Grades 7 and 8 students attending North Dundas District High School (NDDHS) are enjoying a modern instructional approach while gaining access to better resources such as a larger gym and an iPad lab. One hundred and ninety Grades 7 and 8 students from four feeder schools began classes at North Dundas Tuesday.
Chesterville - Sep. 8, 2011 - Grades 7 and 8 students attending North Dundas District High School (NDDHS) are enjoying a modern instructional approach while gaining access to better resources such as a larger gym and an iPad lab.
Meanwhile, parents can rest assured their kids will be supervised and cared for at all times in a revamped Grades 7-12 facility, says NDDHS Intermediate Principal Debbie Banks.
One hundred and ninety Grades 7 and 8 students from four feeder schools began classes at North Dundas Tuesday under the Building 2020 restructuring program implemented by the Upper Canada District School Board (UCDSB). They will learn at the school under a new instructional approach called CHIPS -Creating Hope, Innovation, People and Success - to be implemented this year under Banks’ leadership.
The new approach will offer intermediate students an experiential learning program that has been successful at other schools within the UCDSB, and provide access to improved resources such as an expanded music program, multi-purpose room, SMART boards, and a bigger gym than students had at their elementary schools last year. The initiative will also give students the opportunity to visit the workplace and weigh the pros and cons of various careers so they can plan for their future.
“We want to help students focus on their career aspirations,” explained Banks on Tuesday. “We want to share kids’ hopes and dreams, and learn about their parents’ hopes and dreams for them, so we can make them a reality.”
A cornerstone of the new philosophy is adopting an “experiential learning” approach that allows students to learn by doing, said Banks. The teaching approach is modeled after the Board’s Current Experience program which found success at Commonwealth Public School in Brockville. The program allows students to deepen their learning by experiencing it through practical lessons. For instance, instead of a basic English composition exercise, students could be challenged to write a letter to the editor about an issue that concerns them. This approach encourages students to analyze different arguments, decide which they agree with, and then write a compelling, properly structured letter outlining their views.
The students will also learn in a revamped facility. Major renovations have been made to the school over the summer to accommodate the Grades 7s and 8s, including electrical upgrades for computer labs and SMART boards, a new roof over part of the school, and a newly renovated multi-purpose room.
The school has implemented a creative timetabling system which will allow intermediate students access to science labs, the gymnasium, multipurpose room and other resources at the school outside of times secondary students are using them. They have been given lockers on the second floor where most of their classes will take place - away from the majority of secondary students. They enjoy separate lunch times and recess times in a revamped play area that will soon be equipped with basketball nets. Most importantly, they will be supervised at all times and teachers will strive to connect with each intermediate student so they know they have someone to approach if the need arises.
“From the time they get off the bus in the morning till the time they get back on at the end of the day they will be supervised,” said Banks.
Grades 7 and 8 students expect to enjoy their time at North Dundas.
“I like it a lot,” said Patricia Barlow, 13, a Grade 8 student. “I think it’s cool. I know that we’re going to have a lot more resources here - the iPad lab, the computer labs - and we have a much bigger gym.
“I have enjoyed today. I like the difference. I like change.”