Connect is one of 19 Apple Distinguished Schools in Canada. Apple Distinguished Schools have a clear vision for how their technology-rich environments support learning goals. School leaders have established elements for continuous innovation that include culture, team, capacity, community, finance and measurement. Supporting their school’s vision is an ongoing process that requires thoughtful planning, practice and improvement along the way. They use iPad and Mac products to inspire student creativity, collaboration and critical thinking. And they cultivate environments in which students are excited and curious about learning. Learn more from Apple.
Connect Charter School is an inclusive 4-9 Public Charter School in Calgary, Alberta, Canada. We strive to create learning that utilizes inquiry, is scaffolded with technology, and that is experiential, place-based, and outdoor in its natures.
Students can take the iPads into the field to record experiences and create content to document their understanding of place in our place-based learning program.
Through a culture of collaboration, mutual respect, and caring relationships, and through a lens of decolonization, we nurture thriving classrooms where students and teachers explore and develop a deep understanding as active researchers. We engage students in meaningful, real life learning in a variety of learning environments. Our work focuses on creating developing students with a creative spirit and ethical citizenship. We provide environmental, outdoor, and global education learning opportunities to foster an appreciation of the world outside the classroom with a goal in developing social, leadership, and stewardship skills.
Creative Technologies is a locally developed course. Our students learn about computational thinking and coding with unplugged activities. Turning Tumbles were a favourite!
A tight knit staff takes professional development on the road for group site visits.
Students visit “Clem’s Garden,” our outdoor classroom at Connect Charter School to learn about ecosystems and seasons.
Digital storytelling was a focus to capture camp experiences.
Camps and trips out of the school are a highlight for the students. Each grade has 2 multi-day camps per year.
Our bouldering wall gives students an opportunity to build skills in an activity that can become a life long fitness choice.
Getting outside is an important part of our program. Snowshoes, skis, scooters, bikes, and longboards build skills that are transferable into life outside of school.
These students are practicing their archaeological skills. Taking the learning out into the community and engaging in hands on activities happens as much as possible.
Experts often visit our classes. Our school nurse prepares an Iron Chef challenge for hands on learning about nutrition and lifestyle choices.
87% of learners felt that students are safe at school, are learning respect for others, and are treated fairly in school according to the Alberta Accountability Pillar survey data from the past three years.
Parents are encouraged to support learning by volunteering their time and energy and getting involved at Connect, including supporting overnight camps. In the three years leading up to the pandemic, our counted volunteer hours averaged 10,752 hours.
Utilizing Sora during the pandemic, we increased our digital library inventory by a factor of 12.7. Circulation grew record 132% from the previous year. This preserved our learning commons in the pandemic using 1:1 technology.
In provincial reporting, 98% of parents reported being satisfied over the last 3 years with the quality of education at Connect, with a 21% lead on the “Very Satisfied” provincial average.
Professional development in the 2020-2021 school year supported staff in developing more learning activities for students to share their work on Seesaw over the previous year. Results are adjusted to the ratio of students on Seesaw.
Each year over a three year implementation cycle (pilot, grade 4-6 and then full school) we gained a new way to connect and share learning with parents.
Learning is built around our charter goals and our Exemplary Teaching and Learning Frameworks within the context of Alberta’s K-12 Curriculum. Students learn to become exemplary digital citizens through purposeful integration and practices related to our Empowered Use Policy.
In the 2019-2020 school year. Connect Charter implemented a locally-developed course called Creative Technology, focused on building capacity in digital citizenship, computational thinking, and elements of digital art and design.
In addition to our regular programming, learners at Connect have opportunities to lead and grow in and through technology. For example, in Student Tech Club, students helped to deploy classmate’s devices, support our help desk, and help to grow our capacity in “real-world” testing for devices and apps.
Partners in Place has been a years-long and integrated partnership between the Tsuut’ina Nation Education Department, Mount Royal University, and Connect Charter School. In the 2019-2020 school year, the project received a $105,000 grant from the Calgary Foundation to build “Social Problem Solving through Design Thinking”. This was a collaborative and shared class between students in Grade 8 and 9 at both Tsuut’ina Nation and Connect Charter School who were tasked with building solutions to social problems in both communities focused around bullying, mental health, and anxiety. The program developed capacity for students to use Design Thinking and Computational Thinking strategies, and students were empowered with equitable access to technology (expanding the one-to-one technology to our partner class).
In the 2020-2021 school year, our board established a committee to connect with alumni, industry, staff and parents to refine and define our vision around technology for learning as To provide students with the emerging technology resources and learning opportunities that focus on the knowledge, skills and critical thinking to prepare them to be Exemplary Digital Citizens.
This vision is realized through currency in teaching practices (strong professional development), our Creative Technology course including a 4-9 scope and sequence, and the application of inquiry and experiential education model to connect with experts
Connect Charter School is excited about the recent acquisition of our new Kananaskis Outdoor Learning Facility which will allow our program – and those of other groups looking to use the space – to thrive in the outdoor, environmental, and place-based education space.
Our 2021+ professional development goals have been informed by internal data collection including the Apple Learning Technology Survey suggest that staff are looking for additional supports for complex learners, and for new ways for students to become content creators and problem solvers using their technology.