Students head back to class at Barrie school
Rowan Thomson shares a moment with teacher Alana Gray on Tuesday during the Simcoe County District School Board's STEAM (science, technology, engineering, arts, math) summer camp at Hillcrest Public School. IAN MCINROY/BARRIE EXAMINER
Youngsters in a Simcoe County District School Board summer program are getting up a head of steam for learning.
While many of their counterparts might be playing video games during their holidays, grade 2 and 3 students are taking part in science, technology, engineering, arts and math (STEAM) activities at Hillcrest Public School in Barrie.
The three-week long program, which started this week, includes more than 150 Barrie and area students along with seven teachers and seven instructional assistants helping students to hone their numeracy skills through STEAM.
James Dobson, principal of the school board's summer learning program for grades 2 and 3 students, said while the program's focus is around numeracy, or math, it's also about getting the kids involved in the learning process.
"It helps engage them so they are very interested in hands-on activities that involve anything to do with science, technology, engineering, arts, math so they have a keen interest in building things, creating and innovating," he said.
"It's important they have that. Our world is changing," Dobson said. "We're preparing students for jobs that haven't been invented yet. We need them to be able to think critically and logically to develop skills that aren't skills from the past but are skills for the future."
Part of the program involves students working with electronics and circuitry, he added.
"They're starting to learn how to build certain circuits in order to make things work," Dobson said. "We have a robotics program that they'll be using to start coding so they are computer programing to start to see how the coding affects end of product.
"These are the things we'd expect to see in high school and university and we're starting to trickle it down into students who are in grade 2 and 3," he added. "Part of the idea is these kids are exposed to different technologies every day. So this will give them an idea of how they work and why they work or don't work."
Dobson said statistics have shown that students who have gone through the program have closed a learning gap they might not otherwise have been able to do.
"This helps build up those students to put them on the right path when they enter a school in September," he said. "These are students who might also benefit from being outside and being active — there is lot of physical activity — and we're also trying to get them out on field trips as well as inviting in guest speakers."
TEACHERS HIT THE BOOKS
More than 50 public elementary school teachers were hitting the books this week.
Participants took part in the Elementary Teachers’ Federation of Ontario (ETFO) 2016 Summer Academy to explore how to develop young mathematicians in full-day kindergarten.
They examined how children can explore math in their daily routines and how to help them learn mathematical concepts such as the number balance, Rekenrek (a calculating frame or arithmetic rack), pentominoes (geometric figures formed by joining five equal squares edge to edge), rainbow links, linking cubes, jumbo number cubes and ladybug ten frames.
Each course included practical, classroom-ready strategies as well as time to collaborate and network with colleagues.
The three-day courses are part of a range of professional learning opportunities offered by ETFO in partnership with its local unions.
Funding for additional courses — with a special focus on kindergarten, mathematics and technology — was provided this year by the Ontario Ministry of Education.