Exploring Place Through A Lens

IMG_0643Every experience can be understood through different lenses – a different way of looking at things or considering ideas. At our TELUS Spark Experiential Learning opportunity, students were exploring the different facets of Electricity as part of their Science studies– but instead of just focusing on the energy exhibit, they considered all of the different ways that electricity came together or could come together to create each of the displays and experiences. This created the opportunity to understand a space deeply while developing curiosities and competencies in thinking like engineers.

Goal Growth in Facilitating Learning

In Practicum 1, I identified the goal below – since then, I’ve made some progress.

Goal 1: Encouraging students to take risks in their learning and be comfortable with asking questions:

  • Explained my role on day one as someone who was learning from students
  • Incorporated the vocabulary and ideas of “take a risk” into asking questions
  • Inherited an assessment system where students can demonstrate continued growth and development – success is always possible and what we aim to achieve

Authentic Inquiry as Engineers

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Students put their electrical engineering designs to the test and share their findings.

Rich learning happens through authentic inquiry: when learning has meaning beyond the classroom and a single purpose. As part of an opportunity for our students to think like and to become engineers, we explored the ways that engineers mapped out their ideas according to a “standard” – on arriving at consensus, our learners were tasked with designing and prototyping a new light circuit for the exterior of our school building. Risk taking was encouraged and ideas were validated using critical thinking, technology support, and physical prototype construction.

Think, Wonder, Explore, Learn

Sample of a TWEL chart, designed to promote thinking visibility, challenge assumptions, and encourage curiosity.

Sample of a TWEL chart, designed to promote thinking visibility, challenge assumptions, and encourage curiosity.

My intention in learning is that each student will be able to achieve success in learning, which requires that they take ownership in their own learning. This sample is based on my own adaption on KWL – it challenges the nature of “knowing”, and instead uses “what we think we know” as a focusing question (See: Making Thinking Visible, 2011). The Think, Wonder, Learn, Explore chart allows students to challenge their assumptions, document their curiosities, come up with their own strategies to learn, and synthesize their learning.

Creating Community

Screen Shot 2016-05-18 at 7.36.50 PMIn my role as a Technology Consultant, I was privileged to work with Robert Thirsk High School in the development of their Virtual Learning Commons – which was meant as a platform to bring together the school’s community in a virtual space.

The Virtual Learning Commons is an extension of the space of the Learning Commons – the central hub of the physical school. Working with students, the Principal, Librarian, and various other members of the community, we created and launched a widely used “one stop shop” platform for learning and connecting.

Celebrating Student Identity

I was privileged to share a learning journey with Willow Park School, and an amazing group of Grade 6 learners. Willow Park School, as an Arts-Centred Middle School, was a new experience for me as someone who previously struggled to understand and be one with the arts.

Students design and share questions for inspiration in their inquiry themes – “Quesperation”

This work largely began with assisting in the development of the Virtual Learning Commons, after an unexpected situation forced Willow Park School away from it’s Learning Commons space. I have taken a large interest in the idea of Learning Commons, and how we can bring learners together and be more actively and collaboratively engaged in their learning.

This work branched into an effort to making learning meaningful and visible for every student, as we pushed the limits of the classroom and engaged students in research of their own, where they “set sail for the stars” and connected their learning across all disciplines and to the curriculum. This work is incredibly valuable, because it specifically looks at this type of inquiry and autonomy within the context of an Arts-Centred learning school – and specifically, how the identity of artist and be preserved while exploring new ideas that may not previously have been integrated.

This work was presented at the Galileo IDEAS 2014 Conference, the Dabrowski Congress 2014, and the Congress for Social Sciences and Humanities 2016.