It turns out that staff at Douglas Park School are far too busy and much too modest to share all the great things taking place at Regina’s newly-opened public school. As an instructional consultant assigned to Douglas Park and 9 other public schools, I have one of the best seats in the house to witness teaching and learning in action. During my visit to Douglas Park yesterday, it occurred to me that maybe I should be helping to tell part of the story at this school. I have therefore decided to post very quick blog entries from time to time to keep folks informed.
To set the context, you might want to do some quick background research about the school, which opened in September 2012. Check out this feature on CBC.ca.
So here’s what I saw yesterday, in just a few short minutes:
- Grades 3-5 meeting as a learning community to preview the week together and set context for learning activities. They also did some problem-solving around improving some behaviours on the playground and set goals. It looked and sounded as though students are looking forward to the Remembrance Day ceremony on Thursday.
- Three teachers using a team-teaching approach in a one of the larger flexible learning spaces. One took the lead while the others supported learners in a number of ways.
- Innovative use of a flexible learning space by quickly modifying some adaptive furniture. This allowed a large group of students to meet for a carpet meeting and then quickly return to seating arrangements to engage in small group and independent work. The transition was fluid and seamless.
- Technology integration to support learning
- Teachers using their collaboration rooms to discuss instructional strategies and to brainstorm interventions and supports for students.
- School-based administrators visible and involved.
More to come……
Teachers, tutors, students, and just about everybody are bound to find uses for The Khan Academy. The Khan Academy is a collection of 2000+ instructional videos/ micro lessons on mostly math and sciences. The Academy is a not-for-profit educational organization created by Salman Khan, who has has captured the admiration of Bill Gates.
I like the idea of using the Khan Academy as a supplementary resource for numeracy instruction. The collection of videos and the self-paced activities certainly don’t replace the curriculum and/or sound instructional strategies; however, they sure are handy to have in your back pocket. The big advantage here is a the ability to draw from the huge library of videos to reinforce concepts and allow students to watch and then re-watch the steps to solving problems. Students can access the videos from home and school using computers and mobile technologies. Some educators have used the Khan Academy to experiment with flipped instruction or inverted instruction. The learners watch the videos as their homework and then the following classroom period is used to practice new skills. The jury is still out on this one.
Melanie Little, mathematics teacher and VP at Douglas Park School, raves about The Khan Academy. Little uses the micro-lessons to review and introduce new skills and concepts. According to Little, the use of technology helps to engage her learners and shows them multiple ways of taking on math problems. “It’s like having another teacher in the room” says Little.