I should backtrack. Our first full day in Calgary involved the Telus Spark Centre and other “sight-seeing” with the cohort.
On Monday, we attended a group session led by the Calgary Regional Consortium. This session provided a quick, but in-depth, overview to the Calgary Public Schools system. However, I was unfamiliar with a lot of the jargon they used, and I had to keep reminding myself that I was not in Mississippi and Calgarians do not have to worry about standardized testing and the negative implications towards teachers. In Canada, education is left to the provinces, so, the Alberta province dictates all educational proceedings. There are tests given at certain grades (3, 6, 9) that gauge student progress and learning, and then, there is the diploma exam for each subject area that all Grade 12’s take in order to graduate and progress to University.
(In the States, particularly MS, we take the SATP’s, which are in each subject area: Algebra, Biology, English, and US History. We must pass these – even at a Basic level – to graduate. In high school, we refer to students as Ninth Graders or Freshmen – but in Calgary, students are called Grade Nine(s). High school, however, is only grades 10 – 12, where 10th graders are slowly acclimated to the school culture and the difficulties of high school.)
At Calgary Regional Consortium, Mrs. Kim led a workshop about reading comprehension. Because Canada allows so many immigrants into their country, many students are not ESL’s (English as a Second Language learners), but rather ELL’s (English Language Learners) since some of these students are acquiring English as a third or even fourth language. So there is a big emphasis on helping these ELL’s, whether they are 5 or 15, to read and comprehend the material and progress through the educational system.
The workshop was amazing. She first introduced an idea called “elbow partners.” Each person received a sticky note and labeled it with ordinal directions. Then, each person had to find another person in the room to be their “East” partner and so on. So for example, when she said to find your North partner for an activity, Austin and I both turned to one another and completed the activity. This way, a student knows exactly who they are going to when it is time to partner up. Using the ordinal directions and letting the students decide who they want to be their four partners allows for the students to feel more comfortable with the other person. The workshop ended with a picture activity, where one person acted as a describer, and one acted as an imaginer. My partner for this activity was Dr. Hopper. I was given a photo and had to describe the photo to Dr. Hopper as vividly as possible, and Dr. Hopper’s goal was to picture what I was describing as accurately as possible in her mind. I was so impressed with how Dr. Hopper imagined the picture so close to how I described it!
Following lunch, Mrs. Donna gave a presentation on Truth and Reconciliation Commission, which aims at forgiveness and reconciliation with the First Nations, Metis, and Inuit peoples of Canada. This activity showed how the First Nations, Metis, and Inuit peoples lost their lands and lives when the French and British started to colonize Canada. She explained the history of the treaties, and many schools now recognize that the land they are using for school grounds and such were once certain First Nations’ lands. This is an interesting part to Canadian history, and onlookers can see a lot of pain that still remains from this time.