July 20, 2009
FREDERICTON (CNB) - Seventy teachers from across the province are meeting in Fredericton today at the start of a week-long conference to discuss how to best teach high school students. The conference is part the 21st Century Learning initiative, a three-year project that began last year in six New Brunswick anglophone high schools.
"Teachers are very aware that the skills students need to succeed in the 21st century are very different from those of previous generations," said Education Minister Roland Haché. "This conference gives teachers the opportunity to learn more about methods that best engage students, based upon the very impressive work that they have been doing over the past year."
Haché said that for New Brunswick to truly become self-sufficient, the education system must properly prepare students.
"We have to ask ourselves, as teachers, parents, support staff, and as minister of education, what do our children and grandchildren need now to succeed tomorrow, and how can we provide that?" said Haché.
The 21st Century Learning project involves six high schools as model schools piloting internationally recognized best learning and teaching practices at the high school level. Students at each school took on projects that challenged them with real-world issues requiring hands-on applications of math, science and literacy skills, and used a project-based learning approach that developed critical thought and problem-solving skills.
The participating schools are: Tantramar Regional High School, in Sackville; Simonds High School, in Saint John; Bathurst High School, in Bathurst; Blackville School, in Blackville; Cambridge-Narrows Community School, in Cambridge-Narrows; and Leo Hayes High School, in Fredericton. In September, Sussex High School, in Sussex; Nackawic High School, in Nackawic; and Sir James Dunn Academy, in St. Andrews, will join the project.
The project-based learning uses a key question to focus active learning activities. Ideally, a project is tied to the community, involves authentic, real-world work products, and culminates with a presentation to experts outside the school community. It is an involved process that requires creative design and careful planning by the teacher to ensure that learning outcomes from the provincial curriculum are met.
In one project, students at Tantramar High School studied the impact of rising sea levels on the town of Sackville. Students learned that the Bay of Fundy amplifies any change in global ocean levels, and they focused on how a one-metre rise in sea level would specifically affect the town. Maps were consulted and drawn up, after which the class presented its findings to the town council planning commission.
At the Cambridge-Narrows Community School, students participated in a multi-part project that asked: why should we care about the survival of the Washademoak Lake over the next 50 years? Students examined all aspects of Cambridge-Narrows and the changes that have occurred over the years, participating in such activities as geocaching, electro-fishing, sketching and visiting various historical sites; researching and creating a brochure highlighting tourism activities within the community; developing 10 different day adventures that could be offered at The Pines Conservation Park; interviewing local residents; and preparing a presentation of their findings to the village council.
MEDIA CONTACT: Hillary Casey, communications, Department of Education, 506-444-4714.