Card games, art and video creation are all activities that certainly fit the expectations of how youth might spend their time over summer break. These activities might not, however, align with the general perception of summer school. In the North Vancouver School District's Summer Learning program, card games, art and videos are merely examples of some of the creative teaching techniques used to engage students in deep, meaningful learning.
"This year for the review and completion courses we have revamped our offerings and delivery of the courses. We are not trying to fit every student into the same box. Instead we have targeted our efforts towards student needs," said Jeff Aw-Yong, Vice-Principal, Summer Learning, North Vancouver School District.
Teachers are team teaching and collaborating to offer students a varied experience personalized to the students. For the grade eight and nine review and completion Math and English courses, all students were assessed on the first day and then grouped according to their skill sets. Concept-based lessons were targeted and differentiated to each group. Groups rotated through various teacher teams throughout the day over the three-week period. As part of the process, students were also taught how to advocate for themselves and self-assess so they could learn to recognize and acknowledge areas in which they needed to focus or receive further instruction.
"By having students become aware of their personal learning needs they are taking ownership of their learning and are succeeding as a result," said Aw-Yong.
Each of the three Math teachers brought a unique approach to Summer Learning. Teacher Laura Hall brings a games approach to her classroom, using many daily routines and examples to engage students with her math lessons. Teacher Jeff Teed embraces vertical teaching where students collaborate and help one-another succeed. Teacher Michael Chang provides students with a more traditional teaching model that accompanied the algebraic equations unit. Offering students three teaching styles over the duration of the course enabled the learning styles of all students to be met.
"The rotational aspect worked-out really well because of the different nature of each teacher's instructional style and teaching specialization," said Jeff Teed, teacher, grade 8/9 review and completion Math. "The collaborative approach to our teaching has really helped the students to come together as a class."
Grade eight and nine review and completion Math is not the only course where teachers are bringing innovation to their professional practice. In the grade eight and nine literacy review and completion course, teachers Kelsey Beaudry and Katie Black asked their students to do video interviews with one-another so students could reflect and self-assess their learning.
"The video interviews sum-up everything we've learned and we get to review what we have done," said Victor Su, grade-nine student. "It was fun."
Summer Learning offers many opportunities for students to enhance and advance their learning. In addition to review and completion courses, there is a grade seven to eight transition course, English Language Learning, and many full credit courses. Students often take full credit courses to get a leg-up on their educational needs for post-secondary endeavours.
"Summer Learning has really evolved into a powerful educational choice for students. It is no longer what it was twenty years ago when it was essentially a group of students who had not been successful through the regular school year and were forced to take summer school to review all of the course content once again. Now, there is a vast number of offerings that students want to take. For the most part, the students at Summer Learning are dedicated, studious individuals who choose to focus their learning one on subject and get ahead for the next school year," said Kathleen Barter, Principal, Summer Learning, North Vancouver School District.
"There is a strong demand for Summer Learning courses and we continue to explore additional options for next year," said Barter.
The 2016 Summer Learning programs enrolled more than 800 students.