Barriere Secondary School teachers demonstrated how a Spirals of Inquiry focus on student-led learning has encouraged a new focus on choice and self-reflection in the classroom during the regular Board of Education meeting April 12, 2021.
“We know that when we respect value and know our learners they will feel safe to take risks, try and excel in our school,” said Principal Angela Stott. “Learning and responding to student voice builds a culture of learning, empowers students, and improves student outcomes. Here are a few stories from this school year.”
Setting Learning Targets
Grade 10 English teacher Kristy Dolha said a scan showed students were engaging in learning activities without having a clear purpose.
“We felt that would impact their ability to have meaningful learning experiences in the classroom,” she said. “So I wanted to make sure the learning targets in my classroom were really clear.”
“When it is not clear, sometimes when you are doing projects, and all the information you are given is unclear and it is really confusing,” said one student.
“We are writing awesome speeches, based on the Book of Awesome, and we took apart the curricular competencies. I learned the importance of telling a story, being enthusiastic and descriptive,” said another student.
“Moving forward I will try to make the learning targets as visible as possible in the classroom. That way we will be reminded to talk about these targets each day,” said Dolha.
Self – Assessment
Grade 8 physical and health education teacher Brian Tommasini is guiding students to think about five curricular competencies each day.
“I’m looking to build common language in my class where they talk and they look at how they are doing each day,” he said.
For example, one of the competencies is to develop and demonstrate safety, fair play and leadership in physical activity. Brian’s students took this complex idea and created simple goal of honesty, inclusion and respect.
In daily conversations, students provide feedback on a scale of one to three on how they are doing with each goal.
Tommasini said the students are receptive and having fun with the process.
Grade 7 teacher Sabrina Fraser noticed the desks in her classroom were creating issues for students.
“With the COVID protocols in place, the desks seemed to be taking up too much space,” she said. “So I asked the students what they thought about sitting on the floor.”
Students now spend most of their school day sitting on mats.
“It’s easier and you are not as tired. It gives us more flexibility,” said one student.
Fraser said she’s noticing students are becoming more self-reliant. They are preparing a presentation to explain how it’s working to the rest of the school.
“It appears the students like the flexibility seating,” said Board Vice-Chair Meghan Wade. “How do you think that will roll out in the school?”
“We think others may consider getting rid of their desks, too,” said Fraser.
“Keep us informed on that one,” said Wade.