Learning happens in many different ways

The Comox Valley is home to two new — and very different — schooling programs this year.

WORLD MUSIC SPECIALIST Lucy Slater leads students in song to end their class at Navigate powered by NIDES' (North Island Distance Education School) Fine Arts Academy program.

WORLD MUSIC SPECIALIST Lucy Slater leads students in song to end their class at Navigate powered by NIDES' (North Island Distance Education School) Fine Arts Academy program.

The Comox Valley is home to two new — and very different — schooling programs this year.

Both programs are based on the 21st century learning theory, and feature three days per week of in-class project-based learning, and two days of distributed learning, (previously called distance learning), through Navigate powered by NIDES’ (North Island Distance Education School).

Navigate and School District 71 distributed learning district principal Jeff Stewart says the way kids learn in the programs is what makes them apart.

“It’s really active learning versus passive learning. And we all know from neuroscience and recent research how much more powerful those kinds of learning are over traditional sort of sit and get, digest, reproduce type of things,” says Stewart, adding project-based learning, personalized learning and problem-based learning are really emphasized in the programs. “So it’s really trying to take the traditional box and break it down and blow it apart.

“There’s nothing, I don’t think, in the province like this. It’s not been tried.”

Each program uses students’ natural interests to help them learn the entire B.C. curriculum; the Fine Arts Academy program, offered to kindergarten to Grade 9 students, uses fine arts, and the Grade 6 to 9 ENTER program (eCademy of New Technology, Engineering and Robotics) uses science and technology.

The Fine Arts Academy is taught out of Navigate (formerly Tsolum Elementary School) and has 122 students made up of two primary, two intermediate and one upper intermediate classes. The ENTER program is offered at Aspen Park Elementary school and has 22 students.

Stewart says that while students do learn content, teachers are “less focused on checking off the boxes,” and looking more at the ways the child is growing cognitively.

“Their ability to be risk-takers, their innovation, their flexibility, their adaptability as learners, the things that actually really matter in an adult world,” he says. “The content will come out of them and it’s very self-paced and self designed.”

Another big difference is that each student and their parents meet the teachers for an interview, which are about an hour long, before the school year even starts so everybody already knows each other.

Teachers “can’t believe how valuable that has actually been, because they actually know the child, the child knows them, there’s a relationship before learning begins, and so when we get to the compass weeks, that dialogue between parent and teacher and student is already well entrenched,” adds Stewart.

Also, the programs run on six-week learning cycles, which Stewart points out has been used in Great Britain for many years. Students do some planning and research, identify their topic, find resources, think about how they want to tackle their problem or question and decide how they want to present what they learned. Stewart notes giving students this independence in their learning helps them to “own” what they’ve learned.

In between each six-week cycle is a compass week where teachers meet with parents, and the student, teachers and parents reflect on how the student’s learning is going. Stewart notes stepping back from the learning gives a chance to see where any adjustments or redirections are necessary.

Students also do community integration during these weeks; Stewart noted they may go out and spend some time at a dance studio for example.

Stewart points out the programs are based on intensive teacher collaboration with teachers meeting each week to discuss how things are going, and all the teachers teach the all the children — rather than having one class of Grade 3 and 4 students for the year for example.

Some classes have similarly aged students working together, while others have multi-aged students, so sometimes Grade 9s work with kindergarten students.

Both programs were popular when registration opened in February, according to Stewart; the Fine Arts Academy pretty much filled up three weeks after registration opened.

Stewart notes the Fine Arts Academy will likely increase to 144 students next year and the ENTER program will likely double to two cohorts of students.

Stewart says the programs are in their early days, and are monitored closely to see how they go.

“There’s nothing predictable about where this has gone and that’s the beauty of it,” he says. “It’s a very unique design by intent.”

For more information, visit www.navigatenides.com.

writer@comoxvalleyrecord.com

Just Posted

Dr. Aref Tabarsi, a general pathologist at the North Island Hospital Campbell River Hospital Medical Laboratory, spoke about the issue of service in the region at a meeting in February 2020. Black Press file photo
Comox Strathcona hospital board wants pathology service back

Board supports move for chair, vice-chair to engage with Island Health on issue

B.C. Centre for Disease Control data showing new cases by local health area for the week of May 2-8. (BCCDC image)
Vancouver Island COVID-19 local case counts the lowest they’ve been all year

On some areas of Island, more than 60 per cent of adults have received a vaccine dose

An activist against human trafficking says the global sex trade is growing fast. Photo by Julian Rivera on Unsplash
Anti-human-trafficking educator appeals to Comox Valley Regional District board

Globalization, unregulated internet, limited law enforcement and a lack of prevention education… Continue reading

A nurse gets a swab ready to perform a test on a patient at a drive-in COVID-19 clinic in Montreal, on Wednesday, October 21, 2020. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Paul Chiasson
Island’s daily COVID-19 case count drops below 10 for just the second time in 2021

Province reports 8 new COVID-19 cases on Vancouver Island Wednesday

Canada’s demo Hornet soars over the Strait of Georgia near Comox. The F-18 demo team is returning to the Valley for their annual spring training. Photo by Sgt. Robert Bottrill/DND
F-18 demo team returning to the Comox Valley for spring training

The team will be in the area from May 16 to 24

Prince Rupert was one of the first B.C. communities targeted for mass vaccination after a steep rise in infections. Grey area marks community-wide vaccine distribution. (B.C. Centre for Disease Control)
B.C. tracks big drop in COVID-19 infections after vaccination

Prince Rupert, Indigenous communities show improvement

Cannabis bought in British Columbia (Ashley Wadhwani/Black Press Media)
Is it time to start thinking about greener ways to package cannabis?

Packaging suppliers are still figuring eco-friendly and affordable packaging options that fit the mandates of Cannabis Regulations

The following is a list of restaurants offering take-out and patio dining. ADOBE STOCK IMAGE
List of Comox Valley restaurants offering take-out, patio dining options

Restaurants in the Comox Valley continue to adapt to government-imposed restrictions in… Continue reading

The only access to 5th Street bridge heading east (toward Lewis Park) is via Anderton Avenue. Photo by Terry Farrell.
Single lane alternating traffic controls on Courtenay bridge now in effect

Single lane alternating traffic on the 5th Street Bridge is now in… Continue reading

The bodies of Carlo and Erick Fryer were discovered by a local couple walking on a remote forest road in Naramata on May 10. (Submitted)
Kamloops brothers identified as pair found dead near Penticton

The bodies of Carlo and Erick Fryer were discovered by a local couple walking

Municipal governments around B.C. have emergency authority to conduct meetings online, use mail voting and spend reserve funds on operation expenses. (Penticton Western News)
Online council meetings, mail-in voting option to be extended in B.C.

Proposed law makes municipal COVID-19 exceptions permanent

A nurse prepares a dose of the COVID-19 vaccine in Kelowna on Tuesday, March 16. (Phil McLachlan/Black Press)
British Columbians aged 20+ can book for vaccine Saturday, those 18+ on Sunday

‘We are also actively working to to incorporate the ages 12 to 17 into our immunization program’

The AstraZeneca-Oxford University vaccine. (AP/Eranga Jayawardena)
2nd person in B.C. diagnosed with rare blood clotting after AstraZeneca vaccine

The man, in his 40s, is currently receiving care at a hospital in the Fraser Health region

Saanich police and a coroner investigated a fatal crash in the 5200-block of West Saanich Road on Feb. 4, 2021. (Devon Bidal/News Staff)
Police determine speed, impairment not factors in fatal Greater Victoria crash

Driver who died veered across centre line into oncoming traffic for unknown reason, police say

Most Read