Giving students experiences to learn from

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

Comfort Zones

Something I learned this week was that the needs of the students often will take me out of my comfort zone and the best planned lessons are often needed to be thrown out the window so I can go with the flow.

My grade 7 French class is the prefect example. We are continuously changing teaching styles and methods to help the students. After about a month, we merged two classes and one of the other teachers and I decided to team teach music to our groups. I came up with a project called “Why Learn French?” and we had the kids use a modified version of the Design Thinking process.

We started working on our next topic of people around us. We are working on I am/I have/I like statements. We also are working on questions. Keeping that many students who have an audience to their antics on task has been a struggle. After a mini lesson to the whole class, I took 4 students out to the hall to dig a bit deeper into French sentence structure. This group grew to about 15 so we found an open room and set to work. I had 15 students wanting to learn parts of a sentence, how to properly ask questions and the difference between “Vous” and “Tu”.  I was completely unprepared to do this lesson with them but they were hungry for learning. They really got to work. Less work was done than with the other group however, the quality was there and that is what counts.

I am fortunate that the teacher I teach French 7 will roll with my ideas and my students are willing to challenge me.

In the past, my best lessons have come from being uncomfortable. In my first practicum, I was given the task of teaching Grade 5s Badminton. I was scared. I am not a Phys Ed person. I know how much I hate Badminton, so I decided why not make it fun! I brought in the love of Angry Birds that my students had and our mini-unit became themed around Angry Birds. The kids loved it! I loved it. You can check out my unit plan here.

Hopefully I can continue to push myself to where I am uncomfortable to bring out some of the best learning experiences for my students and myself. I dislike the phrase “Why invent the wheel?” because it doesn’t allow for growth. I say, at the very least, we should improve the wheel! Change it, shape it and try something new with it. With that being said, I fully admit that quite often, I just use the wheel as is because sometimes it works and it is what is needed.