By Jen Frickey, Director of Learning Success and Dean Van Doleweerd, Assistant Head:Academics
Over the last month, the entire world has been impacted by an event that quickly swept across the globe. In our corner of the world, we have been taking the Lakefield experience and trying to find a way to have our community stay connected and continue learning together through Learning with Lakefield—Remotely. While there are many ideas driving our work, we have focused on academic excellence, co-curricular enrichment and learning and growth sustained through community engagement. Through these lenses our teachers are able to deliver a curriculum that is advanced and enriched, and to continue to support and hold high expectations for our students for the remainder of our year.
Maintaining an Intentional Pace: Easing In and Ramping Up to Deeper Learning
At LCS, we benefited from the advantage of time and the experience of other educators. We were able to learn from schools around the world that needed to transition their model of schooling before we did. Schools across Asia and Europe made the move from in-person daily classes, to online or remote models weeks and months before LCS. We were able to see the various ways in which schools responded – the methods that worked and the ones that didn’t – and how many subsequently changed their plans after reflecting on their implementation and the impact their approach had on student engagement and learning. We have been part of discussions with schools nationally and globally, and schools who are members of the partner organizations to which we belong.
Our students come from over 40 countries around the world and are going through a great deal of change that everyone is experiencing in very different ways. The first week of Learning with Lakefield – Remotely was intentionally designed to focus our students on reconnecting, coming together, and learning the tools and practices involved in creating a remote learning community. As we work through weeks two and three, our teachers and advisors have designed their programs to help students develop the necessary academic and personal habits needed to engage with academic content in a completely new way. As we look to the end of the first month of remote learning, our teachers are increasing academic content and challenging our students more, knowing that they have a solid foundation and support network in place.
Learning From Educators Around the World
Learning with Lakefield – Remotely is intentionally designed to build off research-based best practices and learning from educators around the world. We have built a model that focuses on authentic learning and student wellness by balancing synchronous and asynchronous learning. We factored in screen time and indicators of wellness, and focused on a student’s holistic experience. We minimized change where possible, and maximized Lakefield values in every decision we made. As one of their members, we are guided by the expertise of the Global Online Academy (GOA), one of the world’s foremost providers of online learning opportunities, who remind us “Online learning is not about replication of what you are doing in on-campus settings. Rather, there is an opportunity to reimagine learning in new spaces.”
What is the value, expectation and purpose of asynchronous learning as opposed to synchronous? Where will we find the opportunity for rigour and challenge?
The best remote learning experience balances the benefits of synchronous (live, real-time) and asynchronous (independent, flexible-time) learning. Research supports synchronous learning as an effective means of delivering deep learning experiences and opportunities for teachers and students to really interact and wrestle with ideas and new content together. Asynchronous opportunities provide us with the chance to deepen learning experiences and do so in an individualized manner. Many teachers, early in this process, have begun to offer deeper learning opportunities to students who can self-select into these enrichment opportunities. There are many reasons why a student may not choose to do this that have to do with their own unique situation and circumstance. But if technology, comfort, and desire align, students are being afforded with these opportunities that asynchronous time provides. Synchronous experiences help to create community, build confidence, and deliver individual or small group instruction. Asynchronous time for students also creates opportunities for students to better develop their metacognitive skills and independent work habits. Learning how they learn, and how to become a more independent self-directed learner can be one of the best possible outcomes of remote learning. Our experience, and research from other schools around the world show that best practice is the balancing of synchronous and asynchronous experiences.
Assessments and Measuring Student Learning: Ensuring Student Achievement and Preparedness for the Next Stage of Their Academic Journey.
At Lakefield College School we are ensuring that we follow all mandates and requirements of the Ontario Ministry of Education, and staying true to our ongoing commitment to offer our students the best education possible to ensure they are both engaged now and fully prepared for their future. There are many things we are intentionally doing in our assessment practices to best support and challenge our students:
- Our Advanced Placement (AP) courses follow both the Ontario Ministry curriculum and the AP curriculum plan, and finalize instruction well in advance of May exam dates to ensure several weeks of review prior to exam time. This remains true during our remote learning model.
- All teachers have reviewed all Ontario curriculum goals and expectations and have mapped out their plans to meet these. Our teachers have worked hard all year to design ways to assess and evaluate student growth. During Learning with Lakefield – Remotely, assessment practices may have slightly changed to maximize remote learning opportunities, and are available for you to see in Edsby.
- At LCS we are partnered with Global Online Academy, a world-leader in online learning, and our faculty is working closely with them to design the best remote teaching and learning practices
- We are in close communication with and following the movement of universities around the world. Through this transition, many universities are moving to more performance-based outcomes and assessment models, and Lakefield’s assessment practices are in line with what universities are asking of their students
Committed to Delivering the Best Possible Education
At Lakefield College School we are committed to giving each student the best possible education. As Learning with Lakefield – Remotely progresses, we will continue to deliver challenging and relevant academic experiences. We will ensure the lives of our students are balanced with an eye to challenging and enabling them to reach their individual potential in mind, body and spirit. We will keep community as the central element of The Grove experience. We will maintain high expectations of every student, and ensure we support them in their current reality. We recognize that valuable and excellent work will be created and completed by our students while recognizing individual circumstances and possibilities. We will minimize change for students, parents, and teachers, and we will create opportunity as we look ahead.
Lakefield College School students are known for their creativity, work ethic, and commitment. LCS will continue to challenge and support every student as they continue their journey this year in preparing for what is coming next.