Showing posts with label Integration. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Integration. Show all posts

Thursday, 30 March 2017

Disaster DIY

After reading a book about a natural disaster, students teamed up to help their novel's
main character survive his or her ordeal.

Your town has just been devastated by a massive earthquake. The phone lines are dead, there’s no running water and supplies are running out fast. All you have is a few household objects and your ingenuity. How do you make it out alive?

Our Grade 7 classes tackled this tough question through a week-long integration project from March 6-10. After reading one of three books by Canadian YA novelist Eric Walters about a natural disaster - an earthquake, a tsunami or a flood - students teamed up to help their novel’s main character survive his or her ordeal.

To be successful, students had to draw on knowledge from four core subjects:

  • Science: Students invented a survival device that helped the characters purify drinking water, keep warm and dry or signal for help.

  • Math: Students used mathematical reasoning to predict how long the device will help the character survive until assistance arrives. (One group created a giant air bubble and did detailed calculations to determine how long that oxygen would last!)

  • Social Studies: Students needed to understand the specific characteristics of the area where the disaster took place, and to understand how humans acquire, manage and use natural resources based on their environment..

  • English: Students produced an oral or written explanation of how their survival device works, as well as a series of journal entries written from the perspective of their novel’s main character.

Students used a design thinking approach throughout this process: understanding what the end user needs, making sense of their research and resources and generating ideas and prototypes. By using design thinking, students learn that the process of trial and error is a good way to solve problems.


To work collaboratively students need space. Our learning community classrooms are not
only spacious but allow lots of flexibility.


What Did Students Invent?


Students’ creativity shone through in the wonderful use they made of their available resources. Some examples of devices include:

  • A water purifier made from a plastic bottle, coffee filters, curtains, sticks and a plastic bag
  • A giant “Help” sign made from glow sticks
  • A canopied raft made from debris and a tarp


How Did Our Expanded Building Support This Integrated Project?


To work collaboratively students need space: ample room to meet in small groups, spread out their materials and build their prototypes. Our learning community rooms fit the bill perfectly: they’re not only spacious, but their flexible furnishings allowed students to configure the room in the way that worked best for them. Our teachers also had plenty of space to circulate through the room and support teams as needed during work periods.

Our performance theatre also played a key role in the project. Its drop-down screen allowed the Grade 7s to view multimedia materials and go through short lessons as a large group. When it was time to present their projects, the theatre provided an ideal venue for this activity.


When it was time for Grade 7 students to present their finished prototypes, our
performance theatre provided an ideal venue.


Student Feedback


What did students like most about this project? Here’s what a few of them had to say:

“I liked that the whole week was connected to one main idea. I was really proud of our final product, because it worked and we had a clear view to why we made it.”

“I enjoyed using different ideas to help my character and put myself in the character's shoes.”

“I enjoyed going to different rooms and learning about survival if you were caught in an earthquake.”

“I’m proud of the final product because even though we disagreed at the beginning, we came together and worked through it, resulting in an awesome prototype.”

Tuesday, 13 December 2016

WATCH: Campbell River Town Hall

On November 24, we took you behind the scenes of our Campbell River Town Hall Project. Supported by our new Learning Communities, the project integrated elements of English and social studies for Grade 7 students.

What did this project look like in action? See for yourself in the video below!

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.

Thursday, 26 May 2016

Integration Projects Offer a New Take on Culminating Activities

Final evaluations are fast approaching, and the Grade 7 & 8 Integration Team is hard at work developing a second round of interdisciplinary integration projects. Each grade will participate in a four-day task designed to provide an authentic opportunity to apply a year’s worth of subject knowledge and skills to a real-world problem. (Read about the first Grade 7 and Grade 8 Integration Projects.)


As subject teachers, we have always been encouraged to create culminating tasks that would have students play a role and apply their subject knowledge to make real-world decisions. These integration projects are a perfect opportunity to take these individual subject role-playing tasks to the next level.

This second round of integration projects are designed to primarily assess skills and learning from the year, rather than teach new content. The development of these culminating integration projects therefore present their own unique set of strengths and challenges. There is more time within the schedule for students to focus in on their task, since less time is allotted to teacher-facilitated instruction. 


The actual project design has been more challenging this second time around. Our goal is to develop an authentic problem that requires a year’s worth of subject knowledge and skills, touching upon essential learning from at least four different courses. All of this while remembering, of course, that the problem-solvers are Grade 7 and 8 students - not yet ready to take on the complex problems that actually do require this level of integration. “Please draw upon your understanding of science, math, social studies and English to solve the problems in the Middle East.”

As teachers, it is causing us to reflect upon the curriculum in our own individual subjects in a new way. We are asking ourselves questions such as “If it is difficult to find a place for a particular concept or skill within a real-world, integrated project, how essential is it to begin with?”.

As we reach the final stretch, we are excited to see these culminating projects in action.This first year of Grade 7 and 8 projects have certainly be making all of us, teachers and student alike, think and reflect in new directions.

Samantha Moser
Grade 8 Science Teacher