Facilitating Learning

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.

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


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.

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.

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.



Summary of areas I hope to explore in my learning, and some initial strategies and checkpoints:

  • Developing greater competency in create place-based learning opportunities, where students can understand by interrogating a place, ideas, and their experiences:
    • Design more frequent authentic and rich tasks, perhaps as a routine in the classroom
    • Create opportunities for learning outside the classroom and contributing to the community