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Connect Board Retreat

It's never just an ordinary day: Directors cut
Ashley Nixon- Connect Charter School Board Member.

Tessellation shown in this pavement
 mosaic from Rio de Janiero, Brazil.
 It was a privilege to spend my afternoon visiting classrooms and interacting with students and teachers at the Connect Charter School, Calgary on Friday. Two students, Will and Oman, guided myself and other Board Directors in and out of various learning places, the "field survey" part of the review of the school's strategic plan "Lead, Share, Transform" conducted annually.

The tour began with an iPad training session in the library led by some young experts from Grade 6. I came away knowing more about how to pull similar apps together and grab images from the web. Geometry was under exploration in Grade 5, where I saw students shaping their own learning through turning, translating, even tessellating objects.

Grade 7 Canadian History: Post 2

Jody Pereverzoff and Chris Dittman - Grade 7 Humanities

In our last blog post, we described the genesis of our Grade 7 Humanities project focusing on early Canadian (pre-confederation) history. We left off with students having just determined the most historically significant event in their debate group, each of which consisted of 4-5 students, each seeking to prove the historical significance of their specific event.  

We were left around 5 events in each of the 4 classes. Our focus now was to return to our original inquiry question; Why do so many Canadians know and care so little about our nation’s history?  We returned to our original class brainstorm around the importance (or lack of) of knowing Canadian history.  Specifically, we drew students’ attention to the reasons they gave for a lack of interest.  These included:

  • History is boring
  • People have studied events in history, but often forget
  • Events are not relevant

A Principal's Perspective: Back to Basics

Darrell Lonsberry - Connect Charter School Principal

It seems as though the pendulum is swinging once again, this time motivated by some people who are espousing a back to basics approach to mathematics education, in large part as a response to the most recent PISA results. I don't want to remain mute on this, as mathematics education is near and dear to my heart. One of the difficulties in using results from standardized tests such as PISA, TIMSS or PIRLS to compare nations on the quality of their educational systems, and even in determining change over time within a single system, is that these tests often do not measure those things that teachers would say are most important. While some may purport to measure these things, I haven't yet run into a standardized tests that adequately and appropriately measures a student’s ability to think creatively, to persevere in a challenging task (these international tests are all timed), to collaborate through a problem, to use research strategies to find missing information, to share their learning in novel and effective ways, to access expertise when it is required, etc. I don't want to come across as trying to justify lower results by blaming the test, but in considering the results we must also look at what students are actually being asked to do.

Grade 7 Canadian History

Jody Pereverzoff and Chris Dittmann- Grade 7 Humanities

We invited David Scott, a former CSS teacher, to collaborate on a unit to engage students in early Canadian history and provide students an opportunity to wrestle with why we learn history and whether history is important to understand. We asked ourselves what most Canadians think of history in general, and Canadian history specifically. We came upon the government’s Heritage Minister lamenting the fact that Canadians do not know our own history. He went so far as to call this current situation a future threat to Canada as a country. We read this article as a class and students offered their reactions to it:

Professional Networking Day for Outdoor Education teachers

Deirdre Bailey (Connect Charter), Jason Lindsay (Calgary Arts Academy) and David Manning (Westmount Charter)

“Passion is lifted from the earth itself by the muddy hands of the young; it travels along grass-stained sleeves to the heart. If we are going to save environmentalism and the environment, we must also save an endangered indicator species: the child in nature.” 
Richard Louv -  Last Child in the Woods
In collaboration with Outdoor Education specialists from the Calgary Arts Academy and Westmount Charter, Connect Charter School (formerly the Calgary Science School) is hosting a Professional Networking Day for Outdoor Education teachers on Monday, February 3, 2014. The intent to provide an opportunity and location for Calgary and area based Outdoor Educators to connect, share their unique approach to OE programming, and extend their professional community of practice. The primary purpose of the day is to allow attendees to share elements of their practice and in return, leave the day with new resources and contacts. Our goal is to allow for collaboration and feedback from a wide range of colleagues and mentors and to allow OE teachers to broaden their professional network in order to improve practice and advance the learning of colleagues.

Grade 9 Identity Poetry Anthology

WHO AM I?: Identity Poetry Anthology Version 2.0 
Jaime Groeller and Ivy Waite- Grade 9 Humanities

Ivy and I are very excited to once again be team teaching grade 9 Humanities this year. We taught this curriculum in our first year together, went back down to grade 8 for our second, then looped back into grade 9 with the same students for the 2013-2014 school year. We went back to our year plan from our first time through grade 9, looked through the projects we created and adapted, and in doing so decided to begin the year once again with a poetry unit on “identity”, an important guiding concept in the grade 9 social studies curriculum. We love this project because it also allows us to meet some ELA objectives and have the students interact with poetry beyond merely “analyzing.” Armed with our detailed reflections from last time, we worked to adapt the activities and projects we used before to meet the needs of our current group of students, and also to improve upon certain aspects of the inquiry. The assignment sheet and graphic organizer look very similar to last time, but we did make some significant changes to how we approached this study, as well as the organization of the anthology itself.

Evolution of Inclusive Practices at Connect Charter School

Abby Saadeh ~ Inclusive Practices Coach

When starting the position of the Inclusive Practices Coach at Connect Charter School in 2012, I was
asked time and time again, “What does Inclusive Practices mean exactly?” And to be honest, at first
there was a struggle to give it a definition. After months of work in this position I have realized that this is a field that is constantly evolving and adapting to respond to the needs of our school.

Some of the things that I learned over the past few years are that it is not only about making sure that every student has an opportunity to learn, it is a proactive process with the intention of valuing and motivating learners while fostering and advocating for their independence in an environment where everyone can feel safe and accepted. How we do this, starts with understanding who our students are. We do this through Learner Profiles, relationship building, Student Resource Group Meetings, past history, student and parent interviews, STAR reading assessments etc. Then, partnered with students and parents, we mutually agree on goals, and come up with an implementation plan that is tailored to the individual student’s learning style.

Grade 5 Genius Hour

Calgary Science School
Grade 5 Team

Framework for Student Learning Graphic
The Grade 5s are excited to be starting Genius Hour this year! Every day 3 we will be dedicating 80 minutes to Genius Hour work, providing students with a voice in what they want to learn, promoting their passions and encouraging creativity. Students will be expected to be prepared and to use this time effectively.

Genius Hour is tightly linked with objectives outlined by Alberta Education in their document Framework for Student Learning:

Genius Hour will help develop life skills such as planning, teamwork, meeting timelines, and following through on commitments. This experience will inspire self-direction, pride and responsibility in each student.