By Tara Scott (Learning Assistance Teacher, Mar Jok Elementary School)
Students in Grades K-6 at Mar Jok Elementary school In West Kelowna, B.C., Canada, are in their third year of Learning in Depth. Our school community comes together once a week for a common hour to wonder, explore, create, and think. This year, we are enhancing their learning through the use of weekly Virtual Field Trips, which enable them to see their topics though the eyes of passionate experts who engage their hearts as well as their minds. These “hour long trips around the globe” remind them that their topics “live” in the real world and that people continue to be excellent sources of knowledge and learning.
Like many LiD communities, our students are encouraged to explore their topic in the method that best suits them. For some, this freedom came easily and they quickly learned to adapt to the learning style that best enabled them to explore their areas of interest. They showed their growing knowledge in ways that demonstrated their strengths and were able to explain who they are as learners. For others, ongoing coaching was required to facilitate their understanding of their learning strengths and how they could best use this time to deepen and showcase them. For all students, LiD has provided a venue for conversations about the nature of learning and inquiry.
Learning in Depth is a natural vehicle for teachings, conversations and self-reflection on the new BC Competencies. Students’ ability to communicate their learning, to be critical and creative thinkers, and to understand who they are as learners are all linked to their studies in LiD. We are working to use the language of the new Competencies during Learning in Depth and students are being encouraged to reflect upon how their chosen methods of sharing their learning meshes with these competencies.
This year, our community showcase was themed “We are Thinkers, We are Communicators, We are Creators.”
Students were provided an open invitation to present their learning to attendees in whatever manner they chose. Some students demonstrated their understanding through creative means, some felt technologies such as iBook and Powerpoint best suited their strengths. There were some who relied on their strong communication skills to simply have learning conversations regarding their topic; others displayed inquiry projects and reflected on their critical thinking.
All students completed a reflection sheet that required them to consider how their method of sharing dovetailed with the new Competencies and what skills in particular they showcased. For students, this was a genuine alignment that brought together all the pieces we have discussed as a “LiD team” this year. It also begins to actualize the self-assessment that students will be asked to do in this area as the year draws to a close.