“Welcome to Halton Hills Christian School!” was the cheery greeting that Laura and I received as we walked through the front doors of the Georgetown elementary school this past Tuesday morning. Two student ambassadors on the school’s Hospitality Team were quick to make us feel welcome, and were eager to take us on a tour of their school building.
Visiting our member schools and capturing on film some of the amazing things that are happening in and out of the classrooms has become an important part of our goal, as writers for the Ontario Alliance of Christian Schools. Our “pilot” voyage this past week was to two nearby schools: Halton Hills Christian School, and Milton Christian School.
“Christ our Lighthouse” is the chosen theme of the year at Halton Hills this year, and as we walked through the hallways and stepped inside various classrooms, it was evident that this theme was not just a nice display in the front lobby; it radiated through the teachers to the students. The hallways were filled with bright displays of quality student work, right up to the ceiling tiles! Our cameras were kept busy while we took in the thoughtful and informative descriptions of learning shared by our student guides.
We were especially excited to see some of the projects that were going on in the Junior Kindergarten classroom at Halton Hills. Amanda Visser has welcomed the use of LEGO as a valuable educational tool, focusing on the development of oral language skills and promoting development of creative problem solving and group work skills. Her school has invested in over 100 LEGO Serious Play kits. When asked how the LEGO kits work in the classroom, Amanda explained that each child receives a kit, and the teacher asks a challenging, curriculum based question. The students are given a brief time to think and build. When they have finished, each child shares his or her story of their build with the class or in a small group. Their classmates and/or the teacher is given time to ask questions back to the student, challenging them to continue their analytic thinking and problem solving skills. “it is an excellent teaching tool for us to use so the kids are motivated and engaged at a different level,” says principal Marianne VanGoor. “It helps students to express themselves where paper and pen can’t. It is about thinking outside of the box and it focuses on the new priorities of education in the 21st century.”
Our second stop was in Milton, where we were given a tour of the former Milton Public Library which has been creatively transformed into the current Milton Christian School. A culture of respect and care was evident as grade 8 students showed us through their creative classroom spaces. Students and teachers were actively involved in activities that included all four learning styles: visual, auditory, kinesthetic, and tactile.
In particular, we were impressed with the work of the grade 7/8 students in Stacey Voorburg’s classroom. Stacey wanted to make the study of Canadian history both engaging and relevant for her students, so she came up with a unique and collaborative multi-disciplinary project for her class. The students were challenge to design a children’s book that represented a significant historical event in Canada. Their project included not only the opportunity to research Canada’s history, but they also needed to think carefully about the qualities of a good children’s story; the language they would use to tell the story, which details should be included or omitted, how to provide facts in their stories, and which images to include in their books. Both Laura were thankful for the opportunity to be a part of the student presentations of their final products, and to ask questions about the beautiful books they had created.
Check out the short video clip that we made of our visits! Both Laura and I are looking forward to sharing more details and photos of some of the amazing projects and activities happening in these schools on our website in the upcoming months!