[Infographic] Toronto’s Biggest Luxury Condo Blunders

Screen Shot 2014-06-17 at 1.05.41 PMIf you’re looking for a condo near one of the best schools in Toronto, you may want to think twice about buying a pre-construction unit in the luxury condo market. From an oversupply of units priced over $1 million, to the fact that these buildings depreciate in value what the value of their neighbourhoods goes up, Condos.ca’s first infographic shows us what’s really happening in Toronto’s luxury condo market. Check it out.


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Luxury Condo Blunders Infographic by Condos.ca

What is the IB Program?

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IB, short for the International Baccalaureate Diploma Programme, is a 2-year program of study for academically-oriented high school students. It is a rigorous program offered to students entering grades 11 and 12 who are seeking a challenge. The curriculum introduces a higher level of thinking and is designed to prepare these students for university. The IB Program is known mostly for its internationally recognized standards, which allow students to travel abroad and attend schools all around the world, after graduating from high school.

The IB Program is different from the regular high school curriculum. Students are required to take six prescribed courses at either higher level (HL) or standard level (SL), which cover different subject areas, including: English, French, Mathematics, Science, History and Art. In addition, there are three admission requirements, including: writing an extended essay, taking a Theory of Knowledge (ToK) course and completing community hours for Creativity, Action and Service (CAS).

Entering the IB Program

Students who wish to enter the IB Program must go through an intensive application process. It helps to have high marks and good teacher references, however, many students also find that taking a pre-IB Program in grades 9 and 10 helps immensely. The earlier program prepares you for IB’s high academic expectations and arguably gives you a higher chance of getting accepted into the program. However, many of the best high schools in Toronto still open the IB Program to those who have not taken pre-IB, and any student who works hard can get in just the same.

Advantages

The IB Program is held to a high standard and is widely recognized by schools and employers around the world. A well-established reputation is one of the many advantages of enrolling in the IB Program. Employees and post secondary admission boards recognize the name, even on an international level. Students who have completed the program automatically stand out on resumes and applications, when applying for universities and even jobs.

It provides thorough preparation for university.There are not many programs available that can prepare you better for university than the IB program can. With such a rigorous curriculum and heavy workload, students will be able to adapt to the university learning style much faster than those who do not take the program. The courses themselves are also more challenging than regular high school classes, often reaching into first year university content. Some universities and colleges even award first year credits for IB HL exams with scores of 5 or higher.

It is an opportunity for students to enrich their learning in a challenging environment. Many students find their regular classes to be boring or slow. The IB Program gives students a chance to excel beyond the norm, and achieve academic success sooner and at a much higher level. The program helps you challenge your way of thinking and teaches you how to think critically and effectively. Students are also surrounded by peers with a similar passion for learning – an important factor to consider in one’s education.

Disadvantages

Though the IB Program has its many benefits, it requires students to invest a lot of time, work and effort. The IB program can sometimes get a bit too rigorous—this is where time management and good work habits are a must. IB students undergo extreme amounts of stress and pressure everyday, and those who can’t handle it often end up dropping out of the program entirely. This isn’t an uncommon scenario; depending on the school, IB dropout rates can range from 10% all the way up to 75%.

One of the biggest disadvantages is the limited number of courses students get to choose from. There are few electives that students can fit in, after taking the prescribed courses, and this lack of variety may not appeal to students who want to pursue other interests. Once you enrol in IB, your path is, for the most part, set in front of you.

For schools outside of the TDSB, under boards like the TDCSB or YRDSB, the IB benefits come a cost. Schools can charge up to $3,000 for their IB Programs. The fee has sparked much debate in the TDSB, who is now seeking to balance their 2013-14 school budget without cutting programs like music. As of now, TDSB schools do not charge a tuition fee for the IB Program, but the decision is wavering.

If you are looking to move into the boundaries of one a school in the TDSB to take advantage of free IB tuition, contact us now for more information and home listings.

 

The Best Elementary Schools in the Toronto District School Board

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The Best Elementary Schools in the Toronto District School Board

Every parent wants the best for their child, especially when it comes to their education. For this reason, when it comes time to buying a new home, most parents look at what is available within the district boundaries of the best elementary schools. But which elementary schools are the best? Below is a comparison chart for the top five ranking elementary schools within the Toronto District School Board (TDSB), according to the most recent Fraser Reports (2011-2012):

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*Tied for first place.
**The average level achieved on EQAO tests, scored out of 4. Level 3 is considered the provincial standard and 4 is above the expected level.

Let’s take a closer look at each school:

Hillmount Public School

Rating: 10.0                                                        Grades: JK-6

Neighbourhood: Don Valley Village         Average Home Price: $488,455

Hillmount is a small school of 300 students that offers both regular and special education classes, including Junior Gifted and Learning Disabilities programs. Hillmount has been a top-ranking school for many years, and has achieved a consistent 10.0 rating for the past three years. The school scores exceptionally well in all categories, especially in EQAO testing, where more than 99% of students scored above standard. In addition, Hillmount integrates various music, drama, dance and visual arts programs into its curriculum, which successfully caters to various learning styles and interests.

