News from Nov 2017

  • 18th Annual Fundraising Campaign to Support Alcohol-Free Graduation Celebrations

    November 28, 2017

    The LDB (Liquor Distribution Branch) announced their 18th annual fundraising campaign to support alcohol-free graduation celebrations in communities throughout British Columbia. The Campaign will run in their stores from March 4 to March 31, 2018.  

    Read More Author: Body:

    The LDB (Liquor Distribution Branch) announced their 18th annual fundraising campaign to support alcohol-free graduation celebrations in communities throughout British Columbia. The Campaign will run in their stores from March 4 to March 31, 2018.
     
    Applications for this grant are due in the FISA office by Tuesday, December 5, 2017. An application is attached.

    Category: School News Content Image (field_content_image:delta): 0 Date: Tuesday, November 28, 2017 Feature Image:
  • Urban Academy Grade 1's Innovate Community Through STEAM

    November 23, 2017

    Each term at Urban Academy, students focus on a Unit of Inquiry – a 6-8 week in-depth exploration of a concept. To begin the unit, students are introduced to a large concept and problem posed by their teacher.

    Read More Author: Ms. Lindsay McEwen Body:

    Each term at Urban Academy, students focus on a Unit of Inquiry – a 6-8 week in-depth exploration of a concept. To begin the unit, students are introduced to a large concept and problem posed by their teacher. The solution requires an understanding of numerous core subject areas including math, literacy, science and the arts. This approach – the inquiry approach – encourages a child’s natural inquisitive nature, and teaches students that there is more than one way to solve a problem.

    Throughout this study, students engage in a variety of STEAM challenges. STEAM education (Science, Technology, Engineering, Arts, and Math) provides integrated learning experiences in which students develop inquiry, collaboration, and critical thinking skills. STEAM challenges encourage students to participate in the design process of their learning. Students ask, imagine, plan, create, test, improve, and present their ideas and innovations. Through this process, students learn to be perseverant, take risks, and embrace failures as an important part of growing and learning.

    This month, our Grade 1 students were introduced to their first Unit of Inquiry asking, “How do we shape our local environment and how does it shape us?” The unit’s objective is to give students an understanding and appreciation of their community today, as well as the historical people and events which influenced its development. A deeper understanding of our past and present enables us to envision the directions our community should take in the future. Guided by the teacher, students question:

    • What could we improve from our past and current ways of living?
    • How will communities meet the needs of people in the future?
    • How can our actions today positively impact our community in the future?

    Our Term 1 Unit of Inquiry is supported by our STEAM challenges by exploring the local infrastructure necessary to meet the evolving needs of our community (e.g., skyscrapers, bridges, boats, planes). Challenges begin with a provocation – How tall can you build a free standing skyscraper using the materials provided? – which prompts students to ask: “Who will I work with? What materials will suit the task? How will we work together to accomplish our goal?” The teacher’s role is to strictly act as a guide, allowing the students to navigate their own exploration and troubleshoot obstacles that may arise. A debriefing session follows each challenge giving students a forum to discuss their processes, successes, failures, and receive peer feedback. Embracing investigation in this way helps students to take ownership of their education, leading to more creative thinking and more complex solutions.

    After weeks of exploring various aspects of our community’s past and present, our unit culminates with two student-led projects. The first project is a community initiative prompted by the question: “What can you do now to make your community a better place?” Students work together to choose an initiative, create an action plan, and execute their initiative. Whether it be picking up litter or supporting a local charity, the students fuel this initiative, and therefore, are empowered as change-makers in their community.
    The second project focuses on the direction students envision our community taking. Given a variety of presentation options, students work to design a representation of their community as it moves into the future. We ask:

    • What works in our community today, and can remain the same?
    • What needs to change or be reimagined to create a more sustainable and prosperous community?

