The Circle of Courage
"The circle is a symbol of life…individual parts within the circle connect with every other; and what happens to one, or what one part does, affects all within the circle." (Virginia Driving Hawk Sneve)
We embrace the Circle of Courage philosophy. The Circle of Courage is based on the work of Larry Brendtro, Martin Brokenleg, and Steve Van Bockern. The model integrates the cultural wisdom of indigenous peoples and the findings of modern youth development research. As a school community we support a safe and caring learning environment for our students by creating conditions that promote the following areas in each child:
The Spirit of Belonging:
The universal longing for human bonds is cultivated by relationships of trust so that the child can say, "I am loved".
The Spirit of Generosity:
Character is cultivated by concern for others so that the child can say, "I have purpose for my life."
The Spirit of Mastery:
The inborn thirst for learning is cultivated; by learning to cope with the world, the child can say, "I can succeed."
The Spirit of Independence:
Free will is cultivated by responsibility so that the child can say, “I have the power to make decisions.”
This Circle of Courage language frames all we do at Buffalo Rubbing Stone School. Teachers and support staff have already engaged students in activities that promote the spirit of belonging. Through setting of school and classroom expectations, welcoming students, buddy programs, cooperative learning activities, leadership opportunities and school wide events. We help students feel a sense of belonging to a larger community, one that celebrates the variety of strengths each of us brings to the group.
We look forward to sharing our learning in these areas with you throughout the year.
Combined-grade (Multi-aged) Classrooms at Buffalo Rubbing Stone School
What is multi-aged education?
Multi-aged education is a practice that has been an option for schools since the introduction of graded education in Canada. Here at Buffalo Rubbing Stone, our multi-aged classrooms are the combination of grades 1 & 2 and grades 3 & 4. Multi-aged classes are not a split of grades; they are a combination of grades.
Why do we have multi-aged classes at Buffalo Rubbing Stone School?
Organizing our students is determined by a variety of factors including our physical space, our student population in each grade, and, most importantly, the learning needs of our community. Deciding to multi-age grades 1 & 2 and grades 3 & 4 has given students the opportunity to work with a variety of classmates and has given teachers the opportunity to work in teams, intentionally designing learning opportunities that are student-centred and personalized. Multi-aging at Buffalo Rubbing Stone serves our learning community well.
How does this approach benefit my child?
Research has highlighted the benefits for both students and teachers in multi-aged classrooms. They include more comprehensive, child-responsive curriculum practices that consider the understandings, capabilities and dispositions that children need to be successful learners and successful adults. Research also reports that students in multi-aged classrooms show increased self-esteem, more cooperative behaviour, better attitudes toward school in general, increased pro-social behavior, and enriched personal responsibility.
Research found that when using standardized tests, students in multi-aged classrooms did as well or better than those in single-grade classes in math, language, science, and social studies. It also found that students in multi-aged classes performed better in the areas of independence, responsibility and study habits, and had more positive attitudes toward school.
How will the curriculum be addressed?
A common question families have, often focuses on how curriculum is addressed in multi-aged settings. An important aspect of Alberta’s Programs of Study (and many other jurisdictions) is the spiral framework of learning. Within this framework, programs of study at different grade levels have similar outcomes. As an example, in the mathematics program of study, the outcome of addition in present throughout the grades, with specific expectations that differ (grade one is adding to 20, grade two is adding to 100, grade three is adding to 1000,… grade six is adding 0.001 to 1 000 000 including order of operations). While the specific learner expectation increases at each grade level, the outcome of addition is the same. All our programs of study have common themes and outcomes that lend themselves well to the multi-aged classroom. Teachers are highly aware of the work addressed last year. They work in teams to build on that work and they use our experiences this year to inform our plans for next year.
Parents are encouraged to discuss their child’s daily learning tasks and review together any activities, projects, books, or assignments that are brought home. Parental interest in school work is important and can be a motivational factor in a child’s success. Homework, done well, helps children develop responsibility and self-direction in studies. Most school work is designed to be completed in school time. From time to time, unfinished work will be sent home for completion. Please discuss the duration and frequency of homework with your child’s teacher.
It is expected that all students read with an adult or independently, and review basic math skills daily. Research is clear that reading to and with your child builds foundational literacy skills. Use the pictures to predict the story; ask what might happen next; have your child recall the story using the frame: first, next, then, finally. Pre-reading and post-reading conversations are as important as the reading itself. Using mathematics in everyday life to organize toys, prepare food, or in the context of current events helps children understand math in their world. Board games are a great way to enjoy math and reading in while learning important social skills.