Linda Knight, the Director of Education for District School Board Ontario North East
As this school year comes to a close, I want to thank all our staff for their contribution to the day-to-day running of our schools, for coordinating and supporting our many extra-curricular activities, and for the ongoing educational learning and activities that engaged our students in support of student achievement. We have accomplished much in our successes for students and we have much to be proud of and to celebrate. Thank you to parents for your engagement and partnership to also support student achievement; your follow-up with home communications and report cards, and ensuring regular attendance for your child(ren) have made a big difference in student success in all subject areas and all grades.
To our graduating students, may you take with you not only the knowledge, skills and successes of your formal education, but also the feeling that, in your school, the whole staff cared about you and always wanted you to reach your highest potential. You each made a difference in the life of your school; may your next chapter in life be blessed with sunshine, peace and love.
To all….have a safe, happy and relaxing summer!
“Listening and talking decreases the space between us”, Instructional Coach Susan Klooster
In the first semester, secondary teachers of history and Indigenous studies courses and support staff were invited to participate in a series of three learning sessions which culminated on January 16. The learning sessions, led by facilitator Leora Schaeffer of Facing History, were intended to guide educators through the exploration of the Indian Residential Schools and their long-lasting effects on Canada’s Indigenous Peoples. The learning sessions aimed to empower educators to connect this history, for our students, to today’s conversations about the apologies given by the government and churches, the work of the Canadian Truth and Reconciliation Commission, and the debate about whether the colonial policies these schools embodied amounted to genocide. Teachers learned to support students in their understanding that history is the collective result of every individual’s actions and of the critical thinking skills required to make good choices for their communities today.
On January 16, we were honored by the presence of guest presenter, Edmund Metatawabin, Elder, former Chief of Fort Albany, author of Up Ghost River, and survivor of St. Anne’s residential school. Elder, Chief, respected author, and child who attended St. Anne’s from age 7 to 15, shared much of his horrific experience at the school, but more of the strength, peace and spiritual journey that has equipped him to provide traditional knowledge and spiritual counsel to those wishing to learn. On January 17, students of these same teachers attended the Timmins Native Friendship Centre to listen to Edmund, and to participate in identity exercises to learn about themselves. KLDCS teacher, Erin Buchmann and her students developed and led the student activities. As the opening and closing songs were led by student drummers and singers, Edmund remarked that his generation thought they would never see this again - youth embracing their culture and heritage. Edmund’s message to the male youth, that their role was as protectors, to protect the creators, the women.
As teachers and students continue to learn about our history, we move toward reconciliation, resolution and reclamation. Our history and present is a collective result of every individual’s actions, our thinking and our good choices for our communities today.
At District School Board Ontario North East, we recognize the need to prepare our students for the 21st Century and the world where they will live, learn, labour, and lead. We recognize the need to embrace technology in education, but we also need to influence how students are interacting with and using technology. Studies show that children spend over six and a half hours per day engaged with various types of media, television, movies, music, electronic games, and computers. This is equal to a 40 hour work week with a few hours of overtime (Rideout, Roberts, & Foehr, 2005). At DSB Ontario North East we are heavily invested in the 1:1 iPad program from Grades 3 to 11. We want our students to be on the cutting edge of technology so they are better equipped for the future, but we also want to insure they are using the technology wisely and effectively.
DSB Ontario North East recognizes the importance and need of the 21st Century Competencies and is using technology, makerspaces, and coding to build critical thinkers, problem solvers, innovators, creators, and entrepreneurs. Our students are using technology to become self-aware and self-directed learners. Through technology they are communicating and collaborating with their communities and with a global audience. They are solving the problems of today and of the future. We are growing the leaders of tomorrow!
Inspiring innovation and a passion for learning is our goal for all students. This is why robotics, coding, and technology start in Kindergarten. In the primary years , students use Coding Caterpillars, KIBOs, BeeBots and iPad technology in their classrooms to explore and build the basic knowledge and understanding of coding and computational thinking. As students progress through elementary and secondary school, they are introduced to different tools, applications and programs to increase their computational skills and build their 21st Century Competencies . Dash and Dot, Sphero’s, Lego WeDo, 3D Printers, Vex Robots and other tools are engaging and challenging, and incorporate traditional learning goals as well as 21st Century Competencies that our students will need in order to be successful contributors to their local and global communities. By recognizing and listening to our students, as opposed to listening through our students, we are able to meet their learning needs, keeping them engaged, and challenging their thinking.
