We started the school year looking for new ways to collaborate beyond the walls of our building. We investigated the opportunity with the Rocky View School Division. Acknowledging that collaboration is more than linking people through curriculum, Darrell Lonsberry, and Dan McWilliam met with Josh Hill from RVSD and identified 3 stages or levels of collaboration for a Cross Authority AISI project. As described by Ivy Waite, "Collaboration is more than just sharing ideas, but the process of working together to achieve a common goal. True collaboration is a process in which two or more people co-conceive, design, execute and reflect upon teaching and learning. It is this process that ensures our students are engaged in meaningful, authentic, engaging, inquiry based learning."
Cross Authority Collaboration Model
Stage 1 Collaboration: Co-Reflect and Experience
Teacher cohort groups comprising of teachers from Rocky View Schools and Calgary Science School will engage in collaborative action research. Through CSS and RVS school visits teachers will collect digital documentation of student engagement and engage in reflective dialogue. This process will be jointly facilitated by RVS and CSS learning teams.
Stage 2 Collaboration: Co-Creation of Inquiry based units through Teacher Planning Institutes.
Teachers from CSS and RVS will co-plan and implement inquiry based units of instruction over the
course of 3 days. This process will be co-facilitated by the learning teams from CSS and RVS and teachers will utilize support frameworks, rubrics and exemplars from both authorities. Teachers will
collect digital documentation as they implement their units of inquiry and on the final day generate co-reflection and analysis to inform future action and create exemplars to be publish these findings to the AISI Network, and the respective CSS and RVS community engagement blogs.
Part of the design features a research inquiry into cross-school authority collaboration. CSS and RVS Learning Team leaders will engage in collaborative action research to address this inquiry. They will collect digital documentation and engage in co-reflection and analysis to inform ongoing and future design.
Stage 3 Collaboration: Cross Authority Co-teaching and Learning
The School boards will provide the opportunity for teachers as they co-plan to consider the possibility of designing inquiry based learning for their students to engage collaboratively across school authorities.
We were fortunate to receive funding through AISI (Alberta Initiative for School Improvement) prior to the April 1st suspension of funding and were able to proceed with the project. Two streams were offered for Teacher Planning Institutes: Environmental Stewardship and STEM. We hosted school tour dates on March 18 and 19 for the 2 cohorts of 25 teachers to tour and co-reflect on their visits to Cochrane High School, Glenbow Elementary in Cochrane and Calgary Science School.
In coordinating the teacher planning institutes for co-developing inquiry lessons, we wanted to create the positive conditions for collaboration. The Environmental Stewardship cohort planning institute days were held at the Fish Creek Environmental Learning Centre and Banded Peak School near Bragg Creek. The STEM cohort met on April 17 and 18 at Telus Spark in the Learning Centre.
The Teacher Planning Institutes emphasized the importance of teacher conversations while providing structure for the conversations and inquiry planning.
Rocky View School Division has developed an Instructional Design Framework that became the program for the planning institute. Josh Hill, a learning strategist from Rocky View School Division, led the group through the work flow with large portions of time dedicated to the creation of the units and bringing the work back to the group for feedback and revision.
There will be a celebration of learning in June where all of the teachers from the planning cohorts will share their experience in the project and their students' experience in the inquiry. Teachers were encouraged to continue their work asynchronously after the planning days and were encouraged to ask for continued support from their school boards for their work if they wanted to Co-deliver the content as a stage three collaboration.
We are currently looking ahead to the 2013-2014 school year and opportunities to continue the Cross Authority Collaboration with Rocky View Schools.