Day One - April 1st

Our Spring visit kicked off with a meeting at Jasper Place High School in Edmonton, Alberta. In break-out groups, educators and students discussed common themes in Mathematics. Some themes included: The power of diversity, co-learning, deprivatization of the classroom and equity. We reflected on our similarities as well as our differences and by learning about others we learn about ourselves. We reflected on our next steps for Math Council (how do we build on/expand and increase involvement in our Math Council?). How do we measure the impact of Math Council on our community? What are different ways to measure change? How do we measure learning? How does collaboration or networking which is cross jurisdictional/international impact student and teacher learning and student success?

April 1, 2017 Arrival in Jasper Place HS, Edmonton Alberta
Welcome to Jasper Place High School!
Students and educators discussing what equity looks like in our schools/classrooms.
Our current thinking

Day 3 Monday, April 3 Olds High School, Alberta

Olds High School with students from Ontario Tecumseh Vista, Windsor, Olds High School, Olds and Monsignor John Pereyma Catholic Secondary, Oshawa Ontario

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.

Red Quad and Kaleidoscope
Green Quad

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.

Blue Quad

Each Quad has its own kitchen and learning space for flex/focus time

Good Quad

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)

White board rooms to show our thinking and Common's Space
"Copper" created from the scrap metal of a bus

Jasper Place High School

We began our day with a school tour. Jasper Place is a large school with a student population of 2500 and growing! Jasper Place promotes 'belonging' as its core value. Through clubs, athletics, and an impressive variety of special interests groups, their goal is to provide extra-curricular opportunities for every student.

Alternative Learning Days (ALO)

A program is created for each ALO day that gives students an overview of the sessions offered. Students sign up for their session online.

ALO days are Alternative Learning Opportunities offered to students eight times in a school year. These sessions are facilitated by the teaching staff and range from 'Body Building Basics' to ' American Sign Language for Beginners. With over 110 different sessions to choose from, students sign up online prior to the learning day. Grade levels are mixed, with sessions opened to all students from grades 10 to 12. Jasper Place's rational for ALO days was born out of the desire to address a two-fold question: How do we incorporate more student voice in our students' learning while continuing to foster a sense of belonging for students and staff at Jasper Place?

Self-directed Action Research

To encourge self-efficacy and promote the notion of teachers as curriculum designers, staff members conduct their own action research throughout the year. Their research can be related, but is not limited to their teaching discipline. They are encouraged to formulate questions and conduct research around an area related to their teaching practice. Research can be a team effort or be an individual pursuit. Staff members devote the second half of their ALO day to this action research.

At the beginning of the school year, teachers are put into teams using a 'Hockey draft' system. A team leader barters with other team leaders to create a diverse teacher group. The stipulation of the draft is that you can only have one other departmental member on your team. These teams are required to meet throughout the year share their action research and discuss next steps.

Some of our questions and wonderings?

How are the impact of ALO days and students perception of belonging within the school community measured? How has the self-directed action research affected, influenced, changed or refined teacher pedagogy?

A little Trigonometry in Grade 10 #showingourthinking

Day 4 Tuesday April 4, 2017 Olds, Alberta

Ontario, Alberta and Norwegian students and educators learning together, taking risks and building confidence. #DPANORCANstyle

NORCAN students and educators supporting one another to take risks while problem solving and being active! #buildingrelationships#gainingconfidence
Farm visit in Olds
Cattle Operation, Horses, Campfire and Rural Living at its best!

Smith Family Farm

Feeding a new baby calf which is five days old

Camp fire, singing and building relationships

40% of the students who attend Olds High School are involved in Agriculture

Day 4 Jasper Place High School

We began our day by meeting at The Global Cafe for a smudging with Lyle, the Aboriginal Liason at Jasper Place. From there, visiting students and staff decided on the morning classes we wanted to attend.

The Global Cafe is a multi-purpose space that students and staff are free to use. Clubs, classes and a variety of events are held at the Global Cafe. It also acts as a social space for students to gather.

