Student Ideas, Real-World Answers

Denise Lamarche

June is an exciting month at SMUS with various closing celebrations and exhibitions of learning. Across our program, parents and students are invited to share in demonstrations and displays of student work and performances. These culminating experiences are engaging and exciting, and I often marvel at the calibre of work on display and the presentation skills of our students when they are sharing their learning. Increasingly, with a project-based and real-world approach in learning, our students engage with experts in the field and publicly share their research and learning with a public audience.

Gone are the days where the end of the year was only about final testing. Instead, the inquiry process allows students to engage in authentic learning experiences that enable them with deeper learning in research, collaboration, creativity, problem-solving and critical thinking.

An excellent example of this is our Grade 6 interdisciplinary design project which addressed the following driving question: “How might we redesign our Middle School to better support the learning needs of our students and SMUS’s sustainability goals?”. In combining learning outcomes from math, science, humanities and technology, students answered this question while keeping sustainability priorities in mind, which is timely for us as we consider our future campus plan. Students used a design thinking approach and engaged with community experts, conducted interviews, researched options and worked collaboratively to find creative solutions for a sustainable school.

Other highlights across our school include the ideas from our Grade 4 students to answer the question, “How can we protect our oceans?”; the Grade 9 math/science/applied design and technology project where students are designing a device that can charge a mobile phone using human-powered kinetic energy; and our Business Education 10 Dragons’ Den-style product launches to a panel that included guest alumni and community members. Another great example of living the research is our Senior School Brain Fit initiative designed to engage students in physical activity before they write their exams to reduce stress and activate the brain.

Considering the Portrait of a Learner, our students have a variety of opportunities to deepen their curiosity, resilience, initiative, integrity, collaboration and empathy. And what about balance? After the hard work of our students and faculty throughout the year, the summer brings balance and re-calibration. Enjoy!

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Denise Lamarche
Denise Lamarche is Director of Academics at St. Michaels University School.

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