Report Cards March 17, 2015

Report cards will be going home March 17th, 2015.

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Open House at NPSS

Parents, and students entering Gr 10, 11 and 12 in the 2015-2016 school year are invited to attend an Open House at NPSS on March 12th from 6:30pm-8pm.  Come meet the staff and discuss options for next year!

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Are you interested in hosting an international student?

Please see the poster below for further information about becoming a host family

hostfamily poster – Feb

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Christmas Hamper update!

The 8 Community groups at the ELC sponsored 4 single parent families this Christmas through the Women’s Resource Center.  Hampers usually include a Christmas dinner, clothes for the children, winter coats, shoes, other gifts based on the children’s interests, and groceries to carry the family a bit past the Christmas meal.

This is our 3rd year participating in such a rewarding charity for the holidays. We always seem to have a short time-frame to gather all this for the families – only two weeks – but the students sure rose to the challenge! Between all the classes, we provided supplies for 4 Christmas dinners, a “tree-full” of gifts for each family (including stockings!)  and $4,030.00 in gift cards to split between the families!

This has become an annual tradition for the ELC. It was the commitment of the teachers and students of the whole school that made it possible to sponsor these families for Christmas this season. We are so proud of our students and this is just another reason that the ELC is such a great place to work and go to school.

Xmas hamper 2014xmas hamper gift cards 2014


Merry Christmas from all of us at the ELC!



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Parent DPA/Christmas hamper

It’s beginning to look a lot like Christmas at the ELC!

It has become an annual tradition for us at the ELC to sponsor single parent families in need at Christmas time.  We are pleased to announce that we are sponsoring 4 families this year!
Christmas hampers usually include a Christmas dinner, clothes for the children, winter coats, shoes, other gifts based on the children’s interest, and groceries to carry the family a bit past the Christmas meal.

We are having a Parent DPA (daily physical activity) with our students on the morning of Wednesday, Dec. 10th, from 8:30 am to 9:40 am. All parents are encouraged to come and participate with our students in our morning activities.  We would like to use this parent DPA as a jump start to the Christmas hamper donations.  We are inviting all parents to bring an item/donation for the hampers when joining us Wednesday morning.  Your son or daughter will be informed of what is on each families wish list.

We look forward to seeing you!

3 on 3 hockey dodge ball with denny and gilmore april 11 2014 049oh thats funny!xmas hamper

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December PAC meeting

Please join us for our next PAC Meeting to be held on Tuesday, December 2nd at the ELC at 7 pm

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Beautiful Northern BC

Recently our Digital Photography class went on a picture taking field trip! Check out these great shots!

DP class

DP class 10

DP class 3

DP class 6

DP class 2

DP class 8

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November PAC meeting

The next NPSS/ELC PAC meeting is on Tuesday, November 4th @ 7pm in the NPSS library.

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Picture retake day

Picture retake day is on Wednesday, October 22, 2014


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NPSS/ELC PAC meeting

The NPSS/ELC PAC welcomes you to join us for the first PAC meeting of the new school year!

October 7th at 7pm in the NPSS library.

These meetings are a perfect way to stay informed for the school year

  • Meet the Principal, Mr. Randy Pauls
  • Meet other parents
  • Be informed on Grad Transitions and requirements
  • Learn how to access the new learn60 gmail accounts
  • And much, much, more!
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Pancake Breakfast for ELC parents!

We are putting on a pancake breakfast for all ELC parents!

pancake breakfast
We welcome you to join us Friday, October 3rd at 8:00 am to meet our teachers & staff and to see the school! :)

*Donations for our leadership class will be accepted

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ELC Picture day!!

Picture day at the ELC is Thursday, September 25th
Order forms have been sent home with the students.

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ELC 1st day of school information

We are please to inform you that school at the ELC will be starting on Monday, September 22nd!  School will start at 8:40 am for all grade 10 & 11 ELC students. This will be a half day, ending at 11:00 am.  Buses will be running on the shortened day schedule.

Your student will receive a package on Monday with various forms that will require a parent/guardian signature, please watch for this.  This package will also include our weekly schedule.

You will not be required to bring any school supplies for the first day, however, please see the list below for items you will need for the year.

