Thursday, 24 November 2016

The Campbell River Town Hall: An Integrated Project

Integrated projects encourage students to explore big ideas in greater depth.

Last year, Greenwood piloted the use of integrated learning experiences for students in Grades 7 and 8. These week-long projects incorporated key concepts from English, math, science and social studies, and encouraged students to explore big ideas in greater depth.

Our new Learning Communities, coupled with the use of blocked scheduling, allow us to find even more ways to integrate subjects together. Greenwood teachers recently used the back-to-back scheduling of Grade 7 English and Grade 7 Social Studies to create a project touching on concepts and skills from both subjects.

The Project

In the town of Campbell River, B.C. (the salmon capital of the world), concerns have been raised about the issue of overfishing. Members of the community disagree about whether fishing should continue. As a result, the mayor of Campbell River has convened a town hall to listen to the various viewpoints of those affected by the fishing industry. Based on their presentations, the B.C. Supreme Court will decide whether or not salmon fishing will continue.

Each student was assigned the perspective of someone for or against the fishing industry - whether it was a fish farmer, a government official, an environmentalist or a member of a local Indigenous community. Over the course of two weeks’ worth of classes, students worked in groups to explore their perspective using a number of resources, and to develop a presentation explaining their viewpoint. Each student then presented to their classmates and to the Supreme Court, who made a ruling on whether the fishing industry would continue.

Students were assessed for their content in social studies, and for structural writing and oral presentation skills in English. Each student was individually assessed on their presentation.

How Our Spaces Supported the Project

This large Learning Community, coupled with two smaller classrooms, provided
ample room for students to spread out according to their area of exploration.

These two classes had the use of three rooms - one large Learning Community and two smaller classrooms - to prepare their presentations. These spaces allowed students to break into groups according to their area of exploration, and to work with students from other classes. “At this age and stage, social mixing is really critical,” says English teacher Lisa West.

Social studies teacher Will Salvarinas agrees. “The students really enjoyed working with people from other classes and coming together to create passionate arguments in support of their assigned roles,” he says. “It built a lot of camaraderie between students.”

How Did It Go?

“The project was really well-received by the students,” Lisa says. “What really came through in their unit reflections was that it allowed them to reflect on not only their learning, but on their contributions as a learner in the classroom.”

Will highlighted the project’s connection to a real-world issue. “The opportunity to make their learning relevant really engaged the students,” he says.

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