Showing posts with label Experiential Education. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Experiential Education. Show all posts

Friday, 9 March 2018

Integrating Student Learning

Grade 7 Integration Week helps students make vital connections between the different subjects that they learn in school. By creating a challenge for students to respond to that incorporates what they have learned across their courses, from Science, Math, English, and Social Studies students can see the connections between what are often perceived to be separate areas of knowledge.

The theme of Grade 7 Integration Week was “How to Survive a Natural Disaster.” Canadian author Eric Walters, who writes on the theme of survival, spoke to the students about the inspiration behind his stories and what it takes to survive disaster. Being able to hear from an author such as Walters, whose books they have read, was inspiring for students, encouraging them to really think deeply about their work during Integration Week.

For the rest of their activities, students broke into teams to solve problems that would arise in the wake of a natural disaster, taken from the pages of an Eric Walters novel. Each challenge required drawing on concepts they learned in class. For example, students applied their learning about heat, insulation, and distillation from science class to the challenge of how disaster survivors could cook food, keep warm, and purify water.

They designed original prototypes of survival aid devices, strategically selected gear for a survival mission, and wrote journal entries from the perspective of a character in their chosen Eric Walters novel. Each challenge required students to think critically, and encouraged the to create unique solutions.
By approaching one challenge from so many angles, they can also determine the best way to solve multi-disciplinary problems in the future. They can apply the strategies they develop from one subject to solve challenges in another. This will help them be more agile, adaptable learners, skills so crucial for lifelong learning. 

Thursday, 1 March 2018

Understanding Urban Sustainability

Our Grade 11 and 12 Green Industries program offers students a great opportunity to think critically about issues related to sustainability in urban environments. Recently, students in the Grade 11 class worked in small teams to plan and build sustainable farms.

This activity built on prior learning in which students looked at the components of soil. As part of this study, students learned how to use food scraps, newspaper and worms to maintain vermicomposters. This device produces “black gold,” a nutrient-dense soil additive.

Students then worked to design and build their sustainable farms; these farms include important real-life elements as seeds, aeration, and irrigation, as well as the aforementioned “black gold” soil additive. Having to develop a marketing plan for the promotion of their farm prototype adds another authentic learning dimension to the activity.

Students in this program have many opportunities for the kind of hands-on learning described in this entry. Besides engaging them fully, this approach also helps students learn to be adaptive problem solvers.

Monday, 18 December 2017

What are the Chances?

Applying knowledge creatively is a great way to engage students, as it gives them the opportunity to grapple with real-world problems and have fun doing so.

Students in our Grade 12 Data Management program have been learning about the concept of expected value through real-life examples taken from games, insurance and sports. To demonstrate understanding of this concept, students had to create a unique probability game that profited within a certain range, as determined by the cost per game to the player. 

The culminating activity for this study was a “casino day” where the students played one another’s games using “data dollars.” While playing the games they collected experimental data to compare their theoretical probability distributions and expected value. Students then used this date to write a report that analysed the profitability of their game.

Besides honing their understanding of probability, students also had the opportunity to learn from their peers. They might also be better prepared for that next game of Blackjack! 

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

Friday, 30 October 2015

Creating Historical Lenses

In June the Canadian history (CHC2D) team met to further adapt personalized and blended learning strategies to a WWII unit. While the Second World War is always a popular area of study for students of CHC2D, there were opportunities to leverage considerable student interest and engagement with new strategies that seek to further enhance their critical thinking skills. To succeed in these goals the team designed the following blueprint.

A Blocked and Blended Approach

Over the past two years the CHC2D team has been able to develop a streamed approach to the 1920s unit of the course. A streamed approach is one where students are offered a number of perspectives, or lenses, from which to study and understand the period. In the 1920s, they could choose between studying the period through the lens of prohibition, the women’s movement, or the economy. This was successful as we were able to use blocked scheduling (2-3 Canadian History classes happening at the same time) to allow students to move to a dedicated classroom covering their perspective. It is this blocked and streamed approach that we will implement for the newly developed WWII unit.

