In the Keewatin-Patricia District School Board, we offer child-centred and developmentally appropriate kindergarten programs that provide a foundation for children’s educational careers. Our kindergarten classrooms provide rich learning environments for four- and five-year-olds to prepare them for success through Grade 12 and beyond.
We are proud to offer 34 Kindergarten programs within our 16 elementary schools, providing rich learning experiences designed to support individual learners’ growth in each class. Our two-year programs serve 575 children throughout the region.
Educators in our classrooms foster children’s natural curiosity, often allowing students to direct the learning in their areas of interest using authentic and hands-on learning opportunities, all while supporting the development of a strong foundation in literacy and numeracy.
Our educators recognize the many benefits of learning outdoors. In addition to spending time in fresh air and sunlight, outdoor learning also allows children to explore the natural world, providing unforgettable experiences and promoting the rich vocabulary development.
Valleyview Public School in Kenora and New Prospect Public School in Dryden offer French Immersion Kindergarten Programs. Children are immersed in the French language for 100% of their classroom day. This rich language environment provides children with a solid foundation in French while also providing them with experiences and strategies to promote the growth of their English skills.
Our kindergarten programs regularly adapt to meet the needs and interests of children, whether these needs are related to skill development, culturally responsive instruction, or public health requirements, among many others. Educators have commented specifically on the joy children have in returning to in-person learning, and we share that joy in learning with them.
Partnerships – Childcare Providers
Our partnerships with childcare providers throughout the region remain strong. One of the highlights of these partnerships involved joint professional learning in developing a common understanding of the best practices in our shared work with children in the early years. These partnerships also included the establishment of emergency childcare in the spring of 2021 to provide support for frontline workers at no cost. We continue to work with our partners to enhance and expand childcare spaces in our schools so that families have access to quality childcare.
We continue to strengthen our partnerships with early years service providers to better support children and their families. We are proud to continue to work with the Kenora District Services Board and our childcare operators to ensure that families are supported. KPDSB is extremely grateful to our early years partners for the continued dedication and hard work in providing services to families throughout the district.
Keewatin-Patricia District School Board (KPDSB) ConnectEd is a unique program that provides increased course opportunities and equity of access to student programming. Some schools may not offer a course because of insufficient registration or interest. In this situation, one secondary school will offer the course and students in other schools will be able to register and participate from a distance. Other benefits of this type of programming include student participation in a learning experience they will likely encounter in postsecondary education, the acquisition of relevant educational skills and the ability to collaborate and learn with students across the system. ConnectEd also builds on independent learning skills, accommodates a range of learning styles and supports solving timetable conflicts students may encounter in their home schools.
A virtual meeting application such as Google Meet provides access to instruction, and a learning management system like Google Classroom is used to organize the course content, track student work and progress, provide continual access to learning materials and support the virtual social learning experience. Depending on the number of students participating, students from a school may work collaboratively in an assigned location or independently from a shared workspace like the school library.
ConnectEd programming continues to grow at KPDSB. In the 2021–2022 school year, there are fifteen synchronous Connected courses and three asynchronous (eLearning) ConnectEd courses scheduled. These are hosted by four secondary schools and include participating students from all six secondary schools (including students who selected remote learning for the first half of this school year).
KPDSB continues to run dual credit college courses that, as well as counting toward their postsecondary certificate, diploma, degree or Certificate of Apprenticeship, will count toward their Ontario Secondary School Diploma. Students taking dual credits benefit from the supervision and support of their college instructor and a secondary teacher in their school. Students also have access to college services and supports they wouldn’t have otherwise. Dual credit programs help students understand their postsecondary opportunities, gain insight into the decisions they must make near the end of their secondary education and ease their transition to postsecondary choices.
Most of KPDSB’s dual credit programming runs in the second half of the school year. However, in the first half of the 2020–2021 school year are two college-delivered programs: Welding T-Joints/Manufacturing Technology at Beaver Brae Secondary School and Career Employment Preparation at Red Lake District High School.
In KPDSB Pathways, students use a four-step inquiry process to help develop the knowledge and skills necessary to make informed education, career and life choices. This involves learning both inside and outside of the classroom that guides students to explore the following questions:
- Who am I?
- What are my opportunities?
- Who do I want to become?
- What is my plan for achieving my goals?
