Lessons from Disneyland

One of my favourite parts of Disneyland is when you pass under this sign to get into the park. It is all about changing your mindset, opening yourself up to the magic, and immersing yourself in your surroundings.

Disneyland_plaque

As a huge Disney fan, I’ve always been inspired by the idea of turning my students into imagineers. Disney is more than just a bunch of characters and rides. For me, Disneyland is the living example of what I’d like education to become. Recently I watched the new Tomorrowland movie and it inspired me to strongly consider the entry plaque and what I could do for my students to really immerse them in the skills/competencies and opportunities awarded to them through inquiry.

When talking about the movie, George Clooney explains that Tomorrowland is a “secret society of geniuses… this beautiful, gleaming metropolis. A place where the ideas of science and exploration are able to grow to make the world better.” Why can’t our classrooms become a place where students can explore, create and build their tomorrow? Why can’t they use yesterday, tomorrow and fantasy to inspire innovation in their learning?

Once I started researching, there are many schools and teachers who have taken this route. School should be exciting. You should learn while having fun and have fun while learning. The secret is in the details. By taking that extra time to create the right environment and experiences, anything can happen.

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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