Day 3 Monday, April 3 Olds High School, Alberta
We traveled to various schools by planes, vans and cars! Olds High School is a small school, 9-12 with a population of 600 students. It is located an hour North of Calgary. It is located in a rural community of 9,000 with a unique program which uses a Quad Learning environment to support students individual learning styles. The school has been open for 7 years and was designed from the learning planning and is located on the Community Learning Campus beside Olds College. The two schools share facilities and have a partnership with dual credits.
We began the day by watching a Grade 9 course selection and a Quad Discovery Day Presention. In Grade 9 all students are part of the Red Quad and the school year is semestered. Their grade nine courses do not count towards their graduation requirements and is semestered. Students have the opportunity to choose the learning environment which meets their learning needs.
Green Quad is geared more towards students who are more self-directed. The Green Quad requires students to be very flexible, organized and requires students to be responsible for their learning. Self-motivated students will succeed in Green Quad. This Quad is more student focused with less teacher direction. There is less direct instruction and more time for students to direct their own learning. Students attend seminars with less formal instruction. Blue Quad focuses on the long-term development of skills: Academics, Citizenship and Personal Well-Being. They have an interdisciplinary approach and need longer to process. They offer full year courses. This Quad has high expectations but students are explicitly taught time-management, organization and study habits. There is more time to work on courses. This Quad is presented as a hybrid between Gold and Green Quad. It is a traditional semestered system. There is more time built in to work on course work. The Gold Quad is more of a continuation from Grade 9. Students focus on two subjects at a time per semester. They focus on key subjects and only have two exams per semester. This Quad allows for more flexibility in their schedule to get caught up. Students who like their learning chunked are very successful in this environment. This Quad is more teacher directed. The last Quad we observed was Kaleidoscope and we listened to student voice. This is one of the learning choices to work towards a full diploma. This is a smaller environment with more individual support. The Quads create a sense of family and belonging and reflect/support individual learning needs and styles. When developing this program it was very important to make students feel welcome and a sense of belonging. The school offers a variety of Career Technology Studies and a wide variety of extra-curricular including arts/sports. There is also a real focus Career Development which is international and honours all pathways. It is obvious that the school places a great deal of emphasis on relationships.
Each Quad has its own kitchen and learning space for flex/focus time
Some of our questions or wonderings?
Does the Quad structure and teaching that is reflective of individual learning styles lead to more student success? Would students benefit from shadowing other students in the various quads before making their decision? Does it promote increased confidence and decisiveness in students? Does it create more equity or division amongst the students and staff? Is it more beneficial for students to work with like minded people with similar learning styles or does it compromise their willingness collaborate with a variety of learners? Would they recommend the Quad system to other schools? We would like to see the data? How do they measure the success? Are some quads more successful than others on continuing on to post-secondary? Do some quads promote specific pathways? We feel that there is more student choice/self regulation and voice. How do we create more opportunities in our school for student voice and student directed learning? (CBL)