As I look back at the first two weeks of school, I am truly thankful for the parents who have braved the gauntlet of the PCS drop off and pick up maze. Breaking habits that some of you have done for years is not easy. I understand and appreciate your patience and smiles … even if sometimes they were a bit forced. Rightly so! In our attempt to make it easier and faster for you, we have adjusted the cones numerous times trying to find the right angles, length and safety to make it all work. Faithfully, you have followed our lead.
With my vest on, and acting as a human pylon, I have waved you around the traffic circle, guided your pulling out, dodged the backpacks falling out of the vans, and picked up numerous crushed pylons that were evident of how hard it is to control traffic.
However, it’s all looking up!
Our line painter has been booked and our hope is that you will soon be able to follow the lines for an effective and speedy drop off and pick up. I’ll still be doing my regular shift with my vest on as I enjoy seeing and waving to all of you as we continue to work together.
I know we affectionately called the traffic pinch points “Grace Corners” and “Mercy Way”, but as a daily observant pylon, I did see these characteristics in action.
The Product and Delivery System
As we move forward in Profound Learning we need to understand the process. In every activity there is the message and then how it is communicated. In everyday business life, it is the product and how it is delivered to the consumer. In education we have the curriculum and how it is taught.
At PCS the product has not changed. We still have the Ministry of Ontario curriculum documents. In the past they were documents to be accessed as needed when teachers were developing units of study. Under Profound Learning, these guidelines will be stored on a database that teachers can access but also develop student friendly translations that will assist the students to understand what they need to learn, the level of their knowledge in that area and help them determine where gaps in that understanding may exist.
The biggest change in Profound Learning is in the delivery system. This is seen in two areas, first, in the teacher methodologies and second, the classroom environment. The teachers will develop methods of direct instruction that will be more engaging and applicable to the majority of students. This will occur as the brained based elements of relevance, meaning, emotion, novelty, choice, and movement are all part of the daily learning experiences for the students. This will result in students understanding their own role and ownership in being a part of their educational journey. A higher level of student engagement means a higher level of knowledge retention and mastery. It’s about setting rigid quality and allowing the time for this to happen.
(Here are some links to a few documents (doc 1) (doc 2) (doc 3) that can give you a little insight on the Brain Based Elements. If you want some more insight you can visit the Imaginal Education website to hear more about activating the brain through meaning and the role of neuroscience)
As well, the classrooms are undergoing changes to allow students to be placed in areas that will allow them to be more comfortable in the learning and working environment. The three basic areas are called the Campfire, the Cave, and the Café. In the Campfire area the teacher is engaged in direct instruction that permits students to be introduced to new material in a more informal, yet personal manner. From here, the students are dismissed to either the Cave or the Café to do their work. In the Cave area they are in a quiet setting focused on completing the task. At the Café, they are in an environment developing skills of co-operative learning and the development of alternative learning.
Over these last few blogs, many words have been written. It’s time for show and tell. Please join us on August 31, 2017 at 7:00 pm for an Open House at PCS. There will be tours of the school so you can see the physical changes that we have made to inspire students and teachers into the 21st Century mindset. As well, we have Mrs. Doreen Grey from Master’s Academy, and the trainer of our teachers, who will give a short overview of “Ownership, Mastery and Brain Based Engagement”, PCS’ focus for this year. Mrs. Grey is one of the developers of this program and former principal of Masters Academy and College. She is currently travelling to many countries bringing Profound Learning to hundreds of teachers.
We are excited about the journey we find ourselves on. Profound Learning is more than just a program or delivery method. Every teacher here at PCS ultimately wants to see deep, engaged and profound learning for all of our students. Please continue to be in prayer for our teacher’s and the leadership of the school as we seek God’s wisdom and discretion as we navigate not only the upcoming year but the years to come as well.
The first two blog posts in this series have been setting the stage to introduce you to what will be different in the fall. The following is a brief glimpse at some of the new initiatives, physical space changes, as well as schedule implications, to name just a few.
