Wednesday, 15 November 2017

Doing and Understanding

The latter part of the old saying, I hear and I forget, I see and I know, I do and I understand, is an important component of progressive education, as there is a strong link between hands-on learning and deep learning. 

This principle was evident in a recent Grade 9 Geography class on the rock cycle. In this lesson, students completed activities to develop an understanding of:
  • the classification of rocks by type;
  • how rocks are formed.

To fully grasp the role of heat and pressure in rock formation, the students took bits of shaved wax crayons and forced them together using small presses. This action produce a form which the students identified as sedimentary rock. They then used foil and small heaters to discover how sedimentary rock transforms into metamorphic rock. 

Based on the exit cards collected by teachers, students were able to demonstrate a "solid" understanding of rock formation.

Tuesday, 7 November 2017

Thinking Critically About Confederation

As part of the Grade 8 History curriculum, students study the evolution of Canada's Confederation. Our students engaged in this topic by adopting the perspective of one of the colonies involved in the Confederation debate and used this perspective to think critically about the pros and cons of this important decision. 

Working with their teammates, students used a variety of historical sources and class activities to examine the key issues relevant to their colony. The Confederation conferences were simulated using a fishbowl discussion, as it created an authentic environment for students to communicate and understand the competing points of view. Each fishbowl discussion contained one participant from each colony, which resulted in lively debate. Students outside the fishbowl offered feedback to the discussion participants.

In a debrief, students indicated they like the format of the presentation as they were able to really demonstrate their understanding of the topic and many even said they wished they had more time to discuss and debate! 

Friday, 3 November 2017

The Power of Collaboration

Having students work in small groups not only helps them develop important team-building skills, but it also enables students to share and construct knowledge. Adding a novel, hands-on component to the task deepens engagement and makes learning fun.

Students studying Grade 11 Biology had the opportunity to work in this way during a class on genetics. The class was introduced to the concept of inheritance patterns by having them build fictional animals named "Reebops". 

Students learned how information is passed from one generation to another, and how genes code for physical traits. They also explored how meiosis creates variation between individuals, which is why parents, and offspring have similar traits, but are not identical. 

As you can see, our students were pleased with their creations!