Our Board will be making a decision today (Monday, March 31) about how we will support changes to our learning environment in Hamilton-Wentworth. This vision speaks to creating learning opportunities in every classroom where students take ownership for their learning, both collaboratively and individually, and where teachers support these learning opportunities in different ways. Sometimes a teacher’s role will be that of a facilitator, sometimes as an observer, always as the professional whose expertise provides each student with what he or she needs to think, create, evaluate and communicate in the context of new learning.

This learning environment requires giving students access to different tools. The textbook and the notebook have been the common tools in every classroom for many years. Though there is nothing wrong with these tools in and of themselves, they do not provide our students with access to the world in which we live, in the same way that technology and digital resources can. Because our world is both digital and physical, it is imperative that parents, guardians and schools assist our students to live in both realms. This does not mean that students will always be staring at tablet screens or using the Internet to... Read More

Yesterday I invited 40 high school educators to think about how we might invite students to engage in inquiry based learning. I asked them to consider different ways of delivering credits. We discussed what it means to think in an interdisciplinary way. We discussed opportunities and barriers to thinking about teaching and learning differently.

What inspired me about this meeting was that this group of teachers was willing to think way outside of the box.

We began our discussion with student voice. What are the interests, strengths and passions of our students? From there we moved to the notion of critical questions. How might we create opportunities for students to ask complex questions that they really want to explore…..deeply!

Once students have the opportunity to name their questions, the role of educators is to figure out how to offer learning opportunities where students may earn credits in creative ways.

This concept is foreign to us as educators because for more than a century the “Carnegie Unit” had dictated how high school credits are offered in secondary schools…… Back in 1909, a group of professors at Carnegie discussed why it was important for secondary schools to mirror the university. What this... Read More

A little over a week ago, the Globe and Mail published an article titled “The One-room Classroom Could Make a Comeback in Hamilton.”

Since the article was published I have received various responses both through email and Twitter, so I decided to write this post to clearly articulate what we hope to accomplish in Hamilton-Wentworth District School Board.

We have been hearing a lot lately about the need for school to change in order to educate our students effectively. I would argue that this change should happen on the foundation of our past successes in education.  In other words, we need not think of everything we have done historically as no longer relevant.  As we move forward we know that students must take ownership for their learning; engage their classmates so they can learn together, think critically, develop creativity, communicate effectively, and study and solve complex problems.  Further we know that technology may certainly enable these things.

On a related note, the notion of interdisciplinary studies is not a novel concept.  In 2002, the Ontario Ministry of Education published a curriculum document on interdisciplinary studies.  In that document, the Ministry... Read More

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