School Supply List
– USB 8 gig or larger
– Headphones
– Scientific Calculator
– 1 three inch binder
– 1 large zipper binder
– 5-6 colored subject dividers
– zipper pouch to store supplies
– lined binder filler paper
– graphing paper for Science & Math
– erasers, highlighters, pens, pencils (pencil crayons are optional)
*French students only will need a  French-English Dictionary (or you can use a smart phone App)
**If you have a laptop or tablet you are welcome to bring it (students are responsible for their electronic devices)

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Important message from the Superintendent

Dear Parents, Guardians and Students

As you will have heard, an agreement has now been reached between the BCTF and the provincial government.  As a result of this agreement, SD 60 will be returning to normal operations effective Monday, September 22nd. The first day of school will take place Monday, with all schools running their regular shortened two hour opening day schedules.  Full day instruction will begin Tuesday.

Obviously, this year’s start up is unique and there will be many questions. School bus operations will commence on Monday.

Parents of kindergarten students are invited to contact your schools to determine just when and how your students will be welcomed to kindergarten. Each school will have its own introductory routines, programs and procedures, but all kindergarten programs will be offering full day instruction by Friday, September 26th.

SD 60 does not anticipate any major changes to our school calendar. School days will not be lengthened and Christmas and Spring Break schedules will remain the same.  Semestered schools will take steps to balance their semesters to ensure all students have sufficient instruction time. No additional days will be added to the school year. Details on any changes will be made available over the next few weeks.

This has been a challenging time for everyone. We would like to express our appreciation for your ongoing patience and support. All staff look forward to welcoming back students and getting back to doing great work on behalf of your students.


Dave Sloan

Superintendent of Schools

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Job Action Update

Job Action Update

The following message is from the Superintendent of Schools, Dave Sloan.

Back to school is usually a time that everyone looks forward to with some anticipation. SD 60 staff have traditionally worked very hard to ensure that schools are ready for students the first Tuesday after Labour Day. Unfortunately, this year due, to the ongoing teacher’s strike it is unclear whether schools will be able to open as scheduled. Members of the Peace River Teachers Association are currently on strike and have served notice that they will not be reporting to work on Tuesday. Furthermore, the PRNTA has indicated that picket lines will be established at all, or most schools, and district offices from Tuesday September 2nd through Thursday September 4th. If these circumstances remain unchanged through the weekend, school principals will be unable to accommodate students on Tuesday September 2nd. No school buses will be running and parents are encouraged to make alternate arrangements for their students.

Like all of you, SD 60 staff continue to hope for a speedy resolution of the current labour dispute. Parents are encouraged to follow local media outlets  and to check the district website at for updates and further information about when schools will return to regular service. Parents may also check the province’s parent information website at for more information.

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ELC back to school information

The first day of school for all students attending the Energetic Learning Campus is scheduled for Tuesday, September 2, 2014 – 8:40 am to 10:40 am (Half Day)

 School Supply List
- USB 8 gig or larger
– Headphones
– Scientific Calculator
– 1 three inch binder
– 1 large zipper binder
– 5-6 colored subject dividers
– zipper pouch to store supplies
– lined binder filler paper
– graphing paper for Science & Math
– erasers, highlighters, pens, pencils (pencil crayons are optional)
*French students only will need a French-English Dictionary (or you can use a smart phone App)

**If you have a laptop or tablet you are welcome to bring it (students are responsible for their electronic devices)

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Report Cards

Report Cards for all ELC students will be available for pick-up at North Peace Secondary School on Wednesday, July 2nd or Thursday July 3rd, 2014 . Please contact NPSS office if you require more information. The ELC report cards not claimed by July 3rd will be distributed when the school re-opens in late August.


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A Senior Moment

A Senior Moment

 This morning I had the wonderful opportunity to lead a group of seniors on a tour of the Energetic Learning Campus (ELC).  This group of seniors stopped at the Pomeroy Sports Centre (PSC) to get some info from the Fort St John visitor information centre. Our ELC is located in the PSC. This group is on a 3-week bus tour to Alaska.  I must say this was the best tour I have lead through the ELC. I have completed well over 50 tours of our campus during the past three years. Some of the tour groups were students, parents, educators, trustees, CEO’s, political figures, town counselors, mayors, etc… This particular tour was so great because of the senior’s ability to show their appreciation in such a sincere way. They absolutely loved the school and showed it in a way only grandparents can. They all clapped at the end, a few personally thanked me by shaking my hand or giving me a hug. One lady held my hand like she was my grandma and told me how she loved my passion. Another lady said I should go on national TV to show all of Canada our school. It really made my day!!!!

