All posts by Petra Willemse

Teacher of English and Math at Seycove Secondary in North Vancouver.

PLP Recognized as Apple Distinguished Program

On Tuesday, December 6th, 2016, Apple officially named the Performance Learning Program (PLP) an Apple Distinguished Program.

This honour is presented to programs demonstrating innovation, leadership and educational excellence.

Students, parents, and PLP teachers, both current and alumni, attended the presentation of the honour, joining MLA Jane Thornthwaite, Superintendent Mark Pearmain, Assistant Superintendents Pius Ryan and Chris Atkinson, as well as members of the school board in the celebration. 

PLP is the first secondary program designated with this honour in British Columbia, with fewer than a handful of school or programs designated as Apple Distinguished in Canada.

Our teachers are proud of the work that our students have done and accept this recognition on all their behalf.

Read more about the event on the school district’s site.

PLP Takes on Destination Imagination!

This year we started a new program in our Maker Time class: Destination Imagination. This program provides fun and engaging challenges as part of a system of learning to teach creativity, the creative process, and interpersonal and management skills to help students reach their highest potential. We were excited to launch it in our school!

Apex Practicing an Instant Challenge
Apex Practicing an Instant Challenge
Navig8 Practicing an Instant Challenge
Navig8 Practicing an Instant Challenge

Destination Imagination has two parts: an instant challenge and a team challenge. Both of these are key components that teams compete in at regional and provincial tournaments. Then, the top teams are invited to compete at the global tournament held in Knoxville, Tennessee.

We began with having Joan Vyner, Director of Destination Imagination BC, come in to the Maker classes and lead an Instant Challenge, as well as give an overview of the challenges.

Students then picked a challenge to work on and teams got to work! Every Maker Time class, we pushed teams to compete in instant challenges, and complete plans for their team challenge.

The hard work paid off as students entered the regional competition in Burnaby on February 27, 2016. Competing at the Middle level was our four teams from Navig8, and at the Secondary level our four teams from Apex competed.

We were very pleased with the students’ performances at the regional competition. Five teams finished in the top three of their competition categories and three teams placed first overall in the Instant Challenge category.

Navig8 student, Quinn Helgason, of Seycove 7 gets ready to present at Provincials!
Navig8 student, Quinn Helgason, of Seycove 7 gets ready to present at Provincials!

Of special note was the Seycove 7 middle level team: Sofia Bergman, Mimi Zanker, Quinn Helgason, Spencer Laube, Lucas Ospino, Calum Owen, and James Seed who won the prestigious DaVinci Award at the tournament for outstanding creativity in their challenge solution.

Also the Camo Flock: Anatolia Floe, Michael Fourie, Nolan Carey, Mike Crema, Gabrielle Rossignol, and Jacob Goodman, took first place in the scientific category at the secondary level AND won their Instant Challenge category.

Seycove 7 shows off their Provincial Tournament winnings!
Seycove 7 shows off their Provincial Tournament winnings!

Both Seycove 7 and Camo Flock went forward and competed at the provincial tournaments with Seycove 7 coming in second in their category and Camo Flock coming in first in the province for their category.

We could not be more proud of ALL the PLP students who worked so hard on their challenge solutions. Well done!

Apex Heads to Seattle!

Apex students had a great field study in Seattle from September 18 to 19, 2015. You can see some more of the photos below.

Apex student Zak Rook interviews one of the creators of Titanboa for his podcast.

This field study’s goals were twofold: get some practice at podcasting (our skill for Apex) and check out the Seattle Mini Maker Faire to get some inspiration!

Along the way, we also got to check out the Star Wars costume exhibit at the EMP and take in the new movie, “Everest” (students read the book Into Thin Air last year in FLIGHT).

Apex students, Gabi Rossignol, Anatolia Floe, and Marley Harman try a Mini Maker Faire challenge!


Of course, we also had some good food and great singing on the bus! Looking forward to taking this group to Victoria next month!


PLP Presents at ISTE

Last week, Petra Willemse shared our project “Rise of the Frankenstuffies” at the International Society for Technology in Education (ISTE) conference in Philadelphia.Frankenstuffie poster session

As a prize winning submission in Project ReimaginEd, the project was part of a poster session in the morning and a panel presentation in the afternoon. If you were kind enough to stop by the poster session or the panel, Petra gave you a card with a link to this site for more information.

The entire project can be found for free in iTunes U. The course contains all the content we teach in the unit and some exemplars of the students’ work.

