Happy New Year! Though we say this many times in the first few weeks of January I really feel that at Caulfeild we already had our new year’s celebration in September. It was an exciting new year as we started our new iDEC program , as I described here. We are now four months in and the learning curve is still steep. BCTF job action was a real concern for, teachers, administrators, support staff and parents. However, to date, the professionalism showed by my staff has been second to none. They are keeping with the spirit of the job action, in that all of my calls for meetings go unanswered, but they are meeting on their own (inviting me as appropriate) to continue to develop our program.
Initially, we were worried that the choices we made for the technology might have been too narrow. However, the Smartboards at the K/1 level, the iPAD s at the Grade2/3 level and the introduction of one to one student owned laptops at the Grade 4-7 level have all proved to be pedagogically, developmentally and managerially sound. The biggest influence on my teachers, in my opinion, has come from the wall mounted; short throw wireless projectors in each classroom. These projectors have given intermediate staff freedom, when used with their tablet computers, to explore teaching in a whole new way. Teachers are moving closer to the model of “The guide on the side”. Grade 2/3 teachers are just starting to experiment with Apple TV connected to the projectors so they also can use their iPADs wirelessly while projecting content for their students.
All in all, the technology has lived up to and exceeded our expectations. We just received three iMacs and look forward to developing our Video editing program. Stay tuned!
Inquiry is another pillar of our program. It is the area that we have invested the most time into this fall, several professional days, countless team meetings and ongoing communication through email with our mentors. Our first unit, launched the first week of November and ended at Christmas break, was a struggle to plan but a success in the end. Understanding all the nuances of "Understanding by Design" (UbD) quickly overwhelmed a large percent of staff; however, they persevered and worked through their first inquiry. We have established a subcommittee of the steering committee to develop a tool to evaluate where we are now. We will use this tool to evaluate the beginning stages of iDEC as well as how to improve our next inquiry unit to begin after Spring Break. I don't know if our model of inquiry will last in its current form but one thing we have discovered is that inquiry is the model which engages students, no matter how old or in which discipline.
Our last pillar was the SUCCEED (soft) skills. Staff together thought about what soft skills we needed to incorporate into the iDEC program, We decided they would naturally be those listed as 21st century and embedded in the UBD system of teaching. For students to succeed in this inquiry method, they need to have the following abilities:
S elf-regulation and discipline
We chose to concentrate on Self-regulation throughout the fall and during the first unit. It has become common language at Caulfeild. Daily, in just about all 14 divisions, you can hear “Are you self-regulating?” We have signed up for "Mind Up" training next month as a way to solidify our understanding and use of self-regulation. Our second SUCCEED Skill is Understanding which we will be exploring this winter.
U nderstanding of their peers and their subjects
C ooperation and collaboration
C reative and critical thinking
In other words iDEC students SUCCEED!
All in all we are very pleased with the iDEC program . Parents continue to be impressed with their children's engagement with their work; students are happy in their studies and staff continue to collaborate and work on making the iDEC program a model for others to follow.!