Authentic and Experiential Learning

The next step was to develop three streams that we could offer students for the unit that would provide them with authentic and experiential learning opportunities. We decided on designing streams that would offer students the chance to view WWII from the lens of living history and public memory, the holocaust, or technology/tactics/battles. These options represent varying historical perspectives and multiple entry points for analysis.

Promoting Historical Literacy

Last, we developed new assessment tools that would account for a wide range of student learning. This included integrating methods of assessing the historical thinking concepts, which are critical thinking tools that aim to foster historical literacy.

Working as a team on developing this unit allowed for an immediate and effective exchange of ideas. We are still in the process of making changes to the WWII unit as we prepare for its launch in early 2016 and are excited to communicate the results in future blog posts.

Eugene Henry
History Teacher

Friday, 2 October 2015

Creating Student-Centred Lessons in Grade 11 Biology

In June, the Biology team met in order to create a personalized, blended approach for the Grade 11 Biology (SBI3U) course.

We began by developing a structured learning cycle for each daily lesson:

  • Each lesson begins with a question of the day. This is meant to engage students and to develop their thinking and inquiry skills.
  • Next, students complete an exploration of the lesson concepts. This is an opportunity for students to show their understanding.
  • Finally, students complete an exit card to test their understanding of the subject matter.

By creating a predictable, student-centered lesson structure, we have been able to re-evaluate the focus of our lessons. Students can refine their critical thinking skills and lines of questioning while building a deep understanding of course concepts.

The learning cycle encourages students to engage, reflect, and explore course concepts rather than simply memorizing important pieces of information.

Making Connections Through Outdoor Education

Grade 11 Regional Geography
Grade 11 Regional Geography students built
connections between their fall Outdoor Education
experience and the classroom by exploring
a West Coast ecosystem.
This year, we had the opportunity to build more explicit connections to the Grade 11 Outdoor Education experience in British Columbia. After immersing themselves in one of the ecosystems of the West Coast, Grade 11 Biology students came back to the classroom and applied their experiences to the first unit of the course (the Diversity unit), which focuses on West Coast ecology.
This revised approach to the Biology curriculum would not have been possible without dedicated time to focus on an entire course. The week in the Summer Institute allowed us to collaborate, explore resources in depth, and debate the value of different learning activities, choosing those that will best meet our students’ needs.

Having this opportunity has allowed us to ensure each lesson is focused on student engagement and will support the development of investigation skills that are essential for students to be successful beyond Greenwood.

Nancy Clarke and Vanessa Floras
Science Teachers

Thursday, 28 May 2015

Students Showcase Findings at Annual Climate Change Fair

Each year, Grade 10 Science students have the opportunity to explore a topic of particular interest to them that relates to climate change. Their task is to design their own research project and apply what they have learned to a new situation. With this open-ended project template, we are able to personalize learning and help students discover areas of scientific interest, while guiding their exploration of such topics.

The opportunities for discovery are limitless. One student chose to extensively study the effects of global warming on the country of Tanzania, which has been severely affected by extreme droughts and floods. The student had the opportunity to then travel to Tanzania, where she could witness these issues firsthand and speak with the people who are being affected. Through photography, she documented dried-up river beds, as well as animals and locals suffering from food and water scarcity.

The significance of these experiences was evident. In her own words, "In Tanzania, I was able to apply my knowledge and get an incredible chance to learn how [climate change] is affecting these people...From this experience, I will rethink many of the things that I do at home that contribute to global warming because I can appreciate who is facing the consequences."

Depending on individual strengths and interests, some students were encouraged to design, conduct and analyze experiments to support a particular hypothesis related to climate change. Through controlled experimentation, one student analyzed the effects of deforestation on atmospheric temperatures. She found that environments exposed to high levels of greenhouse gases remained cooler in the presence of vegetation, thus illustrating the role that plants play in regulating climate change. Another student investigated the effects of carbon dioxide on rising sea levels. She designed a laboratory procedure to effectively demonstrate that atmospheres rich in carbon dioxide are able to rapidly melt ice, thereby contributing to rising sea levels.

