A day at CalTech.
We start each day with social interaction- the students will have a chance to talk to their friends and settle in. The classroom and computer lab are set up by the students each morning.
The Toronto Star is on the table and students will navigate through the sections that they are interested in and we start a chat about what we are reading. Readers and non-readers alike will engage in the articles that interest them, which will often segway in to discussions and opinion sharing. Students are interested in current events of the day as well as sports scores, daily puzzles, and the life section.
This will lead in to the topic of the day. We design the curriculum in units, choosing from the programs listed below. Each unit is hands-on and will include group discovery, discussion, theorizing and creative presentation. All students participate using their own communication styles and it is a successful learning opportunity. There is always a literacy and numeracy element in their day, taught by a fully qualified licensed teacher. Lunch and a short healthy walk are at the same time each day- activities are scheduled around them.
Our science program provides students with safe scientific practices, experiments, and procedures. Like the art program, we let our students explore their curiosities.
Over the years, we have fascinated students with lessons on the human body, including the functions of the cardiovascular, respiratory, digestive, skeletal and nervous systems. We have conducted tests on the rhythm of heart beats and eggshell enamel. We have also prepared experiments involving chemical reactions, making volcanic explosions using plastic soda bottles, exploring the physical properties of melting and cooling and the states of matter, including solids, liquids, and gases.
Our science program also involves engineering and architectural design where students build model-size bridges out of popsicle sticks and test the strength, structural stability, and durability of each design. We then examine how different structural characteristics manage to hold varying weights.
Students have also explored planets and space travel, current and static electricity, magnetism, and weather systems by making a tornado out of a pinwheel. We have also conducted research projects on dinosaurs which involved taking a class trip to the Royal Ontario Museum to explore the topic first-hand.
Art is one of the few outlets we have to truly express ourselves without conformity or restraint. Art is about freedom, creativity, diversity and the application of human imagination and expression. Just like the human experience, art comes in a variety of forms, including painting, sketching, sculpting and filming. In our classroom, we explore each platform by engaging with our own artistic abilities while also examining the works of such famed artists as Monet, Degas, Van Gough, as well as more recent artists like Andy Warhol, the Group of 7 and Canadian aboriginal artists. We then emulate their style with our own creations
Our art program is offered throughout the year based on the students’ interest and desire. Creative expression is vital to our learning and is often used in the classroom as a coping mechanism, as well as a method to explore our individuality. We discover fine art in a variety of mediums, including abstract, portrait and nature. While the internet is a great resource, we also seek inspiration by taking occasional field trips to the Art Gallery of Ontario in downtown Toronto for a more personal artistic experience.
Film and drama are also offered in our art program as students show interest. Students have produced their own plays in the past from pre-production to showcase, which has involved scriptwriting, set design, costume design and props. The skills our students exhibited throughout this process included memorization and time management. But the biggest lesson that our students take from our art program is that there are no limits to the depths of their imagination.
Our life skills program is reinforced in every program we teach, from healthy living practices and exploring our individuality through artistic endeavours to engaging our navigational skills through orienteering and taking public transit on field trips. We teach our students independence, how to read a city bus map, orienteering with a compass, business, financial literacy, budgeting, time management and research skills. Our objective with everything we teach is to help our students lead more self-sufficient and productive lives outside the classroom.
Students don’t just engage with their creative skills using paint brushes and blank canvases. We also create in the kitchen.
Our cooking program is offered in-class once every month. Students learn to cook a variety of recipes without the use of a stove, instead by using small appliances such as an electric frying pan, crock pot and microwave. Student safety is a top priority.
Students oversee the planning and preparation of the dishes they are creating and collectively choose recipes, organize their shopping list and budgeting. Students will also participate in shopping for the ingredients, organizing the kitchen set-up and prep centre and are responsible for cleaning up afterwards.
Our program teaches the students about nutrition, proper nourishment, and the importance of understanding food labels by following the guidelines of the Canada Food Guide. This will provide students with the foundation to carry these healthy choices and practices into their own lives.
Our cooking program also offers students another medium to explore the diversity that exists within the classroom and throughout the greater community by creating authentic dishes from around the world, including Egyptian, Chinese, Korean, Guyanese and Indian.
Physical education is just as important for mental health as it is for physical health. Our physical education program seeks to keep our students active, stimulated and engaged while expanding on the skills learned in the cooking program required to lead healthier lives.
Every Thursday we either head to the gym downstairs or to the great outdoors to play a variety of games, including basketball, soccer and baseball. The physical play keeps students stimulated, helps build teamwork and strengthens their coordination skills.
We also constructed an orienteering exercise to help strengthen navigational skills and positional awareness. The orienteering exercise helps students develop navigational skills using a map and compass to navigate from point to point. The route itself is mapped out throughout the community park behind the classroom building giving students the chance to explore. They are also guided by various checkpoints and landmarks to ensure they are on the right track.
To help further instill healthy fitness practices, every other Thursday we also have a boot camp hosted by one of our own students and overseen and sponsored by Sean Byerk from Breakthrough Bootcamp. Visit https://breakthroughbootcamp.ca
Our classroom is equipped with laptops for students to use for research assignments and for leisure during breaks. The laptops are set up by the students themselves and everyday are used for research, creating presentations, web searching and communication.
We teach our students safe ways to navigate websites and how to safely build an online presence using various social media platforms, including Facebook and Instagram. Students also learn how to create multimedia and interactive presentations in a variety of formats, including Prezi and PowerPoint. We are also teaching our students basic-level coding to ensure that they are equipped with the knowledge of computer programming that is becoming fundamental in this new age of modern technology.
CalTech is conveniently located next door to the Mississauga Valley Public Library, where our students often go to find resource material for their research projects or simply for social reading. Wherever their curiosity takes them, it is satisfying to know that there is wealth of information right at our doorstep waiting to be discovered.
Our summer program helps to keep our students together and engaged in between school terms. Activities range from mini golf to movies, bowling, trips to the museum to nature walks, as well as “Art in the Park” and sports theme days.
The summer program also helps to put into practice the life skills that the students learned throughout the academic year. With our healthy picnic lunches packed from home, we explore the beauty that Mississauga has to offer, including Erindale Park, the Mississauga Conservation areas and historical sites like “The Grange” heritage house. Together we navigate our route using Mississauga Transit and from time to time the TTC and Go Trains. We ensure that everyday offers the students a new adventure.
The summer program runs for the month of July, every Monday Wednesday and Thursday.
Caltech Learning Centre teachers are dedicated, reliable and most importantly terrific. They encourage the students to explore and crate daily.