This moment rekindled in me, the value of intergenerational relationships. The North American society needs to find ways to bridge the age gap between teens and seniors. The exchange of strength and energy for wisdom and experience between these two groups is just common sense.  This is not a new concept it was the way of our ancestors.  The Industrial Revolution was when our society started to scatter families and eliminate small villages. Since that time in history the connection between families and communities has broken down. At the ELC I would love to spark this teen and senior connection next year by arranging tours in our school with the elderly in Fort St John. I would also like to set up one day each week where seniors join us during our daily physical activity (DPA) in the morning.

There are many problems that have surfaced in our society because of this intergenerational gap. Seniors and teens are prejudice towards each other. Teens see seniors as useless, weak and of no value. The respect for the elderly has been lost. Seniors view all small groups of teens as ‘gangs’ and see the need to call the police on them. The ability to trust teenagers has been lost. The absence of contact between the two groups is evident in the lack of respect they both get in society. Society needs to find ways to establish and build a relationship with these two groups. A positive relationship will allow seniors to be educated about the challenges youth face today and teens to be informed about the aging issues of the elderly.

A well-established connection that fosters positive relationships between seniors and teens can only be helpful to the people involved and society in general.

Some benefits for teens could be:

  1. -       improvement in confidence and self-esteem
  2. -       improved community responsibility and citizenship
  3. -       knowledge of the psychological and physiological aspects of aging
  4. -       create caring relationships (feel satisfied and rewarded for brightening a               senior’s life)

Some of the benefits for the seniors could be:

  1. -       relief from isolation and depression (something to look forward to)
  2. -       validation of being able to help the youth, our next generation
  3. -       receiving the joys of conversation, touch and entertainment
  4. -       receiving regular contact with another individual
  5. -       create caring relationships (feel satisfied for brightening a teenager’s life)

This morning I gained some self-esteem and confidence in what we are doing here at the ELC.  I felt very satisfied to be able to brighten this group’s day. I was also deeply rewarded with the feeling of joy through communication and the gentle touch of a senior.  I am turning 49 soon and over the past 2 years I have had very little contact with the elderly as my grandparents have passed and my parents live on the other side of the country. If a man at 49 can gain so much from this brief encounter then imagine how our teens and seniors will benefit. We need to rethink how and where we build schools and senior care homes in the future.  If we can somehow combine them, then I am sure it will make our ancestors smile.  I sincerely hope, this wise group of seniors, experience the trip of a lifetime in Alaska. Thanks you so much for coming into my life and our school!


Sheldon Steele


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Provincial EXAM Dates are on the June calendar

Make sure that you bring a calculator to the Math and Science exams!

Please follow the link below
June calendar & TPOL info. letter 2014


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Large Corporation or Small Family

Large Corporation or Small Family

Large corporations exist, as an entity separate and distinct from its owners. “The small town grocer gets mercilessly taken out by the new Wal-Mart in town. The small town grocer may have an established customer base and friendly relations with the community, but it simply can’t match the low prices offered by Wal-Mart.” (Leo Sun) I remember growing up in my small town in Nova Scotia where I often went to the grocery store owned and ran by a local family. I clearly remember Mr. Day (the owner) playing a joke on us kids on April fools day. He placed a sign in the candy display window stating, “Tomorrow, all candy 10 for 1¢”. When we rushed to the store early the next morning on April 1st, we were very disappointed when Mr. Day asked us to read the sign. He then said: “tomorrow never comes”. We were mad but also laughing that he got us. Mr. Day did give us free candy that day.  I can without hesitation say Wal-Mart or any other large corporation store does not even come close to giving me the feeling I got when I went into “Day’s Grocery Store”.  Do we dare take this description of the power of a large corporation over the small family business and apply it to our High School education system?