In the end, students were able to explore topics of interest while developing scientific reasoning and research skills. The project concluded in a Climate Change Fair, during which the Grade 10 students showcased their topics and findings.

Caroline Ferguson
Teacher, Mathematics and Science

Thursday, 23 April 2015

Bonjour Toronto! Exploring Francophone Culture in the City

Drama and French teacher Emily Hincks explains how an assignment exploring francophone culture in the Toronto helped push students out of their comfort zone while providing an authentic learning experience.

Earlier this year in Grade 11 French, we explored the many French-speaking countries and cultures around the world. In this unit, students were asked to find francophone culture in Toronto, participate in a francophone cultural activity in the city, and report back to the class in an oral presentation. As part of their outing, they interviewed a francophone person who was involved in the activity and took photos or a video of their experience.

Some of these excursions involved activities such as interviewing the head chef at a French restaurant, learning about pastry making at an authentic French bakery, and attending a francophone service at a Roman Catholic Church. Grade 11 student Sarah Langill visited the Alliance Française to attend a lecture by French mathematician Cédric Villanin, winner of the prestigious Fields Medal. According to Sarah, "I enjoyed participating in the francophone activity in Toronto. It made me work independently and encouraged my organizational skills. If you were with a group [or on your own], you had to make sure you were free to attend the francophone activity. Also, asking a person who speaks French fluently or is from a francophone country [for an interview] can be intimidating, so it was a good opportunity to venture outside my comfort zone."

This project was personalized for students as they had choice in which activity they wanted to explore. Their learning was inquiry-based and authentic, as they connected the course to the city in which they live in a meaningful way. It created challenges, as they had to rely on their French skills outside the classroom and use them in a real-life setting. The depth of conversation that each student had with their interviewee varied based on language level, and students felt compelled to challenge themselves to their full level.

When I first assigned this project, the students were a little overwhelmed, asking questions such as "Where can I find French culture in Toronto?" and "Is my French strong enough to participate in a cultural activity in this way?" In the end, the students were pleased with their findings and proud of their accomplishments. It was rewarding for all of us to see how and where francophone culture lives in Toronto.

Friday, 17 April 2015

Grade 12 Leadership Takes Students Out of Their Comfort Zone

Leadership at Greenwood is an opportunity for students to engage in activities and conversations with peers and staff that often require them to go outside their comfort zone as they strengthen old traditions and create new ones for the Greenwood community.

Leadership at Greenwood is a progressive model in which each grade of students is afforded more opportunities and responsibilities than the previous year. This culminates in the roles that some of Greenwood's Grade 12 students take on as executives for various committees such as Arts, Athletics, Diversity and Social Affairs. The Grade 12 students also act as leaders in the fall to younger students at Kilcoo Camp during the fall outdoor education program.

Starting their graduating year as counselors, large group activity coordinators, small group activity leaders and skill developers is the greatest leadership challenge our students face and, I would argue, the most important. At Kilcoo, the grads are responsible for welcoming new Grade 7, 8 and 9 students, mentoring and guiding them through their first week of school, and helping students navigate the social climate of high school as cabin counselors.

Beyond these general leadership roles, the grads are able to personalize their own Kilcoo experience with the additional specialized roles they select. A Grade 12 student can request to
  • A large group activity coordinator - Student in this role work in conjunction with teacher-advisers, House captains and members of the Student Council to plan three-hour integration blocks. In this role, students are challenged with the logistics of organizing up to a hundred students at a time, while liaising between different facets of the school community. This experience provides excellent preparation for those who will go on to create initiatives for the entire student body throughout the school year.
  • A small group activity leader - These Grade 12s work with groups of ten of fewer Grade 7, 8 and 9 students, as they move through traditional summer camp activities, such as kayaking, canoeing, rock climbing, and more. The challenge for our grads here is to build a cohesive group that stays motivated, engaged and safe throughout an exciting but also tiring week.
  • A skill developer - Assuming a graduating student has been at Greenwood since at least Grade 9, they have a wealth of their own outdoor education experience to share with our younger students. Grads that choose to be skill developers will instruct activities such as kayaking, canoeing, sailing, and so on. The challenge with being in this role is much the same as being a substitute teacher. The skill developer does not have a developed relationship with the students who come to their activity. In this role, the grads learn how to manage and troubleshoot the dynamics of smaller groups and break down larger skills into a manageable and logical progression, while keeping engagement and safety at the forefront of their minds.