Kennedy Public School

Rating: 10.0                                                                        Grades: JK-8

Neighbourhood: L’Amoreaux                     Average Home Price: $385,131

Kennedy is home to approximately 550 students, many of whom are part of its strong English as a Second Language (ESL) program. The school takes education to the next level, putting emphasis on literacy, numeracy and technologically-enriched learning; this is proven by Kennedy’s high grade 6 average EQAO levels. What makes this school stand out is its focus on character building, through involvement in eco-projects, community fundraising and various social justice initiatives.

Seneca Hill Public School

Rating: 10.0                                                        Grades: JK-6

Neighbourhood: Don Valley Village         Average Home Price: $488,455

Seneca Hill is a dual program school, with a regular program and a gifted program. The school won the Fraser Institute’s Award for Top School in Ontario for Mathematics last year, so it is no surprise that it achieves excellent scores in both grade 3 and grade 6 EQAO math testing. Seneca Hill has made consistent improvement over the years, and shows a balance in its variety of arts, mentoring and athletic programs.

Arbor Glen Public School

Rating: 10.0                                                        Grades: JK-6

Neighbourhood: Don Valley Village         Average Home Price: $488,455

Arbor Glen is a multicultural school, where English is the second language to more than 70% of the students. Its high academic standards are shown through their exceptional EQAO levels and their direct focus on literacy, numeracy, science and technology. Over the past few years, Arbor Glen has improved its Fraser rankings to become one of the top schools within the TDSB.

Deer Park Junior and Senior Public School

Rating: 10.0                                                        Grades: JK-8

Neighbourhood: Deer Park                         Average Home Price: $761,323

Deer Park is the only school ranking in the top five elementary schools that has a swimming pool for its swim program – one part of the physical education program. The pool is only one of the many interesting features that Deer Park offers, along with full access facilities and an Intensive Support Program that caters to students of multiple physical exceptionalities. While success in all academic categories is obvious, Deer Park has had some fluctuations in past ratings, however they have demonstrated improvements in all categories within the last two years.

Find a Home Close to the Best Elementary Schools in Toronto

The top five elementary schools in the Toronto District School Board are all popular choices for parents who want the best education for their children. As a result, homes that are for sale within these school districts are in very high demand. It is important to consider both the school and the neighbourhood when you begin your home search. The Deer Park neighbourhood is very expensive, but close to downtown and on the Yonge-University subway line. The Don Valley Village neighbourhood on the other hand is an affordable alternative, home to three of the five top schools, and close to the 401 highway and the Don Valley Parkway.

Contact us now to sign up for home listings within these school boundaries.

Are Electronics in the Classroom Improving or Hindering Learning?

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Are Electronics in the Classroom Improving or Hindering Learning?

There’s a growing trend among the best schools in Toronto: previously tabooed electronic devices are making their way into the classroom. School boards are slowly introducing the use of cell phones, tablets and laptops, by both teachers and students. This year, the Peel District School Board and Upper Canada District School Board are implementing a ‘bring your own device’ policy, which encourages students to bring their electronic devices for academic use in class. However, some educators are still not convinced. In fact, the Elementary Teachers’ Federation of Ontario maintains its stance on keeping mobile devices off and out of sight. So, what’s the right answer? Are electronics improving or hindering our students’ ability to learn?

21st Century Learning

There is no point questioning the educational value of electronic devices. Today, students are consulting their mobile devices for English-French translations, doing math with calculator apps and looking up facts on their mobile browsers. It is not uncommon to see a high school student type their notes on a tablet or laptop, instead of writing them down by hand. School boards across Ontario are even starting to accommodate wireless devices by purchasing new routers to allow students to have access to Wi-Fi in schools.

Many educators, including the Peel District School Board’s Director of Communications, Brian Woodland, support the introduction of mobile technology in classrooms, citing the need for 21st century electronic learning. Woodland acknowledges that students already use electronics in classrooms under desks, and suggests it’s better to bring these devices to the table, so they can aid learning instead of being a distraction.

Valid Concerns

Although electronic devices have plenty of merit in classrooms, there are negative aspects which need to be addressed. The biggest issue is the fact that students can be easily distracted by the apps, social networks and messaging options on their devices. Teachers already have a tough time keeping students’ attention, without electronics in the classroom – on top of, or hiding under, desks.

Additionally, teachers have raised concerns over cyber-bullying among students. With access to cell phones and social media in school, this form of bullying may become more prevalent. Professor Jeff Kugler of the Ontario Institute for Studies in Education brings up another issue, which is that if electronics were to be allowed in school, they should be accessible to everybody. As such, there is the issue of equality for students who do not own, or whose parents cannot afford, mobile devices.

The Answer

Not everyone is on board with the idea of students bringing their portable electronics to school, but there is no doubt that the idea is getting traction. While the Toronto and York public school boards may not embrace electronic devices yet, both have revised their policies to allow the use of electronics in classrooms at the teacher’s discretion.

The reality is that we live among a world of technology, and students are already using their phones, iPods, tablets and laptops in schools, with or without permission. For this reason alone, it’s important for educators and parents to discuss and decide on the best methods to use technology as a tool for learning, as there is no doubt it can be used to help students learn in the classroom. The most important lesson, perhaps, may be on how to use these electronic devices effectively.