Last week we interviewed some of the grade 12 students who were part of the original cohort of grade 10’s that started the Energetic Learning Campus (ELC) three years ago.  The purpose of these interviews was to help us get a clear picture on how we can better meet student needs for when they leave us. One of these interviews was with a student, who before he came to us in grade 10, was ready to drop out. He has a complicated life and is still struggling to get enough credits to graduate.  As we talked in the interview about connecting with teachers at the ELC and the Main campus, the student explained how he made a lot of connections with the ELC staff but did not really make connections with the Main campus staff. Then a very thought provoking answer came from this “high risk potential drop out” student.  Here is how he described the difference between the ELC and the Main campus: “Here (Main campus) is like a corporation and there (ELC) is like a family. The ELC wasn’t big, everyone was like genuine and told their story right off the bat. Here is like everybody is keeping everything from you. You go on in grab your books do your sh!t and leave. You don’t talk to any of your teachers – they just tell you what to do and then leave – they don’t have any stories to share.”
This is not singling out one particular High School, this students description applies to most typical large high schools in North America.

The large corporate high school according to the interviewed students becomes a daily grind of the same old thing. Long classes, where you do the same thing over and over.  Too much “book work” for every class! We found that all types of students, the ‘A’ student to the struggling student, were expressing the same concerns and comments.  One of the key root causes of success in education and learning is the building of a strong relationship with the student.  Corporate high schools with 1000 + students place itself at a disadvantage when it comes to building relationships. I am not saying that relationships are not built in these high schools because some great teachers are able to accomplish this as individuals.

The large corporate high schools have too many layers of management. It is divided into departments that form their own silos. The separate silos usually look to see success of the department regardless of how the school fares as a whole. As it can happen in large corporations, large corporate high schools manage to hide “dead wood”. Staff that do not live up to the schools expectations, are not easily singled out in a large high school.  Do we need to re-think how the power and size of the “corporate” high school affects our delivery of education to students?  I think we need to change the way we structure and schedule our large high schools. We need to bring the “family” aspect of the small cohort into the “corporate” high schools.

At the ELC, we have a campus of 200 students where “everybody knows your name”. It is a wonderful, trusting community that promotes social responsibility. Relationships are built through the many school community events our staff initiates. Our campus philosophy is based on a collaborative team effort. We all believe and live by the old saying, “it takes a village to raise a child”.  Smaller schools have fewer layers of management, fewer silos and are more able to create that “family” run school.

The ELC, according to the interviewed students, is a place you want to go to in the morning and a place where you really get to know your teachers. It is a place that students feel they are part of a family. How can we take a place like the ELC and duplicate its community into large corporate high schools?

To change the way we do things in our high schools we need to eliminate the “corporate” values. We need to restructure large high schools to create smaller cohorts or mini schools within the larger school. We need cohorts of teachers and students who are not bound to a schedule or timetable or provincial exam. We don’t want teachers to teach to the test. Only covering all the learning outcomes and not going deep in the learning creates a culture where students know a little bit about everything but nothing about anything. We need to set up spaces that promote a community of trust that helps lead to great student-teacher relationships.  If we continue with the large impersonal high school system then we can only expect to create a culture that separates students and teachers. It becomes a culture of “us and them”. If we want the students to want to come to school maybe we should create more small-town grocery stores like “Days Grocery Store” in our school system. Wouldn’t it be nice to see our high school students excited about going to school and actually look forward to learning?

Sheldon Steele

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Become a host family!

SD60’s International Education Program is growing!  We are looking for host families for 25 students arriving September 15, 2014 and staying until January 15, 2015.
Please click on the link below for more information.
hostfamily poster

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Extra Curricular Sports Events

Letter to Parents May 7, 2014

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Decreasing the Hierarchy in Leadership