The relationships the grads make with the younger students set the tone for the school year and have an enormous impact on the school's culture. In my mind, leadership development and the opportunities Greenwood provides are the best examples of building and stretching each individual student's leadership potential and ultimately character.


Erin Porter
School Life Coordinator and Mathematics Teacher

Thursday, 9 April 2015

Coastal British Columbia Serves as a Classroom for Regional Geography Students

The Grade 11 Regional Geography course is the first of its kind at Greenwood. Fully integrated with the fall outdoor education program, students enrolled in the course complete the first third of their credit while participating in a sea kayaking adventure off the west coast of Vancouver Island, British Columbia.

Using kayaks as their vehicles for learning, students explore the historical, cultural, economic and physical geographies of the Kyuquot Sound.What better way to learn about the composition and importance of the estuary environments than by paddling up Clanninick Creek? How better to study the lasting impacts of Canada's residential school system than by visiting the local school to learn about current programs supporting language reclamation?

The trip itself provides students with hands-on learning experiences that are enhanced by the passion and local knowledge of the guides at West Coast Expeditions and through interactions with members of the local community. Working from a base camp on Spring Island, students have opportunities to learn about and explore old growth forests, intertidal and estuary environments, past and present First Nations communities and much more. They also research topics of interest using the field library at base camp and teach each other about their findings. Time for reflection is provided at the end of each day. Students use this time to respond to prompts in their field guides, to make notes and to produce sketches of the local environment.

Upon returning from Spring Island, students write a test that covers pertinent topics from their field study. They also complete a reflection-based culminating activity that asks them to select and expand on the most important lessons learned on trip (this component is 10 percent of the credit). From there, they switch gears to focus on the final 60 percent of the course, which enables them to expand on their learning from British Columbia. This portion of the course is delivered primarily online and is supported by two thirty-minute meetings each week.

By completing a series of self-paced modules, students delve deeper into the four strands introduced on the trip: historical, cultural, economic and physical. Assessment of students' learning takes place in the form of module tests and internet-based assignments. Two to three assignment options are available for each unit, and students select and complete the option that best meets their needs in terms of both content and skill development. As the modules can be completed in any order, weekly meeting times are often spent sharing ideas and points of interest from the different topics of study.

The format of the course allows students to self-pace and self-direct through the material. One of the many benefits of this program is that students complete all of their regular assessments (and half of their culminating activity work) prior to the winter holidays. During the month of January, they work toward the completion of a major research project. In this culminating assignment, the students seek to answer a guiding research question of their own creation and present their findings in a manner suited to their research. Project topics and presentation methods are negotiated through a proposal process with the teacher in a manner that reflects geography courses at the postsecondary level. These projects are due in early February, which marks the official end of the course.

The regional geography program provides students with a truly experiential learning opportunity in British Columbia, as well as a condensed timeline for course completion that supports self-pacing and interest-based differentiation. The condensed format also supports student learning by providing participants with a spare in their schedule to use for homework completion and group meetings. Once the course ends, that extra time can be used to balance workloads in other courses.

With the first year of the program successfully completed, plans are already in motion to expand and refine the process for the 2015-2016 academic year.

Katharine Rogers
Teacher, Geography and English

Thursday, 27 November 2014

Grade 8 Social Studies: Extending Students Inside and Outside the Classroom

Part of  personalizing education is creating opportunities for students to extend their learning when they are ready and able to take on more of a challenge. Teacher Cara Pennington gives some examples of extension opportunities for students in her Grade 8 Social Studies class.

Grade 8 Social Studies is a unique course that utilizes the history of Canadian Confederation and Western settlement, along with different aspects of human geography, to develop critical thinking, reading and writing skills. On many occasions, students are encouraged to think outside the box and imagine what life would be like in different time periods or in different parts of the world by taking on the roles of different people and characters throughout history.

