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Calgary French & International School

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Calgary French & International School
Calgary French & International School (CFIS) is a Full French Immersion school catering to students from preschool through grade 12. It is an independent CAIS accredited, UNESCO, International Baccalaureate school in the city of Calgary, Alberta, Canada. The junior school was looking for a platform to help support their House program with the logical development, and measurement of student progress in what they call “soft skills”. Though they decided that implementation of Skills Builder would not completely satisfy their needs in House, they have decided to try again in the context of Homeroom. Homeroom is a more consistent time, taught by the same teacher to the same group of students whereas House was full of moving parts: monthly curriculum, changing teachers and changing students.
Overall impact
Keep it simple
This year we wanted to introduce students and staff to the Skills Builder Framework and vocabulary. We started using the lessons in the Hub on a weekly basis in the grade 7 & 8 House periods, then moving to doing it on a regular basis in four grade 7 & 8 Homeroom classes. We ran teacher training for the House and Homeroom staff to introduce them to the framework and resources. The Homeroom classrooms have skills displayed in their classes. Teachers regularly reward students with verbal praise for their use of essential skills in Homeroom classes, using flash cards as a reminder. We use the EPraise platform for giving points to our grade 7-12 students and the categories of points are similar to the essential skills in Skills Builder. We are considering changing the vocabulary of EPraise House points to reflect the Skills Builder vocabulary, next year.
Start early, keep going
We started running the curriculum in November, running teacher training sessions with staff and getting to know the Hub. We ran the curriculum with grades 7 & 8, as we felt this was the right time for them to focus on essential skills before they continue to move through the school. Next year we will look to include more grades in the skills curriculum.
Measure it
We measured our students in each of our Houses at the beginning of the year using the Hub and Benchmark, but noticed it wasn’t going to work for our changing group of students and teachers -as we couldn’t keep track of our student’s progress in this model. So we moved to the Homeroom model, where teachers remain with their students, reassessed our students in order to teach the lessons that would satisfy the needs for our students over the remainder of the year. We were also able to track progress and see what focuses we should build into the programme for next year.
Focus tightly
We did these lessons in 2-3, 15 minute blocks for a total of 30 to 45 minutes per six-day cycle, in the capacity of the Homeroom curriculum. With the same teacher delivering, in a consistent fashion, it was easier to focus and give explicit and focused lessons. Teachers were able to focus on relevant steps and building blocks of different skills for their students and give direct instruction. When students did a pre-assessment on the Aiming High module, for example, and then did a post assessment, 81.2% of the students said they improved in this domain (49/60).
Keep practising
Throughout the months of delivering Skills Builder modules in House, we practiced the skills every day, through various activities. As we moved through the year, it was much easier to keep practicing when working in the Homeroom curriculum, as we were able to continuously speak about the strategies we learned about in Aiming High and other essential skills. This was a way to practice attention to detail, seeking feedback and knowing when something is done to our satisfaction. We also ran a challenge day, ‘Bid to Build’, to give our students an opportunity to apply the skills in a different context.
Bring it to life
When on our grade 7 travel studies opportunities to another province (Saskatchewan), chaperones intentionally made reference to the essential skills seen in various contexts: museums, hotels, restaurants, university and others. We focused primarily on Listening, Problem solving, Creativity, Staying positive and Teamwork on this occasion. We also intentionally referred to the vocabulary when we had our Diversity Conference in January and had virtual guest speakers. We made particular reference to Listening, Speaking, Leadership & Aiming High during that week.
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