Thursday, 4 May 2017

Student Directed Learning in Classroom

Jenny Y

Today, we had a guest speaker, Margaret McKeon, who came to share about how student directed learning looks like in classrooms and also talk about the importance of education for sustainable development.

The fundamental ideas behind ESD (Education for Sustainable Development) were that 1) education is most effective when students are able to engage authentically with the world around them 2) effecting change for a more sustainable world must include education.

I really liked how ESD ties very nicely ties into the the new curriculum as it focuses on not just what we teach, but 'how' we teach. As explained by Margaret, ESD is a very holistic approach to teaching and learning and it provides great opportunities for students to engage in experimental, place-based, and action oriented learning.

Then Margaret showed us a project that Grade 6 students worked on. The project involved bringing in guest speakers (mayor, parents, friends, professionals, etc.), going on field trips, interviews, debate, discussion, drawing, and so much more! It was so great to see how you can utilize cross-curricular activities and approaches to really help students understand the common themes and meet the outcomes of the units.

At the same time, I do see that doing a similar project like this would require a lot of dedication from teachers, staff, and parents as well as planning. So it is really crucial to have a team of dedicated people who are open to trying new things, and are willing to put in extra long hours to make this meaningful for the students.

At the end, we were split into small groups and our task was to brainstorm how we can apply this into our own subject areas (and also work with other subjects). Some of the ideas included: doing A Midnight Summer's Dream play at the garden incorporating different physical movements; going to the mountain and observing the different layers of soil, measuring pH level, and seeing what kind of plants grow at which level; and researching about grants and policies when starting a school garden and coming up with a realistic budget.

Lastly, Margaret gave a ton of resources where we could find lesson plans, research papers, and more! Check them out :-)

Learning for a sustainable future:

Facing the future - Sustainability Curriculum Development:

UN Decade of ESD:

Colin - Soil Health with Julian

In the afternoon Julian continued the series of talks on garden health, with a closer look at soil health, considering the individual components of soils, and how they interact with each other and the living organisms who make up the garden system.   We learned about different ways to compensate for the fact that the plants we grow will be selective in the parts of the soil they use, so that the ways that we manage our soil will be determined by what has been planted in the past, what is currently growing, and what we want to grow in the future.
So by considering factors such as soil pH, types of plants in the garden, the layout of the garden, and the living organisms within the soil, we can use a variety of methods to improve soil health, and crop outcomes.  Using crop rotation, and fertilizer during planting, and crop cover, or letting the area remain fallow when not in use, will allow for optimal success in the garden. Though there is much left to learn, our understanding of the garden system has grown much through these talks and the hands on experience from the garden.

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