In one of my previous blog posts (from March) I talked about the collaboration between my class and the independent school on campus called Coast Mountain Academy. Ever since we worked with these kids I’ve been talking with teachers at the school about volunteering with them. This led to the development of a plan for me to help out in P.E. classes as well as teach a statistics and probability unit to the 9th graders.
This seemed like a great opportunity for me to use this month of volunteering as an Experiential Learning (EL). Doing at least one EL block is a requirement at Quest to graduate. The idea behind EL is to get students to learn in an unconventional way that places them in an organization outside of Quest. Many students end up going off campus to work with organizations all over the world.
Though I’ve only worked with Coast Mountain Academy for one week now, so far it has been an amazing experience. Participating in P.E. and playing tennis is a great start to my day and I love how excited everyone is. Teaching statistics has already challenged me but the first two days went smoothly and I’ve already learned a lot about how fast to pace the material. Before I started teaching, my mentor told me that it takes about five hours of planning for one hour of class. This was hard for me to believe at first but now I can see where she’s coming from. I haven’t been recording how long it takes to plan but it does take a lot of work to put together an engaging class that lasts an hour.
Grading for an EL block can take a variety of forms depending on what you set up with your mentor. Many mentors suggest or insist that you take EL as a pass/fail class so you can focus on what you’re doing without worrying about grades. Whether you take EL pass/fail or for a grade you have to set up the style of work you need to complete. For example, although I’m taking my block pass/fail I will still turn in all my lesson plans, a note from the teacher I’m working with about my work, and an essay about what I learned and how it relates to my question or my studies. In addition, students are required to present on what they did in their EL for their peers to come and learn from.