DSB Ontario North East is committed to all learners. We recognize the need for change in a changing world. This is why District School Board North East is the ‘ best that education has to offer'.
At District School Board Ontario North East, we believe all students, both Indigenous and non-Indigenous, are enriched by learning about the histories, cultures, contributions and perspectives of Indigenous peoples in Canada.
The Ministry of Indigenous Relations and Reconciliation (MIRR) announced earlier this year that Ontario has designated the first week of November (November 6 to 12, 2016) as Treaties Recognition Week. The goal of this week is to promote public education and awareness about treaties and treaty relationships. https://www.ontario.ca/page/treaties
In 1905, the Ojibway and Cree people of Northern Ontario entered into a treaty relationship with the Government of Canada. In agreeing to sharing the land, Indigenous people were given protected hunting and fishing rights, reserve areas, and a monetary gift. In return, the Indigenous people agreed to share the natural resources of the land. How this looks today is a topic of conversation both in and out of the school setting. This is why it’s important to share facts and the history of the treaty process.
DSB Ontario North East believes in sharing and teaching the treaty process with our staff and students. We are committed to understanding and fulfilling the Calls to Action from the recommendations of the Truth and Reconciliation Committee. We believe this can be accomplished by sharing history, having open discussions, and learning from our elders and community members. We look forward to our learning together this year, and in years to come.
Over the summer, the Administrative Team revised our Growing Success Policy 2.1.34. The Board of Trustees approved the revisions on September 6th, 2016 and it has been posted on our website http://www.dsb1.ca/boardinfo/policymanual.php.
This Policy focuses on “Purposes and Principles, Assessment, Evaluation and Reporting”, and defines levels of student achievement for Grades 1-6 and 7-12. The Policy also discusses “zero”, plagiarism, and how marks are determined. In the Appendices, time is defined for specific subject areas, Board assessments and their administration dates, and how teachers intervene to support individual learning.
Further materials connected to the Growing Success Policy include the support documents of our Attendance Toolkit and Student Success Toolkit. These documents describe how teachers, principals and administration commit to closely monitoring student absence and student achievement on their daily work and monthly reporting to parents/guardians. Our schools have a summary brochure of the Growing Success document and, in the next weeks, we will have summary pamphlets on both our Attendance and Student Success Toolkits to be shared by our schools and posted on our website/Facebook.
The Growing Success Policy and its supportive Appendices support parents in asking questions of teachers about their child(ren)’s successes in each of their subjects. We encourage our parents/guardians and community to become stronger partners in the attendance and classroom successes throughout the year.
As the first day of the new school year approaches (September 6th), we will be beginning a new focus and campaign on Attendance Matters, emphasizing the importance of regular attendance at school.
Our data shows us that as many as 25% of our students miss nearly a month’s worth of school days each year. This trend often commences as early as Kindergarten and continues through secondary school, contributing to significant gaps in achievement and resulting in some students leaving school without graduating.
Chronic absence can have consequences in developing poor work habits. Children who are chronically absent in Kindergarten and Grade 1 are less likely to read proficiently by Grade 3, and students who do not read well and confidently by Grade 3 are more likely to struggle in school. Good attendance habits matter!
How are we going to change poor attendance?
We will closely monitor our attendance data, focusing on students who are missing 10% or more school days - which, when looking at the entire school year, averages to approximately 2 days/month. Our principals and staff will be paying close attention to each student’s attendance.
We will be reminding students of the importance of attendance; we will be recognizing positive attendance habits with fun incentives for those who have both good and improved attendance.
But… the schools cannot do this alone. We are asking our parents, families and community partners to help improve our data story by reducing poor and weak attendance and encouraging regular, consistent attendance habits for all our students.
As this summer begins to come to an end, I hope all of our students and families have enjoyed the sunny days and memorable activities.
