During the 2017-2018 school year, 15,397 Grade 6-12 students from 279 schools benefited from the Turning Points program across seven provinces: Alberta, Saskatchewan, Manitoba, Ontario, New Brunswick, Nova Scotia, Newfoundland and Labrador. In the catchment areas served by NPAAMB, 136 students from the Brant Haldimand Norfolk Catholic District School Board, Grand Erie District School Board and Hamilton-Wentworth Catholic District School Board participated in Turning Points. NPAAMB’s partnership with The Learning Partnership and helped ensure that urban Aboriginal youth in the Niagara Peninsula have access to this impactful program.
Turning Points: Delivering Transformational Experiences
Launched in 1999, Turning Points is a self-reflection and literacy program that provides opportunities for students to read, write and think about their fundamental values.
Through a process of self-reflection and discussions with teachers and peers, students write a narrative essay about a significant event (turning point) that taught them something important about their lives. As they organize and express their thoughts about their values, students learn that what they do matters – they determine their own futures and have the power to turn a negative into a positive.
Participants are encouraged to submit their essays in English or French for formal evaluation, recognition and publication as part of the program’s essay competition component.
Submissions are reviewed by a two-tier panel of judges consisting of education students at 10 partner universities. For them, Turning Points provides valuable experience evaluating student work, one of the most difficult graduation requirements they must meet. Essays are also judged by community reviewers including professionals from publishing, media and business, who offer a practical and professional lens to the judging process. Essays are assessed based on originality of thought, clarity of language, organizational structure, use of conventions such as grammar and spelling, understanding of a “turning point” and impact on the reader. Students at each grade level have specific word count requirements and are judged against their peers.
Turning Points: Objectives
The program is designed to achieve the following objectives:
- To foster an appreciation among students for the value of life experiences.
- To provide a vehicle for students to focus on their values and life goals and express them on paper.
- To provide schools with a flexible, easy-to-implement, well-being program that links essay writing to each student’s personal experience.
- To motivate students to express themselves in written form and reinforce their writing skills.
- To mobilize community recognition for young people who are reflecting and writing about the values that guide their lives.
Turning Points: Impact
Students who have dealt with particularly difficult events in their young lives benefit greatly from the empathetic, supportive atmosphere and the self-reflective nature of the writing process. Increasingly, we are hearing teachers describe how they use the program as a means for working with students dealing with mental health concerns or challenging life circumstances. Students find it helpful to reflect and write about these issues and often receive support from their peers and teachers.
In past years, students have written many powerful stories on school and life challenges, such as bullying, peer pressure, loss of loved ones, and friendship. Students learn to appreciate the varied experiences of their peers, which leads to respectful communication and shared understanding. As part of the program, students are encouraged to express themselves and engage in positive, open dialogue with their parents, family, friends and community. As a result of the program, students’ communication skills, both oral and written, are improved.
The Learning Partnership is a Canadian charity that prepares students to thrive in a diverse, connected and changing world. We leverage the best thinking from educators, business, and government to deliver experiential programs for students that cultivate entrepreneurial thinking and support social emotional learning. Since 1993, we have been helping build the foundations for students to solve tomorrow’s challenges. www.thelearningpartnership.ca