Charles Dickens Elementary is an alternate Public School in Vancouver, British Columbia.  We are considered an alternate program because we do a few things a little bit differently.

Our class wrote this list all together, then each student contributed a short explanation for the points

We learn in a Multi-Age Family Grouping environment

In our school we have classes with different ages in them.  For example, our class has grades 5, 6 and 7 in it.  I think multi-age groupings are good because you get to stay in the same class and you get used to that kind of learning.  I like being in a multi-age classroom because I think that it makes you more open to new things and new people.  The awesomest

We practice teamwork with many different classrooms and the teachers team together

For example, this year we do projects with Tami and Karim, Hip Hop and Holiday cards with Chloe, Buddies with Jenny, Karen and Wendy, and Student Vote with Peggy and Chloe.  This gives us a chance to learn how to work with all kinds of different people.  THE_MOST_AWESOME_PERSON3710

We have a commitment to continuous learning and our skills grow over the years

This means that grade 5s learn the same things as grade 7s but the grade 7s learn it to a greater extent.  It also means that grade 5s, 6s and 7s get to work together and I really like that because when I was younger I got to work with older kids and see how things are done.  It really helped me adapt to the new class.  Now I get to show the newer kids how to do it.  In this school we are never pressured by learning expectations.  The teachers set up the curriculum so that everyone can learn when they are ready to learn. petrinied4000

Our classroom is a comfortable, warm and welcoming learning environment where we are safe to experiment

Division 16 is a comfortable place where students can learn, knowing they are safe and welcome in our class.  It’s a place where everyone is welcome and everyone is treated equally and respected for who they are.  I think that students feel warm in our class because they know they can learn properly and I think people are happy to know that they can be in a cozy, warm and safe environment to learn and have fun.  Hamster-lover

There isn’t too much pressure when you’re trying to learn

Here I think there is not too much pressure in Division 16 because all the kids clap and love your work.  There are very flexible expectations for different learning needs.  who gets money

We call our teachers and principals by their first names

I know this might sound a bit weird but here at our school we call our teachers and principals by their first names.  We do that because it gives us more of a relationship with them and when it’s time to get serious, we have more respect for them because we know them better.  Overall it helps us learn a lot more. MonsterMeatball

We focus on project-based learning and integrated study

In our curriculum, we have a variety of projects.  Many are integrated studies.  We work in partnerships, solo and in teams.  On a project we have to work together and make connections.  Our projects include lots of different subjects like reading, writing, research, art, social studies and science all put together in one project.  Projects are fun and they help us think hard, work hard and really get into a topic. Balloongirl123

Students have a lot of choice in how we do things

We have a very choice-centric class.  our teachers always ask our opinion about their plans or ideas.  We value all of our opinions in big decisions.  Our class has such diverse opinions that every one of our projects are creative and original.  PointyHedgehog11

Homework has to be meaningful and deadlines are reasonable

Homework is always connected to what we are studying at school.  We are asked to make meaningful connections to our work.  Deadlines can change based on your work or your learning. gigatool2_is_a_girl

Everyone is respected for their diversity

We always respect and include people who are different than us in groups, activities and projects.  We don’t care who we help and play with.  We all have different talents and that’s what makes us a great class.  NerdDurtle

Teachers jazz up the classroom with really fun projects and subjects

This school is really fun because the teachers make our projects and subjects very fun and interesting.  Like This Moment in History and Future Technology.  The teachers don’t decide on anything boring or bland.  They always think about what we want to do and what we like. Mario2

We practice democratic decision-making – we do a lot of voting on what we learn, how we learn it and how we represent our learning.  Debate is how we have a say.

Our classroom has a very democratic structure.  We vote on matters once we have the basic ideas down.  We usually debate first and have a good idea what the options are before we vote.  We are given plenty of chances to defend our idea and point of view.  We are not usually at a disagreement at the end of a debate and the vote, well that just settles things. Jr. fruitcake

We participate in lots of charity fundraising and social awareness activities

Our class regularly participates in school wide fundraisers like foodbanks, sock drives and even maybe bake sales.  Several members of our class participate in Student Council who organize all kinds of activities and hopefully our class will only get better at it. dr. pineapple

Creativity and imagination are always evident in our classrooms and are valued in our work

When we do projects, everybody’s work looks different because they use different materials, they bring different points of view, props and knowledge.  lighthingboy123

Our class is known for our kindness to other students

We are an anti-racist class and respect all children no matter what skin colour or special needs.  We stand up for other kids if they are being bullied and we don’t exclude other people.  We welcome friends and siblings into our class at recess and lunch.  cool sketcher

Curiosity is always encouraged to help us find new passions and open-mindedness to ideas is important

When you’re curious, it encourages you to help find new passions and to be open-minded to new ideas that can be important. reader

When all of our minds and thoughts are combined we are good at solving problems and reasoning

In our class if we have a problem, we share our ideas and compromise to find a solution.  In order for his to happen we all have to be open-minded to others’ ideas and stay on topic. Scarletcat

We have learned to present our work confidently and without fear

We push the boundaries of education to feel successful and to learn new things.  We understand that the risks and confidence of trying something different could pay off.  We don’t believe in boring projects.  Walk into our classroom during rehearsal and you will be amazed.  Don’t say I didn’t warn you. coolschoolscout

Teachers are always open to questions and ideas, and students are encouraged to be guided by questions and to wonder

When it comes to projects, teachers offer opinions, help, questions and ideas.  Students are always encouraged to be inquisitive and ask questions.  Students are also encouraged to not only wonder about their projects but also the projects of other students around them. Aldwyn 2000

Honest, caring and constructive feedback is always welcomed and is part of our regular practice

Giving feedback is very important in our class.  We believe that we can always improve things.  Knowing what you need to fix often makes it easier.  Whenever we are doing a presentation, we give feedback that is honest, helpful and caring. purplegiraffe47

Self-evaluation and collaborative reporting is an essential part of our learning process

At the end of each term, everyone in our class does a collaborative report where the teacher writes what they think and we write what we think about our work on that study.  I think that having the time to reflect on our own work and what we have done is really useful because we get to think about what we can work on and how to improve instead of other people telling us what to do. Ginger

We aren’t afraid to get our hands dirty or work hard

What we mean by “we aren’t afraid to get our hands dirty or work hard” is that we aren’t afraid to dive into complex ideas, we are encouraged to work to our best and that we always push ourselves to the limits and then go past them.  An example is I had never used a powerpoint before in this class.  When I told Jody my idea, she said “try something new!” so I presented with a powerpoint and a script and it was amazing.  I got awesome feedback and learned to do something new. Subway2go

We learn valuable life lessons from our mistakes and grow from them each time

We become better humans when we have the chance to make choices and to learn from the consequences of our choices.  Our teachers guide and protect us to make sure learning is always first.  We always get the chance to try again. cheesecurds

We believe in and work towards a better world

We have a bottle drive every first Wednesday of the month so we have 9 bottle drives each year.  That money goes to our school to make our school a happier, better and friendlier place.  That’s just one way that our class helps make the world a better place. CheesemanABC123


We have our own lucky four-legged clover

Click on the links below to read a Pamphlet produced about the Dickens Alternate Program in the 1980s

Dickens pamphlet front

Dickens pamphlet back



  1. reader

    I really like the idea that each person got something to write about and did a couple of sentences.
    it’s really interesting.

  2. Ginger

    This is so great. Whenever I need to be reminded how awesome Dickens is, I know where to come.

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