Great Literature Inspires Great Writing: The House on Mango Street & My Name

By Ivy Waite As a student teacher one of my mentor teachers gave me the book The House on Mango Street by Sandra Cisneros. I have since used this short, incredible piece innumerable times in my humanities classroom with students from grades seven to twelve. This book found it’s way into grade nine humanities classrooms this year when I introduced it to my teaching partner Jaime… We decided to begin our Identity unit with a lesson involving Mango Street that I have used multiple times, with great success. In the lesson My Name, students read Sandra Cisneros’ exemplary vignette exploring … Continue reading Great Literature Inspires Great Writing: The House on Mango Street & My Name

Introduction to Inquiry Based Learning

At the Connect Charter School we focus on inquiry-based learning, technology-intergration, Collaboration, Education Research, Authentic Learning Experiences and outdoor/environmental education . We believe these pillars come together to provide students with opportunities for authentic, meaningful and relevant learning. At the core of our program is inquiry – an approach to learning and teaching (including teacher learning) that is the foundation of all we do. Our thinking around inquiry is that it is more than just ‘doing projects’ but is rather nurturing a dispostion toward critical thinking, reflection and idea improvement in all learners in our building. In creating and sharing … Continue reading Introduction to Inquiry Based Learning

Engaging Math: The Candy Problem

by Deirdre Bailey I mentioned the Candy Problem in a previous post in which I alluded to having provided the kids with a challenging math problem that even teachers had been taking a significant chunk of time to solve. The Candy Problem was brought to us by the Galileo Educational Network as part of a longitudinal “lesson study” approach to math PD our math teachers are participating in. We presented the problem as part of an end-of-semester formative assessment. We had had many conversations previous to presenting them with this problem about multiples, factors, common factors, number patterns and multiplicative … Continue reading Engaging Math: The Candy Problem

Community of Practice

by Amy Park As the school year began, I was excited not only to be teaching at CSS again and teaching a new grade, but to wear the moniker “mentor.” I thought, albeit naively, that I had a great deal to offer my new teaching partner, who with just one year under her belt was considered a newcomer to the profession. After nine years in the classroom, I assumed I would share all that I know about teaching and in return, she would learn. I have never made a worse assumption in all of my career. My belief about “mentoring” … Continue reading Community of Practice

Focusing on Outdoor and Environmental Education

On Nov 7-10, the Calgary Science School sent a team to the ACEE Environmental Leadership Clinic, funded by Cenovus Energy and Environment Canada’s Eco-Action Community Fund. This Clinic provided our team with an opportunity to network with other Environmental Educators and stakeholders in Alberta. As a CSS team, we focused on developing a plan to enhance and enrich the third pillar of our Charter – outdoor and environmental education. We’ve noticed that this blog is full of innovative and meaningful work that provides evidence of two of the three pillars of our Charter (technology and inquiry based practice) but we … Continue reading Focusing on Outdoor and Environmental Education

This Is How Its Supposed To Feel…

by Deirdre Bailey The start to my day today was hectic at best. Snowy roads, a forgotten laptop and a first class full of glue and tissue paper. I asked the kids if they could do their best to be purposeful and respectful as they shredded piles of paper and painted white glue onto massive provincial cardboard cut outs. I handed a few of them some cameras and asked them to interview each other on the artistic process as I rushed around gathering materials. They generated their own questions, found their own space, and got to work. Twenty minutes before … Continue reading This Is How Its Supposed To Feel…

Engaging Math: Ice Melt Problem

As part of the math lesson study we are currently hosting, one of our grade 9 math teachers (Jon Hoyt-Hallet) recently shared his classroom with 10 teachers while students were working on the ‘ice melt’ problem. Both this math problem, as well as the framework of Lesson Study we are using come to use from our PD with the Galileo Educational Network. This math problem is a simple one: before class starts the teacher puts a handful of ice in a funnel dripping into a graduated cylinder. The cylinders are on tables before the students enter. A simple question is … Continue reading Engaging Math: Ice Melt Problem

Hands on with Grade 6 Flight!

by Erin Couillard The last time I taught grade 6, my colleague Lisa Nelson and I decided to try something different with the flight unit. After a collaborative planning session with another colleague with expertise in this area, we developed a project in which students would design and test ‘objects that fly’ in a wind tunnel. The wind tunnel was quite easy to build – it simply involves a fan and plastic tunnel sitting upon a scale. This tunnel allows student to calculate the change in weight of their designs during the testing process. The ultimate goal for the students … Continue reading Hands on with Grade 6 Flight!

Forging Connections between Science and Art

On October 5th and 6th, 2011, the Calgary Science School hosted the Forging Connections Conference. This conference was a collaboration between teachers, art and science experts and parents with the goal of integrating art and science more authentically into the students’ learning. This exciting two day event consisted of six, 105 minute sessions. Each was structured around a “show/tell/do” format where an artist (visual, drama/dance and music) showed a finished product; a scientist will explained the magic (science) behind it and then the students were able to make meaning of the knowledge through hands-on creation and exploration. Create, Explore, Discover. … Continue reading Forging Connections between Science and Art

Sustained and Reflective PD

Last Saturday we kicked off an exciting professional development experience that’s being hosted here at the Calgary Science School. Over the last few years our math team has participated in a type of PD known as lesson study. Basically lesson study is a way to approach PD where teachers slowly examine and improve students’ understanding by designing and working through rich problems together, collecting evidence of student thinking and then designing next steps together. The lesson study approach was most famously discussed in The Teaching Gap, an examination of math teaching practices in different countries. This lesson study is facilitated … Continue reading Sustained and Reflective PD