MACC (Multi Age Cluster Class)

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Multi-Age Cluster Class (MACC, or Middle Age Cluster Class in Coquitlam) is a Vancouver based gifted-education program designed to enrich the regular curriculum for students in grades 4-7 (currently up to Grade 8 in the Coquitlam middle school model). The program opened its doors in 1994, one year after University Hill/UBC's much-heralded University Transition Program [1] for accelerated learners. The admission process for MACC involves several steps, where a child's suitability for the program is evaluated. A student is referred by their home school, challenge-class teacher, gifted case manager, or parent for consideration for admission. In Vancouver, students generally are asked to take the Insight test of Cognitive Skills which gives the selection committee a deeper understanding of a student's core skills. Children seen as suitable candidates are invited to attend the Pre-MACC Experience, a two-day session in Vancouver and Coquitlam. After that, students who are seen as candidates are invited to spend one or two days in the classroom at the school they would potentially attend. Offers of admission are sometimes contingent on this final step. In Surrey, the process is slightly different, as candidates only visit the classroom that they will be in for one day. The MACC program, despite its various permutations, universally emphasizes the creation of lifelong, autonomous learners who seek knowledge in an active and dynamic learning environment clustered with other high-ability learners. Teachers are chosen based on experience, ideally with course-work, training and/or experience working with high-ability learners.

Many teachers have received national recognition for their accomplishments while working in MACC, most notably the former longtime Tecumseh MACC teacher Ms. Marie Chomyn, who received the Prime Minister's Award for Teaching Excellence in 2013,[2] as well as 2013 Governor General Award co-recipients and former MACC teachers Ms. Graeme Cotton and Ms. Romy Cooper for their contributions to the teaching of issues related to national heritage. The current teachers of the MACC are Ms. Coit, Ms. Taylor, Mr. Webb and Madame Barber.[3] In addition, many MACC graduates have gone on to national and international success, including Bryan Wong, twice nominated as a member of Forbes Magazine's "Top 30 Under 30" entrepreneurs.[4]

Location[edit]

Currently, there are 3 schools hosting the MACC program in Vancouver. They are all administered by the Vancouver School Board (VSB)[3].

There were previous incarnations of MACC at Lord Nelson Elementary School, Queen Mary Elementary School, and David Livingstone Elementary School, but the program has shrunk slightly and relocated to its current base schools over the years due to a combination of VSB cutbacks, seismic upgrades, and perceived population shifts. In addition, there are other MACC programs outside Vancouver, such as Berkshire Park Elementary School, Hyland Elementary School, Bayridge Elementary School and Crescent Park Elementary School, all of which are located in Surrey, B.C. All four Surrey programs are grades 5-7. Surrey is currently in consideration of adding a high school program. In Vancouver, there also used to be a high school MACC program at Kitsilano Secondary School, though in Vancouver the concept has evolved into the 'Mini-School', of which most MACC graduates attend. The Tri-Cities (Port Coquitlam, Coquitlam, Port Moody) has three MACC equipped schools, namely Citadel Middle School, Hillcrest Middle School, and Kwayhquitlum Middle School. In 2014, two MACC sites were added in Burnaby (School District 41) at Capitol Hill Elementary School. There are currently two classes (Grade 4 & 5 and Grade 6 & 7) and the Burnaby School District is planning to add one more MACC site in south Burnaby, if possible, in the fall of 2015.

The Four Pillars (Curriculum)[edit]

In the MACC curriculum, there are Four Main Pillars that the program places emphasis on. These pillars are Autonomous Learning, Numeracy, Literacy, and Project Based Learning. Report cards are handed out within these 4 categories[5], with subcategories such as Work Habits, Personal Responsibility, Active Learning, and Social Responsibility.

Autonomous Learning[edit]

The word autonomous means to be independent, self-governing, efficient and to be able to learn by yourself and be a self-motivated learner. This is a very important life-skill that is heavily emphasized in this program. The students need to be autonomous, as they are not always reminded of due dates, or to take notes for their projects. This flexible learning style works well for self-motivated, creative, and independent students because it allows them to set their own goals and manage their own time. This benefits students because this teaches students how to become leaders in their own learning. The learning system quite different from the regular system because students run at their own pace, which means that everyone in the class can be in stronger in different areas of learning.

Numeracy[edit]

In the MACC, students work on self-paced math curriculum work in addition to problem-solving and math contests. This allows for accelerated math learning, and many students are known for going 1, 2 or 3 years beyond their grade level in math. More emphasis is placed on problem-solving to promote critical thinking skills. Some classes have 'individual math work' but in small groups where everyone's skill is more or less the same. Teachers believe that in doing so, this will bring up a lot of interesting math discussion, which they believe is useful in learning math. Also, because of all the work MACC students spend on problem-solving math, MACC students tend to score high in math competitions[6]. In 2016, 3 Kwayhquitlum students and 1 Tecumseh student 'aced' the Grade 7 Gauss contest by scoring a perfect 150.

Literacy[edit]

The MACC Program offers a variety of different literacy activities, including novel studies, poem analysis, essay writing, persuasive writing, story writing, graphic novel writing, report writing, play writing, and many others. Many of these are for preparation for high school, writing reports for Science Fair[7], Heritage Fair[8], and EOE[9] projects.

Project Based Learning[edit]

In Project Based Learning, or PBL, students explore learning through three main projects each year. This includes a Science Fair in first term, Heritage fair in second term, and an 'Evening of Eminence' in term three. These projects are usually the biggest thing that students will do while in MACC. However, the Heritage Fair has not always been done in some class, such as the one in Hillcrest Middle school. The Science Fair is based on a typical Science Fair, but students are encouraged to go 'above and beyond'[7], and explore in-depth Scientific research questions and experiments. For Heritage Fair, students explore major events in Canadian History and compete in the Canadian Heritage Fair[8]. In 2016, the FI MACC class was honored to created a class Heritage Fair event, about the 100th anniversary of The Battle of Vimy Ridge, as well as explore the 'birth of Canada'[10]. EOE, or Evening of Eminence[9], students decide on an 'Eminent' person to portray, based on the five criteria for and eminent person - Distinct, Distinguished, Determined, Influential and has Integrity - the 3-D's and 2-I's. The students end this project with a museum display, usually hosted at the MOV or the Musqueam Cultural Centre where they pose as their Eminent person.

Individualized Education Plan (IEP)[edit]

In the MACC program, each student, along with their parents and teachers, personalizes their goals in his/her IEP. It summarizes their objectives in the four pillars of the MACC program; Literacy, Numeracy, Autonomous Learning and Project-Based Learning. Unlike regular report cards, MACC students' report cards are based on what the students have done to achieve these goals[5].

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