Toronto High School
This case study showcases how this school has embraced and embedded future-focused learning and teaching practice. Four key questions are addressed to demonstrate how they identified problems and constraints, overcome specific challenges and their learnings from this journey.
Location: Field Ave, Toronto
Level: Secondary School, Year 7 to Year 12
Enrolment: 942 students
What learning problem were you trying to solve?
Toronto High School was seeking to establish an enriching, cross-curriculum learning program to engage Gifted and Talented (GAT) students in the local area. The intention was to provide an alternative to the traditional GAT experiences by utilising a range of teaching strategies through a flexible, dynamic learning space. The LEAP approach to GAT education would be to explore a range of approaches including project-based learning, problem solving tasks, collaborative learning and 21st century methodologies. The opportunity to achieve this through different student group sizes and a focus on student-centred learning activities led to the discussion about the composition of an ideal learning space to enact this plan.
What were your constraints?
The research indicated that a regular space would not be conducive to the pedagogical goals of the LEAP program. However, identifying a suitable space was difficult; existing spaces were not viable while the conversion of other areas meant mainstream displacement.
What did you do?
A school team engaged in professional learning by visiting other schools with innovative learning spaces, identifying strategies and designs which could be adapted to the THS and LEAP context. A school consultation process was enacted where a suitable existing space was identified and designs were established to convert this to an open flexible space.
Three classrooms were combined to create the learning space with two walls being removed. A variety of flexible furniture was purchased so that the room could be reconfigured to address different types of learning activities.
Two interactive white boards and projectors were placed at either end of the room, while eleven whiteboards were placed on three sides of the room.
The position of the space allows for easy access to open outdoor learning areas.
What have you learnt so far?
Student feedback has uniformly indicated that the physical space is inviting and engaging. Having the opportunity to create learning zones within the one space has allowed students to select a zone appropriate to their learning needs and styles.
The LEAP space is dynamic allowing teachers to reconfigure the room to accommodate a variety of pedagogical approaches. Other staff have seen the benefit of the space and there is ongoing discussion about applying a similar design in different areas across the school. The LEAP space has been utilised as an exhibition space and for a variety of presentations. Parents and community have also indicated that they see the space as being a positive learning environment for their children.