Tuesday, 22 November 2016

WISE Block Introduced

Finding flexibility in a daily timetable in a senior secondary school can be a difficult. As part of our collaboration process, we have been looking for ways to support students in their diverse needs. The idea we have come up with is WISE block. The following video explains the situation.


WISE block provides NorKam with the flexibility to provide students who require it, additional support with the essential learnings staff have identified for a particular course. It also provides students with time to engage in enrichment activities, chances to be leaders in the school, and an opportunity to explore things that are outside of their current studies. We are actively soliciting ideas from staff, students, and others to better serve the learning needs and desires of our students.

Collaboration at NorKam - Year-End Review

On June 15th, our staff gathered together in the library to share the results of our collaborative team learning process this year. This is the first year that collaborative teams have been coming together on a weekly basis. In this post, I will highlight some of the key things that came out of this sharing session.

At the heart of our innovation cycle is our collaborative team learning process. Collaborative teams have generally identified the essential learning outcomes for their courses. With the pending implementation of the BCed Plan for grades 10-12, collaborative teams will be making modifications to these essential learning outcomes as the curriculum is solidified. A few teams have been working on common formative assessments, with one team implementing these routinely in grade 10 courses. The science team has been using the results to provide struggling students with additional support and learning from each other the instructional practices that are having the biggest impact on student learning. These three steps in our process (common formative assessments, benchmark scores, analyze results) will be firmed up next year as we start implementation of a student intervention system in fall.

During the 2014-15 school year, the staff identified higher order thinking as a problem of practice as we saw a greater need for students to think critically. That year and again this year, we have held an instructional round at our school on this problem. Teaching professionals from outside our school observed the tasks that students were doing in our school for evidence of higher order thinking. Using the data and recommendations from these visitors has informed our collaborative team discussions and our professional development activities.

These discussions and learning activities are having an impact in classrooms. Visible thinking routines are more commonly seen, and teams are exploring the use of Project Based and Problem Base Learning in their classrooms for next year. Project Based Learning will again be the focus of another training session in September of 2016. And at our December non-instructional day, staff will be looking at higher order questioning strategies. At staff meetings in the fall we will be doing some shared learning around the Revised Bloom's Taxonomy.

For over a year now, we have been discussing three attributes that we think a graduate of NorKam should have. We would like them to be adaptable, be active inquirers, and be good global citizens. These discussions have influenced our collaborative team learning process as they have informed our identification of essential learning outcomes and our consideration of higher order thinking skills. Collaborative teams are routinely considering how to develop these attributes in our students.

Sunday, 27 September 2015

Charlie Coleman, principal of Cowichan Secondary talks about collaboration on Inservice Day

Our first inservice day of the day of year has come and gone. As part of NorKam's commitment to improving student learning, we invited Charlie Coleman of Cowichan Secondary School in Duncan to come and talk to the staff about Professional Learning Communities and Response to Intervention. NorKam has been putting in place the central ideas of Professional Learning Communities for several years now and we have sent 11 of our staff off for training in the process. We wanted all of our teaching staff and certified educational assistants to receive this training, but it is very cost prohibitive. So we had the training come to us. Charlie Coleman, besides being a speaker for Solution Tree, is a principal who has lead the development of Professional Learning Communities at the elementary, middle school, and high school level. Charlie shared with staff the key attributes of PLCs and was able to share the journey of Cowichan Secondary as it engages in the process.

Tuesday, 5 May 2015

Collaboration Time Proposal For Next Year

On Monday, May 4th a proposal was presented to staff and to the Parent Advisory Committee to change collaboration block for next year.  Currently, teachers collaborate on Wednesdays from 2:15 to 3:00PM. Students have early dismissal, but three computer labs are supervised in order to give students in grade 10 an opportunity to work on their Online Planning 10 course. Next year, the proposal is to move to a weekly model following the same schedule for Wednesday, with a few significant changes for students. The proposal is in draft stages, and some features have to still be worked out, but broad features of the proposal include the following: