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, Leanne Mccoll: lmccoll@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? How students might be growing in their connection to land.

Scanning: The students were asked the four key questions & were also asked, “Do you feel that you have a connection to the land through your education? How could your education change to feel a better connection to the land?” The most important thing I noticed about the experiences of the learners, is that students generally do not get a feeling of connection to the land, through school. Many said that they get a better connection to the land through activities that are outside of school. Many said that the physical structure of the school, and being confined to it, was impeding their connection to the land. How I used the OECD principles of learning and the First Peoples Principles of Learning in my scanning process, was by trying to look at things from their perspective.

Focus: Why I selected this area is because life depends on the land, for life. I feel that education does not currently support how important it is for students to appreciate their dependence on the land, and to respect it. Changes I would like to obtain, is for students to spend time experiencing hands-on projects that promote them to get into the outside environment.

Hunch: Practices that are a concern to me at the school that may have been contributing to the experiences of students, include: 1) the general structure of not having resources to get students out of the confines of the physical building, 2) resources (i.e. transportation), 3) policies of not allowing students to leave the property without a mountain of paperwork addressing concerns about liability, 4) policies that confine students because the system is to afraid to make mistakes, or take any kind of chance that could be viewed as a mistake down the road.

New Professional Learning:
– New areas of experiential learning in the area of hand boat design & building
– Equipment for learning hand-making processes
– Tools, equipment & materials are the resources that are useful for experiential learning
– Colleagues have been given training so that they may use the tools & equipment needed for hands on learning

Taking Action: The strategy taken was for students to get their hands on tools, and figure out how to build some boats with the provided materials. Practicing their experience provided an opportunity to become better at what they were doing. They became experienced boat builders. Some students will use this experience to continue on to build their own canoes to take home.

Checking: Due to sudden drastic changes to our education system this year, it has not been enough. Students were unable to have the full experience of learning boat building processes, designing, building, and completing their boats. It was not satisfying, but that was only because of circumstances beyond anyone’s control. One boat was completed, but not by the students. The experience was detached, not hands on for the students, and not a rewarding process for the students. It was the opposite of experiential learning. Students interest in the subject dropped drastically. This is valuable evidence that students are rewarded a great deal by having direct hands on, experiential learning.

Reflections/Advice: There is a lot to be learned from school suddenly shutting down in March this year. With respect to experiential learning, learners in my class went from very direct hands on experiential learning, to a very detached attempt at achieving the same goals without the direct, hands on work that they were doing before. It appeared that most students were less interested in doing virtual design work on intangible objects. Student participation dropped to less than 50%. Working on an actual, full-sized, real boat that they could put in the water and use, was clearly a better way of learning when compared to distanced, virtual design and learning. When comparing learning from before March to after March, hands-on and experiential learning, through building functional and purposeful artifacts — that will actually be useful for getting out into the land — is the clear winner.

Leave a Reply