Today’s graduating students need a very different skill set than they did even a decade ago. The global economy is demanding a very distinct set of skills and the world of work is shifting quickly within it. There is a set of core competencies that our children need in order to thrive within this global context:
- Critical thinking & problem solving
- Collaboration skills & leading by influence
- Agility & Adaptability
- Initiative & Entrepreneurialism
- Effective oral & written communication
- Accessing & analysing information
- Curiosity & Imagination (Wagner, 2015)
All of this begins to take shape in our children when we drive learning, not solely for the purpose of knowledge acquisition, but through the purposeful exploration of their passions and by teaching them to be self-directed, self-motivated (intrinsically and morally), organized, and confident as risk takers.
The iMaker program is designed to foster these seven skills and dispositions. In year one, the grade ten & eleven program will provide flexibility and choice in the delivery method of core academic courses (online or face-to-face), while providing students with specialized, iMaker cohort elective courses that speak to the student’s passion for information technology, programming, coding, robotics, game and digital design – their “Sparks” in life. The program provides a community of strong social-emotional support through connection with their group of peers – the iMaker students that share these passions - while also asking them to grow outward as senior secondary students integrated in the Highland school community.
What is iMaker? (2016-17)
iMaker is a district program of choice located at Highland Secondary School. It is a full time, grade 10-11 program (in year one) that provides students with a unique blended learning platform that explores their shared passion for technology, design and digital arts, in a cohort-centered model, guided by a specialist iMaker teacher. The students, parents and teacher begin each year by developing a “Personalized Education Plan” (PEP) for each student that plots the learning strategies, resources and course programming that will foster their individual achievement. During half of the timetable the students work to complete specialized iMaker elective courses as a group that emphasizes project and inquiry based learning, as well as Independent Directed Studies (IDS courses), which asks each student to design and explore their own specialized “spark” projects in depth. The iMaker students work the other half of the timetable within the school schedule, completing their required core academic courses in either regular face-to-face classrooms at Highland or online through Navigate - or a combination of both settings depending on the preferences of each student.
Planning the Future Growth of iMaker Grade 10-12:
The first year of programming for Maker will involve one or two cohorts of students depending on demand (2016-17 school year). In the fall of 2017, the intention is to grow the program into a grade 10-12 platform of multiple cohorts, using a “mini school” model that is guided by a team of teachers who support both the delivery of the core academic and elective courses. This will include a rich blend of community & global mentorship, work experience and collaborative learning centred on real world problems.
The iMaker program will continue the “ENTER & E2” tradition of strong social connection and belonging, supported by a team of teachers that the students will have as advisors and mentors throughout the three graduation program years at secondary school. With the advent of the new grade 10-12 curriculum by 2017 and the new graduation program that is shortly to be announced, iMaker students will be ideally situated to take the greatest advantage of the changes that are currently underway in transforming British Columbia’s education in the secondary years.