December 2016
Teaching & Learning eNewsletter

We hope you enjoy our inaugural publication dedicated to teaching and learning at Crescent School. The highlights and insights shared here are just a sample of our faculty’s day-to-day work, ongoing professional development and research, all in service of educating our boys.

REFLECTIONS FROM THE DEAN OF STUDIES
David Grant, Dean of Academics
As the Dean of Studies at Crescent School, I’m privileged to be tasked with some of the most exciting work in our School’s recent history: guiding the development of our new Strategic Academic Plan. In the context of the Strategic Academic Plan, the word “academic” refers to anything included in our mission delivery – everywhere, and anywhere, learning takes place at Crescent. This wide scope could be daunting, but we can draw from a rich source of material: our Portrait of a Crescent Graduate initiative.  

Read More
TEACHING AND LEARNING INNOVATION
Online eLearning

Online options expand the Crescent learning experience

Upper School students can now take online courses offered through the eLearning Consortium, a cooperative of Canadian independent schools. The consortium’s teachers are specially certified for online instruction, ensuring that the highest teaching standards are maintained with a high level of student-to-teacher interaction. Boys taking the Grade 11 and 12 online courses are supervised by Crescent’s eLearning coordinator and do their course work in the library during spare periods.

Online learning isn’t meant to replace the classroom experience, but it offers relevant, flexible options for Crescent boys who want to diversify their course load, says faculty member Martha Miller, who coordinates the online learning program.

“There is a lot to be gained by helping our students expand their learning experiences, particularly given the prevalence of online courses in universities,” says Miller. “We hope that our boys take advantage of the opportunity to explore new subjects in a new way, and with different people.” 

Watch this video about
eLearning Consortium courses
TEACHING AND LEARNING PROFILE
Natalie Vera

Spotlight on Natalie Vera, Lower School Faculty

Lower School faculty member Natalie Vera says contributing to international research on “Relational Teaching” enhanced her teaching practice. Along with Dr. Sandra Boyes, Head of the Lower and Middle Schools, Vera worked with Dr. Michael Reichert of the Center for the Study of Boys’ and Girls’ Lives, University of Pennsylvania, and Dr. Joseph Nelson of Swarthmore College. For their contribution, Vera and Boyes explored major themes in relationship breakdowns (between student, teacher and parent) and ways to repair those breakdowns. They presented their work at the 2016 International Boys’ Schools Coalition conference. It was also published as a Relational Teaching Strategies Handbook at Crescent. “The research connected me to educators in the United States and Australia, giving me new perspectives to bring to my practice,” says Vera. “I’m proud that our work will lead to stronger academic environments and more empathetic relationships between students, parents and teachers, both at Crescent and in the wider educational community.”

Learn more about Natalie Vera here
FACULTY PD HIGHLIGHTS
Learning and the Brain
LEARNING AND THE BRAIN CONFERENCE: Crescent was well represented at the 45th annual Learning and the Brain conference in Boston last month. Headmaster Michael Fellin; Roberta Longpré, Executive Director of Crescent Student Services; and Dr. Sandra Boyes, Head of the Lower and Middle Schools, were among the educators from around the world who gathered to explore the potential for applying the latest findings in brain research to the improvement of learning. The conference title was “Engaged, Empowered Minds: Using Brain Science to Educate 21st Century Citizens and Problem Solvers.” The key themes emerging from the conference affirm our work on our Portrait of a Crescent Graduate, citing creativity, collaboration, critical thinking and creative problem-solving as essential tools for making learning meaningful and transformational.
Google Apps
GOOGLE APPS FOR EDUCATION SUMMIT: The Google Apps for Education (GAFE) Bootcamp and Summit hosted at Crescent in October was attended by 250 educators, including teachers from First Nations schools as well as the U.S. and India. The event, presented by the EdTech Team, featured Google-certified experts who shared innovative strategies for using Google Apps for Education to support student learning. Lower School faculty member Sylvia Duckworth was a keynote speaker and 14 Crescent staff members took part in the conference.... Read more
Sebastien Bigaignon
DELF ACCREDITATION: Three Crescent faculty members – Sebastien Bigaignon, Head of Modern Languages, and French faculty members Isabelle Moore and Andrea Schrauwers – are now accredited scorers for the DELF exams, having completed a week-long training workshop. DELF (Diplôme d’études en langue française) measures fluency according to an international standard for language ability. Aligned with Ontario’s Ministry of Education expectations, Crescent’s French curriculum is inspired by the international standard. Having accredited DELF scorers on faculty helps ensure that the curriculum is taught and graded consistently. By the end of the 2016/2017 school year, Crescent students in Grade 8 and 12 will have the option of taking the DELF exam at the Alliance Française de Toronto.
FACULTY RESEARCH NEWS
Trish Cislak
Trish Cislak, Head of Libraries and Research
The Impact of Action Research

