We are hoping to use UDL components in a design project that involves the use of Lego. We are hoping that focusing on BC’s Core competencies development will lead to an increased awareness of academic competencies in our students. We are hoping to hold a design challenge. First, we intend on focusing on explorative and experiential play then students deliberately developing plans, presenting plans to a small group and then representing their thinking with creativity and originality. Our goals are to help our students understand the connection between what they are creating and the knowledge that they hold that allows creativity to move to realization.
Tell us about your team and your school community.
We are educators and students in a remote rural community. That is where we live, and our place influences who we are and how we interact in the world. We want to connect our students to the world in as many ways as possible. The educators believe in the possibilities that each of our students hold. Our school has not had a full team of educators for some time. That creates a family learning environment, one in which we must interact and depend on each other. The educators in the building want to create new ways of being and learning, the students are clinging to old ways of learning or a lack of interest in learning at all. Educators want to feel the joy of walking beside learners who are engaged and fully participating. Our students have a voice, but they are not used to it being heard. We want our students to own their learning, have pride in self and pride in where they live and learn. It is important to us that we are part of our community and our community is part of us.
Tell us about the importance of learning through play for your team and for your students.
Educators feel that students do not engage in free play, or creative play frequently and are at a loss when asked to create. They do, however, spend endless home hours on internet supported gaming devices. These games support a specific kind of brain development but do not encourage communication or collaboration – they are mostly competitive in nature. And our students outright refuse to engage in any academic learning. We believe that we will be able to coach and mentor students to develop sustained interest, self-regulation and persistence through play like learning activities. We know that we will be focusing on specific vocabulary development that will enable our students to describe their strategies, highlight patterns, explain their big ideas and help others visualize completed projects. We hope that the level of engagement will help our students understand what learning is, and what success is.
Tell us about your interest in joining the Canadian Playful Schools Network.
We sincerely hope to develop connections with many other schools – both rural and urban that are addressing similar student needs. We hope our students will be able to connect with other students, have discussions and share their projects as well as the adults sharing. We are hoping to develop compassionate leadership traits in our students – through this opportunity to be leaders both in their school community and in a larger network. Educators are reaching out – we don’t know what our end result will be. We are familiar with the Spiral of Inquiry, and like any good inquiry question, we don’t know our answers, but we are willing to model exploring and experiencing new ways alongside our learners.