Yesterday was our school’s second Celebration of Learning. As a school, we’re focusing on “student voice and choice,” and what better way to do that then when students get to showcase their work, discuss it with their peers, and reflect on their learning. Our principal, Paul, and vice principal, Kristi, thought of this day, and I’m so thankful that they’ve arranged it as they did. There is no single right way to celebrate learning.
- Some students showcased their own work.
- Some students showcased group work.
- Students showcased work from all subject areas and completed using a variety of digital and non-digital tools.
After my discussion with Kristi earlier in the week, my students chose to create follow-up activities for the visiting classes (to allow for hands-on learning) and to differentiate the activities depending on the grade level (from Kindergarten to Grade 8).
Teachers could choose to have their classes participate or not participate in this Celebration of Learning. This time around, we arranged our own classroom connections with other teachers, and we figured out the amount of time for each visit. We also created our own reflection options to ensure that “viewers” and “presenters” all had an opportunity to reflect on the experience.
I’ll be honest here: it’s a really busy time of the year with report cards due in soon, and I was worried about the time commitment. My students really wanted to be involved though, and I wanted to give them this opportunity. I’m glad that we opted in for the Celebration of Learning. Watching my class yesterday, I realized that,
- students are amazing teachers, and we need to give them this opportunity to teach. They asked questions. They provided clear instructions. They supported their learners. They provided hands-on learning opportunities, and they differentiated these opportunities depending on the ages and needs of the visiting students.
- students are creative, and they seek these creative learning opportunities in the classroom. They developed a number of creative follow-up activities and “thinking challenges” to have the visiting students apply what they learned and explain their new learning to each other.
- students learn a lot from each other, regardless of the grade. When Lindsay’s JK/SK students visited our room, they went to one of the block building challenges. The Kindergarten students showed my students how to use the linking cubes to create their own Bey Blades. My Grade 5’s were overjoyed! They started experimenting with different sized Bey Blades and various designs to figure out which ones would spin the fastest and the longest. They started talking about their choices using Science vocabulary, and they started exchanging ideas with their new Kindergarten friends. Even our youngest learners can inspire inquiry, creativity, and problem solving in our older students!
- students need opportunities to solve problems. Yesterday was full of problem solving! One group of Grade 5’s decided to make S’mores using a Solar Oven. They used this website to help with their design, but then when they went outside to cook them, the stick and the rock combination wouldn’t keep the lid open. No problem. They decided to use water bottles — and eventually some tape on the side of the portable — to hold open the lid. The S’mores didn’t work perfectly — the disappearing sun played a significant role in this — but the students continued to problem solve throughout the process, created the best S’mores they could, and had a wonderful discussion with the class about the problems they faced. Learning is definitely about more than the final product!
- students know how they learn best. They can articulate what they want in a classroom environment. They just need to be asked. Yesterday provided this opportunity, and the information I got from the students I think is worthy of sharing with other educators.
It may be a busy time of the year, but the Celebration of Learning is worth making time for, as it allows us to celebrate more than just “learning.” We can also celebrate thinking, community building, creativity, leadership, and problem solving. Students are at the heart of education, and they’re also the driving force behind this special day that allows us to truly celebrate all of the wonderful things that they’ve done and continue to do!
How do you celebrate learning in your school? What’s the impact of doing so? I’d love to hear the voices of all stakeholders (educators, administrators, parents, and students) on the pros and cons of a day like yesterday!
I too am feeling a bit overwhelmed about writing “report cards” But was so inspired by this post. Love all the learning that you describe. My kinders love the Flexiblocks and make incredible Bey Blades with them. Share construction with peers and teachers.
Thanks Faige! I think that sometimes when we feel overwhelmed, having the opportunity to see this learning in action reminds us of the importance of days like yesterday. Your students’ Bey Blades sound awesome too! I know that my students loved making them yesterday and were really excited that the Kindergarteners showed them how.