Edition: Focus on Skills May 2014 newsletter
Superintendent's Message - May 2014
Last week I heard Ron Berger speak at the BC School Superintendent Association’s spring conference. Ron is a former teacher who is now the Chief Academic Officer of Expeditionary Learning. He's also the author of An Ethic of Excellence, which provides a practical explanation of Project Based Learning. His book has become the principal resource at San Diego’s High Tech High.
Berger suggests that when demonstrations of learning are made public it actually improves the quality of the work produced, and deepens the learning at the same time. His comment made me think of highly successful “Residential Construction” programs that are established in some B.C. districts. These programs allow students to build real homes to the lock-up stage doing everything from the foundation to the roof. In one district, the homes built by students have earned a positive reputation with sub-contractors and realtors alike. Sub-contractors like to work on them because “every corner is square." Work that is sub-standard is not acceptable. Realtors have started advertising their listings as “School District” built homes because of the expectations of the program and the quality of the work.
These programs are made possible in part by partnerships formed between school districts, colleges, industry and municipalities. When more communities work together to form partnerships bent on the development of cultures of excellence, some amazing, real, and deep learning opportunities will be created for our kids. And, more and more, we will hear people say… “I wish we’d had this kind of thing when we were in school!”
To build a house you need a blueprint. The same goes for a quality education. In this month's newsletter you'll read about our provincial government's blueprint to re-engineer education and training to better prepare our students for the workforce. The B.C. Skills for Jobs Blueprint is a game-changer for the K-12 education system - I encourage you to read it and learn what it means for you and your students. These are exciting times for all of us.
Larry Espe, Superintendent of Careers and Student Transitions
B.C.’s Skills for Jobs Blueprint: Re-engineering Education and Training
Earlier this week the B.C. Government delivered on its promise to give our province's young people a seamless path from school through to the workplace. The B.C.'s Skills for Jobs Blueprint: Re-engineering Education and Training will re-vamp our education system from Kindergarten through to post-secondary and beyond to ensure B.C. youth and B.C. workers are first in line for B.C. jobs of the future.
The B.C.'s Skills for Jobs Blueprint sets out three overarching objectives to maximize the potential of B.C.'s workforce. The first objective is directly tied to K-12:
Give students a head-start to hands-on trades and technical learning so they’re better prepared for the workforce or more advanced training when they graduate.
The B.C.'s Skills for Jobs Blueprint aims to do this in several ways, including:
- Doubling the number of ACE-IT spaces to 5,000 over the next two years.
- Expanding dual credits in our schools to get students trained quicker so they can move into post-secondary studies or the workplace faster and with the skills they need.
- Reforming Grade 10-12 graduation requirements to recognize a broader range of hands-on courses and work-related experience.
- Reviewing the Applied Skills Curriculum for Grades K-9 to excite and prepare students for the full range of career options they can pursue after school.
- Getting more teachers qualified to teach skills foundation courses in high school.
- Making it faster and easier for qualified tradespeople to earn teaching certificates so they can use their work experience and skills to improve school programs.
- Increasing scholarships for skills training by 25 percent to help students facing financial barriers to skills training.
- Providing funding for apprenticeship trades ambassadors who will promote trade careers and provide first-hand information and examples to students in various schools and communities.
To learn more about the B.C.'s Skills for Jobs Blueprint go to http://www.workbc.ca/skills.
A Plan for Education
In a recent blog post, Andreas Schleicher, special advisor on education policy at the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development, highlights the importance of skills-oriented learning in preparing students for success in life. This is definitely worth reading!
Thank You From Skills Canada BC
From Amber Papou, Executive Director of Skills Canada BC.
On behalf of Skills Canada BC, I would like to sincerely thank you. It is because of your generous support that the 20th Annual Skills BC Provincial Competition on April 9, 2014 was a huge success!
With over 560 competitors, 5000 visitors and 54 contest areas, this year's event was the largest in our history. Spectators had the opportunity to try hands-on activities at 16 Discover SkillsBC First Hand demonstrations and participate in the Passport to Achievement program while visiting 38 exhibitors at the Career Fair. In addition, because of the generous support from the International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers (IBEW), in partnership with British Columbia Institute of Technology, Fortis, and SkillsBC, 100 young women in grades 9 - 12 had the opportunity to attend the Trades & Technology Conference for Women. These young women were able to network and be mentored by 25 professional women in technology and trade careers.
Once again, I would like to extend our gratitude to all of those partners, volunteers and supporters whose dedication and passion have created a Province-wide 'team' that has been linking jobs to youth, and youth to careers for the past two decades.
We look forward to working with all of you for the next 20!
Please visit our website for competition results and highlights: www.skillscanada.bc.ca
One of the most popular events at the recent Skills BC Provincial Competition was the GearBots Challenge. In this challenge, teams of three students (ages 9-14) built and programmed a fully autonomous robotic device then navigated it across a large map of the Stó:lō First Nation territory to complete a series of "missions." These missions included moving rocks, gathering trees, and collecting fish and berries. Points were awarded to each team based on how quickly and successfully it completed each mission.
The GearBots Challenge is the brainchild of Dereck Dirom, a high school teacher in SD#34 (Abbotsford) and the founder of GearBots Educational Resources. Dereck first created the challenge as a summative assessment piece for the robotics course he taught at Yale Secondary a few years ago. Dereck's students loved the challenge and so did his vice-principal. Dereck's V.P. encouraged him to submit the challenge to Skills BC for consideration as a new skills competition. Skills BC loved the idea and the rest, as they say, is history. The GearBots Challenge is now in its fourth year at the Skills BC provincials and has become one of the most popular events.
