This is a story about some of my favorite learners who live throughout Alberta. They access their courses online, connect in Blackboard Collaborate sessions, and share in small groups via Google Meet. Once a week, those that can, meet for for a full day of learning and exploring together. These young students know that you can learn wherever you are. They are community of learners.
This particular day was ‘Pumpkin Research Day!’ Curiosity and excitement abounded, and everyone near and far participated.
Notice and Wonder
Look at all those beautiful orange pumpkins in a row.
What do you notice? What do you wonder?
“Will we make a pumpkin pie?”
“Will these seeds grow into more pumpkins?”
“Will the seeds from the small pumpkin grow other small pumpkins?”
“How many seeds are there inside that pumpkin?”
“Does a big pumpkin have more seeds than the small one?”
There was only one way to find out…
First some predictions about the possible number of seeds in our pumpkins.
How are we going to count all those seeds? By ones, by twos, by fives, by tens? The serious counting begins.
Such a great day of exploration, as these scientists and mathematicians were at work.
Students Far and Near
Something more was going on behind the scenes something that made this experience complete. Earlier that day my teaching partner, Susan Sundlie, @128sue on twitter, met with students who live in other parts of the province, via Blackboard Collaborate. They too were engaged in the this inquiry process. Perplexed with some of the same questions and with equal curiosity they were conducting research in their homes across the province throughout the day. They knew that their classmates were work addressing these same questions. Everyone would share their discoveries at the end of the day.
Scientists Share Results and Data
All scientists share data and discuss results, and so did we.
Near the end of the day students gathered on the carpet and in a Google Meet to discuss and report results. Each group presented their challenges, methods and results. Students who worked at home listened and shared their results with those at school.
As students discussed their findings they discovered there were common challenges! Counting by 2’s to 190 was not easy! And then there were still more seeds to count!! One student was pleased to share that she had learn how to count by 10 beyond a hundred. “Now I get it!” she happily reported to her mom at the end of the day.
Meaningful learning, engagement, and a genuine learning community for each student no matter where they were.
As I reflected on the day, my students, and their learning, I realized that this is what normal looks like for them. They are living in a world where learning is not constrained by walls, or distance, textbooks or isolation. Today they were participants in learning sparked by curiosity and inquiry. They are learning about collaboration, sharing information, and connecting with others.