Entering into the world of remote learning last month brought a host of challenges and constraints to the teaching and learning of young children. By the end of our second week, our team at the Junior School became clearer about the needs and considerations for our students and their families during this unique time. With a second iteration of our at-home learning schedule, we had a renewed opportunity to be creative and flexible in ways that would continue to honour what we know about how children learn best. The introduction of Wonder Wednesday provides a weekly opportunity to continue to foster a love of learning, and inspire curiosity and creativity along the way for our youngest learners.
Exploring an Interest
Every Wednesday afternoon is dedicated to student-led discovery. The students are invited to explore a topic or experience that they are interested in and would like to learn more about.
We have had students create a model of a Rube Goldberg machine, a space and robot-themed marble run, test paper airplanes and record flight data, and create a Kindergarten presentation on electricity, including safety tips for us to be aware of! Children are cooking and baking, sewing and weaving, and there has been a creation of flower fairy potion revealed to be quite successful.
The children can propose their own ideas for exploration during a live check-in time with a Junior School teacher. Students can check back in with the teacher during afternoon ‘office hours’ for help with an idea or project, ask a question or simply share about their choice for the afternoon.
For those needing some inspiration, the Junior School Google Classroom provides a range of suggestions and resources that include nature and outdoor learning, STEAM activities, museum explorations, choice boards and physical education to name a few. We are looking forward to contributions from our SMUS Prefects in the weeks ahead, as well. Children and parents are excitedly sharing their projects or new skills with their peers, teachers and other families online. These photos and videos give us a glimpse into the incredible creations, ideas, ingenuity and new skills the children have readily embraced. It has been truly inspiring!
Choose Your Own Adventure Learning
Wonder Wednesdays have created time and space for children to experience a sense of well-being that has been compromised by being physically distanced from classmates and teachers, an interruption of extra-curricular activities, and by sustained engagement for online learning for periods of time. These afternoons are an opportunity to maximize the potential for cross-disciplinary learning of a new skill, engaging in a new experience, and follow wonders and interests. It is a ‘choose your own adventure’ kind of experience.
We know from research, including what’s recounted in Daniel H. Pink’s book Drive, that the path to motivation, performance and satisfaction at school comes from the need to direct our own experiences to learn and create new things.
Wonder Wednesdays harnesses a child’s desire to choose and self-direct their learning of a new skill or endeavour, capturing the joy of learning. In doing so, they activate learner competencies like creativity, critical thinking, communication, and personal development. This kind of autonomy and student agency have favourable implications for learner growth.
In our community strengthened by relationships, we invite you to have a look at our some of the projects and skills our Junior School students have worked on, and see the the Portrait of a Learner traits such as resilience, initiative and curiosity come to life. Perhaps you will be inspired by the topics and ideas that are worthy of the children’s time and attention. If you would like to learn more about how things fly, how to lift weights properly, how to create a playground for bugs in your backyard, build an ocean-worthy raft or make freshly squeezed lemonade, we have many experts who are ready to share their discoveries!