Connecting to the place, culture and community is important to educators in SD85!
On a rainy Friday in early May, SET-BC consultants Danielle Verge and Joti Chahal headed to Port Hardy to facilitate a workshop on Place Based Education (PBE) at Port Hardy Secondary School. The idea for the workshop was to have educators learn more about Place Based Education by completing hands on activities using iPads and the Keynote app.
The morning started with a look at the pedagogy behind Placed Based Education and some of the benefits to exploring place. Emphasis was placed on connecting to the uniqueness of the immediate environment and culture as well as integrating the Aboriginal Education Enhancement Agreement, which the teachers of SD85 are already doing very well. We explored the idea of integrating PBE into the secondary classrooms across a variety of subjects and learned from teachers and schools already using PBE.
As a true test of everyone’s flexibility, the school unexpectedly lost all power for a period of time due to the heavy downpour, but this enthusiastic group of educators persisted, planning afternoon activities that would take place outside rain or shine. Groups of teachers, support staff and administrators huddled together around chart paper with coloured markers and iPads collaborating and co-planning how they could explore the area around the school and integrate it into their classes using the curriculum and culture.
In the afternoon it was time to brave the storm and venture outside the protective walls of the school to complete the activity that they would present to their students. Without hesitation, groups ventured out to get up close with nature and culture.
One group found themselves along a creek bed making scientific videos explaining the many edible plants native to the area.
Another group took a humanities approach to place by exploring the local environment to identify descriptive language using imagery, figurative language, adjectives and adverbs inspired by what they had seen outside. Our final group was in the shop designing a new fire pit for the garden area with artwork inspired by the regional First Nations.
They planned for project expansion that would carry on well into the future and bring the local community to the school. Engaged in their activities, the teachers were hard at work exploring place to inspire their students to do the same.
One of the most exciting parts of the day for Joti and Danielle was the presentation of the teachers’ learning and the discussion that organically developed surrounding the learning process and the experience of actually doing the activity they designed. All groups used iPads and Keynote, but they each explored their place with a different lens and different curricular goal.
In the end, the final products were very different and yet all groups successfully captured and demonstrated their learning in creative ways. The teachers in this workshop were shining examples of the way voice and choice can be integrated into lessons, how creativity can flourish despite having access to the same tools, and how we can all connect to our communities, cultures and place.
Great work SD85 – we can’t wait to see what you do next as you explore your fascinating place and culture!