Students document and regularly review their learning in education, career and life planning in their Individual Pathways Plan (IPP) in myBlueprint. Using this web-based tool, students draft their future, increasing awareness of their personal strengths and interests and related opportunities for learning (secondary courses or postsecondary opportunities) and work. The development of the IPP helps students take responsibility for their learning and planning for their future.
Grade 7 and 8 students explore secondary school programs that focus on their individual interests, strengths, needs and aspirations; they are then supported in making successful transitions to postsecondary programs in apprenticeship, college, university, the community and the workplace.
In 2021–2022, the Pathways team will focus on developing and implementing a Certification, Microcredentials and Skills Training (C/MST) program to provide students with learning opportunities from presenters from various career sectors in their community, region and beyond. Examples of these focus areas for training include customer service, leadership skills, conflict resolution, public speaking, and safe work skills. As students participate in these experiences, their Pathways teachers add badges to students’ record sheets, to be formally presented to them at their Grade 8 graduation. Connecting students to the broader community is important to support student decision-making about their future.
Experiential Learning and Outdoor Education
Outdoor education is well established within the KPDSB, with formal programming in high schools (PAD1/2/3/4O), Intermediate Outdoor Pursuits Academies, Forest Schools, and educators who embed outdoor learning into their everyday programming.
In the fall of 2021, several educators from around the board were provided with new and re-certification in wilderness first aid. Investing in this high-quality programming inspires educators to continue their good work while providing needed safety training for their courses to operate.
Experiential learning has expanded throughout the KPDSB, specifically in our Pathways programming. Staff members have been encouraged to use the Experiential Learning Cycle—Experience, Reflect, Apply with Instructional Coaching from the LEL. A partnership with Actua, a national organization, which promotes STEM experiences for students provided Intermediate students in some KPDSB schools with an opportunity to participate in a hands- on activity to learn about the rich history and culture of Indigenous people. Students build kits which include Tikinagans, Qamutiks, and Canoes all while learning in a culturally relevant and responsive way.
KPDSB educators had the opportunity to apply for project-based funding and support to bring experiential learning into their schools and classrooms. Projects focused on grades 7–12, with links to experiential learning and outdoor education, often connecting with local business sectors, elders, and other community and regional experts.
Specialist High Skills Major Programs
Specialist High Skills Major (SHSM) programming can help students develop specialized knowledge and skills in a specific sector and gain certification, training and industry-recognized credits. These skills can help the students more easily transition into a sector or field and engage in activities and experiences that support innovation, creativity and entrepreneurship.
KPDSB is now running 18 SHSM programs, with two new programs for 2021–2022: Arts and Culture at Beaver Brae Secondary School and Health & Wellness at Ignace School. Our program enrolment has increased to 371 current KPDSB students in Grades 11 and 12. We continue to explore opportunities that are reflective of our students’ strengths and interests and that support equity of opportunity. Our program completion rates are in line with provincial trends. KPDSB received expansion funding in 2021–2022 for course provision in technological education and cooperative education and system innovation monies for an SHSM itinerant technology teacher and for an innovation project at Sioux North High School.
Through the application for SHSM expansion funding in 2020–2021, KPDSB has been able to create the position of SHSM itinerant technology teacher. This role serves to support the delivery of secondary technological education courses at Crolancia School and Ignace School and promote skilled trades to students in Grades 7 and 8 throughout the system.
Having an itinerant technology teacher provides equity of program access for students in all communities, especially smaller and more remote schools. It is hoped that through participating in technological education programming and being exposed to skilled trades, students will consider this pathway as they plan their future. It is also hoped that they will consider enrolling in an SHSM program to continue to build their knowledge, skills and experiences in the trades.
The teacher in this position travels to schools that are equipped to offer a technology course but are unable to staff technological education positions. The students will have the ability to learn and excel in a hands-on environment, which may not have been possible in the past. Now, SHSM accreditations can be given to students, and these smaller schools can more easily meet the SHSM course requirements. Students who receive SHSM accreditations may have more postsecondary opportunities. All students working with the SHSM itinerant technology teacher will learn more about their secondary and postsecondary opportunities and develop hands-on skills that will allow them to further their postsecondary career paths. The SHSM itinerant technology teacher will also support schools to improve their access to community and industry partners in the trade and technology sectors. This will support reach-ahead and cooperative education placements for students in all communities.
