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- Wayne Phillips Video Profile
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Year: 2009 – Province: Alberta
Certificate of Excellence Recipient
Poplar Ridge Elementary School
Red Deer AB T4N 5E1
Principal: Barb Eklund
School Tel.: 403-348-8821
School Fax: 403-347-8188
School Email: firstname.lastname@example.org
Subjects and Grades Taught: Grade 3
"What do you want to make of yourself?" That is the question Wayne Phillips regularly asks his Grade 3 students, either directly or through the activities they do in the classroom. It is Mr. Phillips's view that all activities, whether it is reading books, doing math, preparing a self-evaluation or applying for a job in the classroom, are purposeful and with an end: it's not who you are that matters but who you can be. Mr. Phillips, who has been teaching since 1992, believes that a Grade 3 student can start becoming a mathematician, good worker, reader or archaeologist—right now.
Inspired by the school motto, "Good, better, best, never let it rest until your good is better and your better is best!" Mr. Phillips employs self– and peer assessment in his classroom. Self-assessment, he says, encourages self-motivation, so students complete questionnaires to help them identify their best work and areas in which they could improve. During peer assessment of a project, students group work into "good", "better" and "best" categories. After receiving this peer evaluation, students are then allowed to take their work home and improve it.
- Mr. Phillips challenges students coming into his class from Grade 2 to spend the summer before continuing their learning. He gives students a scrapbook for them to fill with details about interesting things they did during their holidays and assigns them a job, such as being a rock hound in preparation for a unit on rocks and minerals in September.
- His Grade 3 students apply for class jobs, such as class photographer, computer helper and classroom manager. They must prepare a resume and cover letter and provide references to apply.
- He awards points to students for successfully carrying out certain tasks. For example, students receive "Brain Bucks" for performing their class jobs well, putting in extra effort and cleaning up after themselves. At the end of the year, Mr. Phillips holds an auction, and students can buy items with their Brain Bucks. In a related program, "Book Bucks," students earn points after reading a set number of books. The whole school participates in the program but Mr. Phillips's young students coordinate it, giving them skills that will be useful as they get older as well as encouraging them to read.
- Mr. Phillips created unique activities for a program called Literature Circles in which students read sections of a book and then assume various jobs, such as illustrator, investigator or archaeologist to study the text further. The students do a different job each week, which gives them a chance to shine in various areas and reinforces a school program to show that children can learn and be "smart" in many ways.
"Students were informed that having a job [in the classroom] is a privilege and they could lose it if they did not fulfill their responsibilities. At this point, my husband was enthralled. Here was a person to educate our son about the real world." Parent
"We've even had children while ill tell their parents they can't miss a day!" Principal