Decreasing the Hierarchy in Leadership

In our leadership roles we are expected to oversee and manage operations. Trying to make sure that everything is running smoothly, while constantly putting energy towards reaching expected responsibilities passed down from leaders above, is very time consuming. This leaves very little time for school improvement plans or growth plans.  As a leader, our job is to create an environment that works. Leaders literally shape their organizations. The shape of the organization influences the shape of the team. There are limitations to the ‘Lone Ranger’ leadership approach. Lone leadership practice is done to followers. If followers are not part of the leadership practice then sustainability is limited. As Guy Shearer stated, “School is rather like air travel – trust the person at the front and switch off all electronic gadgets”.  This quote also applies to the leaders of our education community. Principals, superintendents and teacher leaders are also in the pilot’s seat. Do we trust everything they are doing? Do we just switch off our ideas and let the leader up front make all the decisions? Isn’t that why they get paid the big bucks?  You may be a great leader with super skills, but is it sustainable? A good collaboration model can build strong relationships and a level of trust that may not exist without this teamwork.  Leaders may lose out on many insightful or different perspectives that resonate through a shared leadership roll based on collaboration. If I leave my leadership role as the Vice Principal responsible for the daily operations of the ELC, will it run smoothly and continue to grow without me?

How do we reduce the hierarchy that pre-exists in our leadership roles? These roles may be Provincial Superintendents, District Superintendents, Principals, Teacher Leaders (department heads) or Teachers. Sometimes the answer to these deep questions are more simple than complex. I was very fortunate in my leadership role at the Energetic Learning Campus (ELC), to find some ways to answer this hierarchy question. I would like to share how, we the staff of the ELC, sort of stumbled upon this solution.

When we started our PBL campus three years ago, because of a building delay, we met in a common room everyday before school started.  The actual ELC space was not ready and for 6 weeks we lived and taught in the common areas of the Pomeroy Sports Centre (PSC).  At the beginning of everyday we had to create our temporary teaching spaces by rolling out our student desks, chairs and our teaching carts.  At the end of everyday, we disassembled our teaching spaces so they were available for public use in the evenings.  We had one common meeting room where we stored our carts and supplies.  For these 6 weeks, while anxiously waiting for the news that our PBL campus was ‘move in ready’ we all met in this common room 15 minutes before the day began. We were able to plan the day and week and as issues arose, we were able to address them as a team.  When our ELC space was finally ready on October 19, 2011, we were relieved and overjoyed to move into our beautiful new campus.  However, after a couple of weeks of working in the new space, we realized that we missed each other.  We came to the conclusion that the short 15 minute time, that previously had brought us together each morning, was extremely valuable.

We decided to make a commitment to meet every morning before school started for 10-15 minutes.  From that point forward, for the next three years, we have not missed a day and because of these simple grass root meetings the growth of our campus has blossomed. This total buy-in has led to the development of wonderful relationships and extreme levels of trust.  This, in my eyes, is an example of shared leadership.  We at the ELC lead together.

Now, how did we extend that leadership role to our student population?  Again, the answer to a seemingly difficult question is more simple than complex.  The ELC has no staff room, no bells and very few doors.  The open concept of the ELC allows teaching and learning to always be on display.  We have a common kitchen and common washrooms that are shared by staff and students.  All of these simple ideas have led to a community that is accountable to each other.  Sharing this common space has helped create a community where wonderful relationships between staff/student and student/student exists.  An extreme level of trust has also developed throughout our campus.  Many students do not even lock their lockers, lost or misplaced valuables (money, phones, jewelry, etc) are almost always brought to the front desk.  What I see, hear, and feel in the hallways and open spaces before school, at break, at lunch and after school is a great community atmosphere that is led by the green zone students.  The red zone students (students who act out because of their troubled lives) do not rise to the top and control the hallways.  They actually become part of the green zone students.  This trustful atmosphere has allowed us to invite our students in on decisions that concern their community and education.  At the end of every PBL project and presentation of learning (POL), we have our students critique the project so we can improve it for the next year.  We have also had our grade 11’s tune new projects for us.  Every May we have a “Planning Day” where we as a staff spend our non-instructional day planning our education goals and visions for next year.  During this day, we invite our students to spend 2 hours of that day with us.  The students openly critique us (kind, helpful, specific) on our campus expectations and our educational methods.  We take this very insightful information and reflect, revisit and revise our campus for the coming year.  We are constantly looking for ways to fine tune and improve the ELC.
In my eyes, this is an example of shared leadership.  We (staff and students) at the ELC lead together.

