Program planning! The future! What should I do? Will I end up in university? Will I die? AHHGHSDJHFJLS!
Life is hard at this time of the year for everyone. Choosing anything, ever is a basic human disaster.
While you are frantically handing in your late program plans, take in the possibility to try something completely new.
On this note I thought it'd be appropriate to let everyone that know that I have not been sick every day two or skipping school. Instead, I've been participating in a program that McMath offers that I highly recommend for everyone who likes fun and learning. This program goes beyond the cool stuff we do, like cook for each other, go on a lot of field-trips and get MacBook pros- it's all about the community- building, independently-guided and project-based environment.
This program is called SKY, the way it works is that on day ones I am at McMath enrolled in my french immersion courses, Pre-calc 12 and Acting. While I come to SKY, the mini-school I vanish into on day twos every other day where I take Bio 11, Chem 11, English 11 and Independent Directed Studies.
SKY is hosted at Palmer secondary, however it is not affiliated with the school. This pilot program is a project-based mini school where teachers acts as facilitators rather than traditional homework assigners.
What that means is that I get to choose what projects I do to fulfil my own learning outcomes, for example for English I have been primary working on writing articles and columns for The Richmond Review, writing a novel, managing a blog and performing original spoken word poetry. By looking at the outcomes of the course, I know what I can do to be involved in the community and pursue my own passions.
For biology, I have been mainly doing it "by the book" as in taking the course at my own pace, doing assignments and taking tests. However for the plant unit with my elaborate interest in all things plants I took that chapter farther and take people out own hikes teaching them about local ecosystem and plant ecology. In the upcoming chapters about animals I will create another project to develop a grander sense of community and a deep level of understanding.
In my IDS, I chose leadership. I have been matching the outcomes of the course by volunteering, leading workshops for children at the Richmond Public Library, developing a physical portfolio, organizing events and continuing my contribution as a youth director for World Poetry and HUM.
Aside from being project-based, it is also very independent focused. Which means for my final course, which is Chemistry 11, I have to be highly motivated to complete labs, tests and work at a pace that will allow me to have a strong knowledge of the subject while maintaining a forward pace.
At the beginning of our week we set our goals and at the end we reflect on whether or not we have met them, permitting us to assign our own tasks and needs for improvement.
This type of learning allows for a broader way of learning, but not all course can or should be taught this way. For example, I love learning my french courses and math and acting at McMath because it allows me to have structure and a low-stress balance and a different positive atmosphere.
One of my initial worries were whether or not I would feel as included in the McMath community as I did before, but I definitely do. I feel just as strong as a member as I did prior to joining SKY, if not more, because SKY allows me to really take a look at my community and school and see how I need to develop myself as a leader. At McMath I am still a member of a significant amount of clubs and still maintain my good grades, friends and school spirit.
Last weekend, I spoke out along with another SKY student who attends Richmond High on day ones about the benefits of blended learning at the Education Symposium at SFU. Ms Phillpotts was also there to mention the innovative and modern approaches she is taking with her classroom. I fully support a revolution of this type of education where students are in control of how they learn. This type of learning allows for not a simple regurgitation on a test or a worksheet but a complex analysis of the topic, as far as you are willing to go.
This type of education is for any student who wants to challenge themselves to learn in an environment that allows for complete exploration, flexibility and support. You must stay motivated, stay independent and focused, but the work you put in stay with you.
Around this time of the year last year was when I first started considering SKY as an option for my grade 11 year and I am exceptionally satisfied with my decision and would recommend the same for anyone who is hungry for a new type of learning experience.