Showing posts with label Postsecondary. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Postsecondary. Show all posts

Thursday, 28 April 2016

Careers is Personalized to Prepare Students for Their Futures

Career Studies is a compulsory half credit taken in Grade 10. The value that students place on this course has increased significantly through the fact that much of the content is now personalized.

I send a consistent message to my students in this class that everything produced or learned in this course can be useful to them and their futures. Students have the opportunity to research postsecondary programs of interest to them. As well, they get support through the course selection process with postsecondary programs in mind.

Students find and prepare for jobs for which they think they will apply, and produce résumés that they actually use. They also prepare a profile that is used in postsecondary applications, research experiential or enrichment opportunities and practice job interview skills.

Students in Grade 12 often comment that they wish they had taken more advantage of these fantastic learning opportunities when they were in Grade 10.

This course has the potential to prepare students, as individuals, for their futures.

Student Feedback

Read about what some Grade 10 students have to say about the course this year:

"Careers is one of the best classes to help teach you about your future. Solely from what I have learned in Careers, I received one job offer on site and three based off of the reputation I have established from the interview in the small town of Baysville, ON. I learned how to be very professional and how to make interviewers interested in me. 

"One thing that set me apart from others was my understanding of the importance of job safety. When asked about the three most important things I should do if working in a business I said with the professionalism learned through Careers, “Without a doubt the most important concern is customers' satisfaction. The staff and I need to comply with every request made by the customers with utmost respect. Another necessity is food safety. We are working with raw meat that may contain salmonella or other diseases, ice cream that may have freezer burn, and so many other potentially hazardous materials. The business is liable for anything that may go wrong in its inventory. The third most important is employee relations. You need to treat each employee fairly and equally. Be kind to all and learn from them.” I happened to have everything on her list. She admired the charisma I exuded, which I had solely because of the confidence of my success from the information learned from Careers. 

"Without a doubt, all students should listen to every word Ms. Branscombe or any other Careers teacher says, because in the long run it all pans out."

"Careers class is personalized towards our interests in areas like potential jobs and postsecondary programs. This means the assignments and tasks we are doing now prepare us for our own individual goals and needs, which will be useful for our future."

"Careers has been a very helpful course this year. It's helpful because I am able to specialize the assignments to make them more helpful to me. For example, when we were looking at postsecondary options I was able to look at programs that interested me, instead of looking at general programs to fulfill the requirements of the assignment. This helped me with course selection as well."

Elizabeth Branscombe
Guidance & Careers Subject Team Leader

Friday, 23 October 2015

Creating Modules and Personalized Tasks In Career Studies

During Greenwood’s Summer Institute, Liz Branscombe, Lisa West and I worked together to reevaluate the Career Studies course content and program structure. We quickly found that the vast majority of the curriculum was current and valuable to students’ learning experience; however, we identified opportunities to enhance the delivery of the course. For example, we divided three units into eight modules, each having a specialized focus to allow for more specific teacher instruction and greater student exploration within each topic. 

We collaborated to look at the program from a student perspective, adding personalized elements accordingly. In the Preparing for Postsecondary Education module, students had previously worked in small groups to investigate and present to the whole class about one postsecondary option of interest. The reformed program has students working independently to investigate their top postsecondary choice. They will then present to small groups of individuals that have expressed an interest in that particular postsecondary option. This change will inform and engage students in presentations of postsecondary institutions in which they are directly interested. 

Jamie Lester
Careers, Civics, and Health & Physical Education Teacher

Thursday, 26 March 2015

Planning for the Future by Exploring Career Paths

During the second unit of the Careers course, students have been exploring the various options and opportunities for their postsecondary and future plans. Lesson themes have included occupations of interest, postsecondary options and programs, and varying types of career paths. Each student is investigating their own individual interests and establishing their own pathways.

For some students it can be daunting to think about potential occupations at this stage of their lives, while others have a clear idea. Nevertheless, one of the main focuses of our unit was to allow students to recognize and appreciate that there are multiple paths one may take while determining and pursuing a career.

To allow students to connect with the unit personally, they completed an exploration activity where they researched and created a presentation on an occupation of interest. Students then completed an interview task, in which they identified possible career paths that interested them and interviewed someone who has had experience in that particular field. Students found the task enlightening, as the interview often exposed more about the career than is found in research alone.