    In recognizing the areas where growth and innovation are needed, students realize the potential impact they can have on their surrounding world. Through these projects, students begin to relate their experiences as learners in a classroom to those of citizens and change-makers in a community: both students and citizens make mistakes, experience failures, and redesign their thinking. Our aim is for Urban Academy students to become critical and reflective thinkers, both within their classrooms and communities.
    Through the experiences provided in this Unit of Inquiry, students develop a deeper knowledge of our collective past, appreciation of our community today, as well as the skills necessary to begin collaboratively innovating their futures.
    Ms. Lindsey McEwen
    Urban Academy Grade 1 Teacher
     

    Category: Content Image (field_content_image:delta): 0 Date: Thursday, November 23, 2017 Feature Image:
  • Creating Connections Through Family Boarding

    November 21, 2017

    For Paul O'Callaghan and his family, the Family Boarding Program has been a fulfilling way to create rich connections all over the world. Read his story below!

    Read More Author: Body:

    For Paul O'Callaghan and his family, the Family Boarding Program has been a fulfilling way to create rich connections all over the world. Read his story below!
    My wife Jacqueline and I, along with our four children, have been very fortunate to have many positive experiences through the GNS Family Boarding Program.
    We initially embarked on this journey some five years ago as a favour to the previous coordinator. The plan was a temporary measure, but little did we know that this was a turning point for us—we are still hosting today, and have since welcomed students from Hong Kong, Mexico, China, Thailand and Vietnam.
    Each student brings with them a little bit of their own culture. One of the biggest ways we celebrate this is through the sharing of food. We have found that students are always willing to cook and we encourage them to do just that, as cooking is also an important life skill that they will need when they go off to their respective universities. We have had students cook delicious Tacos and enchiladas, Thai curries and more.
    Last week, Grade 12 student Long treated us to his favourite meal using his Mum's recipe. Long spent many hours the shopping and preparing the ingredients. He displayed great initiative and independence, and the resulting Ho Chi Minh dish called 'Nem Ran' exhibited delicious flavours and aromas.
    Opening your home to students for a year or longer is usually just the start of a long-lasting friendship and connection with them and their families. My four children, as well as Jac and I, regularly speak through social media to all our previous students, and this rich connection that makes it all worthwhile.
     
    Click here to learn more about the Family Boarding Program at GNS!

    Category: Content Image (field_content_image:delta): 0 Date: Tuesday, November 21, 2017 Feature Image:
  • Preparing Students to Succeed Today and Tomorrow

    November 17, 2017

    One of the questions I am often asked by parents is about what makes the GNS educational program unique.

    Read More Author: Dr. Glenn Zederayko, Head of GNS Body:

    One of the questions I am often asked by parents is about what makes the GNS educational program unique.
    It begins with the acknowledgement that our world is rapidly changing, highly complex and increasingly competitive. In many cases, the jobs your children will hold have not yet been invented and the opportunities they will encounter are still unimagined. We recognize that "real world problems" are complex, and often involve the blurring of boundaries between intersecting subject areas.
    Our goal is to prepare students at all grade levels to:

    • Expect that change is inevitable;
    • See opportunity where others may see a problem; and
    • Be able to research, understand, plan and take effective action

    Many systems of education focus on memorization and basic skill acquisition. They split subjects into silos and interactions across subjects are not realized. As a result, students are less likely to be adequately prepared to address challenges and seize opportunities. At GNS, our highly refined approach to the International Baccalaureate (IB) programs allows students to develop higher level thinking skills. Our teachers assist them in honing their ability to view knowledge from interdisciplinary or multidisciplinary manners.

    What is Higher Level Thinking?
    Higher Level Thinking is a concept of education based on learning taxonomies such as Bloom's Taxonomy, illustrated in the chart below. It contends that education can and should be about much more than simply memorizing facts and concepts. At GNS, our learning environment is rooted in inquiry, thinking and problem solving.
    We understand it is impossible to find solutions to problems that don't yet exist, and we recognize that being able to think at a higher level requires regular practice in analysis, evaluation, synthesis and creation. Our students combine inquiry, collaboration and analysis to develop understanding. They learn to apply their thinking to solve problems and address issues. And, as importantly, they build upon that knowledge by engaging with others, to ensure broad understanding of the subject matter.

    What About Making Connections Across Disciplines
    Creating links between science, arts, humanities, math and languages enhances one's understanding of the world. Learning activities in our IB programs assist students to inquire and think across subject boundaries. We recognize how professionals embrace innovation and the value in being open-minded risk-takers who view the world differently and identify unique and effective opportunities to solve problems.
    Our dedicated faculty and staff recognize that higher level thinking and the learning that arises from interdisciplinary studies are foundational components of the educational experience at GNS. We are continually working to design and deliver our IB programs in a manner that is both engaging and rewarding. As your children tell you about their school day, recognize and celebrate their work to develop higher-level thinking skills and link disciplines. Your support will further solidify their commitment to do their very best at GNS.

