Introduce yourself and the courses you teach. What, in your opinion, is the best thing about being a teacher at Centennial Academy?
My name is Rebecca Martorella and I’m a social studies teacher in both the English and the French stream. I teach both geography and history for the grade 7, 8 and 9 levels. The best thing about being a teacher at Centennial Academy is the collaboration amongst teachers to find strategies that will help each one of our students’ learning. [/row]
What are the top 3 things that you think make Centennial Academy unique?
Centennial Academy is unique for several reasons:
The first thing that makes Centennial unique is how teachers scaffold major projects and assignment for students. Teachers break down projects into smaller chunks, making it easier for the students to learn and complete tasks. Students are provided with a model that clearly indicates the steps that need to be followed in order to reach the final goal of the project or assignment.
The second thing that makes Centennial unique is that teachers do minimal teaching in the classroom. Teacher’s coach and guide while students work We don’t spend an entire class period talking and students simply take notes down. Students spend the majority of class time working on an activity (assignment, project, review, etc.) in which they learn to become autonomous and resilient learners. With the steps provided to the student by their teacher, the student is able to work independently.
The third thing that makes Centennial unique is the approach we take in implementing effective learning strategies. We know that students don’t all learn at the same pace or in the same way. We recognize that students learn differently, which is why we provide students with different learning strategies they can use in order to succeed.
Tell me about one of your favorite teaching memories/story?
One of my favourite teaching memories was in May 2018 with my grade 8 history classes. We were studying the unit on the American Revolution and the students found it a little difficult. I decided to group the students in groups of 4 in which they would select a particular event from the American Revolution unit and they would write a script. They were then asked to put on a skit in which they brought in props and other visuals. The skits were funny and well done, but most of all it helped to get a better understanding of the course content. The students loved it and it was definitely a learning moment for them.
What do you think your students like the most about you?
I think the students appreciate that I try to make learning and understanding history enjoyable. History can be a difficult course with many dates and concepts to remember, but I try to find ways to help my students understand the material by making connections.
Describe a typical classroom experience or a typical day at Centennial?
Routine and predictability are key components in the classroom. The class typically starts with a routine and then followed by teaching/instruction at a minimal level from the teacher. The teacher usually teaches and/or instructs for about 10 minutes. The students are asked to work on a follow up activity for the remainder of the class while the teacher teacher’s coach and guide while students work. The last few minutes of class, the students are asked to put their material away and to get ready for their next class.
Describe in your own words the Centennial Academy Approach and how UDL really works.
At Centennial, we recognize that students have different learning needs, which is why we provide our students with various forms of learning and engagement in the course material. Using the UDL model allows us to use various tools to help remove learning barriers for our students. Tools include WordQ, reading strategies, graphic organizers, course packs, work models and various visual tools.