Lastly, to provide students with an opportunity to learn about the various directions a career path can take, they participated in a live international discussion with Justin Lester, the current Deputy Mayor of Wellington, New Zealand. The students were provided with a brief overview of his career path to date and brainstormed questioned to ask him via Skype. The class found it quite astonishing to learn about the various studies, jobs and opportunities Justin had undertaken before becoming the youngest Deputy Mayor of New Zealand's capital city. Justin tried to impress on the students the importance of finding an occupation of interest and continually working toward achieving career goals. He concluded the discussion with an insightful message: to pursue direct and indirect opportunities that will act as stepping stones toward achieving a bigger goal.

Jamie Lester
Teacher, Health & Physical Education, Careers and Civics

Friday, 30 January 2015

The Grade 11 Adviser Course: Creating Personal Challenge

At Greenwood, we are constantly striving to better prepare our students for life beyond high school. Liz Branscombe, Greenwood's Guidance and Careers Subject Team Leader, talks about the new Grade 11 Adviser course, Advanced Learning Strategies (GLS4O), as a forum for students to develop their self-awareness and to focus on preparing themselves for this pivotal transition.

The very nature of the course lends itself to personalized learning in very meaningful ways.

Postsecondary Planning

To better prepare them to complete their postsecondary applications, students in this course are given opportunities to research and document information about various programs of interest. They are shown how to navigate through college and university websites in order to find program requirements, course descriptions and specifics for admission consideration. This process helps students to choose the appropriate Grade 12 courses with the help of their Adviser, who is also their Postsecondary Transition Counselor.

The goal is that all Grade 11 students enrolled in GLS4O will have at least three programs that they have fully researched and to which they feel confident and excited about applying. Throughout the process, students are encouraged to reflect independently on postsecondary environments which will make them the happiest and the most successful.

Employment Readiness

Postsecondary graduates are increasingly having difficulty finding jobs because of their lack of actual work experience. Preparing for the world of work is a topic of discussion for these students as many of our students strive to get some work experience before graduating. Opportunities are given for students to receive feedback on their resumes and also to practice for job interviews. Students learn the importance of networking, as well as identifying skills that are transferable to the world of work. Some attention is given to the impact of an online presence and students work to create personal websites, which may be used to represent them in the future.

Developing a Growth Mindset

In the third of this course, students will demonstrate their desire to learn by setting their own personal objectives for a "Trailblazing Project." Students will practice their executive functioning skills by
  • Researching what they would like to achieve and identifying a "SMART" goal;
  • Planning out what they will do and when they will achieve this;
  • Planning out how they will check their progress.
The students will spend significant time on their proposals for this project and teachers will ensure that these are aligned with their goals.

This project is meant to support the students' future goals and help them develop skills around their interests. Various projects that students are planning on completing include:
  • Completing an extra-credit course online
  • Completing portfolios for their postsecondary applications
  • Learning a skill (such as a language or computer program)
  • Researching a topic
  • Creating something significant (such as a short story or a song)
The possibilities are endless, and I am excited to see what the students choose to accomplish!

To hear what students say about Advanced Learning Strategies, check out the video below. Click here to read about a recent field trip to the Ontario Science Centre where GLS4O students explored the human brain and how we learn.

Thursday, 6 November 2014

Preparing Business Students for Postsecondary Case-Based Learning

One of the preferred teaching methods in postsecondary Business programs is to have students work in teams to analyze past business scenarios through case-based learning. In order to better prepare them for the challenges of case-based learning, all senior Business students at Greenwood participate in a school-wide case competition in April. Teacher Justine Lucas describes how this process works.

The Players
Each Grade 12 Business course participates in the competition. Classes include Accounting, Business Leadership, Economics and International Business.

In each Business course, teachers walk students though the Greenwood case attack method (similar to methods used in top Business programs) and have them complete 4-6 cases with increasing degrees of difficulty throughout the year. As students work through each case, teachers observe team dynamics, the degree of preparation and the creativity of the students' solutions. When working through the preliminary cases, students receive verbal and written feedback on their case process, their ability to work in teams and their presentation skills. As they get more comfortable with case analysis, students are formally evaluated on both the process and presentation of their analysis.

The Competition
The ultimate challenge comes on competition day. Students are stretched by these postsecondary level cases and by needing to work together to analyze them effectively and in a timely manner.

