New Program Alert: Blended+

What if school was designed to fit your family’s life rather than your family’s life fitting school? More than ever, traditional school experiences based on standardized seat time are only one way to approach learning. In 2021, students no longer need to learn at the same time—and at the same rate—and in the same place. School can be different. Online learning has disrupted traditional in-person education, and it’s evolved to provide increasingly flexible and personalized learning options. While students can now learn anywhere and at any time, this raises some good questions. What’s gained and lost? What about relationships, a sense of belonging, and connections with peers? With our Grades 9-10 Blended+ program, it’s not an either/or choice. We’ve taken the best parts of in-person learning and combined them with the best parts of online learning. Expert teachers work with students on campus and online to meet individual needs in an engaging way.

The “+” in Blended+ refers to our extensive extra-curricular programs as well as the frequent integration of authentic off campus learning experiences that take advantage of facilities and expertise in our community.
Built into the tuition (no added costs), these frequent and rich off-campus experiences are designed to engage learners while reinforcing curriculum outcomes. For example, the Biogeoscience Institute at the University of Calgary provides students in Biology 20 (our Grade 10 group next year) with classroom instruction at the university combined with guided field studies in the Kananaskis. Additionally, Physical Education moves beyond the gyms to include learning activities off-site such as kayaking, curling, wall climbing, and much more! An instructional design difference in Blended+ is that learning materials and assignments are released online weekly and due at the end of each week. This provides anywhere/anytime access. Actively guided and supported by their teachers, students make meaningful decisions about their own learning. They can get into the zone by working on a particular subject for an extended time without the day being chopped up by arbitrary bell schedules. Students can accelerate their learning within the week to make time for competing priorities, or they can slow down their learning and get more teacher support in an area of need. Teachers regularly conference with students to guide their development with academics and transferable skills. Learning is a social activity, and students need social experiences. During the week, teacher-led online lessons provide live, interactive direct instruction. Classes also get together on-campus where students focus on hands-on learning including labs, projects, integrated studies, and physical education. We make the time together in-person count. Hybrid-flex time, which is built into some afternoons, provides students the option of working on campus with peers, at home, or anywhere they have internet access. The future of learning is flexible. Are you ready to take the next step? Sign up for one of our upcoming admissions presentations or reach out to speak directly with our team about the Blended+ program. https://blended.calgaryacademy.com/

Unleashing Deeper Learning with Assessment

When you hear the word assessment, what comes to mind for you? Likely, you are imagining a quiz, or a test, or some other event where you had to prove that you had learned something. Our background knowledge of assessment comes from our own experiences in school. When you think back to your time in school, what kind of student were you? Straight A student? C+? Barely passing? How accurately did this grade represent who you are as a learner and what you retained from each course? For many of us, school was a game of scoring points while the assessments were the playing field. But isn’t the purpose of education to prepare students for the world of work? Well, if that’s the case, most of us would be out here writing tests to prove our competence to our boss. Of course, that’s not the case. One of the goals of our 2018-2021 strategic plan was for students to surpass their potential. To do this, our community advocated to change the traditional narrative of assessment and reporting which meant a shift in our thinking around their purpose. If assessment could be used as more of a tool than a test, and reporting as a meaningful communication of that learning, we know that our students will truly be prepared for life after school. But why disrupt the narrative? After all, aren’t tests and grades what motivate students to learn? Well, no. As it turns out, grades merely motivate students to avoid intellectual risk to ensure they can maintain a high mark. What drives learning is challenge. While this is not a new revelation and has been demonstrated in academic research, this fact gained widespread attention during the COVID-19 pandemic. With tests and grading put on pause, teachers and students alike felt liberated to engage in deeper learning and build more sophisticated 21st century skills. This collective experience prompted Maclean’s magazine to challenge Canadian universities to go gradeless, and The Washington Post to proclaim the end of America’s obsession with standardized testing.

In the recent community survey to build our next strategic plan, a grade 11 student summarized this need for change by stating, “People are smarter than their grades, but in a system where grades are seen to be more important than anything else, it makes students feel bad about themselves, which leads to them putting themselves down, and eventually leads to them giving up... and that's not a good mind set/system.”
In many ways, we have been ahead of the curve at Calgary Academy. Over the past two years, a dedicated committee of CA teachers has worked to create and implement an assessment framework that aims to unleash confident and competent learners with a growth mindset. The framework promotes deeper learning for all students by establishing clear learning goals and empowering students to partner with their peers and teachers to embark on a personalized journey towards achieving them. We understand the value of clarity and flexibility for our diverse population, and the framework captures those values. The assessment committee is now working towards creating a reporting system aligned with our new assessment framework and there are a couple ways you can get involved in this work:
  • Complete a survey following the February parent/teacher conferences to capture your feedback on our current reporting system.
  • Join a parent focus group to discuss how we might improve assessment and grading at Calgary Academy.
If you have any questions or concerns regarding assessment and reporting at Calgary Academy, please contact our principal, Tim Carlson, or our Assessment Instructional Design Lead, Natalie Vardabasso.

