In-depth Week 10

The BC Ministry of Education mandates the curriculum for each grade and each subject. The Talons program provides some choices in what, when and how learners learn. The in-depth project is another example that illustrates this philosophy.  The following links exemplify what happens when learners explore passions and interests that matter to them.   Incidently, many of their skills match learning outcomes in electives offered at our school. In our case, learners decide what learning outcomes to address, how to assess their work, and how to represent their learning.   They also set their own pace.  Sometimes their project is on hold for a few weeks and other times they have a marathon session that leads to long hours of dedicated learning.  What these projects have in common is learning that is in-depth, focused, intense, personal and meaningful to them at this point in time.  I also believe that not everyone knows what is best for them at a certain time. Adults have a role to play in setting the course; however, learners, when given the chance, can chart their own course some of the time as well. They often take more care with their own learning when they have ownership over it. Even though their choice of projects varies widely, they are learning a lot of the same lessons:

Persevering when things get tough

Showing commitment

Overcoming challenges

Asking for help when needed

Being reflective

Being humble and flexible

Being motivated

The following learners demonstrate these skills and exemplify a great variety of projects.

Meghan is learning about make-up.

Nick is writing computer code.

Daniel is break dancing.

Louise is wire crocheting.

Emily is making jewellery.

Alvin is writing a book.

Veronica is doing vocal training.

Jennifer is reducing her ecological footprint.

Michelle is writing a story.

Jonathan is juggling.

Albert is rebuilding computers.

Sepehr is writing video scripts.

Clayton is film editing.

In-depth Week 8

We are almost half way with in-depth projects before our celebration evening on May 30th. In addition to the mentoring aspect, the emphasis is on the process more so than the final project.  What skills are we learning?  How does this project offer us insights into ourselves? While writing our blogs every two weeks, we are reflecting on our learning along the way, our struggles and triumphs and what is ahead of us yet to be discovered.

We tell our learners that we learn the most when things are challenging.  No exception for me this week. My dissertation has taken another detour; therefore, no time to learn to embed technology into my post this week. 

However, Mr. Jackson has set up a math wiki and science wiki for our classes.  As soon as my own studies are back on track, I will return to my previous goal, stated in week 6. We tried to tape my math “lesson” yesterday because a student was going to be away and thought it would be helpful to post this lesson for her viewing at home later. This was a first for me. It was fun. I joked with the class about being self-conscious about what to wear, making sure there were no stains on my clothes, for example.  Not sure why it mattered now, because I never pay much attention to that sort of thing!

It is interesting how we sometimes think about the little things that may get in the way.  I know the little things do not really matter, in most cases.  “Don’t sweat the small stuff: can be heard in our room.

In Talons, we do not use the more traditional, teacher-centered way of instruction for long periods of time and only when absolutely necessary.  At times, direct teaching is an opportunity for teachers to scaffold the Talons’ learning, to preview challenging concepts, to extend the lesson (add tangents!), to raise awareness of the applications of math whenever possible, and to clarify common conceptual errors.  None of these processes are written or highlighted in the workbook pages. We frequently condense three, four or even five lessons in a  30-40 miniature lecture followed by several days of independent and quad study to grasp the briefly taught concepts.

This facilitation approach is similar to the in-depth approach.  The learner meets with a mentor when needed, learns a new skill or sub skill, practises the skill at home and returns next time for feedback and so it continues.

Interested in learning alongside one of our learners? Check out the following blogs:

Immy is being resourceful in her own community, collecting natural objects to be turned into paints!

Sara is learning how to draw and paint. Check out her photos.

Megan is learning to use the potter’s wheel and to play with clay.  Check out her photos posted two weeks ago.

Iris is learning to play the guitar.  Listen to her song.

Jenna is exploring photography.  Check out her posted photos.

Toren has finally found a mentor and is trying to contact two other experts on music composition in our Tri-Cities.

Liam is practising using a sword and much more.  His PE classes are paying off as well!

Jason’s vegetable/fruit carving classes are helping him to discover art.  Check out his latest successes.

Stephanie is learning Latin/ Greek prefixes, roots and suffixes and is volunteering regularly at a medical clinic.

Veronica’s vocal classes are described vivid detail.

See you in two weeks.

My own studies need my attention.

PS: A public note of encouragement for Talons learners. Your “This I believe” essays received constructive criticism this week. They were chopped, bits deleted and sometimes entirely new essays were written.  It is my turn this weekend to begin to rewrite mine.  Writing is hard, as is almost everything else, if you want to learn to do  it well. 

Keep practising your in-depth skills.  When your skill matches your challenge, you will have an optimal experience or be in the zone!

This is another example that we are in this together. We are learning alongside of each other.  There are no boundaries for learning, our new district’s vision!

Keep enjoying every learning moment, no matter how hard it gets.

QMtK