North Vancouver School District #44

Notes from the desk of John Lewis, Superintendent of Schools

North Vancouver School District #44

Archives for Instructional Practice

Curriculum Implementation Day – January 9, 2015

The theme for this year’s Curriculum Implementation Day was Transforming Curriculum: Understanding the New Core Competencies.

Staff across our school district worked in their Family of Schools teams and learned about BC’s Curriculum Transformation planned for implementation in September 2016. Activities and discussion involved working through the new learning standards and core competencies.

I’d like to thank Learning Services and the Joint Education and Program Implementation Committee for organizing the materials and shape of the day, and staff for their participation.


To learn more about BC’s new curriculum, go to:

Watch this blog for information about our Re-Designs Series 2015, starting January 27th.

Aboriginal Success Story

Brad Baker was recently featured in the North Shore News:

In this article, Brad speaks about his experiences as our District’s first Aboriginal teacher, working with Aboriginal youth, and the way Aboriginal culture is being honoured today.  Brad also speaks candidly about his family and how they have had an impact on his career choices and aspirations.

In November, Brad was awarded the Indigenous Educator Award in Leadership in Toronto:

Furthering Brad’s work in promoting success with our First Nations students, the Aboriginal Education Team will be showcasing students of Aboriginal ancestry in our District in an initiative of the North Vancouver School District in conjunction with the BC Ministry of Education Aboriginal Education. I thank Brad and the Aboriginal Education Team for providing these experiences and opportunities for our First Nation students.


National Education Leadership Award

I was deeply honoured to attend the National Gathering for Indigenous education last week in Toronto, Ontario.  The Guiding the Journey conference featured innovative practices in Indigenous Education and the Guiding the Journey Educator Awards.  Brad Baker, our District Administrator for Aboriginal Education along with Stephanie Maki, Carson Graham teacher, presented the North Vancouver School District story, highlighting the tremendous progress achieved within our schools and community in supporting First Nations Education for all students.  A most appreciative audience of more than 100 educators from across Canada were greatly impressed by the progress achieved in our School District and the leadership being provided in First Nations Education.


In recognition of his dedication and leadership in First Nations Education within the North Vancouver School District and Canada, Brad Baker received a National Indigenous Educator Award for Leadership.  I can justifiably say how proud we are as a school district for Brad’s dedicated commitment and contribution to our students’ continued progress and to our own learning and understanding.


Hoy Chewx a!

Thank you!

Harvard Scholar Visits North Vancouver

On Monday November 3rd 2014 Dr. Ron Ritchhart, a Senior Research Associate at Harvard University’s Project Zero, spoke to an audience of over 100 North Vancouver School District leaders.  In attendance were School and District Administrators, NVTA Executive members, Family of Schools Leaders and Teacher Leaders, Secondary Department Heads, and other teacher leaders from across the School District.

Ron’s engaging talk focused on teaching for deep understanding, the development of intellectual character, and the important role that educational leaders play in the development of school and classroom cultures that make students’ thinking valued, visible, and actively promoted in classrooms.

Ron’s research and writings, particularly his framework for understanding group culture, have informed the work of schools throughout the world. His latest book, Making Thinking Visible written with Mark Church and Karin Morrison, takes readers inside a diverse range of learning environments to show how thinking can be made visible at any level and across all subject areas through the use of effective questioning, listening, documentation, and facilitative structures called thinking routines.

Making Thinking Visible

Our School District leaders were very appreciative of the opportunity to hear Ron speak in North Vancouver.  Ron is a keynote speaker for the 2014-2015 Lower Mainland Coast Metro workshop series, which began on November 4th and continues until April 2015. A team of 16 North Vancouver School District teacher leaders will participate in the Coast Metro series and apply Ron’s research to the development of our January 9th Curriculum Implementation Day and the Designs 2015 workshop series.

We believe that Ron’s work with schools and school systems across the world aligns well with the transformation of BC’s curriculum and will support our educators in prioritizing the processes of thinking and learning in classrooms.  Specifically, Ron’s emphasis on thinking and the practical classroom strategies, resources, and assessment tools he provides will greatly enhance our implementation of the new Core Thinking Competency.

Joanne Robertson is first graduate of Transformational Change Doctor of Education Program at SFU

SFU has introduced a new graduate diploma program in Advanced Professional Studies, developed in partnership with the North Vancouver School District: Frameworks for Innovative Teacher Collaboration and Inquiry. The program was inspired by Joanne Robertson, Director of Learning Services, and her thesis titled: Passion-Based Learning: The Design and Implementation of a New Approach to Project-Based Learning (PBL) for Alternative Education. Joanne successfully defended her thesis in November 2013 and was the first graduate of the Transformational Change Doctor of Education Program at SFU. Click HERE to view thesis.

Joanne’s research on project based learning in an Alternative School emphasizes the importance of positive teacher-student relationships, staff collaboration, and administrative support in student engagement. She was recently featured on the SFU Faculty of Education website: We are extremely proud of Joanne’s work!

The Frameworks for Innovative Teacher Collaboration and Inquiry diploma program will  be offered this fall.


Deakin University (Melbourne, Australia) Memorandum of Understanding

At the December 10th Public Board Meeting the motion to endorse a Memorandum of Understanding with Deakin University to formalize the relationship between our two educational institutions and to support continued cooperation in areas of mutual interest was moved and carried.

Screen Shot 2014-03-28 at 8.36.39 AMFor the past three years our School District has hosted pre-service teachers from Deakin University who are equivalent to a third or fourth year education student at a Canadian University. These student teachers spend three weeks teaching in our classrooms as part of their course “Teaching in a Global World”. As a result of their participation, Australian pre-service teachers are gaining a deeper understanding of teaching practices in Canada.

