While it’s been a hectic couple months here at Prairie Waters, we can’t ignore the fact that there is certainly a different ‘feel’ and ‘pace’ in our school this year compared to last. Saying goodbye to over 300 of our students as they moved to East Lake School, as well as a good handful of staff was quite difficult. Our school seems so much more quiet now, it’s odd! Though with the reduction in numbers, we do now have all of our students back into classrooms, and our learning commons space is now available for us to begin bringing to life as we add furniture, technology and resources in order to make it a collaborative, open, inviting and functional space that our learners can make their own, whenever they need it. We’re very excited for the possibilities that our space holds in store for us.
One of our goals this year at Prairie Waters is to continue to develop our understanding of, and create Universal Learning Environments for our learners. More and more research that we have looked into has indicated that children thrive in an environment when they have had the opportunity to engage in some moderate to intensive aerobic activity. It increases focus, and alters brain function to enable more successful learning time during the school day. We have partnered with our school psychologist, Michelle Deen to trial her SPARK for Learning program with many of our classrooms. We’re also trying to be more cognizant of providing brief ‘brain breaks’ for our learners during their class time.
We are also beginning the process as a staff of reviewing our school Programme of Inquiry. We are looking for alignment of concepts across the grades that will help to scaffold our students’ learning, rather that repeat it. If we have overlap of concepts that are explored in different grades, we will begin to negotiate and brainstorm alternative concepts which connect to curriculum that grade teams can build upon. The process takes time, however it is a valuable exercise for us to regularly go through, in order to have a ‘bigger picture’ understanding of our students’ learning all throughout the school. Our next steps in our Programme of Inquiry review will be to take a critical look at our programme of inquiry document, and use an IB created rubric to assess how well our Units of Inquiry meet the essential elements of the PYP.
Finally, we have a committee that has been formed in order to look deeper at our physical education, health and well being curriculum and begin to conceptualize it. Ultimately, we would like to create a scope and sequence document for our staff to use when implementing and inquiry-based approach to teaching PE, health and well being. Too often, we fall into the trap of topic based PE (focusing on specific sports for a sustained period of time). At Prairie Waters, we would like to focus more on the concepts that are flushed out in the front matter of the curriculum as our base, and then explore those concepts through a variety of sports, games and activities to develop and understanding of the WHY and HOW we play these sports, games and activities successfully. We believe understanding the mechanics behind organized sport and fitness is just as important as being able to participate in the game. Stay tuned for the product of our committee’s hard work later on this year!