Teachers receive second grant to extend project
EDITOR’S NOTE: This is part five of an ongoing series on the future path of education in Manitoulin schools. The series will explore the impact of today’s digital revolution on the education of the 21st century student and will visit schools across Manitoulin to examine unique initiatives.
M’CHIGEENG—Teachers at Manitoulin Secondary School (MSS) hosted a learning day last week to share with other Rainbow District School Board (RDSB) teachers the results of a Teacher Leadership and Learning Project (TLLP) they had started in the spring of 2015 to ‘flip’ their classrooms.
“We received a TLLP grant (from the Ministry of Education) for a project to flip our classrooms which we started in the spring of 2015,” explained one of the teachers involved, Heather Theijsmeijer. “There were five teachers involved including myself, Chris Theijsmeijer, Erin Rose, Tina Balfe and Chantal Desbiens. We flipped our classrooms—allowing the students to chose how they wanted to learn and at what pace. Today we have 16 teachers from both elementary and secondary schools across the RDSB visiting so that we can share how the project went.”
The TLLP is an annual project-based professional learning opportunity for experienced classroom teachers. The program funds proposals from classroom teachers seeking peer leadership roles in curriculum, instructional practice or supporting other teachers. The program’s three goals are: create and support opportunities for teacher professional learning; foster teacher leadership; and facilitate the sharing of exemplary practices.
“Our project went really well,” Ms. Theijsmeijer told The Expositor. “The project is flexible, so each of us were able to apply it in different ways depending on the subject we were teaching.”
Ms. Theijsmeijer said that she flipped her math and science classes and gave the example that when the students came into class they were able to check online to see where they are in the unit, review the learning goals for the unit and then choose how they want to learn: from an online note, text book, video or from a one-on-one in person session with Ms. Theijsmeijer. After they have completed the unit they must demonstrate to Ms. Theijsmeijer that they have learned the material through a worksheet online or in the text book.
“Often the students work together on the material—peer teaching,” said Ms. Theijsmeijer. “We are also pleased that we have been approved for a second project for 2017, building on the structure we now have in place. We will be enriching the learning, connecting it to the students’ passion and interests—making the learning much deeper and more personal.”
Ms. Theijsemijer said that the project has been a lot of fun and also changed a lot of how the teachers involve teach. “It has encouraged the students to drive their own learning and have helped cut back on classroom managing,” she concluded.
Ms. Desbiens, a French teacher at MSS, said she began flipping some elements of her classroom in the beginning, but has only just fully flipped some of her classes this fall.
She has developed a blog, which acts as a resource for her students. Students can access various resources for the lessons online through the blog.
Mr. Theijsemijer, a music teacher, has flipped a number of elements in his classes.
“Flipping doesn’t work for half of my class, such as the band time,” explained Mr. Theijsmeijer.
He said that other than band time, however, flipping works. He divides the class into four groups with one or two group working on practicing, while the other two work music history or music theory.
“With the music history, I have all the resources for the unit posted on Google Classroom,” he said. “I also have a collection of videos for music theory.”
“The project works for most kids, but not some which is why I have individual learning supports in place,” he added. “There is also a Google sheet that allows the students and their parents to track where they are in the class and units as well.”
Mr. Theijsmeijer said that one of the most important elements of the project is that its focus on online and technical skills is teaching students that computers and devices are powerful tools and how they can be utilized to help them learn in a way driven by them and guided by the teacher.