Showing posts with label Whole-Person. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Whole-Person. Show all posts

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

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

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.

Monday, 18 November 2013

Students Pursue Their Passions in the Business Classroom

In the Grade 11 entrepreneurship class, students spend the year envisioning and developing a small business idea and venture plan based on their strengths and passions. Though the components of this venture plan are standard, students have the opportunity to fully personalize their plans by pursuing or creating a market to which they feel connected. Because students work within current resource and skill endowments, the project becomes real and immediate and challenges students to identify their strengths and weaknesses as well as their passions that will represent viable business ideas.

Over the course of this project students will:
  • Consider their entrepreneurial skills and strengths
  • Select and research an industry of interest
  • Determine a form of business ownership
  • Define a target market
  • Develop a marketing plan
  • Consider sources of financing and create budgets and financial projections
  • Work to create a personalized brand and company image that reflects their core beliefs

Students tend to find this project rewarding as it relates to real life and offers many opportunities for creativity. This year, some business ideas include:
  • Insane IT: An online tech business, building custom computers for gamers.
  • Demeter Foods: A food truck, servicing the central business district with healthy and organic snacks.
  • Riders’ Bikes: A custom-build bike shop servicing downhill riders
  • Kids in the Kitchen: A business teaching young people the art of cooking at birthday parties or in a camp setting.

Some students are creating sole proprietorships, some have developed partnerships with classmates and some have learned how to incorporate their business after considering legal implications and barriers.

Through this project, students not only learn a number of key business concepts, they also learn a great deal about themselves as they are forced to consider their entrepreneurial potential and overall interest in small business ownership. Without doubt, it is both a school project and, more importantly, an opportunity for personal learning and experiment.

Elanna Robson
Instructional Leader, Business and Canada World Studies

Monday, 4 November 2013

Personalized Learning in Senior Biology

Science becomes even more exciting than usual when it speaks to the individual student’s interest. The Science Department at Greenwood offers choice in topic and/or format for many assignments. This allows students to select what intrigues them the most, and then convey this heightened level of engagement with a quality end product.
Many students were so intrigued by their study
of bacteria in Grade 11 Biology that they have
chosen to extend this activity beyond class time
for their own enrichment.

This year, we began the Grade 11 Biology course with the Diversity Unit so that we could create an overarching theme of classification for all of the units in the course. This also provided a jumping-off point for students to discuss their unique outdoor education experiences. (All Grade 11s go on a sea kayaking or hiking trip in British Columbia in the fall).

Using their own photos, students presented a researched organism native to BC during the first class back to school. We use this experience to help each student understand taxonomy before focusing on specific examples from each kingdom.  

Students then chose a source of possible contamination that could be a home for bacteria. Using petri dishes to collect and grow bacteria, students were trained to create pure plates of their selected bacteria as well as determine the identity of the bacteria. Some of the students were so intrigued by their discovery they have opted to extend this activity beyond class time for their own enrichment.

The Grade 12 Biology course includes a unit on Homeostasis (the ability of the body to maintain equilibrium). What better way to learn about the body’s innate ability to handle change than to use yourself as a test subject? Each student in this course collects data on themselves for a period of one week before developing a procedure that will promote greater self-awareness and (ultimately) a healthier lifestyle. 

This personal discovery gets documented in a formal scientific report representative of a university-quality report. With scheduled editing dates, students divide this extended lab into manageable chunks with multiple opportunities to receive timely advice on ways to develop their analytical skills.

Nancy Clarke
Science Instructional Leader

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!