January 2021 Agenda

  1. Welcome/ Call to Order
  2. Approval of the Agenda
  3. Chair Report- Carolyn Whitelaw
  4. Reports:
    • Volunteer Update – Shannyn De Kruyff
    • Student Council Co- Chairs (CASE) – Thomas D. and Zoe T.
    • Principal Report – Tim Carlson
    • Calgary Academy 40th Celebration – Lindsey Meredith
  5. Next Meeting - February 22, 2021 6:30pm
  6. Future Agenda Items
  7. Q &A
  8. Thank you/ Adjournment

School Garden

This feature is one of a weeklong celebration of altruism at Calgary Academy! Altruism, the heart of our REACH Principles, is a concern for the welfare of others, and the CA community exemplifies this in may ways. Each day this week we will feature an example of our community giving back – either by volunteering their time, leaving a legacy, or making a generous donation. We’re asking all parents to help spread the word by sharing the link with friends and family, making a donation, or by submitting an impact story on the difference CA has made in your family’s life. Learn more at give.calgaryacademy.com.

GaGa Ball Pit

In August 2019, a group of people came together under the sun to cut sod, pound dirt, and build a strange, octagon-shaped structure. These volunteers were comprised of alumni and staff, and they were working to build the Class of 2019's Grad Gift - a GaGa Ball pit. As a school community, we weren't yet familiar with the concept of GaGa Ball. Known as a softer form of dodgeball, GaGa Ball is is played by ducking and dodging a soft foam ball aimed below one's knees. Games are short, face-paced, and an enormous amount of fun. Lunch time and recess is often filled with cheers and groans all coming from the pit located just off the Multipurpose Room. Head of Physical Education Tracy Sullivan describe it as a welcome, and needed, addition to the school experience:

The GaGa Ball pit has been such a great addition to our school. The Grads of 2019 gave our students a way to be active at recess, and learn how to problem solve together. The GaGa Ball pit gets more use than anything else on the playground because it is so fun! We are so lucky to have it.
In terms of a legacy, this student-given gift to students is a great example of altruism. For the graduating class, their time at Calgary Academy was largely over, but they wanted to leave a gift to benefit the students that would follow after them. The GaGa Ball pit is now a staple of out outdoor time at Calgary Academy, and continues to be used safely even amidst the COVID-19 pandemic. This feature is one of a weeklong celebration of altruism at Calgary Academy! Altruism, the heart of our REACH Principles, is a concern for the welfare of others, and the CA community exemplifies this in may ways. Each day this week we will feature an example of our community giving back – either by volunteering their time, leaving a legacy, or making a generous donation. We’re asking all parents to help spread the word by sharing the link with friends and family, making a donation, or by submitting an impact story on the difference CA has made in your family’s life. Learn more at give.calgaryacademy.com.

Outdoor Learning Circles

Throughout September, our forest was filled with activity as students and staff worked to clear three areas within the aspen trees to encourage students to spend time outside. At the same time, work was underway on the elementary side of the school to create an actual outdoor classroom for our youngest learners as well. With a campus that borders the mountains and is surrounded by aspen trees, it's no surprise that there's always been a passion for moving learning outdoors, and the encouragement to get outside this fall only spurred the desire to create outdoor learning spaces. Thanks to a dedicated group of passionate staff, and the ongoing support of students to maintain the Outdoor Learning Circles, the aspen forest has housed many classes ranging from topics such as reading time, mindfulness, and more. For the outdoor classroom, a small group of generous individuals and businesses provided the materials needed for a creative learning space. We can give of our time, our talents, or our treasure, and these outdoor spaces are an example of all three! This feature is one of a weeklong celebration of altruism at Calgary Academy! Altruism, the heart of our REACH Principles, is a concern for the welfare of others, and the CA community exemplifies this in may ways. Each day this week we will feature an example of our community giving back – either by volunteering their time, leaving a legacy, or making a generous donation. We’re asking all parents to help spread the word by sharing the link with friends and family, making a donation, or by submitting an impact story on the difference CA has made in your family’s life. Learn more at give.calgaryacademy.com.