Our school maintenance teams, custodians and cleaners have been very busy preparing our schools for the return of students, teachers and support staff. With thanks to this team of dedicated staff for their great passion to make our facilities sparkling and shiny, by Labour Day our schools will be pristine and ready to welcome our students!
To those families who have moved to a new Board area, are new to our communities, or are changing systems, you are welcome to register your child(ren) at your local public school commencing Monday, August 29th through Thursday, September 1st or on Tuesday, September 6th, when classes resume.
This school year, DSB Ontario North East is excited to be enhancing our Technology Project. We will be phasing in iPads in Grades 5 & 6 on a 1:1 basis. Our Project, which commenced last year, will now have 1:1 iPads for students in Grades 5-11. Our students, with parent participation and approval, will be able to take this tool to enhance learning home to complete assignments.
In addition to the 1:1 program for Grades 5-11, we are placing iPads at a 2:1 ratio in Grades 3 & 4. The iPad tool, as for the older grade students, is to advance 21st Century skills. Part of the use of the iPad focuses on recognizing and learning the valuable skills of media citizenship. This is extremely important as students navigate the internet and are made aware of their responsibilities in accessing and posting content, including on their Facebook accounts, or with Snapchat, Instagram, etc.
I am proud and privileged to be a part of these exciting times in education; the teams in our schools and system are anxiously awaiting the arrival of our students, either returning or new. All are welcome, as we believe all students can succeed!
We are, in programming and learning opportunities, the best that education has to offer!
District School Board Ontario North East recognizes the importance of collaboration for our students and staff. This past week, we were pleased to have an Apple Distinguished Educator here to facilitate professional development for our instructional coaches and senior administration.
As a group, we were asked what we considered the essential elements for learning to happen in our classrooms. We decided that, for learning to be at its optimal, our students need passionate people, collaboration, fun, real-life experiences, and the opportunity to play and participate in their learning, just to name a few. When these elements are evident, our students are engaged and learning to their full potential.
At District School board Ontario North East we also recognize the importance of our communities and families as part of our school. These partnerships allow us to maximize learning. By nurturing these relationships, we are able to share challenges and successes about the most important people in our schools, our students. We recognize the importance of the positive relationships with these stakeholders in order for our students to achieve and be their best.
Just like our students, our staff reflect and look at ways to improve in their role. We recognize and encourage the importance of sharing all of the wonderful learning and activities going on in our schools. We need to share these with our community, parents, teachers, administration and the public, so people are able to see why District School board Ontario North East “is the best that education has to offer.” Please follow us on Twitter @DSBONE1 and on Facebook (www.facebook.com/dsb1.ca) .
As education week and teacher appreciation week come to an end, let’s celebrate our students and all of our staff for making our schools “the best that education has to offer.”
District School board Ontario North East celebrates many First Nations’, Metis, and Inuit (Indigenous) cultural traditions in our classrooms and beyond. Almost 14% of our student population have voluntarily self-identified as Indigenous. To support all students in the history, beliefs and the cultural traditions of our Indigenous peoples, our three Aboriginal Youth Liaison employees teach the Walking the Path program throughout our Board. This valuable program, offered in our schools over the last ten years, promotes self-esteem, self-concepts and respect for others. It is designed to support all of students in a safe and structured environment of learning. The program also reinforces the virtues of sound character and leadership qualities.
We partner with our Friendship Centres in Timmins, Cochrane, Temiskaming Shores and Kapuskasing. In Timmins, we have a special program connected to Timmins High and Vocational School (TH&VS) to support Indigenous students with courses required to receive an Ontario Secondary School Diploma (OSSD). The Kiskinohamatowin program (formerly called “The Red Door”) has supported students in achieving credits towards their high school diploma for the last 4-5 years. We also appreciate our partnerships with Kunawanimano, Misiway Milopemahtesewin Community Health Centre, Weechi-it-te-win Family Services, Dilico Anishinaabe Family Care-Cultural and the Nipissing First Nations’ Health Services of Garden Village in supporting our Indigenous students’ well-being. In three of our schools, in lieu of French language instruction, we offer Cree language to Indigenous students. These Cree language classes are well subscribed to in Kapuskasing, Cochrane and Timmins.