    Category: Content Image (field_content_image:delta): 0 Date: Friday, November 17, 2017 Feature Image:
  • Asking Big Questions

    November 17, 2017

    In a recent class, Theory of Knowledge 11 students became famous philosophers from history in order to debate ethics.

    Read More Author: Clint Lundgren Body:

    In a recent class, Theory of Knowledge 11 students became famous philosophers from history in order to debate ethics.
    One of the strengths of Theory of Knowledge is that it explores big questions in a variety of areas. One of these, ethics, is always especially popular. Students are always very interested in questions of justice and morality, and they especially enjoy debating "ethical pickles:" moral dilemmas where right and wrong are not always easy to determine.
    Another goal in ToK is to look at problems from different points of view. For this particular activity, students worked in teams to research an assigned philosopher. They agreed on a persona for their subject and created an illustrated placard. The class then tackled ethical problems with each student standing in for their chosen philosopher.
    It was educational and entertaining to bring Nietzsche, Lao Tzu, Socrates, Simone de Beauvoir and others "back to life," and the subsequent debates helped students look at morality from a variety of perspectives.

    Category: Content Image (field_content_image:delta): 0 Date: Friday, November 17, 2017 Feature Image:
  • Independent or Private; does the language help or confuse?

    November 9, 2017

    In British Columbia parents value a wide range of alternatives when choosing the education for their children; however, in conversation parents are often uncertain on the simple matter of vocabulary. Are these schools private or independent and what is implied by the vocabulary used?

    Read More Author: Robin Hinnell Body:

    In British Columbia parents value a wide range of alternatives when choosing the education for their children; however, in conversation parents are often uncertain on the simple matter of vocabulary. Are these schools private or independent and what is implied by the vocabulary used?
     
    The government of British Columbia makes it clear that in BC we use the word ‘independent’. A school in BC established as an alternative to the public school system is required to operate according to the Independent School Act and falls within the jurisdiction of the Office of the Inspector of Independent Schools. But is it “private”? No, but confusion exists; the confusion lies not in bureaucracy but in vocabulary used in conversation. To assist with this let us assume that a “private enterprise” usually implies an organisation that operates for profit; there are a few schools in BC that are privately owned but operate under the Independent School Act (these are known as “Group 4” schools).
     
    In conversation, parents frequently assign the word ‘private’ to situations where they can exercise their right to choose, to elect to send their children to one of approximately 350 schools that operate outside the public school system. But there is nothing that is private about these schools. These schools operate as not-for-profit societies usually under the Society Act of BC. Governance is through a Board of Directors, leadership in education is through qualified and certified teachers and school administrators, educational programmes are guided by the Ministry of Education, and regulatory matters are clearly defined in the Independent School Act of BC. Independent schools are permitted and, in fact encouraged, to deliver the curriculum from their particular pedagogical, religious, or cultural perspectives.
     
    The reality that parents are required to pay tuition fees for their children to attend an independent school does not make them ‘private’.
     
    Thus we are considering a matter of vocabulary alongside school philosophies. An articulated philosophy of education does not imply that a school is ‘private’. Paying for this ‘service’ does not imply that the service is private; exercising the right to choose creates the sense of independence from Government; and the underlying purpose of independent schools is to ensure that there are educational opportunities for children in BC which are well suited to the philosophies, preferences and/or religious beliefs of families in BC.
     
    One final observation: vocabulary is use across Canada
    Ontario:   The Ministry of Education uses the phrase “private schools” when referring to alternatives to the public school system.
    Quebec:   Vocabulary used is similar to BC.
    Real Estate agents tend to use “private” when listing proximity of a home to local schools.
    ‘Private’ is the descriptor used for most privately owned international language schools and career colleges.
    And to confuse matters even further, in the UK “public schools” are in fact equivalent to BC’s independent schools!

    Category: School News Content Image (field_content_image:delta): 0 Date: Thursday, November 9, 2017 Feature Image: