SPRING 2015 In January, Helen Strybos and I, along with 60 other Christian School leaders from Ontario, had the wonderful opportunity to travel to San Diego, California, to visit a school system named High Tech High. This Kindergarten to grade 12 system is not a technical school but, rather, a school that teaches skills through projects. The school began because business people were noticing that students were not prepared for the work force; so two high school teachers, with the support of the business community, created a public charter school that has radicalized how education happens. This is how education has happened for 75 years in North America: Segregate students by class, race, gender, language ability, or perceived academic ability.
Separate academic from technical teaching and learning.
Isolate adolescents from the adult world they are about to enter.
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“Let the Name Of the LORD be Praised Now and Forevermore “ Psalm 113:2 (NIV)
This is how High Tech High does education: Integrates students, integrates the curriculum, and integrates school with the world. What does this mean for Sarnia Christian School? A shift is happening away from content and subject coverage to teaching specific skills through a greater integration of subject matter, with a connection to the arts and embracing the wider community. We call this project based learning and teachers have spent almost two years now, applying and learning about this approach to teaching students.
To read about an excellent example of project-based learning at SCS, turn to “An Awesome Idea” on page 3 of this newsletter.
It means ensuring that basic skills in numeracy and literacy are mastered so our students are ready to work in the adult world with a solid Biblical and Christian worldview.
Our new building design will create the proper spaces to ensure that we can teach students in collaborative, flexible spaces. - Len Smit, Principal
JK students working on patterns
HIGH TECH HIGH by Helen Strybos In January I had the opportunity to attend the High Tech High (HTH) Winter Residency Program. I was there with a group of approximately 120 administrators and teachers, half of whom were from Ontario Christian Schools. It was a time to learn and observe how Project Based Learning (PBL) is carried out in a real school setting. PBL can be defined as a systematic teaching method that engages students in learning knowledge and skills through an extended inquiry process structured around complex, authentic questions and carefully designed products and tasks. At Sarnia Christian School, the Staff has been intentionally learning about and trying to integrate one such project per year. We are doing a good job learning about and using this method. As a primary teacher I had some very specific questions about how to do PBL and still ensure that the basics of reading, writing and math are covered. I was able to talk to several Grade One and Two teachers in the HTH organization. When I posed my questions, they were very honest in their replies. (cont. on page 3)
FOUNDATION. CHALLENGE. PREPARATION.