Bert Edwards Elementary school became a school of choice in 2007. Parents initiated the process in westsyde in an effort to keep their elementary school open. The proposal created by the parents went before the board of education The board asked for a group of parents, teachers, and principals to meet and discuss what a science based school would look like. The group met several times and visited a science school in Calgary as part of their study. That group expanded on the parents proposal and made a public presentation to the board of education and interested parents.
Once the board approved the concept for the school the principal was hired and then teaching jobs were posted, with science backgrounds required for intermediate teachers.
Over the past five years the school has continued to grow in student population and parents are very happy with school and how we are changing the way we teach.
As a staff we have a focus on teaching through an inquiry approach. That means creating more independent students that take an active role in their learning. Students develop more questions and work through real world problems when possible. In the primary grades the main focus is on reading and ensuring that all students are meeting expectations by the end of grade three.
In the intermediate grades students work more on project based learning and I wonder questions. Some of the bigger projects students have worked on include, Lego robotics, marsville, Thompson River studies and a project were grade 6 students worked with respiratory therapy students from TRU on the circulatory and respiratory systems
Classes also do collaborative projects with their peers, schoolmates, and with students across Canada and the united states. We use videoconference equipment for students to speak with each other as a class and a Moodle website to chat and develop presentations in a variety of web 2.0 tools (prezi, glogster, and other tools that allow video images and text to be combined into a truly multimedia presentation)
This year we were pleased to announce a partnership with Apple Canada that has every student in grade 5 and 6 using an iPad. Students are using a variety of apps and have replaced some textbooks and novels with the device. In the last week we have been able to use the iPad to program our Lego robotics equipment. Students with written output issues use dragon dictation To record their thoughts. The dictation app converts their voice to text which students can then edit and submit. With some students this has seen a dramatic increase in their writing and confidence levels. Our grade 5 students took their iPads to McQueen lake and did a video project on the environment. When they returned to class the next day the edited the video and did a voice over to create a display for other classes.
Micheal Fullan wrote that there were three basic needs for a school; Literacy, numeracy, and well being. Through our inquiry approach, literacy encompasses more than reading to include comprehension and a joy of being literate. Numeracy involves reasoning, problem solving, and being good with numbers and figures. The well being of students is the inclusion of all learning to be healthy, to stay safe, and enjoy learning.
Our students have above average attendance, less homework, and describe their school day as fun and interesting. I believe our students have become more independent and have learned how to learn, which will increase their success in high school and beyond.