New century, new learners

Paul Herridge
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Burin Region Closeout session focuses on ‘Student Success in the 21st Century’

With a new century has come new ways of learning.

Violet Pack and Sarah Osmond, members of the Eastern School District’s 21st Century Learning Committee, gave a presentation during the Burin Region Closeout session at Marystown Central High Tuesday. Paul Herridge Photo

In Eastern School District’s Strategic Plan for 2011-14, released late last year, the board announced its mission to enhance ‘the learning environment so that all students can achieve in the 21st century within a healthy and active, safe and caring and socially-just environment’ by 2017.

That goal was reflected upon during the Burin Region Professional Development Closeout session at Marystown Central High School Tuesday, where the theme was ‘Student Success in the 21st Century’.

First held in 2005, the annual event, which brings together all teachers and staff on the peninsula, was scheduled to continue in the St. John’s region this week.

After hearing from Eastern School District interim CEO and director Dr. Bruce Vey on the Strategic Plan, 21st Century Learning Committee members Sarah Osmond and Violet Pack gave a presentation that delved deeper into the initiative.

The duo encouraged teachers to consider how they can change things up to engage students and prepare them for a changing world.

In addition to the traditional ‘three Rs’ – which reading, writing and arithmetic have long been referred as – learning in the modern age includes four ‘Cs’ – collaboration, creativity and innovation, communication and critical thinking and problem solving.

According to the pair, today’s students want to use modern technology, do so with one another, explore the world and be creative.

Ms. Osmond indicated making connections for children is critical for learning.

“Instead of just memorizing material, we want to engage students into thinking about what they do.”

Although there are no courses that specifically teach those aspects of learning, Ms. Pack explained the four ‘Cs’ are embedded in the curriculum.

“We’re talking about making some very simple changes so our classrooms meet the needs of the different learners and also the different teachers that are standing in front.”

Dr. Vey, who indicated a new CEO for the district is expected to be in place in the coming weeks, said this year’s Closeout sessions represent a departure from the past.

He said teachers and administrative staff would be gathering to further discuss initiatives with their colleagues during school-based sessions that afternoon.

Dr. Vey indicated the new Strategic Plan serves as a road map going forward.

To go along with more diverse classrooms, changes to the assessment and evaluation process have also been implemented to echo the modifications.

Afterwards, Tony Stock, Eastern School District’s assistant director of programs, told The Gazette it’s important educators keep up with evolving times.

“Really, what this is all about is reflecting on current practice and looking forward to the future, our vision of 21st century learning. Assessment and evaluation is a pillar that supports the 21st century learning framework.”

Organizations: Burin Region Professional Development Closeout, Marystown Central High School, The Gazette

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