What Do You Want to Learn This Year? Grade Six Students Lead Learning at Sherwood Park Education CentreBack to news
Ms McKinnon at Sherwood Park Education Centre (SPEC) recently contacted me about doing a virtual brainstorm session with two of her Grade six science classes. I met Ms McKinnon last year when I went to SPEC to deliver our curriculum-linked Grade Six Electricity Presentation.
SPEC’s school grounds back onto the beautiful Baille Ard Nature Trail system in downtown Sydney. Ms McKinnon wanted to better utilize the trail system as an outdoor classroom this year. She also imagined there could be ways to integrate Mi’kmaq knowledge into many lessons like science, especially while being outdoors. She wanted her students to take ownership of their learning by coming up with some of the learning ideas themselves.
I joined the class via Google Hangouts and helped facilitate discussions. We started by working in groups on each of the four science units for the year— Electricity, Flight, Space, and Diversity of Life. Students chose a group based on their interest in the topic. Each group worked on the following three questions:
1. What are you interested to learn about this topic?
2. How can you learn about this topic outside? Imagine a 1-2 day class held outside near your school.
3. How can you include Mi’kmaq knowledge on this topic?
Participation was high! The students were excited to talk about their ideas. They came up with suggestions like, ‘Ask a Mi’kmaq elder to do a walk along the trail system and teach about medicinal plants and spirit animals’, ‘Build paper planes and kites and test aerodynamics outside’, and ‘Read Mi’kmaq stories about constellations and legends about the creation of the universe’. By the end of the brainstorm session everyone was totally pumped about each of the four science units!
The students wanted to have at least one outdoor lesson for each of the four science units which turned out to be a realistic goal. During our discussion we talked about the importance of dressing properly in order to fully enjoy outdoor classes. Rain jackets, warm sweaters, proper footwear, a toque, and tucking in help keep us warm outside so that we can focus on the lesson at hand.
Ms McKinnon is in the process of making some of these great ideas a reality for her grade six students this year. She is working to connect with a Mi’kmaq elder in the area who can be a trail guide for one of their outdoor classes. We look forward to hearing how the year goes!
Use these ideas to cook up inquiry-based learning plans with learners near you or contact your local Engagement Officer to facilitate a similar virtual brainstorm session with your class.
~Shandel Brown, Engagment Officer