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Math scores soaring at St. Edmund in Applewood
BY KELLY ROCHE
Provincial math scores are multiplying at St. Edmund Separate School thanks to a ‘community as teacher’ philosophy.
“Our staff works really hard at being innovative,” said principal Anna Maltby.
The Melton Dr. Catholic elementary school, near Applewood Village plaza, is one of five in Ontario being profiled by the Education Quality and Accountability Office (EQAO) in 2016 for their successful math programs.
Here’s why: In 2013, 7 per cent of St. Edmund’s students who hadn’t met the provincial math standard in Grade 3 improved to meet it in Grade 6 — that percentage rose to 29 per cent in 2015.
Maltby attributes the outcome to a strong co-education structure.
“We really took a look at how we can use all of our resources to help our kids,” said Maltby.
Community members are brought in “to work alongside us” as much as possible.
That includes student-teachers from programs such as early childhood education at Humber College.
“They’re amazing,” said Maltby, adding “we learn a lot from them, too.”
High school co-op students and other volunteers are also part of the formula.
“On any given day, you can come into our school and you’ll notice a lot of extra bodies,” Maltby said, listing an artist, veterinarian, and dental hygienist among the parents who help out.
With an estimated teacher-student ratio of 1 to 25 – or even 28 – volunteers are trained to run specific programs “so that the kids have a chance to have that small group or one-on-one time with somebody, and we have found that that’s made a huge difference,” said Maltby.
A special assignment teacher comes in a few times a month “and she will run little clubs specifically in the area of math,” said Maltby, such as an EQAO boot camp or lunch-and-learn.
“These schools are determined to help all of their students succeed, and the information provided by EQAO is one of the important sources of evidence that these schools are using to help them meet that goal,” said EQAO CEO Bruce Rodrigues. Toronto’s École élémentaire catholique Saint-Noël-Chabanel is the other GTA school profiled.
Numbers and goals also count when it comes to the relationship between sleep, physical activity and grades.
New research released June 16 shows sedentary lifestyles are connected to a creeping ‘sleepidemic’ in Canadian children and youth.
Nine per cent of kids get enough heart-pumping physical activity and 24 per cent see less than two hours of screen time per day, according to the 2016 ParticipACTION Report Card on Physical Activity for Children and Youth.
Plus, in recent decades, children’s nightly sleep duration has decreased by 30 minutes to an hour. Thirty-one per cent of school-aged kids and 26 per cent of adolescents are sleep-deprived, “creating an insidious threat to their mental and physical health,” said Dr. Mark Tremblay, the report card’s chief scientific officer.
“It’s time to take a whole day approach – many kids are too tired to get enough physical activity during the day, and not active enough to be tired at night – it’s a vicious cycle,” added Tremblay, of the Children’s Hospital of Eastern Ontario in Ottawa.
Maltby says staff are working to incorporate more natural movement into their teaching methods, including a Grade 3 math class.
In addition, a science pod has students standing while constructing projects.
“There’s a lot of manipulatives and recycled materials, and you’ll see kids, instead of being in your standard desk,” working at the pod, she said.
Then there’s manipulating the mind — another teacher offers meditation for Grade 6 students.
“She does that with her class but she also will invite, on Thursdays, anybody,” said Maltby.
“They love it.”
The practice is helping kids cope with anxiety, be it at school or home. When it comes to mental well-being of students and staff, “we’re finding that that’s a huge concern, not just for our school but for any school,” said Maltby.
Come September, they’re aiming to have students head out for a morning walk.
“We need to model that for the kids. Although we do a lot of athletics,” a number of kids don’t move as much during the day, Maltby said.
Some children read during recess or ask to stay indoors to help “and that’s OK, that’s all good stuff but that movement piece is huge.”
The report card finds regular physical activity may be the best sleep aid.
Either way, a brief stroll will help kids and teachers “feel reenergized and feel mentally healthy,” said Maltby. @qewsouthpost