CGS Professional Development Blog

Inquiry at CGS by Oliver Fisher

Posted on March 14, 2016 at 8:51 am

Inquiry at CGS

On the 18th of February, Ms. Jenelee Jones, Ms. Kim Larson, Ms. Shauna Pascoe, Mr. Richard Shewry and Mr. Oliver Fisher journeyed north to Burman University in Lacombe, Alberta to present on inquiry based learning. At the request of the Burman University Education Department, this team of educators put together a presentation that focused on the pedagogy and practice of CGS teachers as they relate to teaching and learning in an inquiry based school. Specifically, the team provided context for the philosophical beliefs of CGS around inquiry as well as a practical look at what inquiry looks like in the everyday life of the grade 8 students and teachers:

This is a story of our teaching team’s journey toward creating experiences and spaces that empower students to embrace the continuous and connected nature of learning.  Our work questions the role of “school” as a self–contained center where students come to acquire knowledge. Within the current structure of the education system, we are challenging the traditional boundaries of learning in order to engage our students in authentic, engaging learning opportunities.  Our students are beginning to see the connections between and outside of their school experiences and how they are empowered to be engaged learners in all aspects of their world.

Self-Regulation: Why It Matters and How to Help Students Achieve It by Anna Burke

Posted on March 4, 2016 at 8:03 am

This Calgary Regional Consortium (CRC) session, presented by Krystal Abrahamowicz, on self-regulation was focused on identifying what self-regulation is and why it matters in the classroom, the role that stress plays, and how this knowledge can be used to promote positive behaviour with students.


Self-regulation is defined as the ability to respond successfully to various stressors and return to a state of balance for optimal learning. (Model: think of a balance scale tipping back and forth.) There are three states of self-regulation, as identified by Stuart Shanker:

  1. Hypoactive state: inactive, disengaged à Need to help them up-regulate
  2. Hyperactive state: high energy à Need to help them down-regulate
  3. Optimal self-regulation: right in the middle


A self-regulated learner takes responsibility for their own learning process. They set goals for themselves and take breaks when they need to. According to Zimmerman, these students are metacognitively, socially and motivationally involved in their own learning.


There is a 5 Domain Model of Self-Regulation:

  1. Biological Domain: level of energy in the nervous system; can vary based on temperament and situation (ex. Cheeks get red when mad, Racing heart rate, Sweating when nervous). Start here when talking about regulation with students.
  2. Emotional Domain: demonstrated as behaviour; positive emotions generate energy; negative emotions consume energy
  3. Cognitive Domain: mental processes; sustaining and switching attention; sequencing thoughts; inhibiting impulsive behaviours; keeping several pieces of information in the mind at once
  4. Social Domain: understanding, assessing and acting on particular social cues; difficulty in this domain can affect biological and emotional regulation
  5. Prosocial Domain: behaviours which promote social acceptance, friendship, empathy; includes co-regulation and being socially “in-sync”


In order to maximize learning, teachers can use this language to support students’ own thinking about regulation: Help them identify their own unique stressors, Maximize their ability to recognize when those stressors are beginning to take over, Provide motivation by fueling a growth mindset and determine strategies for regulating stress behaviour. Designate a space for regulation that is available to all students: Regulation Station. This can be a physical space in the classroom, a shared common space in the school, or a sensory kit. This “space” should have options available for both up-regulation and down-regulation of each of the senses (hear, see, smell, taste, touch). Introduce breathing and relaxation strategies for all students to manage stress and anxiety. The more they practice these techniques when calm, the better able they are to access them when dysregulated.


All of these tools can be used to promote positive behaviour by empowering students with the language to name their stress behaviour, naming it Stress Behaviour instead of Misbehaviour, getting students to notice their triggers, patterns that lead to stress, and preferred strategies to self-regulate, and developing cues and protocols for identifying and acting on moments of dysregulation.

Observation at William Aberhart by Quan Le

Posted on March 4, 2016 at 7:58 am

This past November, I had an opportunity to visit William Aberhart High School to observe the teachers and students in the music program. Music is thriving at this school under the leadership of Kevin Willms, Nathan Gingrich, and Monique Oliver. Like many high schools, they offer courses in concert band, jazz and choral, but more recently, they have also added a strings program to their slate of musical offerings. The amount of choice available to students has made for a high enrolment in their program. In addition to this, they also have a strong funding model that allows them to hire clinicians to come in on a weekly basis to work with students, therefore, augmenting the instruction that students receive in music. This, coupled with masterful teaching, results in one of the top music programs in Western Canada.

Along with learning the structure and composition of the music program at William Aberhart High School, I was also able to take away a clearer understanding of what students need to know coming out a junior high/middle school to find success in a high school program. I am happy to report that our school is doing many of the right things in setting up our students for success in music. It was noted from the teachers there that they love having students from CGS come into their music program because our school has strived for the past decade to open as many musical doors for our students as possible. Through our ensembles, classes, tours and performances, all of this has helped students along their musical journey.

For me, the questions that came about from my day were:

1. How do we continue to sustain the things that are working well in our music program?
2. As our school changes, how does the music program continue to stay relevant at the school?
3. What roles can families have in creating a strong music program?

Quan Le
Music Director, Lakeview Campus

Compassion • Integrity • Collaboration • Courage • Curiosity • Democracy • Diversity