Last June Oilfields High announced changes to the bell schedule to accommodate a more flexible learning environment. This project was put forth by Alberta Education’s Moving Forward with High School Redesign.
What does this mean for students?
Flexible learning environments offer students choices about their schedules, so that pursuit of extra-curricular activities is recognized as part of student learning. The approach is so attractive to some students that it makes the difference between attending high school and avoiding it altogether.
Trevor Mitchell notes, “We’ve seen some of the biggest impact with our at-risk kids. At our school, there’s a lot of transience. Few kids are here for more than four or five years and many are functioning below grade level. With the flex project, attendance has gone up, completion rates have gone up, and intellectual engagement has increased. Over time, this will lead to academic improvements.”
A lot of it is about measuring students against themselves. “Sometimes,” Mitchell says, “a student grows way more than a year in a year, even though they’re still behind level.” He notes, “Sometimes you pick and choose your goals. Maybe the measure is, ‘Did you come to school more than not?’ But usually,” Mitchell asserts, “if you manage to get a kid hooked in one area, you’ll see gains in others.
In a flexible learning environment:
- learning is student-centred
- students are responsible and accountable for their learning
- students have multiple entry and exit points into the curriculum
- new technologies facilitate online learning and one-on-one time with a teacher
- teachers are empowered to decide how best to structure time to teach students
- students have more control over the where, when and what they learn: they are more engaged, and by becoming more engaged, they are transforming their experiences into their education.
Parents are invited to meet with the school next week if they would like more information on the new schedule. If you don’t hear from the school today please feel free to contact them: (403) 938-4973.