The Canadian Education Association's 2015 Ken Spencer Award has awarded Inquiry Hub Secondary School with first place. This is a great honour for our school, in just its 3rd year! Special thanks goes to teacher John Sarte who oversaw the application process. Special thanks also goes to our parent community, and of course our students who are at our school. Being new and small, we are still developing our community, learning, and adjusting as we go. You can see our Ken Spencer Award blog post our team wrote here: Inquiry Hub: Engaging students through themes and inquiry within a blended learning environment.
In that post we shared what Professor Stephen Heppell said with respect to new learning spaces:
“The world is actually filled with great ingredients for learning… reach out to other places, other colleagues, borrow their ingredients and make a great local recipe. Your school is filled with unique students, unique staff, and unique circumstances, in a unique context with a unique culture. Nothing out there will identically work for you. But the challenge is what is your local recipe going to be. All I’m saying is use the ingredients that are tested and tried in 21st Century Schools and build yourself a new local recipe. And then share it with others and then keep the menu fresh.”
With this quote in mind, we think that we are using relevant ingredients and creating a unique local recipe. Much of what we are doing is being shared and adapted to other local contexts and we are also open to learning from others.
The reality is that this is interesting, engaging, and challenging work! Our teachers are collaborating and working on cross-curricular themes like few others are at the high school level. Students are empowered to design their own courses, while still doing required work and covering necessary curriculum. And as we work out our own local recipe, we are making mistakes and learning as we go. And so it is nice to receive some recognition, pause, and appreciate that we are also getting things right as we develop our program.
I remember John Sarte saying in January of our first school year, “We are exactly where we needed to be… In October.” The process of constantly trying new things and iterating as we go means we are always asking ourselves, what did we learn, and what can we do better? The key to continuing to find success will be that we learn from each other (teachers and students alike) and then use that learning to improve what we do. And in this way, we are still just at the beginning of our journey. But more on that later… Right now I'll just share information from the brochure to announce this award, and appreciate the work we have done so far.
This year’s Ken Spencer Award winning programs tap into students’ passions, which lead to increased motivationthrough meaningful relevant learning. These models exhibit well-nurtured growth, creativity, flexibility, and potentialscalability to additional classrooms and schools. Their success relies upon trusting relationships built between stu-dents and teachers, mentors, business leaders, and parents, which serve to reconnect many disengaged students to alove of learning.
Rethinking high school with a new model of learning
Inquiry Hub Secondary School – School District No. 43 (Coquitlam)
Now in its third year, Inquiry Hub Secondary School (iHub) includes 53 students in Grades 9-12 in a blended face-to-face and online inquiry-based environment that focuses the learning experience on the students’ own interests. iHub allows students to progress at their own pace – whether they are working through core courses or experimenting with a 3D printer, coding a new app, or writing a story. Themes are used to organize learning outcomes across the curriculum to improve interest and connectedness for students while studying English, Social Studies, Mathematics and Science. At the same time, iHub promotes student awareness of identity, communication, design and stewardship.
The new learning structure at iHub is no longer limited to traditional course subject delivery, timetables or grade levels because students are provided significant time and resources to define and explore their own inquiry projects. The aim is to harness students’ intrinsic motivation to learn by making school time meaningful and relevant for each student. Inquiry Hub Secondary School is a wonderful example of personalized learning within the public school system.
Founded in 1891, the Canadian Education Association (CEA) is a network of passionate educators advancing ideas for greaterstudent and teacher engagement in public education. CEA does this by conducting research and spreading useful ideasthrough its publications, website, workshops, symposia, blog, videos, and social media channels, and supporting educationsystems to be more adaptive to the rapidly changing needs of all learners in an effort to reverse the trend of students ‘tuningout’ of their learning opportunities.
Here is an article, by Diane Strandberg, in the local Tri-City News announcing the award: National honour for SD43's Inquiry Hub.