When I was a high school student, I was extremely bored. My classes were revolving around textbooks, lectures and worksheet. Now as a hands on visual learner this didn't keep me interested in the classes and it made me really wonder why are schools run this way. And so, my mission as a teacher was formed. Let’s bring back the fun students have in elementary and keep using that in the junior high and high school levels. I have spent 25 + years adapting what I do in my classes.
Today was another beautiful day out and we live in an amazing region, so outdoor learning it is. I started a new unit on torque with my physics 12 class and I decided that an outdoor trek was needed. So today my students were given the assignment of researching the 6 simple machines and then head out in our back forest to find examples of them in nature. Now some of them are easy to find but others not... So, we came up with an option of creating a historical example of the machines.
Yes, a great activity but what can you do with it. Well as we are doing this as a paperless project, we formulated the project on the whiteboard and concluded that a photo journal was the way to send me their ideas and examples. Perfect no paper. I love this. So, we formulated a project based on outdoor learning, the walking curriculum, place-based learning and paperless. But most of all they had fun and loved the learning and reviewing of the 6 simple machines.
At this point, many of my colleagues would be asking "but how is it graded or what outcomes does it hit". Yes, I have heard this many times. When I am assessing an activity like this, I will give a mark for the activity and a mark for the final projects. I always believe that half of the grade for any assignment should be for the process and part for the final product. And yes, it does hit curricular outcomes and oh so many core competencies too.
But again, my point is about bringing the fun back into high school. Our new BC curriculum really allows us this opportunity. I teach a course called sci tech and I am able to choose many different areas of study for my students. I have been doing a section on forensics. Oh, boy does this lead itself to outdoor experiences. We are always outside or around our school working on our projects whether its fingerprinting, doing site analysis or like today searching for footprints or tracks.
After spending part of the class experimenting in groups to figure out what a footprint looks like and how we can analyze if the suspect was walking, running or hopping, we took ourselves outside to find tracks around our school. They found many different tracks from trucks, 4 wheelers, elk, rabbits, bears and more. My students then had the mission of casting the prints so that we can form a collection and analyze them more. Again, you can see the learning and the fun was amazingly obvious to see
I have and always will base my classrooms on the following quote:
"having fun is the best way to learning” # Einstein.
I will always change an adapt my classes so that they are having the fun and enjoyment needed to engage their learning. Try something fun and enjoy watching the learning happen.