Bundled Credit Programs
Beaver Brae Secondary School and Sioux North High School have expanded their courses and programming in land-based learning from 2020 to 2021. Students in Grade 9 at Beaver can participate in a land-based bundle credit, including Anishinaabemowin (LNOAO), Outdoor Education (PAD1O) and Science (SNC1). Students participate in various regular land-based learning opportunities, including outdoor education. They learn from elders and local community members while connecting Indigenous knowledge with language. Students have participated in learning events, such as making traditional mittens and ice fishing with a local guide and Elder Bert Landon.
Sioux North offered a double-credit land-based course (IDC4O and NBV3C), including Traditional Harvesting. Also, a single credit IDC3O—Sustainability through Outdoor Pursuits—was developed in Fall 2021, with an exciting new partnership with the local Ministry of Natural Resources District Office.
Ontario Youth Apprenticeship Program
The Ontario Youth Apprenticeship Program (OYAP) is a high school program allowing students to try various apprenticeship-based careers in skilled trades, starting in Grade 11 or Grade 12, through the Cooperative Education Program. As such, you can jump-start your career by counting your co-op/OYAP hours towards your apprenticeship! Visit oyap.com or kpdsbpathways.ca to learn more.
Secondary Instructional Leader Sessions
Area Leaders (PARs) from all KPDSB schools regularly participate in learning sessions focused on quality assessment and evaluation strategies (Growing Success Policy). Learning collaboratively with opportunities to discuss research-based practices and implementation in various subject areas across the system has enhanced the network of experienced and talented KPDSB educators and our board goal to improve student achievement for all students. Area leaders have invited Sandra Herbst, an expert in assessment practices who has worked with school boards across Canada and internationally, to join the KPDSB team and share strategies to support students in meeting the overall expectations of the curriculum and becoming engaged and informed learners.
Extended Year Programming
Extended Year Programming can be a valuable tool to support students in learning recovery, reengagement, and transitioning. In some cases, ensuring students meet specific program requirements also helps.
[WE1] At the secondary level, this for-credit programming may come in the form of summer classes, Reach-Ahead opportunities for students in Grade 8 transitioning to secondary school, or night school classes.
The Elementary Summer Learning program continues to be funded by the Council of Ontario Directors of Education (CODE) [WE2] and available to KPDSB students. The program is designed to reach the most vulnerable students to offer learning that continues from the previous year and supports the students in literacy, numeracy and social-emotional learning to prevent summer learning loss. The Summer Learning program continues to reach our Keewatin-Patricia students, who have the highest need for continued learning support through the summer. The program is inclusive and offers many learning opportunities, meeting the needs of all participating students in many areas, such as academic, social, emotional and mental health. This past summer, we offered five programs with registration numbers meeting the minimum registration amount (minimum of 15, maximum of 20)—three programs in Kenora, one in Dryden and one in Ear Falls. All five programs were face-to-face, following COVID guidelines set by the Ministry and NWHU. [WE3]
Due to the global pandemic, more mental health funding was provided to school boards for the second summer in a row. The funding provided intended to ensure boards could provide mental health and transition supports throughout July and August. Thus, the board used funds to retain three student counsellors for recruitment and orientation purposes and developing new and existing resources.
The Beaver Brae Garden Project (Growing the Future and Gichi-Mino-Gitigaani Bimaadiiziwin)[WE1] was a collaborative effort by the Ministry of Child and Family Services, Kenora, Rainy River Child and Family Services, Anishinaabe Abinoojii Family Services and the Keewatin-Patricia District School Board. The ministry’s funding enabled KPDSB and local community agencies to work collaboratively to provide a unique opportunity for students identified as needing extra support. This summer program is supported by a close working relationship between the board and the community partners, who were highly responsive to students’ learning needs, goals and interests.
The Beaver Brae Garden Project was a six-week paid summer cooperative education program, providing students with secondary credits and an opportunity to build and strengthen employability skills, as well as critical transferable skills such as teamwork, problem-solving, financial literacy, entrepreneurship and creativity. Students were responsible for creating a garden, planting, growing, harvesting and marketing the vegetables. They learned about maintaining soil conditions, horticulture and trade-based skills such as carpentry, as they designed and constructed benches, equipment storage and raised garden beds. The program provided them with support from caring adults, a connection to positive role models and an authentic learning opportunity during the summer. This program was loved by students, staff and the community.