Students are given the case the night before to read and prepare for the next day. Teams are comprised of a mix of students from each of the business disciplines and announced the morning of the competition. Mixing up the teams allows students to make cross-curricular connections and show leadership in their area of expertise. Students spend the morning working with their new teammates to define their problem statement, develop alternatives and agree on the best solution. There is a quick break for lunch and then the teams are back at it, busy putting together and practicing their final presentations. The final piece of the competition involves each team presenting their ideas to a panel of judges made up of Business teachers and professionals. The teams have ten minutes for delivery and a question period from the judges.

The case competition is evaluated as a major assessment in each class. Students are evaluated individually on their contribution to the team, based on the role they play in the case team, as well as their presentation skills. A group mark is also assigned based on team cohesiveness, case analysis and presentation.

Many students see the case competition as a highlight of the senior Business curriculum. Amit Nofech-Mozes, a recent Greenwood graduate and winner of the 2014 case competition, remarked that "the case competition is a good representation of what a university student will have to do on a weekly basis in a Business program...It helped prepare me for the analysis and dynamics of working in a team."

Stay tuned for details of the 4th Annual Greenwood College School Case Competition, being held in April 2015.

Tuesday, 9 September 2014

Minerva: The University of the Future?

Critics of contemporary North American education often claim that it’s driven by flavor-of- the-month thinking. Not surprisingly, personalized learning has been described by these same critics as the latest educational fad. As followers or occasional readers of this blog realize, we take exception to such criticism, as personalized learning is at the heart of our educational approach here at Greenwood.

Consequently, it was refreshing to read this month’s cover story in The Atlantic, “The Future of College?” and learn that other educators are not content with the preservation of the status quo. The article by Graeme Wood, a graduate of Harvard, focuses on Minerva, a small for-profit university that has established itself in San Francisco. What makes Minerva unique is its use of an online learning platform, which uses technology to re-imagine the traditional university lectures and seminar.

The strength of the online platform is that it forces students to engage actively and be accountable for their learning. By using this technology, professors can simultaneously communicate with each student. Unlike the traditional seminar, there is no opportunity to sit back and let others do the work, nor is there the typical stand-and-deliver lecture in which the professor does almost all the work. Professors use the online platform to group students to debate topics and gauge learning through pop quizzes. After experiencing one of these 45-minute seminars, which Wood describes as “good, but exhausting,” he observes that Minerva’s seminar platform “will challenge professors to stop thinking they’re using technology just because they lecture with PowerPoint.”

One other benefit of this approach is that it forces professors to think more carefully about how they teach. Rather than seeing teaching as an art and a science, the leaders of Minerva believe teaching is “a science and a science.” In other words, effective teaching is dependent upon student learning. Lesson design is rooted in research related to retention and engagement. Ongoing assessment, which is a key element of personalized learning, is used to group students effectively and to support remediation.

Though Minerva makes no claims about personalizing education, their efforts at reinventing the traditional university model bear some similarities. Rather than educating large numbers of students in a cost-effective manner (which is why lecture halls exist at universities), they instead are focused intently on individual learning. The entrepreneurs of Minerva are also leveraging technology to make this possible.

It is reassuring to know that our use of blended learning and other aspects of personalized learning at Greenwood are preparing our students to be able adapt successfully to the inevitable changes that are happening or will soon take place in the world of higher education.

Allan Hardy

Thursday, 15 May 2014

Video: What are some of the fears associated with blended learning?

We know that teaching is relational, and the relationship between teacher and student is critical. In this video, our blended learning experts address fears that blended learning aims to replace teachers with technology. In fact, blended learning, when done well, enhances the teacher-student relationship.

Thursday, 8 May 2014

Video: How do we know blended learning works?

It's a common question: how do we know blended learning makes a difference for students? Our three panelists share their evidence that this approach positively impacts student learning and engagement.


Thursday, 24 April 2014

Video: Does blended learning work for all students?

It doesn't take a certain type of student to succeed in a blended environment. This approach increases student learning and engagement for students with a wide variety of strengths and needs. Our blended learning panelists share their views on this subject in the video below.

Thursday, 17 April 2014

Video: What are the advantages of blended learning?

How does blended learning benefit students, both at the middle/high school and postsecondary levels? Our three Blended Learning panelists discuss the advantages of this learning approach.

