Peace Wapiti Public School Division (PWSD) welcomed the Honourable Gordon Dirks, Minister of Education, to Peace Wapiti Academy yesterday during the school’s hour-long iPlan period.
The daily iPlan period is a time when students can explore personal learning opportunities under High School Redesign – an initiative of Alberta Education’s Inspiring Education vision to put students first by expanding on traditional methods for education in the 21st Century and beyond.
Peace Wapiti Academy was among the first 16 schools selected across Alberta to pilot the rework of the instructional day to meet individual needs, placing learning ownership in the hands of students. During iPlan, students are given time to pursue learning opportunities based on need or interest. With less face-to-face instruction, learners allocate more time to accessing information, mentorship, modelling and application. The High School Flexibility Enhancement Pilot Project has expanded considerably since its inception in 2009. When the second phase of the project was announced in 2013, the named changed to Moving Forward with High School Redesign, signaling that high school redesign is much more than shifting a timetable; it’s about shifting mindsets. High School Redesign is now offered at all eight high schools throughout PWSD.
Minister Dirks received a first-hand glimpse of student involvement in Peace Wapiti Academy’s varied 21st Century learning opportunities. The tour included stops at a First Responders meeting; a Cosmetology lab offered by the school’s Career and Technology Studies (CTS) program; Open Spaces – tutorial sessions in Math, Science, English and Social Studies; and the school’s CONNECT Program which provides alternative learning strategies and options for credit recovery.
Additional iPlan options include the Dual Credit Strategy – an opportunity for students to earn high school and post-secondary credit through a selection of courses offered at Grande Prairie Regional College; ‘One-Credit Wonders’ courses which offer a single high school credit for study in keyboarding, photography, Computer Aided Drafting (CAD) and other special interest areas; course acceleration; post-secondary and career counseling; and exercise science.
Principal Wanda Gerard says students at Peace Wapiti Academy are experiencing higher achievement levels, thanks to the initiatives of the pilot and second phase of the project.
“Students are developing responsibility for their academic success, and as a result, are becoming more independent, critical thinkers. We’re seeing improved student engagement, increased graduation rates and involvement in activities that promote citizenship, as well as a decrease in our drop-out rate.”
Peace Wapiti Academy was recently featured in Alberta Education’s Foundational Principles of High School Redesign video series. To see the school in a video on Mastery Learning, visit http://ideas.education.alberta.ca/hsc/redesigning/movinfw/resources/.
Photos: The Hon. Gordon Dirks, Minister of Education, was accompanied by MLA Everett McDonald on a tour of Peace Wapiti Academy on Tuesday, January 20, 2015. Led by Principal Wanda Gerard, Superintendent Sheldon Rowe, and Grade 12 students Jocelyn Wright and Kallum McDonald, the tour highlighted the school’s High School Redesign programming.