I am pleased to report that in order to finalise spending of my $20,000 Lifetime Achievement Award, purchases have been made to go toward The Loxton High School Learning Centre (still in the formative stages - a work in progress!)
Two Filing cabinets
Eight Wobbly Stools
One Mobile Digital Workspace / Stand up desk
The wobbly stools and stand up desk are of particular interest because they are new to our school and will serve as a trial before deciding to buy more. The initial feedback from students to the wobbly stools has been immediate and extremely positive! They all want one!
I am once again extremely grateful to have money to spend on equipment we would not normally have been able to purchase.
The reporting has continued this week with a presentation to Governing Council and an article in the local paper. Next week the Riverland Principals Group will hear about our Calgary exploits.
The most progressive event of the week would have been the lunchtime meeting, where interested parties came together to explore the notion of what a Learning Centre could look like in a Loxton High School setting. Plenty of brainstorming and now the multitude of sticky notes will be collated.
The Calgary Board of Education (CBE) are piloting are project to encourage a diverse group of learner voices to respond to the question "What did you learn today?". The website can be found at
I was invited to contribute and my 250 word response is attached below-
As an Aussie educator who had the opportunity to work intensively with the CBE and on observation in several schools throughout our 6 day visit I learned so much my head was spinning! The blog will give a detailed version.
The Learning Centre and ‘The Class’ were well established, caring places that gave students who needed extra support a place to call home. They were well resourced and ‘The Learning Strategies’ course is something we would like to implement. Wobbly stools and Living Walls were new, as was the concept of Learning Commons.
I thought our Technology implementation and resourcing was a ‘mish mash’ and difficult to maintain; no-one appears to have the perfect solution! The visibility and usage of student mobile phones was a contrast to home, where currently at Loxton there is a ‘No Mobile Phone’ policy in place. How long will we last?!
The tutorial system, before lessons officially started, was a progressive idea giving students responsibility for their follow up learning.
I would love to see our weekly staff meetings changed to the monthly Canadian style and the staff commitment to extra-curricular activities was impressive.
Other positive ideas were: the extensive use of whiteboard walls / desktops for student collaboration, use of a ‘Scantron’ to mark quizzes, food carts selling student made goods, the notion of ‘Wellness’ being incorporated across the curriculum and the various sporting logos that instil pride in school teams. The Loxton Leopards may soon be in existence!
Our priority, on returning to school, was to report back to staff as soon as possible, before our ideas and impressions became 'diluted' through incidental conversations or 'waned' through the immediate demands of starting a new term! This being our first day back for Term 2, it was heartening to hear that a significant number of our colleagues had followed our blog over the holiday period.
The plan was to condense our expansive series of blogs, to a 30minute 'snapshot' presentation, at the scheduled Monday afternoon Staff Meeting. Staff were given an individual sheet with the key focus areas listed; they were asked to highlight which areas they liked / or could see being applicable to our setting / or would like to discuss at greater length.
In order to gain an overall picture of which focus areas generated most interest amongst staff , dot charts were used to provide feedback for the entire group.
While we could have spoken for a lot longer, I think we achieved our goal of 'surfacing' the ideas we
discovered in Calgary and certainly gained valuable feedback on which ideas appealed most to our colleagues. The next step is to meet with our principal, John Tiver, to coordinate a 'plan of attack' to move forward on some of these targeted areas. Hopefully, conversations will continue in a more informal way and questions that have been raised on the individual feedback sheets can be addressed.
So here we are at Calgary airport, all 'tagged up' and ready to move on to the next adventure. We have a couple hours to kill so there will be an opportunity to gather our thoughts in regard to how we will present our findings once arriving home. While we have certainly gained ideas that we think would work well in our system, we would like to present more of an overview to staff so that they can then make up their own minds. There is nothing worse than someone telling someone else what is good for them! A guaranteed way to put them off!
The hardest part will be narrowing / refining our rambling blog into a coherent and succinct report. Anyone out there who has been following and would like to indicate their 'nugget' / 'pearl'.......could help share in this process!! We are more than happy to make this an inclusive activity.
Easter will be a holiday for all three of us and believe me will not be feeling guilty! Tara and Skye are excited to be meeting up with 'English Jo' and I am keen to spend time with my sister, Lisa, in Cambria.
The blog will be in recess until we present our findings and then share the, hopefully positive and enthusiastic, response from staff within our school. It will be interesting to see what evolves as a result of this amazing opportunity. We three know it will be something we will never forget, our approach to education (mindset) has been impacted as a direct result of being immersed in the Calgary system. Loxton High School is a special place, we just hope we can enhance our fine culture by adapting and learning from these experiences.