Transition to Secondary
The shift from elementary to secondary is an important transition for students and KPDSB staff from both panels worked together to ensure a positive transition to grade 9 for all students. Developmentally, this age is challenging, students are impressionable and supports such as strengthening positive peer relationships, getting to know the caring adults and knowing where to go for support is important. Because this is the first time students choose their courses for high school, staff ensure students have an understanding of the many diverse programs and pathways options available. Making informed decisions helps to ensure a successful start in a new school. The transition to high school for the 21 22 grade 9 students was unique in that many of our transition activities and events took place virtually and staff were innovative in the ways they created online communities to share information and answer any questions that the grade 8’s had about high school. Students met with teachers, guidance counsellors, graduation coaches and other dedicated staff to talk about high school courses and to participate in virtual tours.
Numeracy and Destreamed Math
Math Learning Labs
In March 2021, KPDSB began learning labs in one area; by September, the labs had been expanded to include all areas of the board with in-person visits. The learning labs involve math teachers from Grade 7 to Grade 10. The goal of the learning labs is for teachers to have an opportunity to coplan, coteach, develop a common language and learn from each other. Every area selected a math process from the curriculum that they wanted their students to better understand, which was the focus of the work for the year. We will have four meetings during the year in each area, which allow us to visit different classrooms. Involving elementary and secondary teachers will allow in-depth conversations around pedagogy, curriculum content and destreaming. Through their work, students will become more confident learners and see themselves as mathematicians who value mistakes as opportunities to learn and grow. A closer look is needed at the pedagogy, instruction and assessment practices that will be used to shift students’ and teachers’ thinking.
Elementary K–8 Math
As KPDSB continues to implement the new math curriculum, educators make connections throughout the math strands and to other curriculum expectations throughout all subject areas. The new curriculum requires educators to continue to move from assessing individual strands to assessing students as math problem solvers. KPDSB educators have begun to shift focus to using the mathematical processes as a base for classroom instruction. Our math coaches have worked directly with teachers to help shift to a more problem-based approach focusing on open-ended math problems. This promotes a low-floor, high-ceiling approach, allowing all students access to math learning at a level that is both challenging and accessible for all.
We have begun the implementation of the Alex Lawson math continuum using the resource What to Look For and other resources our math team has developed to support this new way of learning. Through PLC work in the primary grades, our math team has worked at the table, helping develop diagnostic tasks, assess student work, place students on the math continuum and determine next steps to help move students forward.
We have continued to create resources for teachers based on the needs expressed by KPDSB educators. The resources are shared through various avenues such as the KP monthly math newsletter, the KPDSB Math Resource site and the KPDSB Supporting and Designing Learning website. Math coaches continue to provide PD during staff meetings and Lunch and Learn sessions and to small grade-level groups in schools and at the elbow in classrooms.
Destreamed Grade 9 Math
This year, the Ministry of Education launched a new destreamed Grade 9 math course, continuing the elementary school math curriculum. This course has replaced the previous academic and applied math courses. Hopefully, this will allow students to continue working on their math skills while leaving future opportunities open. As KPDSB begins implementing the new Grade 9 math curriculum, our educators connect concepts, disciplines and everyday life. Our board has continued to promote teaching strategies such as curriculum spiralling, exploring formative assessment, using high-impact strategies and highlighting real-life connections to math. To further support our educators and students, our board has promoted culturally-responsive pedagogy to ensure each student’s identity is valued. We’re using differentiated instruction to ensure equity and inclusion in our classrooms using parallel tasks, rich tasks, open questions allowing for low-floor, high-ceiling problems, and small group instruction. A universal learning design should further build community and inclusion within our classrooms. This uses non-permanent vertical surfaces (such as whiteboards), computer algebra systems and collaborative groups to help students think creatively and make connections. The teachers of this course meet regularly to share their best practices, plan lessons, talk about assessments and collaborate. This course honours students’ cultures, identities and different ways of thinking, problem-solving and viewing mathematics.
