The Waterloo Region District School Board (WRDSB) is transforming education to prepare students for success in the future.

Literacy and Numeracy for a Changing World

In May 2023, we hosted the Transforming Education: Literacy and Numeracy for a Changing World event. The event highlighted the programs and partnerships available through WRDSB.

“Imagine, for a moment, if we cultivated spaces that centre the unique gifts and abilities that each student arrives with. Where we could explore the possibilities and opportunities for ALL children.”
– jeewan chanicka, director of education for the WRDSB

Learn more about the demonstrations from Transforming Education: Literacy and Numeracy for a Changing World.

Your Voice in Transforming Education

We can’t transform education alone. We do this work in partnership with the students we serve, their families and the surrounding community.

Student Agency in Their Education

When we think about schools and learning, we imagine how reading and math can be part of a new education system. We understand that these subjects are essential for students’ learning. But, what if students had more say in how they meet expectations in subjects and curriculum? What if teachers were guides and collaborators in student learning, rather than instructors?

Innovation in Action

Educators and students are exploring these ideas in WRDSB classrooms now.

SWRIL Pitch Day event

English department heads, Principals, Vice-Principals and teachers from secondary schools across the WRDSB took part in collaborative learning sessions. They focused on deepening their knowledge and understanding of Indigenous peoples’ perspectives, histories, and literature.

This learning supported an innovative approach to how Grade 11 students earn their Grade 11 English credits. WRDSB secondary schools now offer English: Understanding Contemporary First Nations, Métis and Inuit Voices (NBE3U). This effort aligns with our commitment to Truth and Reconciliation. Specifically, it addresses the Call to Action to make age-appropriate curriculum on residential schools, Treaties, and Aboriginal peoples’ historical and contemporary contributions to Canada a mandatory education requirement for kindergarten to Grade 12 students.

The commitment to innovation on the pathway to transforming education runs throughout the WRDSB. The Senior Team has completed the first part of the Global Innovation Management Institute’s (GIMI) certification, in partnership with SWR. The leadership team is now engaged in learning for the second part of this certification, with the ultimate goal of using what they’ve learned in the shared work of reimagining and transforming public education.

Demonstrating How We’re Transforming Education

In May 2023, we demonstrated our commitment to educating for the future at Transforming Education: Literacy and Numeracy for a Changing World. The event showcased programs that are developing students’ knowledge, skills, and interests to help them succeed in their chosen path.

Transforming STEM Education

Educators from WRDSB secondary schools shared demonstrations and activities to help attendees experience the learning and assessment opportunities being offered to students in the classroom. They aimed to provide students, parents and caregivers a chance to better understand how teaching practices are shifting to recognize how students learn and think.

Destreaming Math and English for the 21st Century

Math and literacy teachers demonstrated the steps being taken to destream these subjects for students entering secondary school. Their approaches include small group instruction, while providing multiple entry points to meet individual student needs and abilities. They also demonstrated the collaborative approach taken by educators, who work together to build their collective capacity in numeracy and literacy instruction.

Harnessing the Power of Home Languages

Educators demonstrated how the WRDSB values and supports all student language identities, from Kindergarten to Grade 12. They highlighted a recent project for Kindergarten students that showed the importance of home language in support of oral language development and positive language identities. Another project focused on the work being done at secondary schools to help create multilingual learning environments that recognize, value and support all multilingual learners.

Building Future Skills for the 21st Century

WRDSB students are learning skills at school today that will serve them in their future careers. One demonstration helped to show how students are learning to use greenscreens to help them enhance their visual communication skills. Educators demonstrated how they use these tools to immerse themselves in simulated environments to enhance their learning. This can be used for topics beyond information technology. It allows students to travel around the world virtually for a geography project, or back in time for history class.

Inspiring Career Pathways

As students prepare for graduation, and their next steps on their chosen pathway, there are many options ahead of them. The WRDSB leads for the Ontario Youth Apprenticeship Program (OYAP) and Specialist High Skills Major (SHSM) programs were on hand in May 2023 to help outline how many pathways are available. WRDSB offers 55 SHSM programs across 16 secondary schools, covering career fields from agriculture to non-profit. OYAP lets students take their learning in their own hands. In an apprenticeship, they have the chance to work in real-life settings, doing hands-on work and learning from a skilled expert in the field.

Innovation Through Systems Thinking

In the 2022-23 school year, more than 600 secondary school students participated in a design thinking program. The program partners with Smart Waterloo Region Innovation Lab (SWRIL) to teach students design thinking tools using the GIMI Impact Program.

Using skills and knowledge learned in the classroom, students identify and propose solutions to real-world problems in their communities. The innovative approach recognizes that when current students enter the workforce, they will be facing problems we don’t yet know, and doing jobs that have yet to be created. The program allows them to bring all of their education, skills and talents together for a project they care deeply about.

Structured Literacy

We know that reading is a basic and fundamental human right. Using hands-on activities that represent the approaches taken by educators, and how students are learning, WRDSB educators demonstrated what one year of learning word recognition looks like. These activities highlighted foundational skills in reading like:

  • Phonological awareness
  • Phonics
  • Morphology