Today’s Poll

Passion projects during the pandemic keep students engaged

By Contributor
May 2nd, 2020

Students across the District, and all over the province are now into their fifth week of home-based learning. With no standard for what ‘at-home’ education looks like, teachers have been tasked with creating customized learning environments and plans for many of their students.

For some students, that has included having a say in what they want to learn.

Following the spring break, teachers at Crawford Bay Elementary-Secondary School connected directly with their students. The Grade 7-12 students were asked specifically about what types of activities they each found motivating, and during this un-precedented time of stress, what kinds of activities might bring them joy?

Students were asked to select a “passion project” they would be interested in pursuing over the weeks and possible months ahead that would help them develop tangible skills, alongside their curricular content.

Suggestions included learning to play a musical instrument, learning a new crafting skill or even something like juggling. Students were strongly encouraged to pick something that did not involve more screen time, seeing that much of the course work would already be delivered through online platforms.

The result? In addition to the success of a device lending program for students requiring technology to access online learning content, CBESS has also been kept busy loaning out:

  • School archery sets
  • Multiple watercolour and acrylic painting sets
  • School seed sets and permaculture texts
  • Recipes and food ingredients for international cuisine challenges
  • VR goggles for Anne Frank Museum Gr 9. supplemental project
  • School sewing machines
  • Polymer clay for sculpture
  • Pewter ingots and gypsum molds for jewelry casting
  • Felting kits
  • Graphite sketching kits
  • School musical instruments (bass guitar and amp, ukuleles)
  • School microscopes and telescopes

One student even requested a broken mini-dirt bike that had been donated to the school shop class.  Tools from the shop class were provided and the dirt bike is now running!  That particular student is now designing a way to turn it into a backyard rope-tow for next year’s ski season.

Matt Winger has been the home/school liaison at CBESS working hard to remove barriers to student success and authentic learning. As the school librarian, he has also been tasked with making the resource deliveries twice a week to students in the community. “I feel a little bit like Santa Claus! The kids are always excited to see me when I make a driveway delivery.”

Winger has been teaching a course called project-based learning with senior students at CBESS for the last five years. He suggests this new blended learning model might be a window into what could possibly be next for education models. “Instead of being the ‘expert teacher’, we teachers are becoming ‘expert learners’, helping to inspire our students and encouraging them to seek out that which they are intrinsically motivated to learn about!”

Although it is difficult to predict anything during these unusual times, while the physical school remains closed for the time being, clearly rich and authentic learning has continued, nonetheless.


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