The GearBots Challenge is fun but it's also serious learning and offers many elements found in a Makerspace. Participants learn important skills in science, technology, engineering, arts, and math (STEAM). They also learn critical competencies like effective teamwork, project management, problem solving, and decision making. Whatever path these kids take in their lives, projects like the GearBots Challenge will help arm them with the skills they need to succeed.
For photos of this year's GearBots Challenge visit Dereck's Flickr page at https://www.flickr.com/photos/59926592@N03/sets/72157643812271244/.
Meet Elliot Knight
Elliot Knight is a Grade 12 student at North Peace Secondary in Fort St. John. He loves the outdoors and the rugged northern lifestyle. He also likes to get dirty and fix things, and isn't afraid of a hard day's work.
Elliot's dream is to one day work in the oil fields. And thanks to a course at his high school called Transitions to Trades 12, Elliot is on his way to achieving his goal. Transitions to Trades 12 provided Elliot with a solid grounding in woodworking, carpentry, pipe fitting, and electrical. It also gave him the opportunity to complete 8 out of the 11 safety tickets required to enter the Oil and Gas Field Operators course at Northern Lights College.
"Thanks to Shell Canada, there was no out of pocket expense for me or my family for my safety training. Shell paid my costs, which was a huge help," Elliott says. "The teacher was very helpful in communicating with the companies who instructed these courses and for that I am thankful as well. This is truly an awesome course to have at the high school."
In June Elliott will be starting a two-week (80 hour) practicum with Bonavista Energy. He's on his way to the career of his dreams. Best of luck, Elliot!
Do you know a student like Elliot who deserves some recognition in our newsletter? Drop us a line with the details at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Discover Skills BC Show us Your Skills Video Contest
The Discover Skills BC Show Us Your Skills student video contest is back. This is a great opportunity for your students to create a short, 2-minute video about a trade or technology that excites them. Students can win a Mac Book Air and $2,000 for their school if their video is chosen as the winner.
The top 10 videos will be judged by celebrity judges including Mike Holmes (Holmes on Homes), Spencer Thompson (Sokanu) and Shelley Robinson (Top Chef Canada & Vancouver Community College Instructor). 3 winners will be chosen.
Deadline for entries is May 21, 2014. Winners will be announced June 26, 2014.
For more information and to download a contest poster for your classroom, please visit http://discoverskillsbc.ca/videocontest/.
Ministry Contact Information for Sending WorkSafeBC Student Injury Reports
If one of your students is injured on a school-approved and unpaid work-experience placement at a standard worksite, you're must submit a copy of the WorkSafeBC Injury Report (Form 7) and the Student's Work Experience Agreement (pp. 27-28 here) to the Ministry of Education as soon as possible. These forms can be scanned and emailed, faxed, or mailed to us for processing. Glenn Rowan, who previously was in this position, has a new role within the Ministry of Education. WorkSafeBC claims should now be sent to Di Byrne:
- Email: email@example.com
- Fax: (250) 356-8334
- Mailing Address: PO Box 9887, STN PROV GOVT, 4th Floor,
- 620 Superior St. Victoria BC V8W 9T6
To review the Program Guide for Ministry-Authorized Work Experience Courses please visit
CBC Ideas Podcast: The Revolution Will Be Extruded
There's a lot of buzz about 3-D printers - skin grafts! Pizza in space! But as Regina computer scientist David Gerhard discovers, these machines, and the people who use them, are about to revolutionize the way we think about manufacturing, and how we get stuff.
Calendar of Events
May 7-10: Heavy Metal Rocks (SD #27: Cariboo-Chilcotin)
Contact: Gordon Armour firstname.lastname@example.org 250-305-4351
May 14: YES 2 IT (SD #85: Vancouver Island North)
Explore hands-on activities in AST, carpentry, hairdressing, welding and pipe fitting. Informational booths will show case these careers.
Contact: Kathleen McArthur email@example.com
May 26-30: Project Heavy Duty (SD #60: Peace River North)
Annual, 4 day field trip presenting students with opportunities to learn how to operate and maintain heavy duty machinery (ex., backhoes, cranes, loaders, side booms, etc.) at a real construction site, under the supervision of industry professionals. Provides networking opportunities - when the employers on site observe students who are keen and willing to learn, many are hired directly from this project. Earns students 2 credits towards graduation.
Jeff Mayer firstname.lastname@example.org 250-785-4429, ext. 323
Richard Koop, Project Coordinator (250) 261-1456
Don Goodbun, Industry Consultant (250) 261-0132
May 29: YES 2 IT: (SD #82: Coast Mountain)
Tour of the trades in the community with a stop at the local trades shops. They will have a Q and A session with each tradesperson. Hands-on activities include building a model house in small groups. Parent invitation to view project and this will lead to a Q and A session on youth programs.
Contact: Cory Killoran email@example.com
June 4-7: 20th Annual Skills Canada National Competition (Toronto)
June 9 – 24: YES 2 IT (SD #54: Bulkley Valley)
Students from all elementary schools will rotate in all 4 different trades in 80 minute blocks. One hour lunch and 15 minute break. Students pick 3 trades and the 4th trade is selected by the instructor to expose students to something new. Existing high school students will be used as mentors.
Contact: Monica Strimbold firstname.lastname@example.org