Finally, we have trained all Principals, Vice-Principals and Senior Administrators in cultural awareness. The training provided the participants with an understanding of the impacts of the historical and intergenerational trauma caused by residential schools. Aboriginal education practices, priorities and cultural traditions continue to be key components in our Board’s celebration of the diversity of our students and staff. Many schools engage in spring equinox festivities along with hosting and attending annual Pow Wows (Cochrane, Timmins, Matheson and Temiskaming Shores). Watch for the dates of these great activities on our website… and come join the celebrations!
The Trustees and Administration of DSB Ontario North East cherish the partnerships that we have forged with our agencies, municipalities, organizations and businesses. These partnerships each help our schools and staff advance our students’ achievement.
Most recently, an example of a wonderful partnership has been the graduation of Grade 6 students from the D.A.R.E. (“Drug Abuse Resistance Education”) program in some Timmins schools. Another example is the partnership of Cochrane Public School students visiting the seniors’ residence to sing and deliver cheery cards they made for each resident.
Such partnerships help us attain several of our goals for student achievement while instilling good citizenship and inspiring respect and a sense of overall well-being. School leaders work to keep and enhance these great partnerships as our growing citizens experience an even broader scope of learning opportunities.
January 1st has come and gone, and, while many people make commitments on how they will change something in their lives, I like to think of the coming year as a time to refocus our energies on galloping forward to capture our dreams.
My thoughts for you:
May 2016 be a promising and fulfilling year!
As the year of 2015 draws to a close, I want to thank all our employees for their energies and passion in the work of advancing student achievement. I hope the next several days are a time for rest and rejuvenation with your family and friends; if you are travelling, please travel with care.
To the parents and communities that we serve, I thank you for entrusting your child(ren) to the nurture and care of all our Staff.
Happy Holidays to All
In November, our Superintendents, Technology Leads and I visited classrooms in Maine, U.S.A., where iPads have been used in 1:1 programs for students for many years. While we saw many exciting learning opportunities in these classes, we also learned that our classes have greater technology support than the Maine classrooms.
In most of our classrooms, teachers use Smartboards or big screen televisions with Apple TV to project work and/or lessons. We also discovered that we made very sound and wise decisions before we distributed the iPads to the students; our rollout was very well planned and executed by our technology and educator teams.
As I visit classes in DSB Ontario North East, I am seeing teachers and students inspired and excited to be learning using their 1:1 iPad tools. Both teachers and students are being creative in lessons and learning. As they work together, students are very engaged as they collaborate, communicate their discoveries, and demonstrate critical thinking skills in solving high level tasks.
The iCoaches continue to work directly with teachers and students to promote this supportive tool for innovative learning opportunities. Our “student voice” about this new mode of learning is one of engagement, inquiry and excitement as they make their learning visible. If you have students in one of our iPad classrooms, I trust you are also hearing that they are inspired about their learning!
The last few months have been very busy as we all dealt with the job actions of our unionized employees. Presently, all the Central (provincial level) agreements with the Ministry have been established. DSB Ontario North East administration teams are now working diligently with our local groups to reach local agreements and prevent any further job action. These talks are progressing well, with the expectation that we will settle all local collective agreements for our employees in early 2016.
We are appreciative of the extra tasks that our school administration have assumed during these many months of job action by several groups of our unionized employees. We are also grateful to our parents who have been patient and understanding in regards to the issuing of progress reports and Individual Education Plans (IEPs) during this time. Please remember that parents are welcome to make an appointment to visit the schools and meet with teachers in regards to their child(ren)’s progress.
On another note, please watch for the Director’s Annual Report 2014-2015, to be posted on our website soon, highlighting the great work of all of our employees over the past year!
