At least the Toronto District School Board will be piloting a ‘late start’ school beginning in September 2009.
Next fall, Eastern Commerce high school students will begin their school day at 10 am – at least an hour later than the standard start time and end at around 4 p.m. “We are being responsive to the best research on how students learn,” according to Trustee Cathy Dandy, who came up with the idea for a late-start school.
This daring move is in tune with the latest research that clearly shows that the teenage brain is wired to stay up late and sleep in. Of course, high school students, their parents and teachers already know this.
For decades the typical school day has revolved around city transit and school bus schedules. This may work for elementary students but most high school administrators and teachers will tell you that, for the most part, their students’ brains do not kick into gear until long after the 8:30 am buzzer has rung.
Kudos for the TDSB for daring to think outside the box by at least trying Dandy’s idea. They seem to get it.
This bold attempt to alter the standard school day is a wonderful reminder that it is the students who should really come first.
“Computerized tools can revolutionize or devolutionize education.” Dr. Kamran Sedig
Among a host of opportunities to share and network with colleagues across south-western Ontario – the recent London Region e-Learning Symposium also offered up a number of reflective moments such as the provocative ‘mental gem’ above.
A few main connective threads emerged from Dr. Sedig’s keynote address and were woven throughout the symposium workshops:
1. Tools, whether pre or post-industrial, (e.g. pitch forks or interactive whiteboards) are as effective or ineffective as the people who wield them. They expand or constrain learning.
2. Students learn best when actively engaged in rich ‘hands on’ learning activities (e.g. educational video games, role playing etc.)
3. There are creative ways to put a ‘human face’ on e-Learning or computer-mediated learning environments (e.g. interactive presentations and interviews using Adobe Connect) .
From the ‘get go’ – symposium participants were challenged to engage in higher level thinking; “thinking does not occur in isolation” or “what kind of thinking is facilitated by a certain tool”?
The fact that many participants walked away with more questions than answers concerning e-Learning is a strong indication of a successful learning experience.
Photo credit – http://www.wordle.net/
When sweeping across Europe with his father during the 1960’s – Robert Kennedy Jr. vividly recalls the expressions of hope etched on the faces of the people in the massive crowds they encountered on their journey.
The eyes he saw radiated a profound hope in America, the democratic and moral leader of the free world and champion of human rights.
Fast forward four decades to 2008 and the picture of a post 9/11 America that emerges is one where democracy has been gutted by morally bankrupt lobbyists and corrupt politicians who deny global warming as they pimp for their petroleum-pushing, coal-burning corporate overlords.
These ‘biostitutes’ as Kennedy calls them, are robbing his six children, three of whom have asthma, and, by extension, all of our children of their natural birthright to breathe clean air, drink untainted water and eat fish that has not been contaminated by mercury spewed from the smoke stacks of coal burning plants.
Kennedy spoke to an audience of about 300 people at the Waterloo Recreation Complex last night as part of reThink Waterloo, an environmental conference. A main thrust of his talk focused on a defective power grid that needs to be rebuilt from scratch to accommodate alternative energy sources such as wind and solar power.
The third of eleven children, Robert Kennedy Jr. is cut from the same cloth as his martyred father. He could have rested on his laurels and lived out his life quite comfortably on the Kennedy family inheritance.
But like his attorney-general father before him, who brazenly stared down mob bosses in the 1960’s – Robert Kennedy Jr. enthusiastically takes on today’s environmental criminals who, for the sake of the quick buck, poison the land, air and water – thereby robbing future generations of their God-given human dignity and right to a enjoy a healthy community.
For Kennedy – Canada remains a beacon of tolerance, prudence and democracy, a role model to an American public whose indolent and negligent press has long-abandoned covering complex issues such as global warming, the insane war raging in Iraq or poverty.
As a result, Americans are more informed and concerned about celebrities like Tom Cruise and Paris Hilton than they are about more important matters.
In closing out his nearly two-hour speech to a captive audience, Kennedy carefully pointed out how the precious natural environment is at the heart of every major world religion. Buddha, Moses, John the Baptist, Jesus and Mohamed were all enlightened while in the midst of God’s creation in the wilderness.
To us the torch is passed.