The first thing you notice about Clearpoint Elementary are the winding, colourful hallways, seemingly always bustling with students who are all calm, respectful and ready to learn.
“You’ll notice that there is a green stripe painted on the walls,” said Guy Walker, the International Baccalaureate Primary Years Programme coordinator at Clearpoint. “It represents the pathway to inquiry.”
Clearpoint, a small elementary school on a quiet street in Pointe-Claire, is home to one of only two running IB Primary Years Programmes in the Lester B. Pearson School Board. The IB program is designed to teach students to be well-rounded in their education. Clearpoint’s website has a breakdown of the ‘learner’s profile’ that includes ten characteristics a student should strive for; they should be inquirers, knowledgeable, thinkers, communicators, principled, open-minded, caring, risk-takers, balanced and reflective.
“It’s not only grade six,” said Rachel Wilson, the school’s friendly and welcoming principal. “The whole entire school from K to six is involved in the program. It’s really great.”
As part of their IB project, the grade six students of Clearpoint hosted a summit with the theme ‘Where We Are in Place and Time’. The summit aimed to explain how different parts of our world have changed over time using the learner’s profile. Some of these included the environment, technology, health, agriculture, exercise and sports. The school paired up with the Pearson Partnership Program in order to find guest speakers to come make 20 to 30 minute presentations to the students.
“We brainstormed with the kids a couple of months ago and talked about what they wanted to learn about,” said Nancy Battet, coordinator of the PPP, “then we reached out to our community partners to see if they were interested in coming to speak to the children […] I find it very rewarding, everyone loves to help.”
David Meloche, Director of Schools for Region 3, opened the summit with a short presentation and then sent the kids off to speak with presenters in groups of five to ten.
Larry Fagan and Claudiu Scotnotis, professors in John Abbott College’s Computer Science department, taught students about the advancement of computer software. Fagan asked students where they would go to get a book; while some answered, “a bookstore,” one student told the presenters that his parents shopped for books online. Fagan explained that convenience and availability have a huge impact on the way that we shop in today’s society, leading many people to forgo the day trip to the mall on Saturday and instead just order their purchases online.
Sarah Dixon and Scott Pemberton, who work for the Morgan Arboretum in Ste-Anne-de-Bellevue, were teaching their students about the changes in the environment over the past decade, century and millennium. The students were especially interested in the effects that greenhouse gases had on the planet and asked very probing questions about a theory one student called ‘environmental debt’.
“We’re using up more than we’re making,” he explained.
“That is absolutely true,” said Dixon. “You’re very smart!”
Kyle Petrunik, who was helping to explain the changes in aviation engineering to a group of students as part of a group called Let’s Talk Science, said he normally spoke to groups of adults but liked the change of audience.
“I’m having a great time. It’s different doing [a presentation] for a young audience but it’s much more fun, actually,” he said. “The students are so interested and are coming up with amazing questions - questions adults couldn’t even come up with.”
The students were especially interested in what astronauts ate while they were in space. “Chips are probably not a good idea,” explained Petrunik. “Too many crumbs.”
After making trips to three different presentations, the students went back to the library where they were able to thank their presenters and make suggestions for the next summit. This summit was used to gather information that will be presented at a larger exhibition presented by students at the end of February.
All teachers and presenters were in agreement when the possibility of having longer presentations was brought up.
“That is definitely something we can do,” said Wilson. “We have very bright children at Clearpoint.”