The months of July & August have passed very quickly! During these months and in preparation for the beginning of our new school year, our custodians and cleaners have polished the classrooms, our maintenance department and contractors have rebuilt and refurbished many classrooms throughout the Board, our technology department has upgraded some computers, installed new servers & WIFI access points and are prepared for the arrival of 2300 iPads and over 40 charge carts. Many of our teachers have attended summer sessions, taking courses in mathematics, reading, science, principal qualifications and educational apps for iPads. The Transportation department has been planning bus routes and pick-up/drop-off details for our students. Management has been engaged in the hiring of staff for classrooms, advancing the Strategic Plan, creating workshops and training for all employees, and attending Provincial meetings. In short, we have all worked diligently in preparation for the start of the new 2015-2016 school year.
School offices re-open on Tuesday, August 25th; we welcome new registrations for our English and French Immersion programs every day thereafter (noting, however, that our offices are closed on Monday, August 31st for a secretarial professional development day). The first day of school for elementary students is Wednesday, September 2nd; Grade 9 students will also commence on Wednesday, September 2nd, while many Grade 10-12 students will start on Thursday, September 3rd (with the 2nd being designated “Grade 9 Day” ).
As the first day of school approaches, parents often ask how they can get their child ready for school. Parents can establish routine bed times in the weeks before school opens -- perhaps having their child(ren) adjust to an earlier bed time after enjoying later summer evenings.
We employees of DSB Ontario North East are looking forward to the return of our students; we offer a variety of learning programs and opportunities for all children. If you have questions about programs, the school year calendar, etc., our website contains most information. You may also call your community school or either the Schumacher Board Office (705-360-1151) or the New Liskeard Board Office (705-647-7394). We welcome our students and parents back for a new year with the best that education has to offer!
Elementary reporting: As we begin to bring closure to the 2014-2015 school year, one of our important tasks is the creation of report cards for all students. In the elementary division, our elementary teachers are on a strike action / “work to rule”, so the report cards will only contain marks this June.
We will have a team of employees input each student’s marks so that, on June 25th, the report cards should be issued. We encourage parents to review the marks. Should there need to be any clarification about their child(ren)’s progress, Friday, June 26th is a Professional Development Day. All teachers will be in their schools all that day and will be able to respond personally to parent/guardian concerns.
The Ontario Ministry of Education has recently provided Boards of Education with two (2) guidelines, related to the new Pupil Accommodation Review Guidelines (PARG) process and the Community Planning and Partnerships process. District School Board Ontario North East is now in the process of using those guidelines to develop and revise present policies. Using the guideline for Community Planning and Partnerships, a new policy has been developed with notification of its availability on our website. Parents and community members are invited to review the policy and share any input through our Board comment section. This new policy is receiving first reading at the May 5th board meeting. It will receive its next readings in May.
With the approval of Community Planning and Partnerships policy, our Board of Trustees and Administration will be setting up meetings with the municipalities to share our Five (5) year Capital Plan. Our plan focuses on school efficiencies and opportunities for communities to share unused space. Such opportunities might be libraries, municipal offices or museums, etc.
The Ministry PARG document on Accommodation Review will assist the board in revising the present School Accommodation Review Policy 2.2.1. The revision is not complete yet, but, in the next couple of weeks, it will also be placed on the website for parent and community viewing. It will not require three readings as it is a revision.
Restorative Practices in District School Board Ontario North East
District School Board Ontario North East is dedicated to the training of all school staff in the area of Restorative Practices, with the goal of positively influencing behavior and strengthening school communities throughout the board. The use of Restorative Practices has been shown to reliably reduce misbehavior, bullying, violence and suspensions among students and improve the overall climate for learning. We believe that students are more likely to make positive changes when those in authority do things with them, rather than to them or for them. Our goal is to actively engage our students and allow them to take a greater responsibility for the actions and activities within their school communities. We believe that Restorative Practices are a significant tool to reach this goal because students are given a voice.
“Restorative Practices are a framework for building community and for responding to challenging behaviour through authentic dialogue, coming to understanding, and making things right.”
Why Restorative Practices?
Restorative Practices build and nurture relationships; repair harm done to relationships through inappropriate behaviours; consider everybody’s needs in the process; help those involved take responsibility for behaviours; encourage accountability for those behaviours (actions); develop emotional literacy by providing a safe forum for people to express difficult emotions.
