With the support of their teachers and community, 45 students in Kamloops raised over $650 in donations to the Pacific Salmon Foundation.
Imagine a classroom where students raise and study live salmon, access background knowledge at their own pace, design and make a quilt depicting the salmon life cycle, and raffle the quilt to give back to a foundation that supports education and conservation efforts. The learning is connected to current issues, gives students the ability to make a difference, and uses people in the community to provide supporting expertise.
In this deeper learning context, students at David Thompson Elementary in Kamloops collaborated to learn not only about salmon but also writing narrative stories, textile design and sewing, using online productivity tools, and sharing their work in an exhibition. The two classes created digital choose-your-own adventure stories about survival from the perspective of a salmon protagonist in addition to their class quilt and met with community members and high school students to discuss their learning experience.
Many teachers in School District #73 have been moving toward Project-Based Learning (PBL) in response to both the redesigned BC curriculum and emerging research about how people learn best. PBL is based on the belief that students learn best by experiencing and solving real-world problems, and it usually involves increased student control over his or her learning, teachers acting as coaches or facilitators of learning, and students working in groups. When implemented well, studies comparing PBL to traditional instruction show students retain more information, use increasingly higher-order thinking, collaborate more effectively, and have better attitudes towards learning.
Teacher Lisa Carr (grade 3/4) wanted students to develop a sense of self-efficacy. “In planning this project, it was important that students had the opportunity to actually effect change. So often we tell students that they can make a difference, but I wanted them to come out feeling that they actually had.”
“Really, this was a community project,” says fellow grade 4 teacher Amanda Brennan. “We had generous support from many individuals and groups around us.” Students and teachers would like to extend a special thank you to the textiles students and their teacher Tammy Ferris at Westsyde Secondary School for their sewing instruction, to the School District #73 Trades and Technology grant that made the project possible, and to the individual donations of time and materials provided by families and friends around the David Thompson community.
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