Full Steam Ahead

steam engineThe Learning Plan that captures our areas of focus this year has 17 items on it. Quite a few, yes, but they’re managed carefully, not all addressed at once, and all chosen because they matter. Some apply to all faculty, and some to just a couple. Some are ongoing every year, such as our focus on developing the Habits. Others represent a brand new initiative or a breakthrough step in a long-term project. This year’s list has no shortage of these.

Here’s a teaser of some exciting things in the works:

  1. January 21st is our first Town Hall on the new Senior Campus. Many people have been working hard on this initiative and we’re keen to start sharing updates. Our mission is to be a defining force in developing lifelong learners. Our Senior Campus will build on our track record for living this mission.
  2. Computer programming has been at KCS since the grade 7s first started creating robots a number of years ago. The addition of an extra-curricular First Lego League team and an elective last year gave interested students extra opportunity to learn programming (and their evident abilities helped them qualify for this year’s Provincial First Lego League Robotics Championship). The significance of the field, it’s opportunities for learning, and it’s increasingly accessible nature have made a compelling argument to provide more programming experience in elementary and secondary school. KCS has pursued an arrangement with RP4K, Real Programming 4 Kids, and we look forward to providing exciting new learning in this area as of this March. More details will follow.
  3. Our littlest learners are a big focus all year. Welcoming our new faculty, students and families in PK, JK and SK has been a priority in our Learning Plan this year. Among other initiatives with this special group, our JK and SK teachers, as well as our Learning Strategies teachers, are the recipients of our first fleet of iPads at KCS for use with their students, launched this month. Technology is an ongoing area of focus at KCS for the value it brings to learning. The launch of iPads brings this value to our kindergarten classes and enhances what we can do in our Learning Centre.

Many other learning projects are in the works. Those who know me know that I’m eager to share those too, but I’ll wait until I can provide more details closer to their launch.

I’m reminded daily how many good things our students manage to juggle and make happen. The least we can do for them is the same. That’s doing what’s right at KCS.

Andrea Fanjoy,
Assistant Head, Academics
You can follow Andrea on Twitter @afanjoy.

Type, Click, …Swipe

typewriterThis past weekend, I took my kids to a museum in St. Jacobs, Ontario. They were fascinated by the antiques called typewriters – especially when the metal bar for each letter lifted to strike the inserted paper. Wow!

It is incredible how far along technology has progressed. Typewriters will always fascinate our children but there still was a learning curve with its use. The arrival of computers grabbed the world’s attention but there still is a learning curve with ‘mouse’ control. In the past few years, the arrival of personal, mobile touchscreen devices (iPads, Playbook, smartphones, etc.) garnered the widest audience.

Just last week, I attended the ECOO Conference (Educational Computing Organization of Ontario) where hundreds of teachers from across Ontario convened to share ideas and experiences. During the many sessions over two days, there was a sea of tablets (iPad, Galaxy Tab2, etc.) being utilized to take notes, participate using the Twitter backchannel or download the presenter’s files. Educators of all ages were actively engaged with these touchscreen computers.

What is the learning curve with these mobile devices? Just ask a toddler. Children as young as 2 or 3 years easily manipulate these touchscreens as there are no longer ‘big keys’ to press down, no ‘mouse’ to control – just a screen where you can tap, swipe and even pinch.

How easy is that?

Stacy Marcynuk
Director of IT, Curriculum
Kingsway College School