Parents, community members and school division representatives roamed the halls of École Our Lady of the Rosary School June 5, viewing displays, the result of students’ project-based learning.
An exhibition of learning was held as a celebration of students’ discoveries resulting from cross-curricular projects, such as building a church and evaluating the needs of plants and animals as they relate to development in Sylvan Lake.
Welcoming the large crowd of guests, Grade 1 French Immersion teacher Tamalyn Tardif spoke of her approval of project-based learning, noting, “What more could a Grade 1 teacher ask for?”
“The students amazed me,” she said. “They learned from each other, and they ended up teaching each other, and me, way more than I taught them.”
“They blew my mind every single day with their ideas.”
She added her initial fears of project-based learning were quickly replaced by feelings of “excitement and eagerness”.
Guests were given the opportunity to explore the projects of Grade 1 and 2 students which were presented as reports and dioramas, and question them about their research.
Dr. Paul Mason, superintendent of Red Deer Catholic Regional Schools (RDCRS) and Sylvan Lake Mayor Sean McIntyre were among those who attended, as were other members of RDCRS senior administration, school board trustees and plenty of proud parents.
Guests not only got to see the benefits of project-based learning, they also got to hear about them from Grade 1 student Jayden McLean.
“I like doing projects because they’re really unique,” he said. “It’s a really fun way to learn.”
Principal Jodi Smith said the school’s project-based learning journey began with encouragement from Brenda MacDonald — one of the school’s inclusive learning co-ordinators — and excitement about Alberta Education’s Curriculum Redesign and the use of project-based learning.
“Inspiring Education and Curriculum Redesign are pointing the way to a re-imaged system that will empower Alberta’s young people to become the leaders of tomorrow in our communities, workplace and society,” she said, quoting the province’s overview of the initiative. “It is about being innovative and creative about the ways we are using existing curriculum today, and bringing the best parts of Alberta’s proud education legacy into a 21st-century context with our future curriculum to ensure that all learners have access to an excellent education that prepares them for a bright future.”
The current provincial curriculum is defined as being system- and content-focused, and print-based. Redesign will see it more student- and competency focused, and digitally-based.
The projects displayed at École Our Lady of the Rosary School showed some of the benefits of the new curriculum. Its implementation date has not yet been set.
“Our education system needs to prepare students to be successful in a future world that would be defined by global interaction, competition, engagement and networks,” said Smith, reading the overview. “It needs to ensure Alberta’s young people will have the knowledge, skills and attitudes to be prepared for jobs that do not exist yet, and in industries that are emerging or evolving.”
Further information about Curriculum Design is available online at www.education.alberta.ca.