Bryanna Riviera’s digital portfolio (DP) really grabbed my attention. It was aesthetically pleasing, as it was organized, colour themed, and overall, very attractive at first glance. I thoroughly enjoyed looking through her photography page that she completed in Grade 10 during a Chemistry unit. She included photos of people, animals, plants, and landscape, which was a great way to let us into how she perceives the world and how she chooses to share her vision through photos. I also enjoyed reading about her Marine Biology Intersession. She had the opportunity to search for sea urchins, visit an experimental aquarium, visit a fish collection library, tour a toxicology and oceanography lab, and so much more. I think this is a great way to get students to engage in hands-on activities and experiences to truly understand content material within the curriculum. Rather than learning through a textbook or other text material, Bryanna and her classmates were able to learn about marine biology in a memorable, fun, interactive, and engaging way. I genuinely enjoyed looking through her photos, wishing that my 11th grade teacher coordinated a similar trip for our class. I can imagine that this one-week program is something that would truly excite almost all students. Even if students are not particularly interested in marine biology, this trip is so much more than that. It is a chance to spend a week with friends, to experience something unique, and to get away from your everyday routine. These factors alone are enough to get students excited, and we all know that the fundamental aspect of learning to get students excited and motivated. Here is just a glimpse of her intersession:
Bryanna also wrote a very interesting reflection after completing her freshman year. She emphasized what she learned from many of her teachers that year and why it was so applicable to her academic and personal life, particularly how it has prepared her for 10th grade. For instance, she said that her teacher, Brian, taught her how to “have a greater sense of tolerance; other people, other ways of thinking”. When I read this, I immediately made a connection to global education and how Brian successfully inspired students, such as Bryanna, to gain skills that allow them to be globally aware. She continued on about her teacher, Jake, and said that “… I have learned a lot from his class. Definitely math, but also problem solving strategies, and a better way to take notes”. I really like that she points out that she picked up skills that hold much more value and go beyond just simple fundamental math skills. It is so important that teachers are really focusing on the hidden curriculum, which some of Bryanna’s teachers seemed to have successfully done during her freshman year.
“I believe that we learn all this to basically learn “how to learn” (if that makes sense)”. She concluded her reflection with this comment, which really stood out to me. Although she indicates a handful of valuable life skills that she learned from Brian and Jake, she still concludes that her overall academic experience is about learning how to learn. As I, along with many of my peers, would agree with this statement, it is quite concerning that this is still the experience of many students today. As future educators, I believe that this is exactly what we must strive to challenge. How do we encourage students to be unique and different and to not be afraid to express that, without a fear of teachers marking it “wrong”?
Andrew Naslund had a very informative DP. I especially enjoyed reading about his inquiry-based chemistry project, which required students to create “interactive exhibits that demonstrated a phenomenon.”
I thought it was great that Andrew reported on the inquiry skills that they had to utilize and develop in order to successfully complete their project. We have discussed throughout the course, especially in the context of critical literacy, the importance of reflective teaching. I think that this list of inquiry skills demonstrates reflective learning, which I believe is key for student learning just as much as it is key for teacher development. Students, teachers, and most importantly, Andrew, can look back at this project and understand how it helped him develop essential skills that he can apply to his academic and personal life. He can also reflect on the challenges that he came across and how he overcame them.
Design Learning & Classroom Examples
Under ‘Design Learning”, there is an article entitled, ‘Why Inquiry?’ In almost all our classes we learn about the importance of integrating inquiry in our future classrooms. But as this article asks, why do we care so much about inquiry? This is a question that I always had, but never truly searched for an answer. Why did Andrew reflect on his inquiry skills that he used in his project and include it in his DP? This article helped me gain insight on the value of inquiry-based learning. After reading the article, I would now answer the question of “why is inquiry so important?” by saying that it is because we want to encourage students to create their own knowledge. Furthermore, we want them to do this by connecting their own lives to everything that they learn in the classroom. We want them to ask themselves, “how does this relate to my life?”, “how do my past experiences affect the way I learn and perceive different things?”, “how can I apply this to my own life?” This will help students deepen their learning and actually leave classrooms with knowledge that makes them think and not just memorize what they read in a textbook.
This is a diagram that I pulled from the article because I think it is a great visual representation to understand the importance of inquiry in today’s classrooms.
To connect this to project-based learning, I would argue that inquiry is absolutely essential in any project-based activities/experiments. This is shown through Andrew’s list of inquiry skills that he utilized and developed during his inquiry-based chemistry project.