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A New Look At Teaching Strategies

Pilot Project for high school teachers at the Thinking and Learning Summer Institute

This summer, Trent University hosted its first Thinking and Learning Summer Institute, presented by Disability Services at Trent. The Summer Institute held its pilot session August 23-25, with 14 teachers from around the greater Peterborough area attending. The program is designed to give high school teachers the tools necessary to help facilitate students' learning in high school by teaching them to look at how they learn.

The teachers in the program are provided with a special curriculum to integrate into their teaching. The curriculum is focused on "Thinking and Learning", authored and edited by Lakefield College School teacher Kerrie Hansler. "Thinking and Learning" was developed from the content of a former course taught at Trent, ARTS 110. ARTS 110 was originally designed for first-year students, but although it was successful, it was thought that the skills and strategies taught in the course might be better suited to high school students, allowing them to explore how they learn before reaching the post-secondary level.

The strategies taught at the Summer Institute can be used as a resource in classrooms, says Hansler, who is one of the presenters at the Institute. The Summer Institute blends together discussions, software and interactive methods of learning, to teach the theory and scholarship of curriculum. The Institute is geared so that, when taught in schools, it will be student-driven and teacher friendly. The various components of the material, when used in real classrooms, will fit into a variety of high school courses, such as Grade Ten Careers, Guidance Education, Learning Strategies, Biology and Social Sciences, says Hansler. The material can also be taught either verbatim from the teaching materials or modified to fit students' needs and interests.

So far, the feedback from the teachers in the pilot program is positive, with comments stressing the program's positive approach to learning, teaching students learning strategies and how to assimilate information, instead of just teaching the tests. The teachers go through the program in small groups of two or three for the interactive sessions, promoting idea sharing. In their small groups, they are able to engage with the creators of the program and materials, and engage with the texts, which are teacher-friendly. The course materials are universal in their attempt to assist student learning, so that, despite most of the teachers being from differing disciplines, it doesn't effect the fundamentals of the program. The program is geared towards helping all students, and not just those in learning disabilities programs.

Already there are plans for the program to enter province-wide expansion, pending approval by the Provincial Government. For more information about the Thinking and Learning Summer Institute, please visit

Photo: The Thinking and Learning Summer Institute Team: Robert Silvestri, Eunice Lund-Lucas, Kerrie Hansler, Karen Heffernan and Curtis Pineiro.

Posted August 29, 2005

















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