Restorative Practice is not merely a discipline approach. Although it is helpful as a means of managing classrooms, when students are actively engaged and allowed to take greater responsibility, teaching and learning are also enhanced. Being restorative is about building relationships and connections with students which will positively impact academic performance.
This will be my final blog concerning the roll-out of our neXt plan, our innovation in our One-to-One iPad project to develop the neXt teacher and neXt student. Further blogs will share the classroom student success stories.
This project requires strong digital leadership in order to promote and support our vision to make the use of technology a culture in each and every classroom in our Board. The Board plan incorporated 5-6 strong digital teacher-leaders (“coaches”) to work in classrooms with students and teachers to model and co-teach. These digital leaders will work with a small group of schools in each of the three regions as they focus on consistent support and assessment of our students’ learning. The focus will be on innovation, effective integration of technology, transparency, quality professional development, celebration of student successes, demonstration of best practices, enhancing partnerships with parents, and the on-going assessment of student achievement.
Our digital coaches will network with our literacy and numeracy coaches as we maintain a strong alignment with our vision and invest in classroom support to advance and enhance student achievement.
Parents and students who are following these blogs have submitted questions in regards to our new strategies for learning and have expressed great enthusiasm for their children’s new and exciting educational opportunities. Other parents have asked about transferring their children to enroll in our Board just to be part of these opportunities; we encourage these parents to register their child(ren) at their nearest District School Board Ontario North East public school as soon as possible as we are currently working on staffing our schools and preparing for the implementation of some 1600 iPads in September 2015 in our One-to-One iPad project.
In this blog, I want to focus on the value to students using their One-to-One iPad learning tool. This innovative program, which aligns with our Board Strategic Plan, Board Improvement Plan and School Improvement Plans, will support our learners in many meaningful, relevant and fun educational opportunities. Today’s students are digital learners and, as such, they prefer to access information immediately; they prefer instant gratification and immediate reward; they prefer parallel processing and multi-tasking; they prefer networking simultaneously with others; they prefer learning that is active, instantly useful, relevant and fun; and they prefer processing sounds, pictures, colour and videos ahead of crafting or reading text. Traditional ways of teaching often do not meet all the needs and expectations of today’s learners.
The investment in a One-to-One iPad program will promote a strong learning culture that provides our students with 21st Century skills in creativity, collaboration, critical thinking, technological proficiency, global awareness, communication, the self-regulation of the use of social media, and productivity. Our plan is to prepare the “neXt student” for a world where they are both academically and technologically knowledgeable as they further their careers in the competitive worlds of education and employment.
As we advance our project, parents will hear more about our teaching, learning and parenting partnership; this is a partnership with no cost to parents, teachers or students and which supports our belief in equity and success for all students. District School Board Ontario North East has budgeted for and invested in the iPad, the cases, and the necessary training and apps to promote and support meaningful learning and enhanced student achievement.
At the end of January, the Trustees of District School Board Ontario North East passed the innovative strategy of a One-to-One iPad (Apple) program to be established over two years. In the first year, all teachers and Grade 7-10 students will receive a personal iPad. Then, in year two, students in Grades 5-7 will receive a personal iPad.
The first steps have commenced, with one hundred teachers having received their iPad, Zagg keyboard, and training. Over the next several months, all teachers will receive their tablet and training.
In August, teachers will be invited to attend more specific training on their iPad and apps in the curricular areas of Literacy, Numeracy, Science and Social Studies. Teachers will also be welcomed and encouraged to add to our Board’s iTunesU depository of curriculum, books, resources and lessons. The preparation and training will establish a strong foundation for teachers as they use their iPads as a tool to engage and support students to advance their achievement.
We believe that the use of this mobile technology for teaching and learning has great potential; iPads will be used for content creation, assessment, organization, project collaboration, research, and student voice and will provide our students with innovative opportunities for learning and making thinking visible as we continue to provide the best that education has to offer.
On January 27th, DSB Ontario North East schools will hold our Junior Kindergarten Registration. We encourage all parents and guardians with children born in 2011 to register their children at their nearest DSB Ontario North East public school on that day. We offer both English language and French Immersion programmes across the Board. More information is available under Board Information on our website.