To begin with, this year we introduced Google Chromebooks to the current Grade 7 class. Nextyear we will be providing Chromebooks to all of our students in Grades 6 through 8. The introduction of the digital platform allows students to receive work and submit their assignments immediately, whether at home or school. As we progress further into our Profound Learning program, students will be able to track their progress and report it to their teachers. Accountability and program awareness are key components of this digital platform. The dog is going to have a hard time eating the student’s homework any more!
As well, we will be adding a class set of Chromebooks, in a rolling cabinet for the portable, for other grades to use. These devices will join the two other cabinets filled with iPads to increase our use and understanding of technology through all grades.
Secondly, with the discussion focused around the learning environment and the introduction of the laptop program, we will be moving some classrooms around to accommodate the Grade 6, 7 & 8 classes. As you can well imagine, when you start changing things around, there is a domino effect necessitating subsequent moves. Stick with me and follow the trail.
With the addition of Chromebooks to the school, there is no longer a need for a dedicated room for computers, so that room will now be home to the Grade 1 class. Freeing up a room in the portable allows us to move the Arrowsmith class there, and in turn allows the music and art classes to move back behind the stage into the area that was originally designed for that very purpose.
With the move of the music program, the music house will be refurbished and now becomes one of three rooms set apart for Grades 6/7/8 classes. The other two classrooms will be the Science room and a newly renovated Multi-Purpose room, which was the old library area. The Grade 6 classroom in the portable will now be the new home to the Academic Resource Centre. Now if all that detail was hard to follow and you consider yourself a visual learner, click here to see a school blueprint of the classroom locations.
These moves also allow us the opportunity to think of and design new ideas around our learning environments. In my next blog, “Cave, Café and Campfire (a Strategy of Classroom Change)”, I will talk about the changes happening inside the classrooms.
More changes? Lets keep going.
Lastly, when students arrive in September, we will be introducing a new balanced day schedule. School will begin at the same time 8:30 AM and ends at 3:20 PM.
A balanced schedule shifts our day into three equal blocks of 100 minutes. After each block will be a forty minute break for students which combines outside play and a nutrition break. This repeats itself again later after the second block. More outdoors, more nutrition and after the third block, it’s time to go home. Additional nutrition breaks will be given to students throughout the day at the teacher’s discretion. Want a visual? Click here.
Is this all? Of course not but it is enough for now. Stay tuned over the summer, as we send you more information and pictures of the work going on inside of the school. We will also be providing information on Before & After School Program room changes, and a new traffic flow for student drop-offs and pick-ups will be required due to the new traffic lights and road changes in front of the school. These are just a few of the various changes and projects going on through the summer and into the new school year.
Collaboration, Creativity, Critical Thinking and Communication
In part one of this series, I mentioned the importance of these words as it relates to the genesis of 21st Century learning. This prompted a lot of conversation around how these changes will impact two major groups of people at PCS, teachers and students.
In order to transition from being primarily a dispenser of prefabricated facts or “sage on the stage” to coach/mentor or “guide on the side”, teachers must understand the foundational concepts supporting the Profound Learning (PL) Model. This transitional journey will begin with a number of training dates at the end of this school year (June 28-29), and leading into the next (August 31 – September 1).
Then in early October (Thursday, October 5 and Friday, October 6, 2017), the staff will be travelling to Masters Academy in Calgary for a two-day professional development time. These dates will be added to the Thanksgiving weekend as PD days for our school.
This training time will allow the teachers to undergo a transformation in their understanding and approach to delivering the PL program as they grasp their role in this model.
How will “The Profound Learning Model” impact your child at PCS?
What does Ownership look like?
• students track their learning and set goals
• students are given leadership opportunities
• students are managing their own projects
What does Mastery look like?
• learning is customized (environment, passion/interest, ability levels)
• instruction is differentiated (amount/type)
• quality is fixed
What does Innovation and Creativity look like?
• use of creative processes or tools
• use of problem solving/critical thinking skills
• pursuing personal passion and vision
What does “Future Ready” look like?
• Personal development with a growth mind set, skills and habits
• developing character through the 7 Habits
• a Graduate Profile that promotes the Leader, Risk-taker, Explorer, Innovator and Builder
These qualities are the objective of the Profound Learning Model. It is our prayer and commitment that they will become the qualities of our students at PCS.