Students with an interest in technology are increasingly turning to the Maple Ridge – Pitt Meadows School District CyberSchool for their final elementary years.
The program gives self-motivated, independent learners in Grade 6 and 7 the opportunity to conduct a portion of their schooling online, learning how to utilize the internet when collaborating on projects with their peers.
“CyberSchool has taught me important skills for high school,” said Leah, a Grade 7 student in the final year of the program. “I know how to manage my own time independently and I am more confident with sharing my own ideas and work with others.”
Students begin the program in September working in class at Alouette Elementary five days a week. Program instructor Neysa Dew said students learn how plan their schedules and prepare for their lessons before moving online for one day a week in October. By November, the students are online two days and in class for three days, which is the format for the duration of the year.
“September is there to make sure the kids are setup for success,” Dew said. “We teach them the things they need to know at the beginning of the year.”
The flexible online format ensures parents are in the loop when it comes to scheduling and assignments. Grading rubrics and feedback are all posted online and a list is sent home every week outlining the projects and tasks that are coming up.
“Everything is available to both students and parents,” Dew said. “They don’t have to wait to see how their kid is doing. They can see every comment that comes back to the kids.”
While the program follows the standard curriculum, it offers some courses that are not always available in the general elementary school stream.
For example, instructor Mark Smeed said film techniques is a popular class, giving students the opportunity to meld their story-telling abilities with the latest video equipment and editing software. Photography is another popular course, he added, teaching composition and editing of high-quality images.
He noted that being at home gives students new settings and environments beyond the schoolyard where they can hone their camera abilities.
“At school, the settings don’t work,” Smeed said. “With access to these other places, they can explore and use some of the techniques that we teach them.”
No matter the course, students are challenged to find creative ways to problem solve and work together online. Dew said she has seen students “find their voice” over the course of the program and develop close connections with their peers.
They also get more regular one-on-one time with their instructors, she added, and kids are often more comfortable communicating with teachers directly, rather than in a classroom setting.
“We can work with them individually,” she said. “They aren’t in front of their peers asking the questions… We get to connect with students one-on-one on something they are specifically working on.”
CyberSchool prepares students with the skills they will need for high school, post secondary, and beyond, Smeed said. Dew added that as work increasingly moves online, the program equips young people with the tools necessary to be good and discerning digital citizens.
“The kids are online a lot,” she said. “There is a lot of conversation and teachable moments around how to use the internet safely,” said Dew.
Visit the CyberSchool website or attend an online info night to learn more:
Thursday, January 20, 2022 (6:30 p.m.)
Preregistration required: https://bit.ly/3ypQtIA
Tuesday, January 25, 2022 (6:30 p.m.)
Preregistration required: https://bit.ly/31UiMmr
*The SD42 CyberSchool program is open to all students in Grades 6 and 7. Yennadon Elementary offers its own CyberSchool program.