Feedback has been positive from the pre-service teachers, their Canadian sponsor teachers, and our students. Through this partnership there are increased professional opportunities to learn from each other through open discussion and the sharing of expertise. The exchanging of educational resource materials that are of mutual interest and academic staff collaboration in research are further areas to  be considered.

Screen Shot 2014-03-28 at 8.36.09 AMThe Memorandum of Understanding sets out the intent to enter into a cooperative relationship with the aim of developing and fostering academic links between our two institutions.

Class Acts: A celebration of education in North Vancouver School District – Week 1

As Class Acts: A Celebration of Education in North Vancouver School District comes to a close it is time to reflect on the past two weeks of events and recognize the efforts of everyone involved in helping to make this a special celebration of the teaching and learning in our school district. A special thanks to this year’s Class Acts committee Chanin Leoni, Ray Bodnaruk, Yolande Martinello, Scott Stanley, Jane Lagden Holborne, Victoria Miles, and Bill Piggott. We sincerely appreciate the work of the committee in coordinating the many events held during this period of celebration.

Intermediate Music Festival / Band & Strings Festival

Last week we held the Intermediate Music Festival at Centennial Theatre and the Band and Strings Festival in the Lucas Gym. Both festivals were well received and well-attended. The Intermediate Music Festival featured groups from 16 different schools – thank you to Michele Denny and Margaret Inglis who spearheaded the festival and coordinated all the groups. The Band and Strings festival involved school groups from our elementary schools performing for one another over two days and was a great opportunity for listening and sharing and to receive feedback and suggestions from the Adjudicator, Lasse Leslie. Thanks to Bill Piggott for organizing this event. We recognize the many hours of planning that goes into these festivals, and of course the practicing that happens behind the scenes leading up to the performances. We are extremely proud of both these events which highlight the talents of our students and teachers. Congratulations to all who participated this year!

Exhibition of student artwork

Over 500 people attended the celebration of the Artists for Kids afterschool art programs and the exhibition of artwork created by students of the 2013-14 Art Enrichment Programs at the Gordon Smith Gallery of Canadian Art. Thank you to Daylen Luchsinger and Yolande Martinello who organized both of these showcases of student art which were thoroughly enjoyed by the students, parents, and staff.


District Student Leadership Council Forum on Assessment – March 12, 2014

On Wednesday, March 12, 2014 student groups from our secondary schools participated in a forum hosted by our District Student Leadership Council called “Assessing Our Assessment”. This forum took place at the Education Services Centre and provided a unique opportunity for students to share their ideas and discuss how assessment impacts the way they learn.

Gathering student perspectives on assessment is timely as we continue to examine the processes we use to gather information on learning and performance. Assessment is one of our Four Pillars of Educational Practice and was recently the focus of our Designs 2014 professional development series. It was one of the main topics of discussion during Curriculum Implementation Day in January and the new Handbook for Assessment, Evaluation and Reporting was published in February. This handbook was developed to support teachers in developing consistent and effective assessment practices that will enhance student learning and achievement.

We were pleased to hear the student voice on how assessment impacts their learning and efficacy in the classroom as part of our Class Acts: A Celebration of Education in North Vancouver School District. Information gathered from this student-led forum will be presented to the School District, the Board of Education and the Ministry.

DSLC Forum 2014

Designs Series 2014 – focus on assessment

Once again the School District’s Designs Series drew a record number of participants.  This popular series continues to grow each year as a mainstay of the district’s professional development in-service.  We were delighted to see so many school teams and Family of School (FOS) teams interested in pursuing discussions around assessment from Curriculum Implementation Day.Design 2014

The focus of the 2014 Designs series was North Vancouver School District’s new Communicating Student Learning: Handbook for Assessment, Evaluation and Reporting, a document which focuses on Ten Principles of Assessment and the year-long assessment cycle. Each of the three part series focused on one aspect of the cycle:  creating balanced and authentic assessments, stating learning targets, providing quality formative assessment and effectively using peer and self-assessment.


Teachers were provided with many practical tips and resources to continue their professional growth in the area of assessment.  Many thanks to the District Assessment Team, a very dedicated group of educators, who were instrumental in developing the plans for both Curriculum Implementation Day and the Designs 2014 Series.    Our staff are encouraged to watch for more information and in-service opportunities related to the Assessment handbook in the late spring 2014.

Teacher group

Teachers can access the Assessment Handbook on the portal  >> District >> Learning Services >> Resources >> Service Delivery Models.

Making the Challenge: fuelling learning with invention

MakerPhoto1 7Feb14

February 24, 2014

At the February 7th District-wide professional day, some 40 educators chose to take part in a “learning by doing” Maker Day experience to activate their creative imaginations and tap into their tinkering skills.

In true maker style, the half-day event challenged small groups to collaborate on inventing a prototype to assist homeless citizens with their needs for shelter, warmth, mobility, personal security, nutrition, hygiene or social connections. The prototype could address any one of these needs, or a combination of them at once.

Using the basic tools and resources provided, the groups created a number of purposeful prototypes including two transportable shelters (one even had a special place for a pet) and a mobile shower/clothes washing and washroom facility. A mock-up design for a parking metre featured a sensory grid so that if a homeless person wanted family to know they were safe, they could put their palm on the metre to relay a communication to their family.  The idea included an electrically activated thermal capacity for a blanket to be wrapped around the metre and warmed.

This inventive professional development event also featured presentations by Vancouver Mini-Maker Faire and an introduction to the book Invent to Learn: Making, Tinkering and Engineering in the Classroom by Sylvia Libow Martinez and Gary Stager.

With their own Maker Day experience under their tool belt, the educators who participated in this professional development option are now equipped to help spread maker-inspired project-based learning possibilities back to their schools.