Showing posts with label Student Engagement. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Student Engagement. Show all posts

Tuesday, 7 November 2017

Thinking Critically About Confederation

As part of the Grade 8 History curriculum, students study the evolution of Canada's Confederation. Our students engaged in this topic by adopting the perspective of one of the colonies involved in the Confederation debate and used this perspective to think critically about the pros and cons of this important decision. 

Working with their teammates, students used a variety of historical sources and class activities to examine the key issues relevant to their colony. The Confederation conferences were simulated using a fishbowl discussion, as it created an authentic environment for students to communicate and understand the competing points of view. Each fishbowl discussion contained one participant from each colony, which resulted in lively debate. Students outside the fishbowl offered feedback to the discussion participants.

In a debrief, students indicated they like the format of the presentation as they were able to really demonstrate their understanding of the topic and many even said they wished they had more time to discuss and debate! 

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.

Tuesday, 13 June 2017

The Results of Change

A transformative year in Greenwood’s history is coming to a close. In his last blog address of the school year, Allan Hardy evaluates the results from two student surveys, and reflects on how our evolved facilities have impacted the Greenwood community.  

It’s hard to believe we have almost completed our first year in our new space. While our community began the year with great excitement, there were also real questions about how our new building would alter the school and the quality of the student experience. Would our larger physical space detract from Greenwood’s strong sense of community? Would new different classroom structures hamper personalized learning, or enable it?

Over the past several weeks we have conducted two separate student surveys that shed positive light on questions like these. When asked on the student engagement survey, conducted by researchers at the University of New Brunswick, to list some of the things they liked about Greenwood, students overwhelmingly cited their teachers and our school’s strong sense of community. This result was echoed in another student survey, conducted by Panorama Education which focused on students’ perception of their teachers and classes. Student relationship with teachers, which looks at how well they think their teachers know them, ranked in the 90th percentile.

On the student engagement survey, we posted modest gains from last year in our students’ sense of belonging and their development of positive friendships. Both scores also exceeded Canadian school norms, as did student involvement in athletics and clubs. Gains were also noted in interest and motivation, as well as being challenged at the appropriate level. This latter result was close to 30% higher than the Canadian norm. Our biggest gains over the December Panorama survey were in students being able to explain their thinking and trying different strategies when they get stuck. Both gains, as well as the strong result in being appropriately challenged, speak to a growing ability to self-direct one’s learning, which is a key outcome of personalized learning.

We also took a close look at the results from students who were in co-taught classes, as there have been many questions about this approach throughout this year. Survey results in co-taught classes showed improvement in learning how to direct your learning and understanding content. These improved results were equal to those of a traditional classroom. Survey results also indicted that engaging all students consistently and managing the learning environment effectively are two areas to continue to work on next year with the co-teaching model.

These surveys, as well as other feedback gained throughout this year, will inform our planning for next year. We are going to be more intentional about how we schedule co-taught classes. Many of the teachers participating in our Summer Teacher Institute will focus on further developing our use of co-teaching. Students also indicated they would like greater access to the gym, the fitness centre and the theatre, so we are going to see what can be done to accommodate this need.

I am really pleased with these results and by how hard our teachers and staff have worked to achieve them. Though there is still plenty to work on next year, these results emphasize that the changes we have made are meeting the needs of our students.