This registration day is held in January each year so we may commence planning for the upcoming September. The planning for September 2015 will continue into the spring as we focus on staffing, classroom spaces, renovations (if required) and the acquisition of necessary resources.
We have proudly supported full day, every day Junior and Senior Kindergarten since 2001. DSB Ontario North East believes that early learning, balanced play centres and educational technological aids such as computers, Smart Boards and Smart Tables better prepare our students for the primary grades.
We invite parents and guardians to visit our schools and see the classrooms filled with happy, busy students actively learning and being nurtured to become tomorrow’s citizens.
Our Lead in the Early Years has been busy building capacity of our Early Childhood Educators (ECEs) and Early Years teachers. Our last activity was to build student thinking through Natural Curiosity.
Fifty educators from JK to grade 1 enjoyed two intensive days on November 14th and 15th, learning about the importance Inquiry Based Learning has on developing engaged, competent learners. Tapping into the natural curiosity of children motivates them to participate in exploring and investigating topics relevant to their everyday lives. Through inviting students to shape the direction of the learning outlined in the Kindergarten and Gr. 1 curriculum document, a deeper more sustained acquisition of knowledge occurs. Under the guidance of Stan Kozak from Learning for a Sustainable Future and Andrea Cousineau from Natural Curiosity, our teachers and ECEs examined ways in which we might facilitate inquiry based learning for students. Through effective questioning and knowledge building circles, our students will become more connected to their own learning and that of others. By igniting the natural curiosity in all learners, an excitement for sharing knowledge and building new understanding and skills becomes infectious for all. We look forward to seeing the Inquiry Based learning take shape in our classrooms!
A team of System Administrators recently visited Clayton Brown Elementary School and the Hearst Education Centre in Hearst. Clayton Brown has an enrolment of about 50 students and the secondary school has about 25 students.
The team observed the excitement of students engaged in various academic activities in Grades JK-12. In the Kindergarten, the students were observed doing “echo reading” and “chalk and sock”. In the Primary, Grades 1-3, a literacy lesson was observed on poetry with the meaning of words and rhyme. In the Junior division, Grades 4-6, students were working in groups on problem-solving in mathematics. The senior students were in the Family Studies program, some making cookies, while others were on their laptops engaged in e-learning.
On the walls, we observed examples of outstanding student work in writing, art, and mathematics solutions to a variety of problems.
This little JK-12 school has an incredible staff who differentiate instruction and structure learning styles to support student achievement. The statements by several students say it all about the Hearst school: “The teachers here really like us and they help us learn”, and, “They make us happy!”.
Learning and play come alive with the simple touch of a table!
The students of DSB Ontario North East have had their passion for learning further transformed by the ‘Smart Table Interactive Centre”. Technology is a part of students’ lives and they work the Smart Table with great curiosity and intrigue. Teachers have been trained in using the 20 Smart Tables placed in many of our schools and they have taken to this tool eagerly to incorporate activities of whole-class and small-group learning.
The students of each of our Primary schools throughout the Board are enjoying their learning with the use of the Smart Table, which permit 2-8 students to simultaneously touch the surface and manipulate objects. Teachers are developing both Literacy and Numeracy activities that support our learning goals. Students in several of our self-contained classrooms are also experiencing the excitement of learning on their Smart Tables. In these learning opportunities, teachers have work and play come together in hands-on activities and the skills acquired are reaching beyond their classrooms. The Smart Table encourages collaboration, student-talk, and the building of consensus through digital lessons, interactive learning activities and educational games.
Our vision is to expand the number of Smart Tables in our classrooms to enhance student achievement in the next school year. If opportunity arises, visit your local school with a primary division, and watch with amazement the excitement in student learning and team work!
District School Board Ontario North East believes that learning a second language opens many doors for our students. As globalization increases, it is critical to bring awareness to the benefits of English-French bilingualism within our communities and beyond. Students in DSB Ontario North East are offered one of two avenues as French as a Second Language learners; Core French and French Immersion.
This blog will focus on our French Immersion schools where students enjoy learning most subject areas in French at the primary division. Upon entering gr. 4, students enjoy a split day seeing 50% French instruction and 50% English language instruction.