Lindsay's grade 10 academic math class reviewed factoring. With a class size of 39 students, daily challenges related to physical space were apparent. The use of a tablet and stylus to explain concepts was practical given these space constraints because it freed the teacher from being confined to a white board.

Lindsay reviews factoring with her grade 10 academic math class...of 39 students!

Some questions and wonderings?

How do large class sizes in math class affect daily assessment practices like descriptive feedback and observation?

Values Framework

JP's Values Framework has played an important role in creating a culture of caring and inclusivity. The Values Framework was born out an urgent necessity to develop a more inclusive school and curb 'Early leavers' in grade 10 and build staff and relationships with students in all streams. The most drastic change was to switch up teaching assignments so that all teachers would have courses in all three streams, resulting in exposure to a greater and more diverse learning population. The next phase required every teacher to connect with an 'at risk' student in grade 10. This resulted in improved attendance and a lower drop-out rate. In the final phase, all teachers were assigned two students on IPPs who were responsible for the development and co-authoring of their IPPs. Jasper Place continues to use this approach for the planning and programming of their special needs students.

Day 4, April 5, 2017 Olds High School

We began today at Olds High School and we travelled to the Learning Commons at Olds College which is a shared facility between the two schools. We presented our school focus and looked at where we are headed and how to move forward. TVA, Peryema and Olds presented their findings and experiences and we had the opportunity to reflect on our own NORCAN experience. We asked questions and shared our projects, ways in which we have built relationships and provided feedback to each group. From our NORCAN experience we have created a Math and Learning Council and work collaboratively with educators and students from Molde, Norway. We also are engaged in Challenged Based Learning (CBL) (one Friday per month) which is reflective of our learning from Boston and the Full Day Fridays in Molde. This is a 7-12 initiative which has been cross-curricular and cross panel in nature and we have shared our learning with students and staff from Molde. We also discussed the use of technology as a tool for students to demonstrate their thinking. The technology improves student engagement and creates opportunities for equity. Another important sharing has been our work with Growth Mindset and an open to learning stance. We also took the time to reflect on our past experiences, to ask questions to the other groups and reflect on future learning and partnerships with opportunities for teacher and student learning.

NORCAN sharing

Some of our Questions and Wonderings?

How to increase opportunities for increased student voice around teaching and learning? TVA Learning Council collected data from staff and students on ways to improve student engagement and on barriers to student learning. The information was shared between the staff and students and this helped to improve student voice and communication. We feel it would be beneficial to collect data from students so that students feel they are equal and active partners in their learning. We would like to incorporate Flex time and Focused learning similar to Olds. We wondered if it would be possible for instructional time to be shortened to 65 minute periods in order to create more opportunities for individual (one-on-one instruction) and thus helping students to be more responsible and take ownership for their own learning and self-regulation. We also liked the idea of creating Quad spaces for learning and collaboration throughout the school. We also liked the idea of incorporating more white boards or window boards in open spaces for student collaboration.

Day 5, April 5, Jasper Place High School

Mr. WIlde reinforces meaningful talk by changing groupings several times during a math block. Students interact with and collaborate with many students throughout the day.
Deep thinking with the Math Coucil
Let's do this! #studentvoice

Westwood Community High School, Fort McMurray

Working together in an afternoon of challenge based learning

Students worked together in teams to build a chair capable of supporting Principal Roy. The only available materials were newspaper, scissors and duct tape! All the teams were successful in building very interesting and somewhat stable chairs that ranged from a basic stool to fancy dining chairs. Thank you Mrs. Roy for risking your life in the name of international collaboration!

Classroom visits found students reviewing functions in a very creative way!

NORCAN students joined a Grade 12 computer programming class and created a NORCAN app for their phones. Westwood programming students learned that teaching is harder than it looks!

Students and staff had the rare opportunity to tour the Syncrude Oil Sands site in northern Alberta. We learned how bitumen is extracted from the oil sands and then processed into synthetic crude. A big part of the tour was learning about how Syncrude protects the environment throughout the production and we visited reclamation sites to see the thriving ecosystems that have been fully restored after the mining process.

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