As a school community, our instructional staff is committed to building an innovative learning environment where our young people fully develop their gifts and talents as they live, love and learn within the Light of Christ. More to this point, our teachers have created a hands-on, minds-on culture of exploration and discovery which inspires our students. This process for learning is evidenced by our faculty’s yearlong study of the book “LAUNCH”. Each teacher was assigned as a member of either our early childhood, intermediate or middle school team. Each group traveled along a collaborative journey with their fellow colleagues as they designed activities that engaged our students in applied learning built on the skills of creativity, communication, collaboration and critical thinking. And as a concluding cross-curricular activity for each of our groups, the teams designed a project based learning experience for their students. On a side note, I would like to thank School Board members Pat Barton, Karen Horvath and Mike Doyle for their dedicated leadership in facilitating the book discussion meetings.
As a means in which to provide you a glimpse into project based learning experiences we provided to the students this spring, below will provide a brief description of the activities:
Our early childhood teachers launched a multi-grade level activity where our students learned about the concept of ecosystems as they cared for God’s creation and earned funding for our school fish tank. Each of the early childhood classes rotated through applied learning activities. For example, the students utilized a 10 frame tool to “subtract” fish from their tank; they used writing prompts to complete writing activities based on the book, “Rainbow Fish”; and engaged in an understanding of the differences between living and non-living things. The final stage of the project saw the students host a bake sale to raise money in support of the maintenance of the fish tank. And to promote the bake sale, the students utilized iPad technology to develop promotional videos and posters.
Our intermediate teachers assigned student groups to use creativity and collaboration to design, build, and "sell" a cardboard house. Each subject area was represented as the students were assigned into small groups and given identical supplies in which to design their box home. And while developing their home, the students learned to give and receive feedback as a means in which to revise the end product.
Lastly, our middle school teachers designed a project where our students learned about the tiny house movement and why people choose to downsize and move into small homes. Divided into small groups, the students were given the same supplies in which to create their tiny home. Once their group was assigned, they learned more about this movement within their Social Studies class as they researched the geography of the area in which they would prefer to reside. In ELA, they created real estate listings for their house. And in their World Language class, they translated these listings into Spanish. In Math, they designed and build a model of their house including a floor plan and interior of their house.
Curious minds and engaged hands create an optimal learning environment for today’s St. Agnes student. We are truly blessed!