Special thanks to Colleen from The Calgary Board of Education who coordinated our visit and to all of the principals and staff who so willingly gave their time to ensure we gained a thorough insight into their system. We could not have asked for anything more and would love to return the favour if the opportunity arose. Canadian Educators are certainly a warm, generous and professional bunch who are very willing to share, for that we are most grateful.
- Libraries are called Learning Commons (change in the structure of a library) Rene Martin - Librarian or learning commons must have a masters degree. - Library assistants - no official training - The Learning Common is now a space that you come in to create. It's no longer a quiet space for individual study. It is a place for cross-curricular study. - It is a more flexible space. There are less books in high school, rather there is more focus on online resources. More of a relaxed feel - couches, round tables etc. - Rene said it would be interesting to look at the literacy rates of people as a result of fewer books - They have more of a virtual element and are ensuring they have more of a social presence where they can have 24/7 access, online data base and tweeting. It was such a coincidence that one of our Librarians had commented on a post we had written and asked about the School Library system in Calgary and the first Learning Specialist we met at the CTC was a Librarian! This ended up being a theme for the day. - There are some 'Learning Commons' ( new North American term for Libraries) where students can self checkout books. They also promote having people in there for students to come and ask questions, help with homework tasks and peer tutoring. - Experimenting with promoting the importance of servicing creativity. - Librarians are trained researchers. Rene believes this has been forgotten. They are now working on their skill set so they are more in tune with the needs of students today. - A number of schools no longer have a traditional librarian presence. - Librarians help to find guest speakers, experts in certain fields to help teachers teach a unit of work. - Digital Depository - resources that teachers can modify and contribute to in order to share.
TECHNOLOGY. - Due to the demands of wireless networks, the main technology approach is BYOD ( Bring Your Own Device) - We did see the use of iPad ships/pods, which were linked with the mother ship (similar to laptop trolleys). They can then effectively be synced with the mother iPad and iTunes. - The reasoning for iPads were their effectiveness and the availability of 380 apps that are currently available - Investigation into other devices have occurred but are not considered as user friendly or serve the purpose with their app system. Chrome books require constant internet and this was not feasible with the current infrastructure and ongoing demands. WELLNESS PROGRAM ( Nadeen Halls) - Due to the increase in mental health and wellness issues, the Calgary Board of Education are working on two Wellness projects. Currently, there are 5 schools that are trialling the projects. - The CBE are Looking at the Australian/ New Zealand - Health and PE program. They are wanting to change their PE course to incorporate more Health topics in the new curriculum. They are wanting to call this program - Wellbeing. - PE in the CBE is currently taught separately to Health (which is of concern, hence the trial). Wellness in the curriculum is said to have a more holistic approach. - The focus of PE is to a more movement based approach, including TGFU (Total Games For Understanding) This is instead of a sports based approach (to occur at all year levels). - Due to an increase in technology use during breaks, research has shown there is too much screen time and too little activity time. This then affects social wellbeing, as face to face conversation is reduced as well as the emotional wellbeing of students showing a lack of resilience to deal with cyber issues.
- The Wellness concept looks at the whole person and their emotional, physical, intellectual, spiritual and social skills. - Elementary schools are expected to promote 10 minutes x 3 of DPA (Daily physical activity) as well as their HPE lesson (50-80mins per day). - The CBE website under Health Support uses a lot of Nadeen's work and includes; guiding documents, resilience, coping strategies and handling emotional strategies. - A big focus is to promote Wellbeing throughout the whole curriculum (along the lines of whole school Literacy and Numeracy) not just in PE. For example - English topics are encouraged to focus on areas of wellbeing - addressing emotional, spiritual, physical, intellectual and social skills. e.g - focussing on texts with bi- sexuals or an author who is gay. Look at 'surfacing' the topic to generate discussion. - English and Arts teachers are asked to focus on the question - What does it mean to be 'well'? When looking at set texts, they can being to formalise questions that look at expression etc. - Teachers are encouraged to consider how they can address social and emotional issues through the study of literature. By choosing texts, which address themes / issues will help promote conversations with students around the importance of well-being and how this impacts people's lives. - A phrase often used - "What does it mean to thrive and not just survive?" - Two books were used to guide the research on wellness: - 'Spark' - John Ratey - Based on research showing how exercise can positively impact brain function and mental health. 'Physical Literacy' - Margaret Whitehead - What is physical Literacy? What are the benefits of being physically literate? - Geography books used are the book 'Happy' , the Happiness Ted talk and the documentary Happiness.
Our Career and Technology specialists with three Loxtonites.