“J-Term” or January school-wide-study-hall

J- Term.

A few years ago, I took a group of AVID Elective students to a nearby university. We toured classrooms of course, but the lessons learned much more sincere and organic when they are unplanned.  The take-away is best when we are able to talk a few students and apply (even replicate). Because it was a transition between terms, we enjoyed some questions / answers with some kids in the dormitories in their down time on a long weekend. We asked some basic questions, such as, “Do you like living in the dorms?”, “What is the most interesting class you have taken outside your major?”

The response was overwhelmingly positive and the more we asked, the more we learned that the culture of learning is what kept students connected.

These students were connected enough to want to stick around during breaks and holidays!

While students had a variety of interests, courses of study and a wide range of long term plans, the learning they experienced as group and their diverse contributions to “J-Term” seemed to have completed the connection for these students to their institution.

In most cases “J-Term” is a Socratic around a particular topic that takes place in the month of January. Students sign up for an elective, sometimes sometimes not, related to their focus or interest.

At Columbia River High School, we are designing a “J-Term” to tailor to individual needs. Many of us have worked in high schools over the last several years and have seen many versions of “tutorial” designed to keep students centered, focused and engaged.  We acknowledge, no model of support is perfect (nor is any kid or teacher), which is why we are choosing to plan, do, study and act on this model of support so that we can continually improve our work.

Our hope with the J-Term effort at River is to provide three Tuesday sessions which will enable students to access help, take time to organize and to plan for success on upcoming semester final exams (Jan 25 & Jan 26).

Again, the River version of J-Term will be:  Jan 9 // 9th grade students reconnect with LINK Crew and rekindle the energy of the launch of the school year. Students will be able to check Skyward and make a plan for the month. {LINK Crew members, may even share their secrets of success and how to study for finals.}

January 16 and January 23 will be an opportunity for all students, 9-12th to take advantage of the precious gift of time in the closing moments of the grading period to retake, redo and ready for the end of the grading period.

In summary, River will be on an Assembly Bell Schedule Jan 9, 16 and 23.  Students will remain in period 2 until released to an intentional and compelling destination.

Students, this is time for you to assemble your best efforts (in the truest sense of the word assemble: to “put or fit together; pull together the parts of” your first 18 weeks of the year) in order to shine during finals.

Thanks for reading!

Photo credits:  3rd Teacher

January 1, 2018

CRHS Family Photo Sept 2014Happy New Year!

I have a handful of resolutions to start the new year.  Among my resolutions, I have decided to dedicate time to improve our outreach and cultivate deeper connections for those in our educational network.  This is not just “good for business”, it will be necessary for us to keep you updated as the furious pace of change is upon us.

The next twelve months will be very exciting as Columbia River High School as we begin a variety of exciting upgrades, improvements and enhancements.

The aim of CR’s Head of School Blog is to keep readers informed, share our progress and occasionally gather feedback.  I hope you find this helpful in partnering with Columbia River High School as we look ahead to 2018 and beyond.  I am highlighting three areas in this short essay and hope you find this informative and practical.

Upgrades.

In February 2017, Vancouver Public Schools passed a construction bond that will bring improvements to every site in our district.  For River, this means improvements to our parking lots, 500 Wing Classrooms, 700 Wing Portables and Chieftain Stadium.  There is a great deal of work ahead to plan for this massive overhaul.

Many have asked about the timeline for our re-model.  What I know at this time is that the work will start with replacing the natural grass with an artificial surface for the stadium this spring.  Many of you are aware that our current stadium surface only allows for football.  After our new surface is installed and stripped, we will be able to host soccer.  This means that finally, the perennial soccer power Washington, our women’s soccer team, will be able to defend league and district titles at home, on our campus.   Please stay tuned as much more detail on the campus wide projects will follow.

Improvements.

On an annual basis we survey students, staff and families about their experiences in the classroom and on our school grounds district-wide.  At the center of our work is improving our students’ learning experiences.  We take student feedback seriously. While some of these comments are curious and even silly, we take them seriously.  Here’s an example to check out.  Intriguing, right?

This leads to our next moves in “stepping up our game” in course offerings.  Much more to come as we begin the forecasting process with current students beginning in February.

Enhancements.

In early December, we learned that we will  add International Baccalaureate Mandarin to our International Baccalaureate Diploma options.  Adding IB Mandarin totals more than 20 IB courses River offers for students invested in the “IB Challenge”.

As we welcome students in from Jason Lee Middle School’s Immersion Program to our community, we will continue to explore a variety of options within the IB.  Particularly for the IB Career Related Program.  Again, much more to come in later blogs as this will impact all aspects of our teaching and learning at River.

For now, if you are or know of an 8th grader who is considering the wide range of options in Vancouver Public Schools, we have two opportunities to connect with you about student life at Columbia River High School.

VPS Magnet Fair:  January  10 at 6:30 pm Roosevelt Elementary:  2921 Falk Road  Vancouver, WA 98661

IB Magnet Night:  January 17 at 6:30 pm at Columbia River High School 800 NW 99th St. Vancouver WA 98665

We hope to connect with you soon!  Thanks for reading.