Reach Ahead Program
This year, the grade 8 students have had the opportunity to participate in the Reach Ahead program, done in participating with the High School and WBG. Students in this program have the opportunity to go out on the land every Wednesday to learn outdoors skills, receive traditional and cultural teaching and, of course, get a high school credit! Students have had the opportunity this month to learn about safe equipment handling, bush clearing, outdoor structure building and fire stating. This includes skills such as batoning (creating kindling with a knife and baton), creating fires for warmth/cooking in wet conditions and stripping logs to build their structures. This is a great program and has offered up an amazing learning opportunity to everyone involved
Connection to the 5R’s
All five of these are met with this program. Relationships will be formed within the school board and between the school board and the community, as we reach out to them for their guidance and expertise. Respect for the culture is seen in every aspect of the program. It will be taught from a First Nations perspective, using First Nations methods and tools whenever possible. This program will demonstrate our responsibility to deliver relevant material to the students and will hopefully teach them to be responsible with the gifts of the earth. Finally, we demonstrate reciprocity by both taking knowledge from Elders and others within the community, and by giving back with the fruits of our labour.
Explicit Connection to material covered in the course
See course outline.
Demonstration of effective leadership during implementation of the practicum
We worked very closely with the teacher who will be teaching the course, and who has abundant experience and expertise in the area of Outdoor Education to ensure that the development of the course is relevant and that the outcomes are attainable.
Use and quality of data to inform the practicum focus
Data used to inform practicum focus include attendance data, secondary school attained credit data, elementary students with exceptional academic performance, individual education plans, local sports programming.
Impact on staff capacity building/change in practice
The teacher designated for the Reach Ahead course is qualified in canoe tripping, outdoor education and bushcraft. Capacity building for staff in this course will be include budgeting, coordination of local organizations, weekly/daily planning, classroom/student management of junior students, and assessment.
Benefits to students, staff and parents/guardians
The benefits to students are many. First, they will, upon successful completion of the program, earn a high school credit by the time they graduate from grade 8. They will also be learning about their culture and heritage. They will learn to do things that are new to them. They will be outside, doing physical activities far more than they will sitting in a classroom. For staff, they will be able to see the benefits of offering courses in a way and time that is not their usual way. Every teacher who is involved in the program will learn new things along with the students. Parents will see the benefits of their children learning in the culture, being excited about learning, and they will be able to delve deeper into meanings and/or customs with their children.
Awareness and connection to school and community culture
This program is set up to be run within a First Nations community. Community members and school staff were asked for input and community needs/wishes when designing the course.
Connection to board, school or provincial policies
All activities within the program comply with the policies of the school board. Where policies do not exist, new ones have been written (canoeing, ice fishing, use of fire pit) that fall in line with the mission and beliefs of the board.
Connections to the OCT Standards of Practice and Ethical Standards
Every aspect of the program falls within the OCT Standards. Teaching staff will always be expected to maintain professionalism. When on outings, there will be more than one supervising teacher; a mix of male and female to meet the needs and ensure safety of all students.
Connections to improving learning and teaching
Students will gain insight to the process and procedures of attending high school before they even enter secondary studies. Students will build outdoor and bushcraft skills while maintaining a connection to the land and culture. Teachers will get first-hand experience in building rapport with future high school students as well as building their own outdoor skills.
Connection to school improvement plans
Both schools involved with this program have increased culture and language in their improvement plans. This program goes a long way to meeting the goals as they are articulated in the SIP’s.
References to research, policies and other related educational documents
See course outline.
Clearly stated results of the practicum and future recommendations
Grade 9 students entering secondary school with one granted credit, alleviation of anxiety about entering high school, and increased confidence in outdoor and on the water activities.