Monday, June 10, 2013

Breaking Down Silos - Real Learning, Integration & Inquiry

Some new and exciting ideas are taking hold at St. Patrick Regional next year.

In a previous post I spelled our school's Digital Literacy goals and initiatives for 2013-2014.

In a future post I will also high light a new High Performance Program.  The program will formalizes our current practice of individualizing and accommodating student schedules and timetables to meet their out of school, passion driven, competitive needs.  We are seeing a growing need from parents and students to bridge the gap between school life and participation in high performance athletic or artistic community based endeavors.      
We are looking to break down curricular silos....

Another exciting development is in the area of Problem Based Learning .

Next year a working group of teachers will explore how an integrated, cross-curricular approach to curriculum delivery - incorporating “student inquiry”/problem based learning  - will "look like" at St. Patrick Regional.   This working group of teachers will explore the “ how and what” of this initiative and look to implement a trial program for September 2014.

We are living in different times. “Do I have to learn it if I can Google it?” is a legitimate question.

We are living in a time of information abundance. Teachers no longer need to control the flow of information. We do, however, need to worry about the scarcity at the table  of information abundance

The Ministry of Education for BC is transforming curriculum   to reflect some of these changes – placing a focus on competencies, skills, enduring understandings and yes, some content.

Learners today are demanding that their learning be “real”. Not pretend.

This year, one of our Building Experts  teams spent time learning about Problem Based Learning. Teachers experimented with PBL in their own classes. They faced many challenges, but in the end, teachers came to realize the trans formative potential of PBL for students

The team also came to realize the power of PBL was limited by the curricular silos that exist in our school.

This, in combination, with the proposed curriculum transformation happening in BC, the team decided that this would be the perfect time to THINK BIG!

The main recommendation from team to the school?  Remove curricular silos and create an integrated, cross-curricular approach to delivering curriculum through a problem based (inquiry based) pedagogy.

The team will consist of this year’s members in addition to others who are interested in joining this task force

What & How
The team’s mandate is to determine how our school can best implement this initiative - beginning at the Grade 8 level.

Other questions they must consider:

  • Will this involve all Grade 8 students? Or just a cohort?
  • How will inquires or “problems for exploration” be generated? What role will students and teachers have in this process?
  • How will assessment and grading be handled? What will report cards look like?
  • What are the scheduling and timetabling implications of this initiative? How can the school create a timetable that allows for both student and teacher collaboration and exploration.
  • How will parents be included and informed?

The goal is to have a a trial program in place prior to the start of school in September of 2014.

Some other thoughts:

Despite moving into a different role next year, I intend to support this team in developing this initiative. It is important.

We don’t want “paralysis through analysis”. Although there are lots of important questions that need to be answered, we should not think that we need to get it perfect.

Let's "real" student learning at the center of what we are doing.  More to the point- we should judge our efforts by the artifacts of learning our students will leave behind as a result of this program.

I like common sense.  Let’s keep our thoughts simple and intuitive. I have seen too many good ideas fail because the focus was too broad based. We are not going to change the “system” in one year. Let’s keep our focus on individual students and the artifacts of learning.

As look to shift some of our practices and systems, I am excited for what the future may hold for our teachers and students

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