Students receive ample choice when it comes to assignment topics. The choice allows for personalization and challenge for students who require a push. Some of the topics that students are able to select include extensions that require students to complete additional research and analysis of their topic. This allows students who are ready for more of a challenge to make deeper connections and to develop their critical thinking skills.

Furthermore, day-to-day tasks in class include extension options for students who are quickly developing an understanding of the material and content. These more in-depth questions encourage students to analyze the same material in different ways and from different angle, in order to to come to new conclusions about the topic.

 Students in Grade 8 Social Studies are also extended outside of the classroom through a field trip to Black Creek Pioneer Village. Here, the students are able to live like the pioneers they have learned about in class, both in British North America and during the settlement of the Canadian western provinces. They perform tasks reflective of the time period such as woodworking and candle-making, and are able to bring the knowledge they have learned in the classroom to life and apply their understandings in a real-world setting.

Tuesday, 13 May 2014

Personalizing Students' Co-Op Experience

Co-op provides an ideal opportunity for personalized learning. Students explore their passions in a job setting, while learning even more about their strengths and their needs. Janelle Watson, Cooperative Education and Physical Education teacher, explains how Greenwood's program relates student placements to their specific learning goals.

Greenwood’s Cooperative Education program allows students to experience the world of work during six hours of placement experience per week, and integrates the learning they do at their placements into one classroom session every two weeks.

Students share their experiences face-to-face in the classroom, and also through blogging and our class Twitter profile: @WatsonCoop.

Teaching co-op to Grade 11 students lends itself well to personalized learning, as each student is placed within the field that most interests them in a position that best suits their ability.

Placement-Specific Projects

About halfway through the year, students begin their Placement-Specific Projects. The general template allows the teacher, students and placement supervisors to collaborate to create projects that give students more responsibility. These projects also encourage students to extend the learning they achieved in the initial phase of their placement experience.

Each project, along with the expectations for the process and the final product, is personalized for the placement and the student. Even if there are two students at the same placement location, they will complete different projects based on their strengths and interests.

The project caters to the specific learning goals of the experiences they had in the first months of their placement, and requires that an authentic final product or task that directly relates to these experiences is completed.

Examples of projects for this year are below, with some students interviews about their projects and what they liked best:

Tuesday, 11 February 2014

Personalizing the Performance Environment

This week, music teacher Ben Wright shares his experience preparing Greenwood's senior music class for the ultimate in real-world music experience: performing in a pit band.

The Junior school musical is something to look forward to each fall term. There is a lot of excitement surrounding the event, as the school shifts its focus from the dreary darkening autumn months to bright lights, costumes and the sounds of musical theatre. For the senior music class, the chance to perform as the pit orchestra for these productions provides a perfect personalized learning opportunity.

SeniorBandPhotoThe senior music class learns upwards of 20 pieces to accompany the young singers, and also performs transition music to distract the audience during set changes. It’s a daunting task to proficiently perform so many pieces - one that requires each student to be working at their personal best.

To ensure success as an ensemble, students are assessed on their performance skills at the start of the term, and their results on these initial evaluations determine the difficulty of their first pieces. I repeat these short performance assessments multiple times throughout the term and adjust the level of difficulty to match the student’s progress. 

As the teacher, I write and arrange the music for the production. This means that as the term unfolds and I see students progress, I can push those who require enrichment by writing more difficult performance pieces, and accommodate students who aren’t progressing quite as quickly. By matching the pieces to work with the ensemble, we can ensure that an advanced tuba player is not playing whole notes for hours, and a beginning flutist is not faced with strings of notes beyond his abilities.

All of the music written for the students is used in the musical. The music is written and arranged specifically for each student, so the parts are challenging but achievable. The performance in front of hundreds of audience members provides a very accountable performance environment. This is just one of the ways that Greenwood's Arts Department makes the arts personal for every student.

