Tuesday, 21 February 2017

Exploring People, Places, and Partnerships

Campus Calgary / Open Minds (CC/OM) provides opportunities for teachers to take their students to 11 different community sites for weeklong immersive field studies.  As part of CC/OM, there are many key elements that site coordinators and teachers engage students in, one of which is slowing down and going beyond the obvious, which is often taken up through journalling.  Having opportunities for reflective work and time to journal gives students the ability to make connections, find themselves in their learning, and to make sense of how this learning and work on site fits within their year’s inquiry.

CC/OM offers participating teachers professional development opportunities to build professional capital around inquiry (big ideas), journaling techniques, and other reflective strategies to make thinking visible.  As part of this work, we realize the importance of building capacity within our community site coordinators as well.  When site coordinators and teachers work together, they can impact one another’s pedagogy and therefore be impactful in designing students’ learning opportunities.

Site coordinators and the CC/OM operations team (bridging CBE and CCSD) had the opportunity to work alongside journaling expert and University of Alberta doctoral candidate Ron Wigglesworth.  Ron is interested in how hand drawing can enhance observation in science and other disciplines, in our increasing digital world.  Ron led the coordinators on a journey, starting to answer the following three questions: What is the purpose of a sketchbook? How do we approach drawing in different ways? And, how do we bring inquiry to students in an authentic way? 

Ron shared many key messages with the site coordinators, which would be important messages to any teacher considering using journaling or sketching as part of their professional practice, some of which are:
·      one can develop competence in journalling through practice (and more practice) and then share it with others, enabling teachers and students  to capture their learning in new and various ways
·      a sketchbook is a collection, and contains your unique voice in its sketches and writing
·      draw in black pen/micron pigma 005; layer your marks; commit to it and trust; work quickly
·      you can choose what you want to draw and you don’t have to draw the whole thing
·      drawing can be symbolic or representative, it doesn’t necessarily have to be what you see, but your impressions of the experience and learning has been captured
·      draw from the inside (when you outline something then you have to fill it in, but if you start from the middle you have more opportunities).
·      drawing is about mark-making and finding marks that you’re comfortable with making
·      wherever your eye goes first, start your drawing there, it’s about the choices you make, and add the anomalies in what you see
·      trace a section of the shape in the air to practice before drawing that same section on paper. “I just have to move my hand in the shape I want to make” - Ron

There were many key takeaways for the entire CC/OM team that could extend to classrooms across our city.  Having opportunities to empathize and to work in ways that we ask students to all the time and to receive feedback on can sometimes be difficult as it can feel vulnerable to take a chance and then to receive feedback. 

Being in the places of learners is important for educators to be as it helps us to better understand and assist our students in becoming lifelong learners.
“Life shrinks or expands in proportion to one’s courage.” ~ Anais Nin

“The whole art of teaching is to awaken natural curiosity of young minds for the purpose of satisfying it afterwards.” ~ Anatole France

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