Arts-Based Learning – All of Us “Leaving Our Mark” at Our School…

February 26, 2014

Our students have just finished working with a local group of artists in the first phase of (literally) leaving their mark at Keeler School. Every student has been reflecting on their part in utilizing our Circle of Courage in their life at school or at home. Students not only had the opportunity to throw their own clay bowl and a pottery wheel, but they also designed their own piece of a large representation of the Circle of Courage that will be put up and live on at Keeler, hopefully long after they have moved on to later grades.

Stephen Hurley wrote about how his child’s school took this work a step further, where they not only examined the major concepts around the vision of enabling students to “Believe,” but every student and staff member also left their fingerprint embedded in the work itself.

I love the idea that students live and work and learn in the building and they need to be able to see the past, present, and future of a school as a part of building and developing not only individuals but also a community.

Stephen described our roles so well:

As adults in the lives of our children—as teachers, administrators, parents and community members—we become the stuff that holds those spaces open for learning. When we’re at our best, we are cognizant of the importance of allowing our children’s voices to be strong and colourful. We are willing to admit that our hands are those of an artist, sometimes sculpting and molding but, most often, working to ensure that our students’ natural attributes are fully revealed. We are never starting from nothing!

Keeler Students will be leaving their marks behind them as they move forward, and setting the stage that we can all be artists and creators, are powerful and are learning all the time. Our parents have supported this work, our teachers have been challenged to work with their students to delve deep into the concepts of Belonging, Generosity, Independence and Mastery, and to really examine and reflect on how we live these concepts each and every day…

We will continue to enable “our children’s voices to be STRONG and COLOURFUL!”

Work hard, learn tons! (Thanks for the inspiration Stephen!)


A Tale of Learning – A “Dolphin Tale” that is…

February 12, 2014

Over the weekend my wife and I finished watching the 2011 movie “Dolphin Tale” with our children. It is a lovely movie starring one of my favorite actors, Morgan Freeman. The film was inspired by the true story of Winter, a bottlenose dolphin that was rescued in 2005 and taken to the Clearwater Marine Aquarium. Winter ended up losing her tail and was, in the end, fitted with a prosthetic one.

What does this have to do with learning? Glad you asked. One of the themes in the movie revolves around a boy who was enrolled in summer school due to failing or nearly failing all of his classes during the school year. That kid is sent to summer school where he has an extremely unengaging teacher droning on about grammar and parts of speech…

Through the course of the movie the boy, Sawyer, gets connected and his need for learning gets turned on when he finds this dolphin and works with the aquarium to help Winter recover and then get used to having a prosthetic tail.

The amazing part of this, from a teacher and principal point of view, is that Sawyer gets extremely engaged in the real world work of engineering, biology, animal care, and even the finances of a non-profit organization. He cannot wait to spend time with winter to help her in her rehabilitation.

As a teacher, I loved seeing that a student, who was absolutely hating and dreading sitting in a boring lecture-based classroom, take on project work that was inspiring, authentic, and based in reality. The really powerful part was seeing my own children jumping up-and-down, cheering on Winter the dolphin to take her first swimming strokes with the device attached. Yes, there might have been a tear or two…

When kids hearts and minds are engaged and emotionally attached to their work, we will see wonderful and amazing learning happen. Funny, that seems to work the same for me as an adult and as a professional as well…

By the way, the teacher ended up giving Sawyer credit for the learning that he did in his work with the dolphin. That gave me back some faith that most teachers are educators for the right reasons…

Work hard, learn tons!

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