We need to continue to find ways to help achieve growth in our education system.  Growth can come in many forms. I am looking at growth that leads us out of the “traditional” modes of teaching to a model more conducive to preparing students for the 21st Century. If we put a doctor in an operating room today, using the same skills and training that doctors received 100 years ago, would you notice? Would you allow a pilot to fly a plane today with only the skills learned by pilots 100 years ago? The answer here is obvious – these professions have progressed and grown immensely over the past 100 years. However, if you take a teacher from 100 years ago and place her/him in most classrooms today, they would fit right in. Why is it that we expect change and growth in other professions but fight change and growth in education?

Great leaders build future leaders and leave their legacy with team members they have challenged, nurtured and grown. I cannot say, with certainty, that we at the ELC are transforming education. I can say, with certainty, we have transformed our campus into a learning environment more conductive for developing 21st Century skills. I do suggest that we all consider implementing these small simple ideas that can lead to a shared leadership and possible significant educational growth. Eliminating the hierarchy in our classrooms, schools, districts, and provinces is something I feel is needed to help us create change that is sustainable in education. The level of certainty is not always desirable when taking risks in trying to change or transform education. However, the opportunity to be a part of something that I strongly believe in, is all that matters. I would like to believe that the ELC would continue to grow and prosper if I were replaced today.

If you would like to see what a ‘day in the life’ of an ELC student looks like, take a look at this student produced video!
A Day in the Life of the ELC

Sheldon Steele

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The Silos of Education

The Silos of Education: Teachers of Subject Disciplines or Teachers of Students

“Why did you decide to become a teacher?” – is a question that you will probably be expected to answer when interviewing for a teaching position. Many teachers discover that their love of children draws them to teaching, or that their own love of learning makes them passionate about teaching. Others are inspired by a teacher earlier in their education who had a positive impact on them personally. The common theme when answering this question is they want to help students to reach their full potential and see them succeed.

Now I ask, what comes first the course content or the student needs?
The answer to this question places you into one of two teaching styles,
teacher-centered or student-centered. If you find it difficult to answer this question, then you’re probably somewhere in the middle of both teaching styles. However, you must at some point decide what is more important – the content or the student. This decision should help you define your teaching pedagogy. For me it is definitely student centered. I strongly feel that we must be teachers of students before we are teachers of subjects.

Most high school teachers are teacher-centered and consider themselves “Math Teachers”, “English Teachers” or Teachers of a specialized discipline (subject). Secondary teachers seem to stay in their subject silos and rarely venture out of the more traditional model of classroom instruction.

Subject silos

Teacher–centered classrooms focus mainly on teaching the curriculum. The teacher determines what is taught, when, how and in what time frame. The curriculum that must be taught takes precedence. These classes often require strict discipline because student’s interests are considered only after content requirements are established. Student success is assessed in comparison with how well others do. In these classrooms grades resemble the familiar bell curve.

In a student-centered classroom the teacher’s role is to facilitate growth by utilizing the interests and unique needs of students as a guide for meaningful instruction. These classrooms are goal-based. Students’ learning is assessed by whether they achieve predetermined objectives. In essence, everyone can master the material. People learn best when they listen, watch, get their hands dirty, and then reflect and teach others what they have learned. As the wise Ben Franklin stated: “Tell me and I forget, Teach me and I may remember, Involve me and I learn”.

Student-centered teaching takes the focus off the teachers’ delivery of lesson materials and places it on the needs of the student. Specifically, the needs of individual students are stressed over class performance as a whole.  Student-centered methods encourage teachers to take the time to help each student develop a rich understanding of the subject, and to provide individual attention to students who learn differently, to help them reach their goals. The traditional style often involved simply moving on to new material as soon as teachers feel they’ve sufficiently covered the required amount of the old. While some students might be captivated by a particular teacher or lecturer, the student-centered method prides itself on letting teachers find new ways to engage students within the subject material through hands-on experience and rich collaborative group activities.

How do we get teachers out of their subject silos?  How do we change the role of the High School “Math Teacher”?  Creating school’s focused on 21st Century skills is one way to answer these questions.  Developing schools to incorporate project based learning (PBL) and universal design for learning (UDL) into collaborative teaching teams also provides an answer to these questions.  In addition, we should also look at our hiring practices and school timetable schedules.

