Gagetown School has two interconnected “Play Projects”; a fenced-in community garden and journalism through technology. The community garden allows students to learn basic farming to reduce their carbon footprint and provide the skills required for food security to all stakeholders. The project will help reconnect students, school, and community through building partnerships. Community leaders will share their experience/knowledge with the students through hands-on meaningful learning that students will then transfer into a finished good. Partnerships will be created/re-established between the school and community groups through an ongoing community garden housed on school grounds. Students will also chronicle the project through picture, video, interview…, culminating in an edited documentary. This allows students to learn and explore new technology all the while having an end goal in mind. We will adjust our school schedule to incorporate instructional time for play-based learning for all students in mixed level/ability groupings.
Tell us about your team and your school community.
Gagetown is a small rural school serving students from a diverse background. The pandemic created additional financial difficulties and food insecurities for our village and further isolated students who are already geographically isolated. School is the one constant where students are fed and provided access to technology.We strive to provide students with a variety of learning methodologies. There is an abundance of agricultural knowledge within the community/staff and we wish to build partnerships to expand and develop this knowledge in our students. Our team features a blend of outdoor learning and technologically focused teachers. Our goal is to have students learn the skills necessary to implement the project with minimal guidance from staff. The school is the hub of the community. Most extracurricular activities in the community take place at the school. We want to cultivate students’ sense of pride in their community through these connections.
Tell us about the importance of learning through play for your team and for your students.
We have an inclusive school community where we believe each child is capable of learning and progressing along their individual educational path. We offer our students opportunities to experience learning in context that is meaningful to them on a personal level while also pushing them beyond their personal experiences into more global perspectives. It is our goal to provide students with experiences that are readily available within the community and/or accessible through technology. Learning through play creates a sense of accomplishment and serves as a motivator for students. Interest based learning engages students and lets them shine and show off their expertise. Building/maintaining partnerships with community groups and local businesses allows us to extend our learning outside the classroom and increase the relevance for our students. Our Play Project is a combination of historical practices and current technology students will need as they continue their individual journeys.
Tell us about your interest in joining the Canadian Playful Schools Network.
The overriding goals for joining the CPSN are to increase student engagement and teach appropriate behavior in a social setting. As educators we are looking to connect with like-minded teachers who can bring in diverse experiences and perspectives. We are always searching for new ideas and the CPSN provides an ideal opportunity to connect with other educators who think outside the box. Being a part of this network will allow for a free flow of knowledge and build upon our current resource bank. The connections afforded our team will provide an avenue for future partnerships and learning beyond our community. Student engagement has dropped since the beginning of the pandemic. Providing additional opportunities to learn through fun, interactive lessons and in a preferred choice environment will not only allow students to direct their learning and re-engage but teachers as well.