R.C. Palmer Secondary School SD#38 Richmond

School Name: R.C. Palmer Secondary School

School District: SD#38 Richmond

Inquiry Team Members: Adam Thorvaldson: athorvaldson@sd38.bc.ca

Inquiry Team Contact Email: athorvaldson@sd38.bc.ca

Type of Inquiry: NOIIE

Grade Levels: Secondary (8-12)

Curricular Area(s): Applied Design, skills & Technology

Focus Addressed: Experiential learning

In one sentence, what was your focus for the year? Are learners feeling like they are safe to explore & build on their understanding; does the school’s practices allow for that, do we allow time for that?

Scanning: In a normal year, I think we would be looking at learners sense of place & expanding on their connection with the land. Things have changed this year. Teachers & learners are more isolated due to covid, so for the time being we are looking at how we can use our time to build on our experiences in a hands-on way.

Focus: I selected this area because I feel students rely on others too much in determining an outcome. I am hoping that learners will become more self reliant & better at problem solving in a real, hands-on context.

Hunch: My hunch is that students need more of their class time to be able to explore in their own direction & experience things in a way that builds on their own previous understanding.

New Professional Learning: An environment for learners to experience & build from their understanding provides time to do that. The new area of professional learning I am exploring will open up time for students to explore. This coming year, our school will be creating “Personal Learning Time” periods, two mornings a week. This is time for students to spend in any class of their choice. In my subject area this means that they can physically make things.

Taking Action: Design & Build:
1) Students first learn the tools to design on paper
2) Students learn measurement
3) Students are given materials & a problem to solve
4) Students design a solution & make it

Checking: It was very difficult to get students to create new ideas & build from that without a lot of background in this sort of thing. For some it is something they have never had to do. I am not satisfied. The design process is very difficult for learners. At this stage, it seems to work best if design parameters are more constrained, but experiencing the process of making things is still great. Some students seem to take the four questions just at their face value. Age of the student seems to be a determining factor with respect to the richness of learners’ answering the four questions. If I gave the “can you name two adults” question to my grade nine students, they most likely will literally name two people (i.e. Mr. Smith & Mr. Whoever).

Reflections/Advice: My school will be starting up two 100 minute classes per week – on Tuesday & Wednesday mornings – that we are calling “Personal Learning Time”. I’m looking forward to some students coming to make things of their own design during that time.

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