Our French Immersion program aims to support students in the acquisition of French through a rigorous curriculum and activities which engage the learner in authentic oral communication. Our program also aims to provide students with an understanding of cultures of French-speaking societies by integrating cultural study into daily language instruction.
As our students develop literacy skills in French, there is a transfer of skills between English and French which is mutually beneficial to both languages. Through clear learning goals and success criteria, students are able to be strong advocates for their own learning of FSL. During regular teacher-student conferencing around student work, students are able to express where they feel confident in their learning of French and where they would like to improve through further opportunities for practice. By providing explicit instructions, strong modelling and authentic language activities, teachers provide effective and positive experiences for all.
DSB Ontario North East offers support to our immersion schools and students through our board’s curriculum team, literacy/math support teachers and French as a Second Language Lead. Beyond the curriculum, schools are supported through the invitation of Francophone presenters within the community and beyond who have a talent in sharing their culture through drama, music and dance.
Students in our French Immersion program enjoy much success in learning French and several have competed in speaking and writing competitions which have won them awards. We are pleased to know that 3 of our current secondary students recently won $1000 towards tuition at the University of Ottawa.
With our continued focus on improving student confidence and competency, our French Immersion program prepares students to further their studies beyond high school which can lead them to a certificate of bilingualism.
More importantly, DSB Ontario North East continues to prepare our students in becoming active members of a continually changing society. With the acquisition of French as a Second Language, our students will see many opened doors to fulfilling careers.
At District School Board Ontario North East, we believe that mental health is key to student success and well-being. We are dedicated to creating safe, inclusive, caring, and supportive environments that enhance as well as promote mental health and well-being. Our work in this area is guided by our Mental Health and Addictions Steering Committee.
Since September 2013, Mental Health has been embedded in our Board Improvement Plan for Student Achievment. We have clarified Mental Health Team roles and structures to provide proactive student services. Moreover, collaborative approaches with community partners are ongoing in order to map out the network of available supports, including those to mitigate the risk of suicide.
We continue to strive to build mental health capacity. Our aim is mental health awareness for all, literacy for some, and expertise for a few. This is being achieved by disseminating information in newsletters, at staff meetings, through our mental health website and with specialized training. This work is foundational to the success of our mental health and well-being programs.
Our programs aim to promote, prevent, and intervene in student mental health. For instance, our Restorative Practices promote healthy communities, support students and teachers, and address discipline issues. Roots of Empathy helps with student development of social and emotional understanding, promotes pro-social behaviors, and decreases aggressive behavior. In addition to programs, our staff is trained to identify and intervene at the earliest signs that students are struggling with their mental health.
The Board's Mission Statement is being supported through our focus in the Board, School, and Classroom Plans, by the use of "inquiry". The process of inquiry begins by posing a burning "wondering" or "question" that emerges from an interest, topic, or situation related to students' lives or curricula. This inquiry practice permits a teacher and a learner to develop a path that is differentiated by their prior knowledge and experiences, along with learning styles.
The process of inquiry also promotes collaboration. In this, teachers and students critically reflect in meaningful dialogue about an inquiry topic. This collaboration also promotes activity and engagement, rather than passive participation.
The whole practice of learning through inquiry enables students to own their learning. The student's learning then becomes immediate, engaging, relevant, and meaningful. This practice promotes a passion for learning. The activity and engagement prompt innovation to also occur!
This is my first time to begin a practice of blogging. As we begin the new year of 2014, I want to open my blog with a focus on our Mission Statement:
“Together, we inspire innovation and a passion for learning in every student.”
I have chosen this topic of focus because this statement was developed and endorsed by our Trustees, Senior Administration, Principals, Teachers, Education Assistants, Child and Youth Workers, Office and Clerical Staff, Custodial, Managers, Maintenance and Community Partners. We commit that all staff will work diligently this year to strengthen our practices in regards to the statement and promote it wherever possible.
District School Board Ontario North East believes very strongly in the message that the Mission conveys. We care very deeply about our role in the development and delivery of programs, school climate, school and community activities and support for our students so they become strong, contributing and happy Canadian citizens.
Happy New Year!