Water Balloons Make Math Fun: A Constructivist Algebra LessonIn the math class of veteran teacher Steve Norton, students cut pizza into precise triangles, calculate the volume of ice cream cones (filling them with real ice cream), and throw water balloons at their teacher. Norton wants to show his grade 8 students that algebra can be fun and engage them in ‘learning through doing’. It’s a constructionist approach that engages students in the learning experience, in part, by allowing them to actually construct or do something ‘real’.
Getting Kids Out of the ClassroomWith a constructivist viewpoint of learning and a commitment to experiential education and authentic outcomes, Sharon MacKenzie takes her middle school classes out of the school and into the world. From spending 2 months of the year in a seniors’ residence to raising thousands of dollars through developing and running a small business, the results are amazing – for the community as well as for the students. Read the article by Nick Smith in The Tyee online: [[http://thetyee.ca/News/2008/09/05/Constructivism|Get Kids Out of the Classroom|]]
cognitive apprenticeshipWe have all seen youth who can spend hours perfecting complicated skateboarding feats, learning new computer games or mastering animation techniques – it is impossible to stop them from learning. Yet these same teens may struggle with learning in a classroom setting. Part of the problem is that classroom learning is often abstract, disconnected from any real-life application or the natural context for using new information.
Those neurological changes in the young brain as i-John AbbottMon, 02/18/2008 - 17:01 -- adminThose neurological changes in the young brain as it transforms itself mean that adolescents have evolved to be apprentice-like learners, not pupils sitting at desks and waiting instruction. Youngsters who are empowered as adolescents to take charge of their own futures will make better citizens for the future.
Making Life Part of the CurriculumHow does a 19th Century Maori war chant figure into the college aspirations of a bunch of student athletes in El Segundo? Just another means of preparing students — not just for college, but for life, suggests Dan Golden, who was recently hired for the new position of director of life planning and experiential learning at the private Vistamar School in El Segundo.
The Case Against Adolescence: Rediscovering the Adult in Every TeenMon, 02/11/2008 - 12:10 -- adminRobert Epstein, former editor in chief of Psychology Today, shows that teen turmoil is caused by outmoded systems put in place a century ago which destroyed the continuum between childhood and adulthood. Where this continuum still exists in other countries, there is no adolescence.
The Unprocessed Child: Living Without SchoolThu, 01/31/2008 - 18:51 -- adminLaurie Chancey spent her childhood immersing herself in topics of her own choosing. She was never forced to learn something simply because tradition and/or society said it was necessary. No one was looking over her shoulder to make sure she was learning the “proper” subjects.
She enrolled in college when she was eighteen, and graduated summa cum laude three and a half years later. Laurie is a bright adult, but her IQ is not why she did so well. She spent her life learning to learn and it’s something that now comes easily to her.
Developing More Curious MindsThu, 01/31/2008 - 17:47 -- adminThis volume presents approaches to eliciting students’ natural curiosities through journals, questioning frames, critical thinking challenges, visits to museums and long term curricular projects with authentic assessments. It challenges existing school cultures and presents models of leadership and professional development. Includes self and organizational assessment protocols and extensive web-site references.
(Source: John Barell’s website: morecuriousminds.com)
The Self-Directed Learning Handbook: Challenging Adolescent Students to ExcelThu, 01/31/2008 - 17:18 -- adminWhether the students are struggling or proficient, the program is designed to nurture their natural passion for learning and mastery, challenging them to go beyond the easy and familiar so they can truly excel. The program can be introduced in stages in any middle or high school classroom and enables students of diverse abilities to design and pursue independent course work, special projects, or even artistic presentations, community field work or apprenticeships.
Featured in this video: John Abbott is the President of the [[http://www.21learn.org/|21st Century Learning Initiative]], an initiative to facilitate the emergence of new approaches to learning in the United Kingdom.
