Adventure has been a great influence on my life. It has shaped me into the person and educator I am today. I’m lucky to be married to @ who is a true adventurer and we share our love of travel with our son, Kai. He is a lucky boy, having already travelled to 10 different countries and explored countless places in Northwestern Ontario by the ripe old age of six! There is so much to be learned from adventure! It’s just too bad many of our students will never be able experience true adventure, right?
WRONG!!! In less than 20 days of school, my students have “travelled” to South Africa to meet Stubby the penguin, New York City to meet August, a boy with extraordinary challenges, Florida to go cave diving with world renowned diver Jill Heinerth and to Madagascar with primatologist Travis Stefeins! We’ve also ventured in our own backyard, Thunder Bay. We have travelled to Fort William Historical Park to learn from local elders, Lakehead University to train with local athletes and this week we’ll walk to St. Patrick Highschool to visit the incredibly talented scientist, Mr. Prezio. On Tuesday we have a ticket booked to travel to the arctic to meet the legendary polar explorer Pen Hadow!
I can’t even begin to explain the impact these experiences have had on my classroom environment and my students’ learning. Here’s a tweet capturing some of the take aways from a recent adventure:
My students keep an Adventure Log. Before an adventure they record and build their schema and list possible questions they may have about their journey. They also write their thoughts and feelings about the adventure and what they expect to learn. During our travels the kids take jot notes and make sketches highlighting important, interesting and relevant information. Finally, after the adventure my students usually publish a piece that they share with their peers, parents and sometimes… the world. My students’ parents make comments about their child’s adventures and learning in their logs during homeshare. My students add to their Adventure Logs, on a weekly basis, recording the places they’ve travelled to, the people they’ve met and things they’ve learned from reading their own self selected books. Our shared read aloud ‘Wonder’ has taken us all on another unique adventure with our newest friend, August.
Many teachers who are reading this blog may be thinking they don’t have time for all these excursions, they have curriculum to cover, text chapters to complete and tests to prepare for! To those teachers I reply: Curriculum does not need to come from a textbook and worksheets! Break free of the text and test, they only stifle creativity, flexibility, authentic learning experiences and ADVENTURE! Ask yourself this: Would you want to be a student in YOUR classroom? Would you want your child to be? If the answer is no, perhaps it’s time to add a little adventure!
If you’ve read this far, you must be wondering HOW I’m able to take my students on such exotic adventures with such incredibly amazing people. My secret is one that I’m almost reluctant to share. I’ve recently found an educational travel agent (he’s a teacher!) who works tirelessly to put together global learning adventures for teachers and students from around the world! I simply visit Joe Grabowski’s Exploring By The Seat of Your Pants Website, sign up for a camera spot and the adventure begins! Via Google Hangouts, Joe creates virtual field trips that connects classes with scientists, explorers, conservationists, photographers and adventurers in the world’s most incredible places! Students usually listen to the guest speak and present a slideshow/Keynote for 15-20 minutes and then have opportunities to ask questions. There are usually 4 camera spots for classes to participate live, but any class can watch and participate in a more passive role off camera. Joe then uploads each experience to his Youtube channel for the educational benefit of all. Anyone who has ever tried to arrange a Google Hangout for their class will know it usually takes hours of time to make connections and work out logistics. Thankfully, Joe does that all for us! I honestly don’t know where he finds the time!
Instilling in your students an adventurous spirit will open up the doors to learning and expose them to people and places they never dreamed of. Through their many adventures already this year my students have already learned that their voice matters and that they can and will make a difference. I think this tweet (in reply to my students’ tweet above) says it all…