The High School Visit to the Pacific School of Innovation and Inquiry was a very eye-opening visit. I think that the system that is used is very effective for a niche group of students. I found that typically the students drawn to the school were those with social or academic anxiety problems. I think they are drawn to this system because it is less traditionally academically structured and a smaller community. While there, I heard several students mention that high school was a scary place. The teachers at this school have seamlessly found a way to teach inquiry based. Teachers are there to assist students in learning of their own choosing. They direct students to resources that would help and hold classes that essential for the projects. I found the accelerated program very interesting in this process. I think it’s a perfect way to integrate higher level education in a meaningful way because students are only taking the courses that are beneficial to them. Likewise, because of the students flexible schedules these one-off university courses are less overwhelming and dense. The accelerated program also changes the student’s whole ideology around university in a positive way. It is no longer a place to go to find what you want to do, it is utilized for key aspects to help them achieve what they already know they want to do. Students that come from this school have a clear idea of what drives them and what resources they will need to further that drive. For example, one student had 1 year of computer courses and then started his computer business. For him, he was only missing a few concepts that these courses offered. Once he got what he needed he could branch off on his own.
Although this teaching method works very well and should be an option, this system could not be the only option for schooling. It would not be possible to have this system on a large scale. The cross-over of information from students work that the teachers would have to handle and inform on would be overwhelming. Another downfall of this school was that there are no team sports. Students cannot even go play for other schools because the school is registered as a sports school. Only some students able to play only if eligible. This limits student’s opportunities in sporting avenues. That said, the benefits to this system cannot be understated. Students develop skills based off projects they are personally invested in. The passion and drive is in every bit of work they do because they choose to do it. It seemed that this system worked because every student could find something to be interested and these inquiry questions lead them to their projects. One pivotal moment for me in realizing how well this worked was when 2 students were talking and explained that a few days earlier they had just decided to learn creative writing. I believe if you give students the time to explore and ask questions, as this system does, key concepts that are forced in traditional schools are chosen to be learned on their own time. I also think that when topics are freely chosen instead of forced more learning occurs. I am very grateful for the opportunity to go tour this school and talk first hand to the students to see how the system works.I think this type of independent school should be an option for every student to choose because it is so effective for those that do not do well in our traditional schools.
This weeks class was very productive and informative. The first half was a conference call with Ian Landy in Powell River pertaining to the shift from traditional report cards to E-Portfolios. This formative assessment is important because students can be excited about the work they show knowing that their grades are based upon the great things that they have done in the different subjects. This form of assessment allows for flexibility in the learning for students to enjoy the process and engage in personalized assignments. I think E-portfolios are fantastic because all students have different assets that are shown in different ways and these portfolios allow them to be graded on things that portray those unique assets. I think the old system with report cards is very limiting by having every assignment have a letter grade. There is no additional information given and students feel stuck with grades that they get on every assignment. I like the idea that with an E-portfolio you can delete items, it is an ever-changing grade based on the learners development. It showcases the best of every student.
The second half focused on developing our video and audio editing skills. I had used iMovie before and thought I had known all the editing tricks. I was thoroughly happy to find that there were new editing skills I had yet to develop! Just goes to prove that every one always has more they can learn. When using GarageBand to create an audio track I was completely confused. I could not find where the instruments were and did not know how to play the instruments electronically. However, with time I figured things out and was able to piece together a small song. I found the process of making a song from scratch to be quite difficult. I did not know where to go from a certain point and for that reason the song is not very cohesive. This was a learning experience that I would love to explore in my spare time. I think this app is a really impressive tool for creating music and should be explored!
Here is the link to the video I edited: (Password: Education)
This week we did ran a practice Edcamp. On the board we wrote down topics of interest involving teaching and voted on which ones were the most popular. The top 4 topics were then given rooms and students broke off accordingly to explore them. Edcamp style learning is based on what students want to learn in the classroom. I think this style of learning is effective because the multiple options appeals to more students and in turn engages them to learn something they choose to learn. Although I did enjoy the overall process of engaging in a topic of my choice, I think the next time this is replicated, there should be some more structure. It would help if there were base questions or someone present with more background knowledge on the topic. That said, the more diverse the group of people involved the more the breadth of conversation can occur. I like the group facilitation aspect. Everyone has an equal say and the conversation has endless directions it can go. However, I do think that this aspect can also be the downfall in cases where the conversation comes to stagnate spots or there is a lack of information.
I focused on outdoor learning environments. My group started by going around and saying their own experiences with outdoor education. It was mind-blowing the diversity there was within our school system. My high school had an outdoor ed class where we did many trips. I built snow igloos and slept in them for several nights, went to natural hot springs, and learned about different plants out in the forest. In comparison, another girl in my group only had an environmental group that did hikes on occasion. The idea of outdoor classrooms also came up as we compared our different schools. As a group, we came to the conclusion that more outdoor learning should be happening with students. Whether it is camping trips, hikes, or just doing class outside.
I found the message in this documentary to be profound. The original concepts for our education system over 100 years ago was driven by the need to create the middle class in a time of industrialization. Now technology has taken those mundane jobs. I agree that we need to start thinking of how to prep students in decision making, creative thinking, and self-determination. Now more than ever, with the influx of technology, schooling needs to be able to develop the skills in students for jobs that haven’t even been created yet. The new inquiry based system that has taken root is a step in the right direction. This video shaped how I see inquiry based studies. I see now that it is not only important but imperative moving forward into the future.