Featured in this video: Heather MacTaggart is the Executive Director of [[http://classroomconnections.ca/|Classroom Connections]], a Canadian non-profit educational organization dedicated to optimizing student learning.
constructing meaningThis much we now know. The brain learns best when it is trying to ‘make sense’. When it is building on what it already knows. When it is working in complex, situated, circumstances. When it accepts the significance of what it is doing. When it is exercising in highly challenging but low threat environments, children learn spontaneously.
holistic and self-directedThe ‘classrooms’ of stone age times were messy, unpredictable, challenging places where youngsters needed a multiplicity of skills and attitudes if they were to survive. Sitting still and being instructed is not what the brains of today’s pupils have evolved to expect. Children need more freedom, more experience of reality than even the best teachers in a classroom can provide. – 21st Century Learning Initiative
how humans learn bestWe now understand that evolution has provided humans with a powerful toolkit of [[http://changelearning.ca/get-informed/understanding-human-learning/born-learn/early-years/predisposed-development?|predispositions]] that go a long way in explaining our ability to learn language, cooperate in groups, solve problems, plan for the future and empathize with others. This evolutionary inheritance both empowers us and constrains us. We are born ready to learn, but our brains are wired to learn more effectively under certain conditions.
adolescenceAlthough many people have begun to understand the importance of the [[early years]] to human development, achievement and lifelong success, we have been slow to recognize the elephant in our midst—the adolescent learner. Dropout statistics, plummeting rates of school connectedness, declining academic performance and an increased dislike of school are [[signs of trouble]] underlining a disturbing pattern of disengagement as youth enter their teens. It seems that we may be [[getting it wrong]] for adolescents learners more than anyone in our schools.
Exploring Democracy: ICT and Inquiry Fuel the JourneyWith the tools of technology, the support of the Galileo Educational Network, and an inquiry-based model of learning, grade 10 classes took on the question: “What are the implications of living in a democratic society within a larger global context?” Working closely with a specialist in middle east politics from the University of Calgary, students examined democracy in light of the invasion of Iraq. The study culminated in a video conference where students from two different cities presented and defended their positions around this controversial topic.
Students Learn Empathy by Connecting with InfantsRoots of Empathy (ROE) is an award winning, evidence-based classroom program that has shown dramatic effect in reducing levels of aggression and violence among school children while raising social/emotional competence and increasing empathy. The program reaches children from Kindergarten to Grade 8 across Canada, in English and French, in rural, urban, remote and Aboriginal communities both on and off reserve and internationally in Australia,New Zealand, and the United States.
Today, many Indigenous Australians live in isolated, extremely poor communities. Substandard housing, high unemployment, and low levels of literacy and school attendance severely undermine health, well-being, and cultural continuity. Not surprisingly in these conditions, the beliefs and traditions of Indigenous Australians—expressed in hundreds of languages and dialects—are now disappearing.
The population of the Outer Gulf Islands in British Columbia (Pender, Mayne, Galiano, and Saturna) is aging. There are relatively fewer school-aged children every year, and opportunities for school aged children and senior citizens to interact and form the constructive relationships that infuse and support healthy communities are diminishing.
Hands-on Trades Courses Get Students Out of Class and On the JobIn an effort to expand upon opportunities for students, the Ottawa-Carleton District School Board has introduced a new approach called Focus Programs. Focus Programs are designed to provide students with the opportunity to experience a ‘hands-on’ program for one semester. The programs concentrate on a specific trade in a setting that feature in-class and practical on-site experience.
High School Students to Open Goat FarmHigh school students who created a business plan detailing the market potential they see in the rising demand for goat meat in Indiana will get a $28,000 school district loan to open a goat farm. Spencer-Owen school board members voted 5-2 on Thursday to finance the 7-acre farm, which will be run by Owen Valley High School students about 15 miles northwest of Bloomington. The students will work together to raise and market Boer goats to Indiana’s growing number of ethnic groups that favor goat meat. They’ll pay back the loan through their meat sales.
community involvementNo curricular overhaul, no instructional innovation, no change in school organization, no toughening of standards, no rethinking of teacher training or compensation will succeed if students do not come to school interested in, and committed to, learning… We need to look, not at what goes on inside the classroom, but at students’ lives outside the school’s walls. Laurence Steinberg, Beyond the Classroom, 1997
can the learning species fit into schools?Education critic John Abbott quotes Bill Gates who states unequivocally; “High schools are obsolete… by that, I mean that even when they are working exactly as designed (they) cannot teach our kids what they need to know today”. Abbott explores what we know about our species that might help us understand better how humans learn and how to provide young people with the learning experiences they need. (This paper was delivered to The Campaign for Learning, 10th June 2005, Kensington Town Hall, UK.)
