Collaboration Time

What is Collaboration Time?
Collaboration Time is an important part of our school culture at McRoberts Secondary.  Collaboration Time allows all staff to meet and share ideas, problem solve and create new initiatives to make our school an even better place to learn.

How does Collaboration Time work?
Teachers pose questions, suggest a topic or offer to share new ideas to the rest of the staff.  Each staff member then chooses a group according to their professional goals and meets with all other interested colleagues.   Collaboration Time can be specific to one department or involve teachers from across curricular areas.  Although a teacher typically attends only one session on a given Collaboration Day, they will often be involved in more than one learning group.  Small chunks of Collaboration Time that have been spread out across the school year provide many advantages. Topics are timely and flexible and reflect the direct needs of students at that particular time.  Positive changes can also be managed and improved more effectively as teachers share new understandings.

What are some examples of how this time is being used?
Collaboration Time has provided staff with a multitude of relevant, creative and exciting new opportunities for students and their learning.  Here are just a few of the highlights from our school…

Collaboration time has provided us with an opportunity to improve the process of program planning for students.  We were able to meet with administration, resource and new counselling staff to generate new ideas and build consistency and clarity.

The English Department has focussed on a variety of topics.  Highlights include the new curriculum, development of new units, reviewing assessment, sharing of resources and establishing greater consistency between teachers.  Aboriginal Literature, Human Rights unit, Hamlet mini unit are just a few of the successful learning experiences developed during this time.

In ELL we have developed a specialized reporting process that has created clarity and consistency for our students.  We have a detailed scope and sequence for learning that has now been adopted by schools across the district. Our focus has demonstrated a shift towards descriptive feedback and recognizes individual learning.

Home Economics
We have been using our collaboration time to discuss a number of different issues including improving ELL support, adjusting to the new levels system and sharing resources/learning new techniques such as cable knitting, crocheting, card punching and stamping.  Our highlight would be our latest addition to our Global Gourmet curriculum featuring cuisines from around the world.  Currently students explore flavours from Italy, Greece, France, India, and China.  This year we have added new recipes from the Ukraine and Spain (Pierogies Lab Plan and Paella Lab Plan).  Future plans include development of recipes from Vietnam, Japan and Spain.  Bon appetit!

Modern Languages
Modern Languages has focussed on sharing strategies in teaching Distance Learning courses.  Communication, assessment and reporting challenges have been discussed and improved strategies employed.

Physical Education
We have been developing “Functional Movement Training” exercises (circuits, supersets) for our grade 8-10 classes.  Sharing new and updated activities increases engagement and students are more apt to follow a healthier lifestyle.

During collaboration time we invited teachers to the Resource room to collectively discuss learning goals for individual students.  We set up “interview” time slots so we could focus on one student and discuss strategies teachers are using and what successes and challenges they may face.  In this way we were able to better develop appropriate learning goals and consistency in best practice.  In turn this will create greater success in the learning and self confidence of McRoberts students.

We have collaborated on the new curriculum by discussing approaches and resources available.  We have been able to develop common assessment practices, identify gaps in resources for further development and share existing resources.  This has helped greatly in clarifying expectations as student progress from grade to grade with different teachers.

Technology Education
Technology Education has focussed on reviewing and updating old resources, improving consistency between teachers, clarification of the core competencies as they apply to technology education and the development of a graphic poster to aid students in course selection.

Rethinking Letter Grades
A cross-curricular group of teachers is looking at new and innovative ways to communicate student learning.  The group originally came together as a book club reviewing the resource Rethinking Letter Grades: A Five Step Approach for Aligning Letter Grades to Learning Standards by Caren Cameron & Kathleen Gregory.  During collaboration time, teachers met to discuss the book but also to set goals towards the implementation of new assessment practices.  The group came up with the following inquiry questions:

  • How can we enhance student learning through our assessment practices and through more frequent and meaningful communication with students and parents?
  • Do learners need grades to understand learning?

Teachers then began exploring the use of a program called Fresh Grade that can generate data of assessment but also record student work digitally in an e-portfolio.  Also discussed was the designing of performance rubrics especially in areas where the Ministry has yet to develop performance standards like in Fine Arts.

The group is still exploring the use of e-portfolios at this time.  Here are samples of work done regarding the communication of learning in both Math and in Français langue seconde - Math 8 & 9 Learning Outcome Tracking Sheet, Chemistry 11 Learning Log, Oral Interactive Performance rubric for grades 8 & 9 in Français langue seconde.