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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

In-depth week 6

Talons learners have just completed week six of their in-depth projects.  They report and reflect on their progress every two weeks. Many recent posts provide the reader with great insight into what we are learning and what we are struggling with.  As we say often in our program, we learn the most when we challenge ourselves. By navigating through these challenges, we become more effective and enriched learners, getting to know ourselves a little more each time.  Our in-depths projects immerse us in one of our passions for a prolonged period of time, not frequently seen in secondary school.

If you have not already figured it out, my in-depth is learning more about technology, especially blogging.  As “teachers” of Talons, we role-model or learn alongside of our program’s participants. In today’s blog, I am trying to figure out how to insert hyperlinks. Inspired by a recent professional development day keynote speaker, Ross Laird, we know technology is here and our youth know how to use it well.  See his website for more informative articles and posts.

He claims that many parents have not adopted the technology that their children are using, so it is up to us, the educators, to become  the learner’s mentors. Learners can access any subject’s content online anywhere and any time. Thus, an educator’s role is shifting from being a lecturer to being a mentor. We support the development of the whole child in Talons and that includes their social and emotional development as well as their intellectual development.

Our in-depth project is all about mentorship, learning alongside an expert and focusing more on skills than content that can just be read in a book or online.  The Talons learner focuses on practical knowledge as well as propositional knowledge, especially during their in-depth.  Learning alongside the other, like an apprentice and master, also provides opportunities for wisdom and intuitive knowledge to be shared during the process.

So with some trepidation I enter the blogging world.  I support Chet Bowers’ work when addressing the negative side of technology in his book, called Let Them Eat Data. For example, he warns us about the loss of local, ecological knowledge.  This local knowledge is often not accessible online; however, it may be a critical piece to the community’s way of living and survival.  

Another author, Bill McKibben dispells the notion that this generation is better informed in his book, called The Age of Missing Information. His argument supports the notion that being outdoors in nature provides us with direct experiences filled with information that no television can provide. He concludes that less is more.  The timing of my thesis is just perfect (more about that another time!).

Technology is here and it is not going to go away any time soon.  How do we balance the use of techonology in schools with all the other worthwhile learning opportunities?

Talons learners explore their passions for learning in their blogs.  I will highlight some of them below and share others in my subsequent blogs.

Learning how to play the guitar is exemplified by Conrad’s blog. Follow his blogs and you can get some awesome instructions!

Becoming more flexible is explored in Chelsea’s blog. She shows us how one can become more flexible as we follow her 30 day flexiblity program.

 Owen’s Blog reports his learning while programming robots. Videos of his robot moving about show us how challenging programming can be.

 Andrew’s blog reflects on his progress in writing HTML code. His latest reflection #3 tells us more about life while learning HTML code in the process.

While dancing through life, Kelly’s blogs reveal her path of self-exploration, giving us a glimpse of what it is like to live and learn every day.

Jennifer S. explores the wilderness using several different modes of transportation. Her tips and travels are revealing a journey that is bigger than just being outdoors, following trails.

Also, trying to become more environmentally conscious, Jennifer A. is trying to reduce her ecological footprint. She shares her suggestions that reduce our impact on this earth.

And lastly for now, how about writing a Shakespearan play using his writing style. Leanne’s blog  illustrates that her passion is worth exploring more and more deeply as well. She is immersing herself in a personal experience that brings together her interests and skills for writing.

And so another blog has been posted.  The links work! My next goal is to learn to embed technology. Be back in two weeks with another in-depth update.

Quirien Mulder ten Kate

Talons Program Mentor

In-Depth Projects- Introduction

In-depth Study: Two Universal Goals.

The two goals in the in-depth are as follows:

1. Know something about everything and everything about something.

In school you are usually taught about many subjects.  In this project, the goal is to learn a great deal about one field of activity.

2. Learn what others tell you is important and learn what you decide is important.

In school you are told what to learn and how to learn it.  In this project, you will decide in what field and with what strategies, you will become an “expert.”

REMEMBER:

We are interested in three components of your study.

1. The process: as young people, you will be learning patterns of behavior that will emphasize your strengths and that will help you overcome any difficulties.

–          Project will last at least five months

–          Your bi-weekly blog will demonstrate the process:

Blogging Criteria

Post includes: thorough progress report, includes information on mentor, describes frustrations, overcoming obstacles, includes evidence that illustrates process and product, includes modifications to project, includes relevant research, quotes, articles, references, websites etc, shows a caring about project.  Entry makes sense, is written concisely. 4
Includes most of the above description, but in less detail. 3
Includes about half of the above description, but in little detail.  Little progress is demonstrated. 2
In-depth study is progressing too slowly.  Entry is vague.  Demonstrates that not much effort has been made since last entry. 1
Not completed or handed in on time 0

 

 

2. The product: The product will include three areas:

                    i.            The evidence of learning

                  ii.            The source of self-esteem

                iii.            The cause for celebration

 

3. The mentor: The relationship with the expert in your field.  This relationship will include three areas:

                    i.            Meeting with mentor on regularly basis

                  ii.            Expanding network in community

                iii.            Getting feedback on progress

                 iv.            Obtaining an in-depth understanding of chosen field.