ConnectFLEX is an innovative blended learning program for middle school students (in grades 7-9), built around our charter goals of inquiry, place-based and experiential learning, technology-enhanced, and outdoor education, that provides students with the opportunity to engage in their learning in a mixed online and in-person environment.
"Schools' biggest constraints are their own walls." - Simone Stolzoff
Program at a Glance
What is ConnectFLEX learning?
What is Connect's Charter, and how does it fit into this program?
Connect Charter School is a Public Charter School in Calgary, Alberta. Charter Schools in Alberta are unique choices within the Public System (learn more in this video from the Association of Public Charter Schools). Connect Charter School’s current Charter, valid through 2027, is focused on 6 key pillars.
Students in ConnectFLEX are provided with meaningful learning experiences that bring curriculum to life. Inquiry-based learning exists in the way that instructional strategies, meaningful learning opportunities, assessment of student work, and collaboration remain key elements of practice and core to our program within ConnectFLEX. These are facilitated through distance learning (both synchronous and asynchronous) strategies as well as frequent on campus or field experiences.
› Computational thinking, which are strategies of thinking and learning about problems; accomplished in part through learning to code
› Strong and ethical sense of digital citizenship, including being upstanders and contributing positively to our collective digital footprint
› Learning support tools, such as graphic organizers and other executive functioning tools, reader and writer assistive tools, etc.
› Learning Management tools like Google Classroom and Seesaw which support synchronous and asynchronous learning and provide continuous, formative feedback
Engaging students in meaningful, real-life learning activities in a variety of rich learning environments – particularly with the ConnectFLEX model which engages students in learning outside of school – with a focus on mind, body, emotions, creative spirit, and ethical citizenship.
› Camp opportunities with all ConnectFLEX student camps, with activities divided by grade/group
› Some integration with regular track programs/students
› Local and accessible camps (e.g. ~1.5 hour radius)
› Place-based/Experiential/Land-based learning – drawing on our partnership with Tsuu T’ina Education to create experiences that allow for Indigenizing and decolonizing
› Service learning (Examples: Ice Fishing with Tsuut’ina Elders, Trail Repairs/building with Alberta Parks)
Fostering a culture of collaboration and caring relationships of mutual respect with students, staff members and parents sharing a passion for learning; together and from others, in the classroom, within the school and beyond.
Students as extraordinary citizens is an important element of the ConnectFLEX program. The need to develop strong relationships, school connectedness, and a sense of community within an online space is key to student success. Here are some of the ways in which we do this within ConnectFLEX:
› Peer mentoring is an opportunity to mentor or be mentored– an opportunity for leadership and improving the lives of others.
› Service learning (e.g. trail restoration opportunities, get out the vote, raise the roof) as an extension to the health and social studies curriculum
Nurturing thriving classrooms and other learning environments where teachers are informed by research and where teachers and students explore and develop deep understanding as active researchers.
Is this blended approach to learning right for my child?
In responding to the importance of choice in Alberta’s education system, online learning for some students can be a more successful programming choice than a traditional brick-and-mortar environment. For a variety of reasons, a middle school-aged child may not succeed or thrive in a traditional, campus-based educational environment. ConnectFLEX provides students with a flexible pathway and an approach to learning that is supportive and effective and allows them to be successful. Through this innovative blended program students can have ‘the best of both worlds’ through an individualized learning program incorporating online learning with on campus and outdoor/place based experiences. ConnectFLEX provides learning that is accessible, engaging, and responsive to the needs of the individual student. There are many reasons why a traditional approach to learning may not work for students, some students may have medical needs (physical, social, emotional) that make accessing on campus learning difficult, while others may have demanding extracurricular commitments, may live away from the city, may be transitioning from homeschool, or some students may thrive in an environment where they are able to work more independently. Additionally, ConnectFLEX provides the Connect program in an alternative delivery model to families who may otherwise be unable to access our program due to our long waitlist.
What technologies are used to support online learning?
Students are provided with a one-to-one iPad, including a rugged case, an external keyboard, and an Apple Pencil. The iPads come with an AppleCare+ warranty – accidents happen and we don’t want those to get in the way of learning.
Students meet synchronously via Zoom, where access is restricted to Connect Charter School students and staff. Learning activities are shared with students via Seesaw and Google Classroom, and parents are invited to see and provide feedback on their child’s learning via the Seesaw platform.
Students and parents will be provided with initial and ongoing support in how to best use these platforms, including a dedicated introductory course to learn the tools, ask questions, and be ready for blended learning in ConnectFLEX.
It is important that students have access to reliable WiFi.
Meet our Teaching and Learning Team
Our team is made up of Alberta certificated teachers at Connect Charter School, whose full time work is the success of your child in the ConnectFLEX program. Specific deployments are based on enrollment, but you can trust their teachers will draw from a diversity of experience and subject matter expertise.