Jacket Racket

In the midst of this ongoing global pandemic, our attention seems constantly drawn to headlines about COVID-19. But the challenges that existed before COVID-19 remain today, and a committed group of students were not going to leave their community behind. A core part of Grade 10 culture at Calgary Academy, altruism projects typically see students travel into the community to lend their hands to a variety of local non-profits. However, this year students have been restricted to events on campus for their health, and the health of the agencies they'd typically support. Undeterred, the Grade 10 group looked for other ways to help the community, and today's showcase is the Jacket Racked coat drive, which wrapped up on Friday, November 27. Throughout November, the students encouraged the school community to donate gently used jackets, snow pants, toques, and mittens to families that cannot afford new ones.​ Judging by the enormous pile of bags stuffed with warm winter clothes, they succeeded! This feature is one of a weeklong celebration of altruism at Calgary Academy! Altruism, the heart of our REACH Principles, is a concern for the welfare of others, and the CA community exemplifies this in may ways. Each day this week we will feature an example of our community giving back – either by volunteering their time, leaving a legacy, or making a generous donation. We’re asking all parents to help spread the word by sharing the link with friends and family, making a donation, or by submitting an impact story on the difference CA has made in your family’s life. Learn more at give.calgaryacademy.com.

Altruism Week at Calgary Academy 

On Sunday, we kick-off a weeklong celebration of altruism at Calgary Academy! Each day we will feature an example of our community giving back – either by volunteering their time, leaving a legacy, or making a generous donation. We’re asking all parents to help spread the word by sharing the link with friends and family, making a donation, or by submitting an impact story on the difference CA has made in your family’s life.

Nutty C and the Perfect Tree

Every teacher brings a lifetime of experiences from before and beyond their classroom to school, and for Grade 10 teacher Charlotte Nixon, it’s her record as a published and celebrated playwright. Earlier in 2020, she began work planning a one-act traveling play, following the success of her January production Frog Prince: The Musical. Like everyone around the world, her plans were impacted when the COVID-19 pandemic hit. Travelling plays would prove problematic in a cohorted world. Harder still would be in-person cast rehearsals and performances. So, she pivoted and turned a live, one-act concept into an animated film, and Nutty C and the Perfect Tree was born. Charlotte notes, “when we think about what makes the perfect Christmas, it’s often the presents being nicely wrapped, or a lovely tree – everything as it “should” be. Often, the striving for perfect ends up underscoring the true meaning of Christmas and leaving someone out.” Produced by SideNote TheatreNutty C and the Perfect Tree is about misguided tree ornaments desperately trying to achieve the “perfect” Christmas, and how the goal of perfection often ends up being what ruins Christmas. The musical features a wh ole cast of larger than life characters, but one in particular stands out, both for the character itself, and the actor picked to play, Pickle with Pizazz. “I knew right away I wanted Thomas to try out for the role,” Ms. Nixon says. “I tried all summer to contact him and reached him just in time for auditions.” Thomas, a Grade 12 student at Calgary Academy, has amassed a significant theatre background during his time at the school acting in and supporting junior and senior productions. Even further, he identified with Pickle and could bring a depth of understanding and knowing to such an important role. Thomas only had 48 hours to learn the script, record his audition, and send it in on time. Luckily, he was offered the part only a few days later. COVID-19 continued to impact the development of this film, and the cast conducted rehearsals remotely via Zoom. “There was a huge learning curve as we got used to rehearsing via Zoom, but in the end, it was almost better than in person, as I could see the other cast member’s full faces and reactions,” Thomas comments. “I loved being part of such an inclusive community, in a community of actors and crew who were so supportive of one another. Hurdles weren’t seen as problems but obstacles we could adapt to and overcome. We learned not to be afraid of changing things, and it turns out there is so much you can do with the recorded experience. The cast in fact was only together in person to record a soundtrack, which was done while physically distanced and masked. Since the recording wrapped, it’s been a mad dash to production, and so Thomas and Ms. Nixon saw Nutty C for the first time alongside audiences when livestreaming began on November 24. Nutty C and the Perfect Tree will be available for live streaming November 24 – December 31.  For more Information on the production and to purchase live streaming tickets, visit https://www.sidenotetheatre.com/nuttycandtheperfecttree​

November 2020 Agenda

Agenda 1. Welcome/ Call to Order 2. Approval of the Agenda 3. Chair Report- Carolyn Whitelaw 4. Reports: a. Volunteer Update – Shannyn De Kruyff b. Principal Update – Tim Carlson c. Student Council Co-Chairs (CASE) – Thomas D. and Zoe T. d. Sports Update – Nick Waterbury e. Lindsey Meredith and Tim Carlson - Survey Measures and Results Spring 2020 5. Next Meeting- January 18,2021 6:30pm 6. Future Agenda Items 7. Q &A 8. Thank you/ Adjournment