The past couple weeks, my students have been working on a music video of their own to encourage people to do something. Religion is a rather tough subject sometimes as the majority of my students are not catholic. I have been looking for ways to take the lessons that they are to be learning and bring them to a worldly context that applies to everyone’s personal journey of faith, be it limited, devout or non-existent.
My students fell in love with the song Do Something by Matthew West early in the year. When I showed them the music video, I instantly knew they needed to make their own video. The kids planned and helped shoot the video and I put them together in iMovie for them over the weekend. When I showed the kids this morning, they were thrilled, excited and proud of the work. The reaction from parents and administration has also been extremely positive. I am so proud of the kids for taking ownership over this project and seeing the value no matter their personal beliefs.
One of my biggest take aways from this year is to create experiences for students. Allow them to gain skills and expose them to real world situations where the knowledge piece is put to use in the real world. By having students involved in the process of planning, my students looked for ways to connect the knowledge to the real world. Together we created critical thinking challenges and looked for ways to relate what we were learning to jobs we might have in the future.
Recently, my students looked for jobs that had to do with weather and the things we were learning in Science. We found out that weather was very important to many fields of employment and you needed to understand these concepts to perform your job. One example was that a pilot would need to know how wind direction and speed affects the plane. Together we took it to the next level of how they could build a machine to measure the weather using the recyclable materials we were collecting. You can see our plan we developed here: 5A Design a Weather Machine Challenge
Next week we will get a chance to take our machines outside and test them out to see how effective they are at measuring the direction of the wind. The students will have the opportunity to market their machines and build plans as well. All of my students worked extremely hard and rose to the challenge. I am seeing higher levels of success because the students see a connection between skills, knowledge and the world.
Here are some photos from our build day
On Friday afternoon, I planned an art lesson to start looking at the 4 process skills in art and how to reflect on their work. It will tie it into what will be a future LA writing piece in descriptive writing. In order to create more buy-in and excitement from the students, I used the Ikea Soft Toy Co-Creation Competition. The kids know how much I love Ikea and they love contests. They were instantly hooked and excited to plan and share. We put a 1 hour time limit on their own work, knowing that we would need a little bit more time to work on them on Monday.
We got to work and all 42 kids were immediately invested in their work. Our Vice Principal came in to ask the kids a question regarding their technology. He asked if he could interrupt for a moment, and before I could answer the kids yelled out “NO!”. Every few seconds, I had a student coming to me for feedback and suggestions on how they could create the best monster art that will hopefully become a soft toy at Ikea. They were even discussing which charity they would donate their prize. It was very cool! What I saw was pride in their learning. They want to learn and they see value in what they are learning. They were extremely eager to show off their learning. I saw their pride in their self-assessments/reflection as well. They were very aware of the criteria set out and what they could do to improve their work if needed.
In our class, Craig and I have very high expectations of the learning that occurs. The kids are serious about their learning as well. They are eager to explain their learning to anyone and if they aren’t sure how to answer the question, they aren’t afraid to say so but will try as well. One of my favourite phases I am starting to hear repeated by my students is “I don’t know, let’s find out!” when they are unsure of something. It tells me that I am starting to build the culture of risk taking that was one of my priorities going into the year.
There are some great things happening in our classroom and it is amazing to see what happens next.