What families say?
We asked families who participated in our current online learning program at Connect about their experiences.
While our son’s educational needs were more than met, at the same time our expectations were exceeded.
Our son still talks about his connection with his teacher in the virtual world. His teacher was supportive, understanding and assisted our son to thrive in the online learning environment.
The Leadership team were successful in developing an online learning platform with exceptional results.
We are grateful that Connect Charter School offered the online learning option as an alternative to on-campus learning as this provided our family with flexibility and we found this model created a great opportunity for our child to grow into becoming a more independent learner.
Mr. C. was a great teacher and very helpful.
Ms. J. made me feel like I was at school even though it was online.
Connect's online program has helped me become successful for future school years.
We will continue to adhere to safety protocols and guidance provided to schools by Alberta Health Services and Alberta Education for all on campus and outdoor based activities.
ConnectFLEX is an innovative blended learning program designed as a full school program:
› Just like in our face-to-face program, we cover the Alberta Program of Studies specific to your child’s grade, teaching with and through our Charter approaches.
› This program is geared towards students that are looking for an alternative to the traditional school schedule.
› There is regularly scheduled daily synchronous learning, as well as weekly scheduled on-campus or field learning.
ConnectFLEX is a full time program, once you have completed our registration package and enrolled your child into ConnectFLEX your child can no longer be registered at another school.
Relationships are a key focus of our program, with intentional relationship development built into our ongoing field experiences, including camps. Students have opportunities to work collaboratively with and build relationships with peers in the program.
There is no tuition for this program, as we are a public charter school. There is a $615 fee which covers all field experiences (e.g. guest facilitators, buses where applicable), one of two camps, student supplies, and the use of a one-to-one iPad. There is also a $60 iPad insurance fee which covers accidental damage.
A bursary is available if any of these fees are a limitation, and you can email our Principal Dr. Phil Butterfield ([email protected]) in confidence to discuss details.
Parents will be responsible for transportation for any on campus and field experiences. Parents may choose to send their child on transit (and parts of our program will cover this as well as it becomes safe to do so in the context of COVID), or arrange carpooling with other nearby families. Bus service is not available for ConnectFLEX students.
We provide the necessary one-to-one technology and accessories for your child to learn. Depending on their at home learning space and if there is frequent background noise, we might recommend purchasing a headset with a microphone. We also provide other learning materials your child might require, such as writing utensils, graph paper, etc.
Field experiences are full day (or in the case of our twice a year camps, multi-day) onsite (the Connect Charter School campus) or offsite (“field trip”) learning days. In advance of each, you’ll receive information from the teacher with respect to the location (bussing will be arranged from Connect Charter School if the field experience is outside of the city) and an outline of activities. Learning is facilitated by a mix of our teachers and subject matter experts. A recent field trip in our predecessor program looked like a half day Jane’s walk in the Weaselhead learning about the history of the Calgary Ring Road, while the other half-day was learning about the ecosystems of the natural area.
No. This program exists separate from the full time on-campus program at Connect Charter School (though we both use some of the same facilities at the Clem Gardner School Campus). If your child is already on the Connect full-time in person waitlist, they may remain on the waitlist.
Yes. Connect Charter School is proud to be an inclusive school and has a range of supports including a full-time inclusive practices co-ordinator and part-time counseling, a variety of literacy and math development programs, as well as other individualized supports. If you have specific concerns or if your child has severe disabilities or development delays, please reach out to [email protected] so we can discuss our support capacity.
Yes. While we do not anticipate any issues, we require a minimum of 90 registration to be able to run ConnectFLEX.
Your child is immersed in the full program of study in an alternative delivery format. This includes dedicated planning for high school and learning beyond, particularly in Grade 9. Learning strategies are part of our program, and we think your child will develop more than the necessary skills for continued learning through the unique delivery model.
Sign me up for Updates
Thank you for your interest in the ConnectFLEX program at Connect Charter School. Despite our best efforts we have been unable to secure our target number of registrations to make operating the program possible for the 2021-22 school year. We have made the difficult decision to postpone the program for this upcoming year. We are committed to the vision of ConnectFLEX and the principles of a blended online learning program that incorporate our charter goals of inquiry based learning, technology, and outdoor and experiential education and will continue to gather interest during the 2021/2022 school year. We are hopeful that as we move out of the weariness of the pandemic there will be a renewed interest in the opportunities and flexible pathways to learning ConnectFLEX has to offer students and families. Connect Charter School is continuing to look at opportunities to expand our enrolment, if you would like to continue to receive updates on any of these opportunities please contact ([email protected]). We will continue to provide updates throughout the year on the Connect website.