Crazy By Design: Adolescence, a Critical Evolutionary AdaptationThe latest research and theories from evolutionary psychology, neurobiology and cognitive science demonstrate the various ways that humans have evolved over time to be extremely effective learners. John Abbott discusses what current research from various fields can tell us about how the adolescent brain works and how educators can work with adolescent learners to maximize their potential.
Apprenticeship training in CanadaThe apprenticeship system has a long history as an effective vehicle for work-based learning, but modern times have seen negative attitudes to apprenticeship and a poor image of trades, as well as a lack of information and awareness of apprenticeship. This is unfortunate because in the contemporary Canadian context, apprenticeship can help to address two distinct problems: labour shortages in the skilled trades and youth unemployment. (Source: Canadian Council on Learning)
Science literacy bolstered by free-choice learning beyond the classroomScience is playing a growing role in public policy and in the daily lives of most citizens. As a result, science literacy skills are becoming increasingly important. Free-choice science learning is a form of non-sequential, self-paced and voluntary learning “that is guided by a person’s needs and interests.”
Creating the Learners Society NeedsThe workplace of the 21st century requires certain skills that employers find are in short supply. Recent research suggests that a learning strategy called knowledge building can help students acquire and develop these skills. (Source: Canadian Council on Learning)
Removing barriers to apprenticeship trainingAn important study in the area of apprenticeship training in Canada helps set the agenda for removing perceived employment barriers for skilled trade apprentices and to dispel some of the myths and reinforce the concept of apprenticeship training in the minds of the public. (Source: Canadian Education Association)
school, home and communitySchools can’t do it alone. In an average calendar year, kids only spend about 14% of their time in school. After you take away the 33% of time they spend sleeping, you are left with 53% that is spent with family, friends and community1.
From Concept to Sale: Students Learn by Doing in Manufacturing ProgramEarl of March Secondary School has been recognized many times for its innovated technological excellence. Recently, however the focus has been on its hands-on approach from everything from marketing, to design technology to product completion. Students and trades people alike are taking a second look at what is happening at the Kanata based high school.
making life part of the curriculumHow does a 19th Century Maori war chant figure into the college aspirations of a bunch of student athletes in California? Just another means of preparing students — not just for college, but for life, suggests Dan Golden, who was recently hired for the new position of director of life planning and experiential learning at the private Vistamar School in El Segundo. ( Los Angeles Times ) (02-Jan-2008)
Ian’s work as a scientist began with a contradiction: “The scientists said that you can’t find any horny toads here. And I said, ‘My dad and I go out and catch them.’” The thirteen-year-old has now traveled to Idaho and California, where he and three classmates surprised working scientists by describing new discoveries about where the 3-inch-long lizards live and what they eat. “One man said that we presented better than most college students did,” says Ian.
Creative Commons Copyright Licenses: Sharing In the Internet AgeThu, 12/27/2007 - 07:15 -- admin [[http://www.creativecommons.org|Creative Commons (see site)]] licenses offer a variety of choices in ensuring work can be shared in the proper educational context while preserving ownership and proper use of the copyrighted work. This video provides a great overview for those not yet familiar with Creative Commons licenses. (Runtime: 03:00)
Our programs: We provide Southern Gulf Islands students with elementary Eco-Adventures and high school Environmental Studies programs.
Curriculum Connections: Our programs connect to the BC education curriculum, while encouraging learners to go deeper, immersing themselves in the natural world to feel, understand and act for the environment.
west coast environmentors teach ecology and collaboration at B.C. alternative schoolThe Saturna Ecological Education Centre (SEEC) is an experiential, place-based ecological learning centre on beautiful Saturna Island, B.C. Operating as an alternative school within the local school district, SEEC programs integrate science, social studies, physical education, language arts and fine arts to create unique learning adventures that promote critical thinking, social responsibility and personal growth. Visit the [[http://www.seec64.ca/home/index.cfm|SEEC website]] or read the school’s newsletter, attached below.