Dear EHS Families,
As our calendars turn to November, and 20% of this school year has somehow zipped by, it is an important time for Teachers and families to reflect on the importance of promoting engagement in learning. The excitement of being back in class and the energy of the first few weeks can be hard to sustain when the reality of the routines and schedules are becoming habits. How might the engagement level of our learning tasks help ensure we have activated, focused and energized learners?
Over the past 10-15 years, there has been an increasing shift towards the importance of intellectual engagement to create optimal learning conditions. The 2009 research from Dr. Sharon Friesen and the Galileo Education Network's landmark framework “What did you do in School Today?" helped frame the importance of the work that Learners undertake being personally relevant, worthwhile and capturing their attention and interests. Eric Harvie School's underlying philosophy, including our focus on building the “Learner's Toolkit", is centered on the importance of bringing relevance and meaning to the learning tasks and experiences that they face each day – during in-class experiences, outdoor learning and hopefully throughout their lives in the community.
The evolving spaces and contexts of learning that have come out the past year and a half of interrupted classroom learning are other key reasons for ensuring Learner engagement is a key factor to consider. This article, Why Student Engagement is Important, from Michael D. Toth, provides a great summary of some of the challenges faced in today's classrooms with young Learners that have interruptions to so many of the pieces of their lives that they found engaging to them over the past months.
The pathway to increasing engagement for our Learners is a winding road that needs to have multiple directions for Learners to choose. We will be starting our journey with “Wonder Time" this Friday with our Learners to provide a different opportunity for design thinking and creativity. We will be focusing on our school-wide essential question, “What Matters?" from the perspective of another child. Each class will approach this challenge from a range of perspectives to try to design something that helps to meet the needs of another child. We have also extended an invitation to families to join the CBE-wide Minecraft Challenge, and some classrooms are also taking up this challenge as part of their planned curriculum. For a very interesting look at the benefits of learning through Minecraft, check out this interesting perspective: Minecraft can Increase Problem Solving, Collaboration and Learning...Yes at school! Each classroom team has their own angle on how to provide opportunities for engagement, which lately include stop-motion videos, artistic creations and personalized writing opportunities.
We appreciate that the families in our learning community have a strong belief in the importance of learning experiences that their children will remember years from now. One of my own measures for a successful school day is to be able to ask a Learner, “What did you do in school today?" and for the answer to start with something other than recess or lunch! The social experiences that children are able to experience during these less structured times of their day are wonderful, however, we should all strive for learning experiences that bring relevance, excitement and intrigue to each Learner and motivate them to keep learning even more!
Have a great day,