible nature of the learn lab allows students to move between these methods easily and often (for example, they may prefer teacher guidance on a particularly difficult passage but prefer to read independently on another).  

Thinking About Thinking

Metacognition (thinking about thinking) remains a focus in this course.  Students continue to set specific goals and spend time considering their progress towards each of the overall expectations for the course.  Students can explain in detail what needs to be done in order for them to improve in each strand (reading, writing, listening, speaking).

Students use Google forms to give immediate feedback on their progress, allowing us to focus on areas of particular challenge for each student.  For example, many students identified that although they could listen and understand conversation effectively, they were less confident when hearing new accents in a variety of French media.  Based on this feedback, we could immediately incorporate more authentic media into the upcoming lessons to help the students progress toward their individual goals.

Figure 1

Figure 2

Figures 1 & 2: Google form results showing how well students feel they understand French when spoken by others vs. how well they understand French in media sources allows teachers to instantly adapt for future lessons 

The use of authentic media was also emphasized in the French-teaching workshop attended by both teachers in the previous term.  Here we learned to further integrate the Common European Framework of Reference into our day-to-day teaching. This internationally recognized framework is used to objectively place the students on a language continuum (from A1 - beginner, to C2 - mastery) and helps to identify concrete pathways by which language learners can improve.

Emma Pickard
French Teacher

Heather Maxted
French Subject Team Leader