Prairie Land Regional Division students on the ocean

At the Nov. 28 Prairie Land Regional Board meeting, Principal Scott Koller of Veteran School, presented the trustees with an exciting field trip proposal for PRLD students to spend five days on Canada’s west coast on the Pillar Rock.
The Pillar Rock, built in 1960, served as a Coast Guard Protection Vessel until 1986.
Fully refurbished and certified for guests, the vessel is now the heart of Pillar Rock Coastal Adventures offering all the necessary amenities to explore the coast in comfort and safety.
With his brother, Jeff Koller, Captain of the Pillar Rock, Principal Koller outlined a five-day adventure field trip which would include a thorough tour and safety orientation of the vessel, lessons in environmental stewardship, forestry and sustainability.
It would also include a visit with the We Wai Kai Nation on Quadra Island, a tour of a working logging camp and participation in a beach cleanup with the local chapter of the Surfrider Foundation, a global non-profit dedicated to protecting the world’s oceans and beaches.
The adventure could also include a tour of the Canadian Coast Guard Ship (CCGS) Sir Wilfred Laurier with Captain Bill Noon.
In 2014 this ship was part of the search for John Franklin’s ships, Erebus and Terror, during the Victoria Strait Expedition when the Erebus was found.
Open to all students in the Prairie Land Regional Division, field trips would be scheduled between late February and the end of April.
Trustees accepted the presentation as information, and encouraged the Kollers to submit a formal field trip request at the next Board meeting scheduled for Dec. 19.

Transportation report
Deputy Superintendent and Transportation Coordinator Steven Nielsen presented a detailed report on the PLRD transportation picture.
The transportation portfolio is one of the most difficult to manage, yet according to Nielsen, the easiest in which to make budget decisions.
“It is pretty much impossible to say no to anything that deals with the safety of the kids.” stated Nielsen.
GPS systems have been installed on each route bus to provide accurate real time information and keep track of buses.
Prairie Land also provides in-house training for drivers, cutting costs on S-endorsement certifications.
With 42 routes between the eight schools within PLRD, a lot of coordination is involved to make sure the system runs smoothly.

Schools have been steadily moving away from computers, yet technology is playing a bigger role than ever in education.
A PLRD tech audit demonstrated how inefficient and time-wasting computer labs are for learning.
Prairie Land students from grade 7 – 12 are now expected to have some sort of device, such as a tablet or phone, for school.
Enhancing band width has boosted the division’s ability to utilize digital textbooks and google classroom capabilities.
A focus for the next 3-year plan is to help all teachers to discover and take advantage of all the digital resources that are available.

Student evaluations
Superintendent Cam McKeage took to the podium to discuss AP 360 (Administrative Procedure) concerning the evaluation of student achievement.
While thoroughly outlining the pros and cons of different methods of student evaluation, McKeage clarified both formative and summative assessment techniques.
Formative assessment refers to the variety of methods that teachers use to conduct in-process evaluations of student comprehension, learning needs, and academic progress during an instructional unit, while the goal of summative assessments is to evaluate student learning at the end of an instructional unit closely following the Alberta Education program of outcomes.
According to McKeage, student grades should authentically represent what the student knows and can do related to these outcomes.
Is sufficient attention given to the assessment of skills?
How should effort be assessed?
Are things that are easy to measure being assessed at the expense of the “big ideas” in the curriculum?
McKeage highlighted the importance of common practices being applied throughout the Prairie Land division.
PLRD operates on the principle that every student has the right to a fair, accurate and equitable evaluation.

Linda Stillinger
ECA Review

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