Comox Valley School District planning to expand X Blocks

The Comox Valley School District is looking for public feedback on its draft 2013/2014 calendar.

The Comox Valley School District is looking for public feedback on its draft 2013/2014 calendar, which has one significant change from this year’s calendar.

The draft calendar includes 15 Wednesdays over the year which would be PLC (Professional Learning Community)/X Block days throughout the school district.

The school day would end 90 minutes earlier than normal on those particular Wednesdays, but superintendent Sherry Elwood noted how the time would be used would vary a little school by school.

Currently, all three secondary schools in the Valley — Mark R. Isfeld, Vanier and recently, Highland — have X Blocks in place, including time for teachers to participate in PLCs.

During X Block, (which is around an hour long depending on the secondary school), students can use the time for learning via individual studying, group work, seeking extra help from teachers and educational assistants, or they can go home, as participating in the block is optional. However, if students are behind in classwork, school staff can make using that time for extra help mandatory for those particular students.

Meanwhile, teachers use the time to collaborate on various topics, with the goal of improving student learning.

Elwood noted a number of elementary schools in the district have programs similar to X Block in place already, too.

However, designating a certain district-wide time for these activities would allow for greater ease of cross-school collaboration, added trustee Janice Caton after the Board of Education meeting Tuesday.

Trustee Sheila McDonnell voiced concerns over the draft calendar, noting she would like some proof that the lost instructional time is a good tradeoff for teacher collaborations.

However, if the draft calendar were to go out for public consultation in March, which is required by the Province, trustees had to give the OK at Tuesday’s meeting.

Trustees gave approval to obtain feedback on the calendar with McDonnell opposed.

Elwood added individual schools would have some independence on how they would like to use the time in terms of student learning and activities, but district buses would pick students up at the early dismissal time.

She also noted schools would provide supervision to students who must stay after early dismissal on PLC/X Block days as they do now on early-dismissal days.

If trustees want to move forward with the calendar after public feedback is finished, the plan for PLC/X Block days would be fine tuned, she added.

To view the draft calendar, learn more about PLCs and provide feedback, visit www.sd71.bc.ca. The matter is expected to come before the board again during its March 19 meeting, and feedback will be accepted until about a week before that meeting.

writer@comoxvalleyrecord.com

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