The Seven Oaks School Division Post Baccalaureate Cohort in Inquiry is currently engaged in a course entitled Project-based Learning Theory. In the fall, the group completed Topics in Experiential Education, and as such, have a firm foundational understanding of experience and design. In PBL theory, we have been exploring PBL as a container for deeper learning. You can check out the podcast below to see how our thinking is taking shape. (We will be adding podcasts every few days.)
A group of passionate educators came together to create this book. We hope that your PLN or team can make use of our stories. You can grab copies from the fine folks at Portage & Main Press
Between January and April, educators throughout Manitoba came together every Tuesday to think deeply about heavy concepts (like experience, engagement, learning, and teaching), to think and reflect on our intentional design, and to think deeply about our learners, their families and our communities.
As part of our work, we decided to engage in a project ourselves. That is doing work that has meaning for us and allows to make meaning. As such, we created an eBook which speaks to our professional inquiry. As we explored the literature and interrogated our practice, problems and questions surfaced related to project-based learning.
We are pleased to offer our questions, our reflections, and our designs: Project-based Learning: A Deep Dive into Structure Inquiry.
The crew in my University of Winnipeg Faculty of education Project-Based Learning Applied class created projects for the school suspension period. As teachers, we were devastated that the sense of community we had created in our classrooms might be severed, so we took our theory on intentional design that is geared towards fostering curiosity, inquiry, and community and created these experiences to share with all teachers.
55 million kilometres away, give or take (depending on the time of year), our closest neighbour Mars circles the sun — just like us. Two weeks ago, our species was able to land Insight on it — the seventh rover that is responsible for exploring the Red Planet. (They have not all been successful, because landing a robot on a planet 55 million kilometres away is presumably difficult.)
I’ll admit it. I am completely addicted to this mission. I am constantly checking NASA’s Jet Propulsion Lab website for updates on video, images, and now even sound. Here is the sound of wind on Mars, captured by Insight (You will need to use headphones or a sub woofer):
How amazing is this! We landed an object on Mars safely and now we are able to listen to the wind whipping over the solar panels of Insight from 55 million kilometres away! I don’t know about you, but this blows my mind and has me asking deep existential questions.
It was this inquiry — that is the inquiry demonstrated by the NASA team — that truly astounds me and has also directed our professional learning as a faculty. On Friday at the Maples Met School, we engaged with several ideas and scholars, including Yuval Harari, Suzie Boss, and Ken Robinson. We were determined to answer deep questions about our instruction, assessment, and our relationship with each other and our learners.
One of the key questions we asked and discussed was: How do we structure our advisories for inquiry? That is, how do we foster learning environments that have the necessary structures and scaffolds to produce consistent moments of deep inquiry?
And this line of inquiry on our part stemmed from an incredible whole-school conversation led by our learners on Wednesday, where they put forth that they wanted more structure and scaffolding in project work, they demanded greater accountability from each other, and they want to go deeper with their internship projects.
Harari’s latest book, in particular his chapter on Education, provides learners with some charged advice. The advice is essentially to not rely on adults to prepare you for the future and to turn consumption on its head. That is to say to produce new ideas (to create) and not to simply consume them. While with the former advice I take issue with, given that mentors will always be critical to our learning, I believe sustained inquiry – coupled with purpose, and creativity – (all ideas that are interdependent) is the pocket or learning when we prove learners with time and space to create and to sustain their creative investigative questioning. This pocket allows affords us the opportunity to create, rather than simply consume.
And ultimately, this pocket provides us with moments of disequilibrium, elation, and connection to other human beings. It is this last point, that of human relationship, which in my experience is a huge factor in sustaining inquiry. That mentor-mentee relationship is critical to diving deep, creating anew, and flourishing with purpose.
And this is what flourishing with purpose might look like (Grab your cardboard VR viewer: