School Cancellations Updates: 4:30 pm

This is a further update to the one released at noon today.

We have been monitoring the status of the fire over the day and paying close attention to the evacuation orders in the south west of Cardston County and in the Blood Tribe Reserve. Because there are still mandatory evacuation orders in effect near Mountain View, school will be cancelled for Mountain View School on September 13, 2017. The bus transporting students from the Mountain View School boundary to the Cardston High School is also cancelled for that date. 

At this time we have not made a decision about cancelling school for Spring Glen Elementary or Spring Glen Junior High Schools. We will be in communication with Cardston County and will be counselling with the Principals of both schools tonight. We will be making a decision with them by8:00 pm. 

Thank you to our staff, parents and community members for following the directions of municipal, Tribal, and emergency personnel. We are so grateful to our emergency responders and volunteers. 

Please continue to follow the alerts and instructions regarding the fires at Alberta Emergency Alert.

School Cancellations Updates

We are aware that there is a mandatory evacuation order in effect for a south western part of Cardston County and a part of the Blood Tribe Reserve. These evacuations affect our students, families, and staff. Our best wishes go with each of them as they make for safer areas. Please follow the instructions of the municipal, Tribal, and emergency authorities in your area. You can follow the alerts regarding the fires and associated instructions at Alberta Emergency Alert

Professional Development: Dr. Thomas Guskey

Professional Development: Dr. Thomas Guskey

The focus of the time teachers will spend with Dr. Guskey is on standards based grading and reporting. It builds on the foundational teacher practice of skillful formative assessment in the classroom. It will give teachers an opportunity to learn together, examine existing practices, thoughtfully plan our way forward, and purposefully incorporate desired practices into our process of continual improvement. We affirm that the skill set of the classroom teacher is the factor with the greatest impact on student learning.

How School Transportation Planning Works

Bus routes are now being designed on the principle of furthest out, first on. This lets buses take the most direct route from the outskirts of their route to the school and back to the homes. Efficiency also means buses are providing students the most direct route to and from school. We make efforts to eliminate bus transfers and lengthy waits before or after school whenever possible. We also try to make all bus rides as short as possible.

Bussing Students in Glenwood and Hill Spring

For the last several years, Westwind transportation supervisors used the best tools available to them at the time, but much of the work was manual and time-consuming. Within the last 12 months, the transportation technology has advanced significantly, and new transportation supervisor, Mr. Corey McCarthy has worked tirelessly to implement a GPS based system that has much greater capacity than previous tools.

Stirling and Magrath Modernization Updates

Stirling and Magrath Modernization Updates

Westwind School Division takes being a community partner very seriously across our region. We make sure that our facilities are open to community groups free of charge. We ensure that our parks and fields are well maintained and open to the public throughout the year. We recognize our value to our communities as one of the primary employers in the region and make efforts to keep all our schools and facilities viable and growing through the provision of high levels of service.

Stirling Modernization Update

Work continues to progress on Stirling School Modernization Project.

This week our team toured the school with the contractor to see how to project is coming along. The roof is now going on to the gymnasium.

As the project continues to roll forward and we see the building come together, piece by piece, we would like to thank the community and our partners for your support in this project. This will be a world class educational facility that will help the community grow and help educate children for decades to come. Your support has been, and will continue to be, an essential element behind the success of this project. We will provide more updates on the status of this project as the weeks go by and we get closer to reopening the space to students and the public.

Magrath Modernization Update

 A picture of the auditorium gym under renovation.

A picture of the auditorium gym under renovation.

Work continues to progress on the Magrath School Modernization Project.

This week our team toured the school with the contractor to see how the project is coming along. This week one of the focuses of the work is on the auditorium gymnasium.

As the project continues to roll forward and we see the building come together, piece by piece, we would like to thank the community and our partners for your support in this project. This will be a world class educational facility that will help Magrath grow and help educate children for decades to come. Your support has been, and will continue to be, an essential element behind the success of this project. We will provide more updates on the status of this project as the work progresses.

 

Professional Development Emphasis

Students in Westwind Schools continue to benefit from the extensive investment in professional development that Westwind provides to its staff.  These initiatives are directed at assisting professional staff in meeting and exceeding the Teaching Quality Standard in Westwind classrooms.

Five strategies for supporting teachers in their professional practice, for the benefit of students, are:

  1. Division Professional Development Days,
  2. Special Professional Development Cohorts throughout the year,
  3. School Based Professional Development
  4. Professional Learning Communities.
  5. Professional Partnerships with Universities and other Educational Consultants.

A listing of the professional learning opportunities afforded Westwind teachers over the last 7 years is available below:

Teacher Contracts

The Government of Alberta and the Alberta Teachers' Association (ATA) concluded bargaining the provincial level of the Collective Agreement for teachers from 2016- 2018 on two votes, the last of which occurred on May 24, 2017.