Wednesday, 16 October 2013

Rally Days: They're About More than Fun

Greenwood's Arts and Postsecondary Visit Day, held on October 10, was our first "rally day" of the year. Rally days are about more than fun: they broaden student interests and passions beyond the classroom, and they enhance the vibrant sense of community that is key to our personalized approach to education.

Each grade's rally day experience was slightly different, based on their needs and interests. Students in Grades 7-9 stayed at Greenwood, participating in a variety of workshops with visiting artists and exploring elements of the arts outside the curriculum. Grade 10 students participated in a full-day, teambuilding workshop at The Second City, while our senior students selected two universities or colleges within Ontario to visit in order to gain some exposure to life and learning after high school.

What does a rally day look like in action? Check out the Arts Day photos below!

Tuesday, 8 October 2013

Extending Personalized Learning into the Community

Today's post comes from Lisa West, Greenwood's Arts Coordinator.

Personalization at Greenwood extends beyond the walls of the classroom and into the community to create an experience that is unique to each student. Last year, I led a personalized and community-driven project for the students in my Grade 11 Drama class. We partnered with Youth Without Shelter and created a public service announcement that was used to promote their most significant fundraising event: Tokens 4 Change.

Students worked with Naomi Tessler from Branch Out Theatre Company to explore the issue of youth homelessness in Toronto. They participated in a series of brainstorming sessions and acting workshops where they researched statistics and heard written accounts from teens who accessed the services of Youth Without Shelter.

From their exploratory work, the students were joined by Paul Davis, Founder and Director of PACTFilm, who brought his 20-plus years of working in the film and TV industry into the classroom. Students learned how to storyboard their ideas and act for the screen as they were directed and filmed over an afternoon. Each identified their area of interest and focused their efforts on that particular aspect of the film process, creating a polished end product that was created from individualized parts. The finished product was shown provincially on Global television and Shaw Cable.

The students ended this exciting experience by participating in Tokens 4 Change and raising the most money of any of the teams in the city. Check out the PSA below.

Lisa West
Arts Coordinator

Thursday, 17 May 2012

A Flexible Timetable Leads to a Personalized Approach

In a previous blog post, I wrote about the belief I share with people such as Salman Khan that schools of the future will utilize blended learning as a tool to personalize the student experience. To truly personalize, however, we need to do more than use technology to enhance learning. We need to change our timetables to create greater flexibility.

At Greenwood College School, we have spent time this year discussing how the timetable will need to change in the eventual future in order to continue meeting the needs of our school’s mission, as well as accommodate a more personalized approach to learning.

The ideal timetable would have large blocks of time dedicated to various learning tasks. There would be some flexible time in which students could choose the subject or activity they would work on during that time. Other time would be more structured with a common lecture, tutorial or rehearsal for many students enrolled in a course.

Our current timetable has equal blocks of time for every subject. This is not ideal for many students. Some students need to spend more time on their writing and research-related courses, others need to spend more time on math or on a language. A flexible timetable can accommodate the needs of each individual student as they can choose to spend more time on their area of need or interest.

We feel that this combination of the flexible with the traditional will allow for more space within a day or week for students to extend their learning with excursions or cross-curricular projects, while maintaining teacher guidance.

A flexible timetable would enable students to enrich and personalize their school experience through excursions. For example, French students could go on a week-long trip to France or science students could do a few days of field study. If these students’ day-to-day schedule is flexible and their courses were being offered in a blended learning manner, then these excursions would not interfere with their learning in other courses.

The online materials and teacher support of a blended learning program would afford students who have a flexible timetable the time to work ahead - or catch up on the work not done - in their other courses while they were out of school.

These trips could become part of a personalized program for a student if they cover the expectations from a unit or multiple units within a course. If, for example, the student has covered a unit of their science course through a field study, they would not need to cover this material in the classroom.

The student would have completed these course requirements, but in a different way than their classmates. This would then free up time for the student to complete cross-curricular projects or to work on subjects that require more of their time.

Eventually adding more flexibility into the timetable will lead to a more personalized approach to many students’ school program.

Heather Rigby
Director of Personalized Learning