Through a Different Lens initiative has supported teachers in the Okanagan-Skaha district to teach differently in order to connect with more students. Teachers build positive relationships with students, work to establish a supportive and positive classroom community. They use more open-ended, hands-on teaching, learning and assessment strategies and students express their learning in a variety of ways using technology, singing, painting, drama, writing, building, etc. The initiative began four years ago with 27 teachers and has now grown to 70.
Students express their learning in a variety of ways using technology, singing, painting, drama, writing, building, etc. The initiative began three years ago with 27 teachers and has now grown to 70.
Through a Different Lens has emphasized the need to level the playing field for our students – particularly those at risk of not completing school – by finding their strengths and helping them use those strengths to learn.
Teachers, librarians and district helping teachers work in inquiry groups, sharing ideas, innovations, structures and strategies that increase engagement for all students, with a particular interest in students at-risk of dropping out. Many of these at-risk students have behavioural issues and/or are of Aboriginal ancestry.
The at-risk students were interviewed to help identify their strengths and interests. The inquiry groups then co-planned units that took into account the students’ suggestions, passions and strengths. After the units were used in the classroom, both the students and their teachers reported that the students were more engaged and connected to school.
Jeff Fitton, a Socials, English and Helping Teacher in SD67 was actively involved in the inquiry. Here’s his advice.
“In addition to providing opportunities for the students to use their strengths and passions, we found that facilitating a connection with an adult at school who shares their passion can make a real difference for some students.”
- Through a Different Lens initiative focuses on teaching and learning approaches that are more engaging and meaningful for students.
- Teachers build caring relationships with students through a supportive, positive classroom environment and relevant learning and assessment strategies.
- Significant professional learning opportunities and supports to build the skills of educators.
- District leadership has established and sustained the structures to support educator’s efforts to build connectedness with students.
Click on the links below to learn more about the Okanagan-Skaha’s work.
- Through a Different Lens blog site. Don’t miss the Student voices and Resources pages.
Other resources and places to learn and be inspired:
- UDL Supporting Diversity in BC Schools. This website provides K-12 educators with a starting point for implementing Universal Design for Learning in their classrooms. Take an online course to learn more; hear from students; explore the strategy gallery.
- eCademy of New Technology, Engineering and Robotics (E.N.T.E.R.) in Comox SD uses science and technology as a vector through which the entire BC curriculum is delivered.
- Edutopia’s Teaching Strategies and Student Engagement pages;
- Genius Hour: Let Students’ Passions Drive Learning (blog post on EducationWorld.com) and video.
- Findings Students’ Hidden Strengths and Passions (blog post on Edutopia);
- What is Personalization Really? (blog post on Edutopia);
- A Student Maker and the Birth of a Startup (blog post on Edutopia)
- Embracing Student Creativity with a Wonder Shelf (blog post on Edutopia)