Database of Experiences

Henderson & Powell want to suck your brain!!

Henderson & Powell want to suck your brain!!

Here’s to a bit of crowd sourcing, so to speak! My colleague, Rebecca Powell, and I are on a journey to seek out what you and your schools are doing by way of experiential education, ecological literacy, and or 21st century learning (cringe).

Our plan is to compile a database of sorts based on criteria we are putting together for our school in terms of how people frame the notion of experience. Our school is really interested in this idea of experience.

So, we would love your input and expertise. Please share what you do or what your learning community does to use the experience of your learners to create educative experiences. Please include your name, your school’s name, and a short blurb below in the comment section. We are planning to produce this database in late 2014 and we will most definitely share it with you.



9 thoughts on “Database of Experiences

  1. So hard to put into a few words all the amazing stuff we are doing at Glebe. More than 50% of our classes have an exit interview instead of an exam. Student questions and accountable talk are at the core of our instruction. Power points are marginal to instruction. Students journal their thinking process and spend time reflecting on both what they learned and how it happened. Historical thinking and other processes are explicitly taught and students use them to find answers that matter to them. Students in non academic math classes are outperforming academic students and love the subject. Collaboration is honored and central to instruction. Teachers have release time to learn from each other and develop our skills. Student engagement is the goal.

      • You start by having a look at my website:, I also teach outdoor education (, which has really driven me to bring the kinds of experiential learning that kids get in the woods to the regular classroom. I want to provide as much transformative and real learning in class as we do on the trail. You can check out my colleagues Al Overwijk and Bruce McLaurin in math to see the amazing things they have done. Bruce’s blog is here: and Al’s is here:

        This year, I’ve done interviews instead of exams for the first time in my grade 11 Ancient Civilizations class. Two questions: What are the greatest achievements and/or mistakes of the past? Explain using 3 examples, and How will you use the skills you have learned in this class in the future (Historical Thinking, Inquiry Process, Communication, Teamwork etc.) So far I’m getting some amazing responses – there are no mistakes, or everything is an achievement and a mistake…

        I would have to say that our growth as a school owes much to our incredible principal, France Thibault, who trusts us and pushes us to do great things. We have had a school improvement plan for the last 3 years of improving and increasing critical thinking in the school. For example, instead of a sustained silent reading period of 20 minutes once a week, we have a Take 20 – critical thinking challenge for the whole school once a week. This has opened discussions among colleagues and students on a wide variety of topics from meditation to 3D printing to sexual assault.

    • Hi Rachel,

      Thanks so much for your input. I would love to have a deeper conversation about this. Perhaps we can set some time up this Fall. I might be in Ottawa this September. I would also like to to discuss having you speak to our staff about historical thinking concepts. Let’s chat soon.

  2. Thank you for starting this project! I will defer to this post (and the list of programs at the bottom) as a telling start of where I feel the motion is in DNA– not just voice for the innovation space in edu. Over the next two weeks I will be announcing a new project which will be able to be added to the list! Looking forward to what is to come in this project!

  3. This is what I have from my original proposal. The program has grown over the years. Please contact me for more details.

    “Tell me and I’ll forget; show me and I may remember; involve me and I’ll understand.” Chinese Proverb

    Experiential Outdoor Education at Stanley Knowles School

    Stanley Knowles is a very diverse school with many special educational areas to meet the needs of student learners. Options like, graphic arts, woods, sewing, foods, music and choir provide students with the opportunity to explore education through a hands on experiential approach. The ability to offer these courses to students is a testament to the student population numbers in the school and the desire for differing experiences from the administration team. Another experiential opportunity that students would benefit would be the availability of an experiential outdoor education program. This program would enable students to learn various portions of the social studies, science, math and language arts curriculum through outdoor experiences.
    Through experiential education, the student becomes more actively involved in the learning process than in traditional, classroom based education. For example, going to a park and learning through observation and interaction with the park’s environment is experiential and in contrast to reading and talking about ecosystems in a classroom. The main difference here, from a pedagogical point of view, is that the educator who takes the students to the park rather than stay in the classroom probably values direct experience more highly than abstract knowledge. (Neill, James: 2004)
    Students will be selected for this program based on the results of the provincial grade 7 engagement survey. Those students deemed low in school engagement will participate in the program and work toward transferring learning from initiatives, teamwork and problem solving back to the classroom for success.
    The Manitoba teachers’ Society outlines a number of benefits of outdoor experiences in it’s most recent teacher handbook. Indicating that the benefits can include staff-pupil understanding, confidence and resilience, independence and social skills, leadership, communication skills, knowledge of the world, physical development and moral development. (MTS handbook 2011, adapted from Learning Outside the Classroom)
    The learning outcomes that are being proposed would include, but are not limited to;
    Sustainable Development:
    • Sustainable education including environmental awareness and school sustainability projects
    • Outdoor classroom opportunities
    • Manitoba’s flora and fauna. (plants of the western boreal forest)
    Physical Geography:
    • GPS, orienteering, geocaching and topographical map skill and creation
    • Manitoba’s physical geography (little mountain)
    • Weather prediction and patterns
    • Astronomy (evening class in school field)
    • Why people are attracted to the outdoors
    • Outdoor healing possibilities
    • Team building / problem solving activities
    • Low ropes course
    Experiential Learning:
    • Hiking (pack fitting, load distribution, clothing selection)
    • Canoeing (paddle experience at Fort Whyte Alive with lessons from Wav Paddling)
    • Rock climbing (incl. belay certification @ vertical adventures)
    • Survival skills and awareness for warm and cold climates
    • Trip planning (including safety, food, equipment, trip plan, first aid)
    • Cross country skiing (incl. sizing, waxing, and instruction)
    • Snowshoeing (incl. sizing, history, and uses)
    • Outdoor experience trip (equipment, food plan, trip)
    • Quinsy building
    • Sweat lodge and aboriginal connections to the land
    • Traditional aboriginal games
    • Shelters, (incl. tents, tarps, and lean-tos)
    • 7 teachings

    All activities will incorporate learning outcomes from the four main curricular areas and each activity will conclude with a processing activity or through discussion / journal reflections to assist student learning. As students progress through the activities they will become more active participants in their learning in all subjects and will take a greater leadership role in the school. They will have an opportunity to connect with the amazing experiences available to them in Manitoba and will retain those experiences for a lifetime.
    One can learn from experience,
    but one cannot be taught by it.
    – Adam Phillips

    • Project Wild
    • Place Based Education
    • Adventure Curriculum for Physical Education
    • Adventure in the Classroom
    • Animal Track of Riding Mountain National Park
    • Plants of the Western Boreal Forest
    • Project Learning Tree: Environmental Education Activity Guide
    • Games for Group: Book 1
    • Teamwork & Teamplay
    • Cowstails and Cobras II: A guide to Games, Initiatives, Ropes Courses, & Adventure Curriculum
    • Manitoba Sustainable Development Curriculum
    • Rediscovery. Outdoor activities based on Native traditions

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