Visit to Simcoe County DSB – 2016

Happy New Year!  I hope everyone had a wonderful holiday and is ready to bring on a happy, healthy and prosperous New Year. My holidays were great and filled with lots of lazy days.  Hence the reason I am posting about my trip to SCDSB today and not earlier!  Before the holidays, I visited Simcoe County DSB and spent a scdsb_Hor_no_tag_Logofull day with their Learning Connections team consisting of grade 7 and 8 teachers from 6 different schools.

This year, the SCDSB LC Project is focussed on inquiry and STEAM (Science, Technology, Engineering, Arts and Mathematics).  As an introduction to the day, the teachers were asked to participate in a STEAM activity with a design challenge. They were given a bag of random goodies and asked to create THREE devices that could solve three different problems.  The teams got busy to complete their designs in the 5 minute limit. They were then asked to present their solutions, but not to the problems they decided upon, they were given three random problems that they had to make their devices solve.  The group was engaged and used skills fromIMG_1407 all areas of STEAM to design,
create, solve and present their problems.  They discussed how challenges such as this are tied to the curriculum and how they could use this with their students.  The lesson plan and resources for this activity can be found here.

The group then reviewed the goals of Learning Connections and the focus of their project.  The inquiry question for their LC project is:

If we, as a community of learners have authentic and relevant learning opportunities to solve problems that integrate math, science, technology and the arts, then we will deepen our understanding of concepts in multiple subject areas and demonstrate creativity, critical thinking and conceptual understanding in learning and life.

To learn more of their project, you can visit their LC summary page.  The framework of their project is for teachers to communicate and collaborate with a partner (from a different school) on a specific inquiry project with their students.  Release time will be provided for the teachers to plan and learn from each other throughout the timeline of the project.  Some of the student goals are to improve resilience, online etiquette and critical thinking while engaged in solving rich problems. The goals for the teachers include the increased use of technology and being able to build capacity in their schools as they work on their specific projects.  It is expected that the teachers and students will document their learning and journey.  SCDSB has created a shared Google Drive Folder for all teachers to share their Learning Story.  The groups are expected to use the template document to share their learning within the district.  So interesting to see this board wide approach to sharing!
IMG_1424 In the afternoon, the teachers worked with their partners to start planning their individual projects.  As feedback from lat year’s LC project, they realized that it was very important to give a significant amount to time for teachers to plan their work during this first face-to-face. As a result, they were able to decide on the focus of their projects and plan next steps:
Kim and KarenGrade 7 Structures/ Grade 8 Mechanical Advantage:  Refugee camps and real world issue – structure that addresses them (building protection, dwelling, security, infrastructure).
Jamie and Lynn:  Grade 7 Structures: Tiny House (shanty towns versus huge homes being built). How can we create tiny homes and ship them (reducing our footprint, stable, cost-efficient, medical and engineering concerns…)
Jamie and Julia:  Grade 8 Water Filtration:  Investigate clean water solution and the different methods available.

I am excited to see how these projects unfold and look forward to learning with the group.

I didn’t forget and got my fun IMG_1436pic of the visit.  Check out the reading circle they have in the common area of the board office.



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