‘Thinking Classroom’ Mathematics

The mathematics program at CMA focuses on conceptual understanding and problem solving; with ‘procedural’ approaches as a last resort.

Students are provided opportunities to collaborate when problem-solving, going beyond procedures to explore mathematical concepts from different perspectives. Student-driven discussion and examples, hands-on activities, “what if” questions, numeric and geometric problems, and interdisciplinary projects provide multiple entry points to a topic, which provides multiple ways for students to develop the curricular competencies in mathematics. We believe that the most successful problem-solving happens when students can share different perspectives and approaches. 

More about ‘Thinking Classrooms’ in BC Math Education

In the Senior School, Math learning targets two distinct kinds of development in students: abstract, rational, and constrained thinking and an independent learning disposition.  In university and other formal learning environments, the confidence to learn some things on one’s own terms is liberating, empowering, and effective.

INQubator

The INQubator program at Coast Mountain Academy is an expression of the school’s core academic philosophy that curiosity and wonder are the best teachers.

In grades 7-9, students take part in a year-long course to learn how to explore questions and projects of their own choosing. With the guidance of teachers, students practice refining their curiosities about the world into actionable learning exercises with practical goals and processes. These projects are free-form and not locked into traditional school subjects. Prime examples of student projects in the past have included:

  • Motorized go-carts
  • Language learning
  • Fiction writing
  • Business ventures
  • Baking
  • Soap-making

The work in these courses takes place both at school and at home, and culminates in a formal presentation to the school community about their planning and learning.

In grade 12 students continue the practice of inquiry-learning in Humanities, where they must design and complete three large projects by way of demonstrating learning in their chosen grade 12 Social Science course. The combination of student choice in selecting this course and their foci in it is the culmination of curiosity-learning since grade 7.

Online Gradebook

One of the most important aspects of creating self-aware students is ensuring that they know where they are on the journey of learning. While report cards have been traditionally focused on grades and performance, Coast Mountain Academy has leveraged current technology to expand the conventional report card into a continuous process of communication.

Faculty contribute assessment scores on an ongoing and timely basis to the MyCMA portal for parents and students to see. Both Formative and Evaluative scores and feedback for every course are presented so that students and parents can see trend in progress. This system leans heavily on CMA’s Formative Assessment Model in order to capture students’ efforts in a consistent and understandable way.

The ongoing availability of assessment scores means that parents can be more engaged in academic activity, student difficulties are identified sooner, and ultimately the Ministry-mandated formal reports can be a minimal snapshot of the communication occurring all the time.

 

 

 

 

Hybrid Timetable

Through years of development, Coast Mountain Academy implements an exciting ‘hybrid’ timetable that brings the best of different course-lengths and a varied weekly schedule to subjects that benefit from them.

Year-long “linear”, semester, and trimester course-lengths are used in different subjects and grade levels to maximize opportunity for the learning activities that suit those subjects and ages best. At the same time, each grade levels’ weekly schedule is carefully constructed to provide diversity, novelty, and a balanced academic load.

For example, Grades 7 and 8 begin the week with an extended Math block on Monday mornings for larger group problem-solving activities. Grade 12s have the option to do classes on Friday remotely. And Grades 7-9 have “Outdoor Connections” all afternoon on Fridays.

2020-2021 Grade 7 Timetable

In the same vein, Interdisciplinary Humanities courses have a lot of material to cover while Career-Life Connections is most impactful when graduating students are preparing university applications in the Fall. Accordingly, Humanities has a daily course meeting throughout the year, while CLC meets three times a week in the first half of the year only. Meanwhile, to give all Middle School students broad exposure to several flavours of the Applied Design, Skills and Technologies courses (Woodworking, Music, Art), each ADST is a trimester long in Grades 7, 8, and 9.

Sample Gr 10 Year Plan

The hybrid timetable also supports our frequent and varied reporting to parents so that student progress is always in view.

Formative Assessment Model

Coast Mountain Academy is proud to comprehensively implement the assessment approach promoted by the 2018 Ministry of Education curriculum redesign: a philosophy of classroom assessment that emphasizes student self-awareness and repeated efforts that lead to mastery.

Our “Formative Assessment Model” utilizes two different grade scales based on the type of coursework or activity being assessed:

  • “Formative” work is given a score on the Formative Scale that encourages learning from weaknesses and failures to promotes resilience, confidence, and a growth-mindset towards learning.
  • “Evaluative” work is given a score on the Evaluative Scale that informs the student (and parent!) on their degree of mastery. These scores lead to student’s reported grades.

All scores are accompanied by feedback aimed at continued learning and student’s ownership of their progress.  Student scores and feedback are communicated through the MyCMA portal so that parents have access to timely information and student’s can see all their scores in one place.

Click here to read more in-depth about the Formative Assessment Model in practice at CMA.

LEAD

Coast Mountain Academy’s Leadership Expeditions for Academic Discovery has been a cornerstone of the school since its conception. Our situation in one of Canada’s outdoor recreation meccas affords us remarkable access to an incredible diversity of activities with which to create meaningful student experiences.

Widely praised by alumni as the most significant aspect of their formal education, LEAD activities and trips are designed to achieve the follow ends:

  • Unique and formative personal growth opportunities
  • Diverse and authentic leadership situations
  • Real-world environments for cross-curricular academics
    (e.g. hike to a glacier and use geometry to approximate its volume)
  • Experience of hardship, individual resilience, and the elation of success
  • Social development within CMA peer groups
  • Personal bonds with faculty that enhance classroom learning

Trips follow a scaffolded experience plan that sees destinations and activities grow “from local to global”, with the summative Senior trip being outside of North America. Activities over the course of six years at CMA include wilderness hiking and camping, sea kayaking, canoe tripping, ski touring, and potentially others.

Interdisciplinary Humanities

Coast Mountain Academy takes a ‘blended’ approach to the subjects traditionally labeled “English Language Arts” and “Social Studies”. At all grade levels these subjects areas are taught in a single course over the entire year. In a nutshell:

We are going to use English to learn about Politics, Philosophy, and Economics so that we can cultivate a full understanding of History using the Arts and Drama.

In practice this looks like Social Studies topics being driven by literature, media criticism, and expressive creativity.

For example, the award-winning novel Three Day Road by Canadian author Joseph Boyden is the story of two young men, indigenous Residential School survivors, who go to fight for Canada in the trenches of WWI. The book’s setting, characters, and events provide material and starting points for almost all of the learning outcomes in Grade 10 English and Socials.

 

PHE Every Day

Inspired by new research into the fields of neuroscience and educational psychology, Coast Mountain Academy teaches Physical & Health Education every morning. This routine of physical activity to start the day ensures that students head to the classroom ready to focus with an activated mind and body.

Taking advantage of the first-class facilities next door, CMA students have year-long programming in a university-sized gym or turf field; as well as periodic access to a fully equipped weight room, Crossfit gym, squash courts, and cardio equipment.

 

Virtual Coffee Talk – April 27th @ 10:30 am

Interested in CMA for your child or children next year?

If so, grab your favourite cup of coffee and join our Director of Admissions and Head of School for an hour of conversation about our school and admissions process. Specifically, we will discuss:
  • what makes our school unique
  • the admissions process and deadlines for next academic year
  • qualities we look for in our applicants
  • admissions trends
There will also be lots of time for participants to ask questions. Please pre-register by emailing [email protected] with the full name of each attendee. Once registered, participants will receive the meeting link via email.