The negotiation process for this collective agreement with teachers is new in the history of Alberta, as explained by David Eggen, Minister of Education:

“This new model will allow school boards, the government, and the ATA to negotiate at a provincial table on issues that are relevant to all school boards. It also retains school boards’ autonomy to address local conditions that a!ect their local teachers. This system puts all the a!ected parties, including government, at the bargaining table in a transparent way.” (Government introduces improved teacher bargaining model, November 26, 2015)

With this is a new bargaining process, the Province decided to divide up the items that would be bargained, at the provincial level and the local level, including items such as:

Provincial Level Bargaining Items

  • Salary increases and grid
  • Health spending accounts
  • Group benefits and employer contribution percentage,
  • Sick, maternal, parental, adoption, and personal business leaves
  • Limits on instructional and assigned time
  • Assigned or unassigned professional duties,
  • Maximum Instructional and non- instructional days

Local Level Bargaining Items

  • Schedule and dates of salary payment
  • RRSP contributions
  • Group benefit design
  • Professional improvement, sabbatical, and graduate study leaves
  • Local directed professional development funds

Teacher Compensation

  • We are happy that teachers in Alberta are well paid and compensated for theirwork with our students, and we hope that this high salary level will help us recruit and retain great individuals to teach in Westwind schools. In a study on teacher compensation, Alberta teachers were found to be the highest paid in all of the western provinces by a significant margin, including Ontario. In a study done by the BC Teachers Federation in 2014, Alberta teachers had the highest salaries in Canada except Nunavut and the Northwest and Yukon Territories.

Teacher Workload

  • At the provincial bargaining table teacher workload was a major topic.
  • For many years, 200 days has been the maximum number of days of work for a teacher by legislation.  While this remains true, depending on the length of the school day, the number of days will be less than 200 for Westwind teachers.

Assignable time

  • As mandated by the Provincial agreement, 1200 hours per year is the maximum a teacher may be assigned.  This is true for all Alberta Teachers and reflects the norm of the large Urban boards in Calgary and Edmonton for the last 20 plus years.
  • Included in the 1200 hours is a maximum of 907 hours a teacher may be assigned to provide direct instruction to students.
  • The remaining 293 hours is to be assigned by local school boards and can include but is not limited to the following:
    • Staff development.
    • Staff meetings
    • Collaborative time with colleagues
    • Preparation time
    • Supervision of students
    • Teachers Convention
    • Non Instructional Days (PLC and School based PD)
  • In Westwind, teachers have been assigned 80 hours per year, outside the student timetable to work together under the direction of their Principal to achieve staff development goals that are determined by the staff and administration at the school level.
  • There remains at each school between 90 and 113 hours of assigned time that is left to the discretion of the leadership at each school.  Principals will be able to share the details of this with their school councils in the fall.
  • In the 2017 – 18 school year there will be a number of “non instructional” (Students do not attend) days when teachers will engage in PLC’s (professional learning communities), as well as Division based and School based professional development activities.
  • These days are extremely valuable to teachers as they are able to focus sharply on the skills of teaching and learning for the benefit of all students.
  • Teachers provide exceptional leadership in these events as they work collaboratively with their colleagues in pursuit of excellence through a cycle of continuous improvement.

It is recognized by the Westwind Board and Administration that the assignable time,(1200 hours) defined in the provincial agreement forms only part of the work that excellent teachers do.  Lesson planning and preparation, marking, gathering materials, are essential duties that teachers perform outside the school day.  In addition,  many valuable contributions by dedicated teachers come as voluntary offerings to students because of the passion teachers have to support their students outside the classroom.  These voluntary contributions include coaching in its many forms as well as contributing to the whole school experience and environment of the school.

Six Easy Ways to Fight the Summer Slide (and have fun doing it)

This article is a copy of a PDF made by Dreambox Learning

The National Summer Learning Association says students can lose up to three months of academic growth during the summer break when they’re not in school. This phenomenon commonly referred to as the “summer slide,” is completely avoidable. To help your children retain math concepts all year long, aim for thirty minutes three times a week, and the only slide your kids will experience this summer is the kind in the playgrounds and pools. 

Numbers and Operations

Developing number sense. Counting, estimating, adding, subtracting, multiplying, and working with fractions and money are important skills for your child. The more children use numbers, the better they understand number relationships. Simple card games can help kids develop matching and value recognition skills. Start with an easy-to-learn game like “War” that teaches them to identify numbers greater than or less than others. 

Algebra

Finding and understanding patterns. Create patterns with your child using numbers, shapes, or objects, and ask them what comes next. If there are six shapes repeated in the pattern, ask what shape will be in the tenth spot. Point out designs and ask your child to identify the pattern. The more you discuss patterns, the more instinctively your child will recognize them. 

Geometry

Exploring two-dimensional figures. Most kids love to draw. Why not incorporate shapes and geometric vocabulary into the mix? Ask your child to make an ice cream cone using two shapes. Then talk about the attributes of the shapes. How many sides does a triangle have? How many angles? Which lines are parallel?

Measurement

Understanding three-dimensional objects. Using building sets, ask your child to create a structure for a certain purpose (e.g., to house the horses) or that meets certain criteria (e.g., has a way for people to enter and exit). After they build their structure, ask them to describe how it functions to meet its given purpose. 

Create a project together that requires measurement (e.g., build a birdhouse, sew a quilt, or bake some brownies). Discuss the tools you use and how to get exact measurements. 

Data Analysis and Probability

Graphing research. Collect data, organize it, and interpret the results together. For example, research the most popular car color in your neighborhood. First, predict what color will be the winner. Then go for a walk and Probability with notebook in hand, and record the car colors you see. When you get home create a bar graph together. 

Process Standards

Solving everyday problems. Involve your child in real-life problem solving by thinking out loud and Process explaining your reasoning. When planting a garden, how many seed packets will we need? Calculate how many seeds we’ll need per row at six inches apart. What tool should we measure with or should we estimate? The more kids hear your reasoning, the more comfortable they’ll become using math.