ADSB Grade 7-12 program a huge successWednesday, January 30, 2013 by: Darren Taylor
Many of the Algoma District School Board’s Grade 7 and 8 students are blending very well into Grade 7-12 environments at White Pines, Superior Heights and Korah Collegiate, loving the large gyms, the lockers, and dissecting frogs for the first time!
Educators Sandi Dal Cin, (vice-principal, White Pines intermediate), David Dick (viceprincipal, Superior Heights intermediate) and Jason Kennedy (vice-principal, Korah intermediate) gave ADSB officials a detailed and enthusiastic report on the Grade 7/8 program at the Board’s regular meeting Tuesday evening.
Currently, there are 218 Grade 7/8 students enrolled in Grade 7-12 schools (140 at Superior Heights, 48 at White Pines, 30 at Korah).
The Grade 7-12 program, which began as “a school within a school” program eight years ago at the old Bawating Collegiate, is designed to give Grade 7/8 students an easier transition to high school, giving them access to specialized courses not available at the elementary school level.
The daily, specialized instruction in various subject areas, such as science, technical studies and music, is known as “X Block” instruction.
Kennedy told SooToday.com: “The Grade 7 and 8 students at Korah are eager to know every day what will be offered in our X Block. We focus on science. The students get to work with Bunsen burners, do chemistry experiments such as mixing solutions, dissecting a frog, and there is also some cooking in the foods room.”
“They love having a locker, going to the large cafeteria for lunch, they love the big gymnasium, they love the facilities of a large school,” Dick said.
“the kids love the tech classes, the large gym and especially the music keyboard lab,” Dal Cin told us. “They get disappointed if they have to miss music keyboard lab if it’s a professional development day!”
There is also emotional support at hand.
“Every school has an attendance counselor... if someone is having a sad day, for example, because someone in their family has passed away and if they need to talk to somebody, they have that access available to them, they can go see them right away. It’s a part of our educational team,” she said.
“Those kids adapt so well. They haven’t grown up too fast, they’re still younger kids, “ Dick told us. “They are with their teachers and have a separate lunch time from everyone else in the school. They’re in the high school but not in the high school environment. It’s a gradual transition.”
233 students were officially enrolled in the Grade 7-12 system as of October 2012, and as Central Algoma Secondary School (CASS) students come on board, 363 students are expected to be enrolled in the Grade 7-12 system for the 2013-2014 school year.
There will be Grade 7-12 Intermediate Program parent information sessions Tuesday, February 26 at Korah; Wednesday, February 27 at White Pines; and Thursday, February 28 at Superior Heights.
Meantime, the ADSB announced the Early Learning Kindergarten Program (ELKP), designed at making the transition to Grade 1 easier, is growing.
The ELKP was introduced in Ontario in September 2010, and within the ADSB, seven classes at five different schools started with the program in its’ first year.
The ADSB says this year nine more schools were added to the ELKP, for a total of 21 ELKP classrooms at 16 different schools.
All ADSB kindergartens will be ELKP by September 2014.
The ELKP is done with a certified teacher and a registered early childhood educator in each class, encouraging children to engage in play-based learning, which educators claim helps children develop as they handle various objects and materials and act out roles.
Formal registration for Kindergarten ran from January 21 to January 25.
The ADSB registers children all year long, but the ADSB is encouraging parents to register their children now for fall 2013 so schools can better prepare classrooms for September.
A news release issued by the Algoma District School Board follows.
ADSB 7/8 Program applauded as a success story by Ontario College of Teachers
The ADSB Intermediate Program is now available to Grade 7 and 8 students at all three of our Sault Ste Marie high schools - Korah, Superior Heights and White Pines.
The program is also growing.
We began in 2008 with 58 students in one school and as of October 2012, now have 233 students now enrolled in the three intermediate programs.
The intermediate program at all three schools (and soon at a fourth location in Desbarats at Central Algoma Secondary School) has been designed to give students a gradual, supervised transition into secondary school within a high school setting.
Professionally Speaking, the magazine of the Ontario College of Teachers (OCT), profiled ADSB’s 7-12 Program in their December issue and applauded our program as a success story.
A number of ADSB staff, parents and students were interviewed for the article including parents of a student who in their words “was saved” by the intermediate program.
This student struggled socially in his elementary school.
He was unhappy and his marks were slipping.
Along with his parents, he made the decision to register for one of the 7/8 programs and when his parents had their first parent-teacher meeting with his Grade 7 teachers they were hearing about a “happy boy getting good grades, doing well in school and making friends.”
As these parents stated, the 7/8 program “…caught him before it was too late. We know he’s safe and learning and having fun at school.”
The Grade 7 and 8 curriculum remains the same in the 7/8 Intermediate Program.
However it can be taught differently because of the access to specialized facilities and subject-specific teachers who are able to teach in their areas of expertise.
The OCT reporter noted: “Students learn science in a high school science lab, build projects in a safe and well-equipped wood shop, learn music in a full keyboarding lab, instrumental studio or guitar lab and have plenty of access to computer labs, laptops and other technologies such as Smart Boards.”
Science teacher, Shannon Cond, described the benefits of teaching science in the Intermediate 7/8 Program.
“Kids love a hands-on, active science class. We do labs at least once a week. I know my previous students didn’t get the concepts I taught them as quickly or easily because I was teaching from a textbook instead of a lab. Hands-on learning is vital to engage kids in science.”
Superintendent of Education Asima Vezina noted: “We have spent a lot of time planning and developing our 7-12 model over the last eight years. We focus on meeting students’ learning needs through individualized learning and exposing them to some of the courses they can take in high school to help them make the right choices when the time comes.”
High school principal, Michael McCabe, explained that although the 7/8 program runs distinctly from the rest of the high school “there are plenty of opportunities for interaction. It goes both ways. The 7/8 students gain role models and the high school kids get leadership opportunities.”
One of the biggest benefits for students is the smooth transition to Grade 9.
“This often difficult transition is a piece of cake for these kids,” confirmed Mr. McCabe. “They’ve already done rotary, they have strong study, time-management and organizational skills and they know the school and its expectations. They don’t miss a step.”
In-school information sessions will be taking place in the next several weeks so that all Grade 6 and 7 students and their parents can find out more about the Algoma District School Board Intermediate Program.
Teams from Korah, Superior Heights and White Pines will visit their feeder schools so that Grade 6 and 7 students will hear first hand from students and staff about the 7/8 Intermediate Program.
This will be followed by similar sessions for parents at Parent Information Sessions at each school.
7-12 Intermediate Program Parent Information Sessions:
- Korah Collegiate - Tuesday, February 26
- White Pines - Wednesday, February 27
- Superior Heights - Thursday, February 28
They will hear from students currently enrolled in the 7/8 programs and will have a chance to ask students and staff questions.
Registration information will be made available at these sessions, with a registration deadline of March 8 for packages to be completed.