Magazine article Teach

No Bells or Classrooms at St Joseph Catholic High School

Magazine article Teach

No Bells or Classrooms at St Joseph Catholic High School

Article excerpt

Students at St. Joseph Catholic High School don't bother listening for a bell to signal class changes. There isn't one.

Located in Edmonton, Alberta, St. Joseph Catholic High School is four floors in height and has a student enrollment of over 990 (projected to reach 1300 when renovations are completed). Since opening in 1931, the school has undergone four major renovations. The most recent, that began in 1997 and will be completed early in 2000, has changed the school's infrastructure. More significantly, there are major changes as to how students are educated.

The school has been completely wired with fibre optic cable that networks all of the computers together. St. Joseph's administration and faculty have also rewritten the curriculum to enable students to learn independently.

"At St. Joseph, there are no classrooms or bells. Students work at their own pace with the support of assigned Teacher Advisors," said Terry Bruchal, Technical Coordinator. "Students work with their advisors and plan courses to fit their schedule. As a result, the route the student often takes to complete the curriculum is varied."

In 1997, St. Joseph's administration decided to join the Canadian Coalition for Self-Directed Learning (CCSDL), a network of 9 schools across Canada sharing the common mission of empowering students to realize their full potential by providing a supportive educational environment that recognizes their individuality. The first year was spent reorganizing and re-writing the curriculum in the form of learning guides. By September 1998, students in grades 10-12 were provided with the printed guides for the various courses they needed to complete at their own pace. Each five-credit course can have as many as 25 learning guides. Students meet with their advisors to review their schedule, present their progress on instructional material, have assignments marked, or prepare for exams.

To support the students, the school has established several large Learning Centres consisting of pentagon-shaped work areas containing Macintosh computers. Currently, the school has 275 Macs on its network and plans to expand that number to 450 within the next few years. In the Learning Centres, all of the computers are linked to the school's "Central Server Farm", which consists of three Macintosh servers running Apple Share IP 6. …

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