Nobleford students learn by doing

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Hands-on learning opportunities at Noble Central School’s Experiential Learning Week included an Anti-Bullying option focusing on jiu jitsu.

NOBLEFORD – “Hands-on” was more than a buzz word for Noah Scott during Experiential Learning Week at Noble Central School.

About 120 junior and senior high students at the Palliser school chose from a variety of options which highlighted real-life learning experiences. The goal was to spark a love of learning and perhaps guide the students down a possible career path.

Scott signed up for Construction Tools and Materials and wasn’t disappointed.

“My favourite part was digging 10 inches into the ground with my bare hands,” said the Grade 10 student of his role in building a Thunderball pit, an octagonal arena for a version of dodge ball. “I was called the digger and had to dig all the excess dirt out after they used the auger.”

Scott was only expecting a basic primer on how to use various tools and was excited to be part of an authentic learning opportunity, since he learns more through doing, rather than listening.

“I think it’s valuable for someone to learn from trial and error. Just sitting there and listening to your teacher drone on. . . after a while you don’t hear them anymore,” he said.

Scott’s testimonial wasn’t the only measurement of the success of Experiential Learning Week, said Principal Greg Rollingson, who called the event a “highlight” of his career.

“I’ve always believed happy kids mean good learning opportunities and I’ve seen a lot of happy kids at Noble Central this week,” he said.

Rollingson tasked his teachers to come up with an option that could be condensed into three days, tied in with curriculum, and most importantly, was something they were passionate about.

“When kids see an adult’s love of a curricular subject, naturally it leads to them wanting to participate in it,” he said.

It was a bonus when a student told him it was nice to see teachers in a different way; that working alongside them revealed a much more “human side” of them.

Feedback from the community indicated a desire for their children to be provided with career options or different learning opportunities than they would get in a traditional classroom setting, said Rollingson. The community also wanted greater involvement with the school, and the first-ever event for Palliser Regional Schools recruited some of them to lend their expertise.

Molly Baumann thought it was “cool” to flip people around in Anti-Bullying and Personal Leadership through Jiu Jitsu, and found the option much more intense than she had expected. Would she pursue martial arts further as a result?

“Absolutely not,” said the Grade 11 student, who added as a “visual, hands-on learner” she was appreciative of the chance to learn it wasn’t for her.

“In situations where I am reading out of a textbook or off of a computer, it’s really difficult for me to focus,” said Baumann. “Being in a situation where I am surrounded by people and with teachers and instructors, it’s really helpful and I feel like I’m learning a lot this week.”

Bryce Segboer had to weigh a number of interesting options for Experiential Learning Week before his love of athletics led him to “Sports Science.”  He was interested to see how science and math could be incorporated into determining whether spin affected the accuracy of a basketball shot.

The Grade 12 student enjoyed meeting schoolmates from other grades he might not normally mix with, and a learning approach which began with tossing wadded up paper balls into a trash can before moving on to the gym for further experimentation.

“If you’re not working hands-on, it’s not going into your brain like it would be if you’re doing hands-on,” said Segboer. “If you are doing something you’ve never done before and you’re just watching other people do it, you won’t have the same feel for it.”

Tiffany Wolfe’s favourite part of the Media course was visiting both a radio and television station in Lethbridge for a behind the scenes look. Students also produced a short radio and TV broadcast themselves.

Noble Central School will join others across Palliser Regional Schools in a similar opportunity this coming spring. The Grade 12 student said she’d have no problem selling other students on the experience.

“I think it’s really beneficial for students to get that chance to see – if you were thinking of going into journalism – instead of having a teacher tell them about it in class, you get to go to Country 95 (radio) and Global News (television) and get a more in-depth perception,” said Wolfe.

Rollingson said it’s not just the physical building at Noble Central School which is undergoing modernization. His staff is also looking at how they work with students to be more effective, and Experiential Learning Week offered a glimpse of the possibilities.

“If we are engaging kids and keeping kids interested, then learning is going to be at its maximum,” said the principal.