Thursday, 10 April 2014

Video: What does blended learning look like at different institutions?

Blended learning looks slightly different at every school and in every class, but there are many common features. Three experts share what this approach looks like at their institution.

Greenwood hosted a Blended Learning Panel Discussion on February 4, 2014, featuring speakers from both the postsecondary and middle/high school levels:
  • Dr. Brenda Ravenscroft, Associate Dean, Teaching and Learning, Faculty of Arts and Science, Queen's University
  • Paul Gries, Senior Lecturer, Department of Computer Science, University of Toronto
  • Heather Thomas, Vice-Principal, Student Learning, Greenwood College School
Over the next several weeks, we'll post video excerpts of the evening's discussions, broken up by topic. Each video provides not only insight from these experts on where blended learning is going, but concrete examples of what students can expect in a blended classroom at college and university.

Watch the first video below, and check back next week for the next installment!

Tuesday, 22 January 2013

Preparing Students for Postsecondary Learning

One of our key goals here at Greenwood is to ensure our graduates make an effective transition to learning in the postsecondary environment. I read my alumni magazine from the University of Toronto (U of T Magazine) with this point in mind.

I was pleased to see in the most recent issue (Winter 2013), that Coursera has arrived at U of T. If you are not familiar with Coursera, here is some background. As they note on their website, Coursera is a social entrepreneurship company that partners with top universities in the world—to date 33 universities have signed on—to offer courses online for anyone to take, for free. Like our blended learning approach at Greenwood, Coursera uses online lectures and multimedia resources that enable students to master key concepts at their own pace.

According to the article in U of T Magazine, U of T is Canada’s first university to partner with Coursera. At present, U of T offers five courses through Coursera. 82,000 students from around the world are enrolled in an introductory programming course in computer studies, with 350 of these students being from U of T. Though the Coursera courses are non-credit, the resources offered in their program provide the U of T students with online modules they can use at home, and come to class better prepared. This approach, according to Professor Paul Gries, “frees up class time for more creative and interactive learning and allows for the best possible experience.” In effect, this approach being used at U of T resembles our approach to blended learning here at Greenwood.

Aside from recognizing the value of online learning, officials at U of T are also working to design programs that allow their students smaller, hands-on experiences. The Winter issue describes New College’s ONE program, which “gets students into small classes and out of the lecture hall.” The ONE program is a collection of interdisciplinary courses that focus primarily on hands-on learning and the development of writing and critical thinking skills. By limiting enrolment in these courses, the hope is that first-year students will have an opportunity to develop relationships with peers and professors, thus making the transition from high school to university a bit easier.

All in all, it is good to see that one of the world’s leading universities sees the merit in a small, hands-on learning environment where teachers adapt to meet the needs of students and the importance of online, self-paced learning, all of which are vital components of personalized learning here at Greenwood.

Allan Hardy

Friday, 12 October 2012

Remaking Higher Education in Canada

It was encouraging to see a recent special series in the Globe & Mail dedicated to the reinvention of higher education in Canada. The thesis of the series is that we need to “remake our one-size-fits-all universities for a more flexible, fast-paced future.” As those of you who have visited this blog over the past year are aware, we have described how we are engaging in a similar reinvention here at Greenwood.

The lead article in this series provides some historical context about the evolution of the university model and its deep-rooted reliance on the lecture-hall model of instruction. However, the combined impact of a rapid increase in the number of students attending university and the reduction in government funding for these institutions has led to a sharp increase in class size, thus creating a less personal experience for students.

Some observers, like Robert Mendenhall, founder of Western Governors University in Salt Lake City, advocate for a greater use of online instruction. Mendenhall believes that online instruction is the most effective way to attend to the varied pace and style of student learning.  Clearly, he has vested interest in this approach. Not surprisingly, a number of university professors have utilized various op-ed pages over the past few months criticizing the online approach, claiming that it undermines the essential premise of a liberal arts education.

At Greenwood, we believe there is an integrated solution to this debate. We believe that blended learning, an approach which combines the best of face-to-face learning with technology, is the best way to ease the transition from a one-size-fits-all approach to a more personalized solution. Certainly, it puts students at the center of learning, which as many commentators in the Globe & Mail series point out, should be the central purpose of any re-invention of the current educational system.

Allan Hardy