Professional Development for KPDSB Administrators
Instructional leadership is essential to the development of high quality teaching and enhanced student achievement and well-being. School and system leaders at KPDSB are strengthening leadership practice by engaging in professional learning sessions together and at times with Sandra Herbst a consultant with expertise in the area of Assessment and Evaluation (connect2learning). Learning goals, criteria, feedback, triangulation of evidence and research based instructional strategies are discussed, practiced and modelled as we aim to meet the board improvement goals for student success and well-being.
The following summarizes the highlights of our Adult Education Regional Partnership Agreement with the Seven Generations Education Institute.
In September 2012, the Keewatin-Patricia District School Board and Seven Generations Education Institute embarked on a partnership to deliver adult education throughout Northwestern Ontario. The goals of the partnership include:
- Increasing opportunities for both indigenous and non-indigenous adult learners throughout the KPDSB and SGEI communities to achieve the Ontario Secondary School Diploma
- Improving access for adult learners to high-quality curriculum resources on a full- or part-time basis
- Committing to excellence and innovation in serving the needs of adult learners
We have worked cooperatively to share our partnership work at CESBA (Continuing Education School Boards Association), presenting, sharing, and advocating for quality, regional adult education programs. We formally recognize SGEI as our partner in adult education and have highlighted the unique and complex nature of the Kenora/Rainy River regions west of Thunder Bay, including the inclusion of Indigenous partners and the importance of these partnerships beyond the traditional school board funding models. We have shared our successes and our learnings from our KPDSB/SGEI Adult Education Partnership Graduate Exit Survey (2019):
- Over 30% of our adult students are over the age of 35 – it’s never too late to earn your diploma.
- About 59% of our students voluntarily self-identify as FNMI, and 25% of our students speak Ojibway or Oji-Cree at home – our Language Circles are key to preserving language and developing a sense of culture and belonging in our Adult Education classrooms. Adult students earn language credits for participating or speaking their language.
- The majority (>75%) of our students are highly motivated to earn their diplomas. Over half of our students only have 5–6 credits to earn and spend less than six months with us to meet their diploma requirements – most of our students are closer than they think to graduation! About 67% of our graduates identify a sense of responsibility to family and maturity as critical to helping them graduate.
- Our Adult Education programs change lives; 58% of our students are headed to college or post-secondary education.
In 2020 and 2021, 550 adults registered in our Adult Education programs, and we worked cooperatively as administrators, teachers, and site monitors to offer a variety of programs and supports. At our fastest-growing site, the Sioux Lookout Adult Education Program, we host full-time teacher and site monitor support in a family-friendly, comfortable, adult learning environment.
Continued relationships across the KPDSB region with educational, community, and agency-specific partners assist in providing wrap-around supports that reduce barriers for our adult students. Our partners include Kwayaciiwin Education Resource Center, Sioux Lookout Area Aboriginal Management Board, Ontario Native Women’s Association, Independent First Nations Alliance, Adult Basic Literacy, Indian Friendship Centers, Northwest Employment Works, Ontario Works, Supportive Housing, Homeward Bound Program, The Metis Nation of Ontario, Lac Seul First Nation, and many others. With the Dryden Native Friendship Center, our students can access employment counselling on-site. We continue to develop and strengthen partnerships with municipalities and First Nations communities to improve access and supports for adult learners.
Launched in 2020, our new website www.nwoadulted.com has become a very popular and convenient resource for busy adult clients regionwide to visit for adult education registration, promotion, information and pathway guidance. Housed online in a web-based portal, potential students can access site-specific adult education programs, graduate success stories, information about our KPDSB/SGEI partnership, post-secondary opportunities, an adult education credit calculator, and contact information for our adult education sites.
2020–2021 Dual Credit opportunities support transitions to college programs and engage and motivate adult students who express interest in our communities’ post-secondary programs. With Confederation College, we offer a dual-credit program in which all of our adult education sites could participate jointly. Seven students completed the dual-credit course PPI4T: Wellness for Life through Confederation College, offered online virtually to all adult ed sites. The major areas of study for the Wellness for Life course were the physical, social, intellectual, occupational, emotional, environmental, and spiritual dimensions of health. This was a popular topic considering various struggles for adult learners during COVID-19. Red Lake: With adult education services expanding to two sites in Red Lake, the establishment of a three-year contract with Red Lake Adult Literacy Centre, and a continuation of our service-provider agreement at Red Lake Indian Friendship Center, we support day school adult courses, after-school tutorial services for RLDHS students, and OSSD credit opportunities for their parents.