Many Crescent faculty are involved in action research: a method of systematic, reflective inquiry that allows teachers to examine and better understand an aspect of their work. “Action research requires you to step back and look at your teaching practice and to consider what you can do differently,” says Trish Cislak, Crescent’s Head of Libraries and Research. “This intentional examination can transform a teacher’s impact on their students.” Cislak is also a Team Advisor to the Action Research Program at the International Boys’ Schools Coalition, coaching educators from around the world who are engaged in action research.

Read more about action research
at Crescent School
Grade 11 Architecture
Helping Boys Collaborate More Productively

Do students collaborate more effectively to achieve a team goal, compared to completing a group task? Upper School faculty member Diliana Popova is using action research to see what happens when she shifts the language in her classroom, using terms like “teams, competition and goals” instead of “groups, task and products.” In a project that mimics an architectural bid process, her Grade 11 Visual Art students are competing in teams for an in-class design competition. As part of the project, the boys are learning how to collaborate productively and use positive peer critique language. “Already, the boys are responding really well to the challenge, and I think that’s good preparation for real life,” says Popova. “The teamwork skills needed in professional settings are very different from the typical process of classroom group work.” Her project will be completed in February. At the IBSC conference next June, she will present her findings on how the new approach affected the boys’ engagement levels, collaborative skills and resulting work.
isabelle Moore
Isabelle Moore, Middle School Faculty
Applying “Mind Patterns” to Middle School Learning

How can Middle School boys be encouraged to take ownership of their contributions to group projects? In her action research project, faculty member Isabelle Moore applied the theory of “mind patterns” – the different ways that people learn and communicate – from Collaborative Intelligence by Dawna Markova PhD. After teaching her students about the mind pattern theory, she encouraged them to reflect on how their personal mind pattern affects their experiences working in groups. “I’m excited about the boys becoming aware of how they think differently from others, and then learning to be responsible and accountable for how they use that awareness as they work together for a common goal,” says Moore. She will present her findings from her action research at the IBSC conference next June.
IDEAS WORTH SHARING
  • “FRUMD” Your Test – Upper School faculty member Stuart Cumner encourages his students to use the FRUMD method to understand how they can improve their test results. Read more
  • Number Talks – Lower School faculty member Amy Joliat uses Number Talks to help her Grade 3 boys develop their mathematical reasoning skills. Read more
  • Mind Patterns – Try the Collaborative Intelligence online quiz to learn more about the theory of mind patterns that Middle School faculty member Isabelle Moore is using with her class. 
  • How to Thrive in the 21st Century – This Harvard Graduate School of Education article affirms many of the results of our Portrait of a Crescent Graduate initiative.
  • The Importance of Male Teachers – Fewer than 20% of primary education teachers in Canada are men, reports this Today's Parent article. (By comparison, more than 40% of Crescent's Lower School faculty are men.)
Crescent School
2365 Bayview Avenue,  Toronto ON   M2L1V2
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