You can also see an interview Tony Vincent did with Petra at the event here.

We love hearing what you are doing in your classroom and sharing ideas. Please email us at any time for more information or to share your thoughts.

Have a fantastic summer everyone!

Calgary Science School Professional Development

On May 24 to 26, the FLIGHT teachers had the opportunity for more professional development. Bryan Hughes, Petra Willemse, Nancy Roberts and Greg Hockley attended the ConnectEd Conference at the Calgary Science School.

ConnectEd is a different type of conference. Its focus is on creating connections and conversations on things happening in the world of education.  People from around Canada joined in on these conversations, and continued to build connections long after the conference.  It was also an opportunity to check out the classrooms of a very innovative school and bring ideas back to our own classrooms.

The FLIGHT team also hosted a session on our own program, so people could learn about running a project-based learning program within a public school.

As is always the case with these events, we learned a lot and have taken a lot away to think about. Thank you so much to Dr. David Overgaard for supporting our visit.



‘iPad Takes FLIGHT’ Again

The FLIGHT 10 students had a second opportunity to give their presentation ‘iPad Takes FLIGHT: 40 tips’ at the recent NVTA Professional Day at Carson Graham.

The event was open to all teachers in the District and our morning and afternoon sessions were completely filled up. The FLIGHT students did a great job sharing their tips and the audience truly appreciated how professionally the students handled themselves.

California FLIGHT 10

On January 25, 17 FLIGHT 10 students plus Mr. Bryan Hughes, Ms. Petra Willemse and Ms. Nancy Roberts, left from Bellingham to travel to San Diego.

This trip had a lot of background planning months in advance to have it happen. Beginning with the HTH residency the FLIGHT teachers attended in October, we knew we had to have our students see what project-based learning could be first hand. We wanted to take our students to High Tech High.

And so, that’s where we found ourselves from January 25 to 29 in San Diego visiting High Tech High. FLIGHT students got a chance to do a tour with HTH students and follow them from class to class. Our students were surprised to see the depth of the learning and engagement that the HTH students showed.

We also got to visit some of the area highlights, including the Midway, Sea World, and Cabrillo National Monument.

By January 29th, we were on the move again. Flying from San Diego to San Jose. From a hotel in Silicon Valley, we were able to day trip and explore several of the tech giants in the Valley, including Google, Intel and Apple. Stops included the Computer History Museum and Stanford.

Finally on January 31st we made our way to San Francisco to attend MacWorld. It was an honour for our FLIGHT 10 students to present their workshop ‘iPad Takes FLIGHT: 40 tips’ at the conference. Students had prepared for months and took this as an opportunity to shine.

With the conference over, it was time to head for home. Twenty happy and exhausted Seycove students and teachers returned!

Presentations of Learning

On the evening of January 16, 2013, FLIGHT held out first presentations of learning night. FLIGHT students had prepared for this evening for months in advance, making sure their projects were ready for a wide audience.

FLIGHT 9 students were presenting their Shoebox of Exploration. Their shoeboxes contained artifacts that told the story of an exploration to a place new to them. They included maps, diaries and even photos of their fantastic journey.

FLIGHT 10 students were presenting their Truth of Memory project. The shadow boxes and stories were all posted on the walls of the Hangar.

We had a good turnout of parents, staff and even some our seniors from the Memory project. Dr. Overgaard also shared his comments on the year in FLIGHT so far.

Thank you to all the FLIGHT students who came and showed their work.

FLIGHT 10 Project

This Grade 10 FLIGHT project asked students to discover the truth in memory.

Students were paired with a classmate to interview a local senior. After the interview, students individually wrote a biographical narrative in the first person about one of their senior’s stories. Multiple drafts and more interviews later, students completed their stories.

At the same time, students also constructed a shadow box from wood, painted it, and created a visual representation of their story. A huge thanks to Mr. Gord Muter and Mr. Darcy Grant for helping in the wood shop.

Finally, students used VoiceThread to tell the story orally using their own narration and recordings from the interviews they conducted of the seniors. You can access their VoiceThread and leave your own comments by visiting the FLIGHT 10 student blogs.

All the products from this project are displayed beside the partner’s version of the same product. This was purposeful so we can reflect on how perspective can alter a narrative.

We want to thank the seniors who allowed us to interview them for this amazing opportunity. Please come by the FLIGHT Hangar to see the students’ hard work.