Consider the 8 x 5 schedule that segregates subjects into blocks of time. It does not allow for any cross-curricular learning between students and/or staff.  It actually builds the silos where we find our traditional teacher-centered educators. The 8 x 5 timetable is one of the reasons teachers are stuck in their disciplines and find it difficult to venture outside of that subject silo.  Principals and school leaders need to find ways to promote interdisciplinary learning that helps guide teachers to become student-centered.

Why do we hire teachers according to subject content first?  If we want to change from the teacher-centered model, then why not post positions that state, “teachers of students” as a priority requirement and makes the specialized discipline (subject) as secondary requirement. Following these hiring practices, new teachers may never refer to themselves as an “English Teacher” but rather as a “teacher of students”.

After writing this blog, I now find myself answering this question – Why did I decide to become a Principal?  Answer: because I want to help teachers/students reach their full potential and see them succeed.  I am proud to say that the Energetic Learning Campus (ELC) has stepped outside the 8 x 5 timetable and developed a teaching team that finds itself in one open field of interdisciplinary learning.  I am part of a school that is definitely student-centered.  We focus on developing 21st Century skills through school wide, cross-curricular PBL projects.  The individual needs of our students are our priority.  We don’t have all the answers but because we are in the same open field, we are able to passionately inspire each other to help us all (teachers and students) reach our full potential and watch our students and colleagues succeed.

Sheldon Steele

sunflower fieldImage attribution: ahoerstemeiser 




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The Natural Disaster Project

Students often find it difficult to transfer what we teach, to the real world experience.  We at the Energetic Learning Campus have tried to bridge that gap with a PBL project that turns research into reality.  One of our cross-curricular PBL projects is a disaster – and that is a good thing!  This ‘Natural Disasters Project’ focuses on the essential question of “How do we make research a reality?”

Just like all of our projects, we must start with a ‘hook’!  Our school has cohorts of students in what we call Community Groups.  Throughout the year we have many fun competitions where the Comm groups compete for points.  These range from dress-up days, Christmas hamper fund raisers, rock paper scissor contests, to a Star Wars light sabre battle.  Using this fun competitive spirit we have a contest where students play a on-line natural disasters game that teaches them to use all the resources possible to defend a city from a natural disaster.  The teachers passion flows through the students and the excitement from this competition really hooks the kids.  After a couple days of competition, we dive into the project.  The first step for the students is to choose a type of natural disaster. They then research a natural disaster that took place any time in history.
They are given these guiding questions:
a) Where did it happen? Why did it happen there?
b) When did it happen? Why did it happen then?
c) How destructive was it? Why was it so destructive?
d) Scientific explanation of HOW it happened and why.  Draw a diagram to explain.  Must include all key terms provided.
e) Economic or environmental impact

Next they form a proposal on how they are going to recreate it with a  physical working model.  These creative innovative ideas that the students come up with are inspiring.

The hands on work of creating a mini testing model and then the actual working model is the catalyst to transferring what we teach, to the real world.  The students understand what, how, and why, and are very capable of explaining their knowledge.

A Survivor entry in either a journal, diary, or interview of someone that has survived the disaster is also a requirement.  This allows the students to touch on the emotions/feelings of the people who experienced the disaster.  The breadth and depth of this project hits all the core subject for our grade 10 students.  The staff of the ELC have done wonderful work with this project.  Their scaffolding and guidance along with their kind, helpful and specific critiquing brings student engagement to another level.  Our teachers are true facilitators of learning!

The final step of all PBL projects at the ELC is the presentation of learning (POL).  Through the POL’s the students share their passion of the project with their community groups. They present us with the facts and scientific explanations of the disaster, and show off their working models with immense pride.  However, most importantly, they reflect and explain their own learning during the process.  What you learned most? What challenged you? What you would do differently? Are just some of the reflective questions they share with us.

This passionate display of learning can only lead to success!  My hat goes off to our ELC staff and students for showing us all how transferring what we teach to real world doesn’t have to be a ‘disaster’ after all – or does it?

Sheldon Steele

Forces of Nature, natural disasters game via National Geographic


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