Classroom Without Walls Round-up: Nordic Skiing, Italian Comedy, Coral Sculptures

Our Middle School and High School Students delved into extended inquiry, real-world application, and deeper exploration of curricular topics during the year’s first Classroom Without Walls (CWOW). Let’s find out about the learning and fun our students and teachers had during their latest CWOW.

Grade 6 Marble Race Challenge
Interview with Ms. Christina Reis

What did you do?
Marble Race Challenge: The objective of this task was for the students to work collaboratively in groups and create a marble run (using recycled cardboard items) that lasts exactly 60 seconds, no more no less.

What did you learn?
Students are able to apply scientific concepts such as Newton's Three Laws of Motion and integrate their knowledge of forces (i.e. gravitational force, friction, potential energy, etc.). This challenge also allows students to think critically and creatively while exercising self-regulation skills. This is prevalent when collaborating with others and overcoming hurdles during the challenge.

What was the group’s favourite activity?
Many enjoyed designing their structures and exploring different options to improve their marble run time. We also required students to complete various brain and physical challenges for additional materials and resources. This was done so that they would be mindful of minimizing waste and maximizing their resources they already had.

Best story from the day?
It was exciting to see the students learn from each other and support each other during their timed trials. Many would try something different and realize that it would be add a second or two. Seeing their excitement when ideas worked was definitely a highlight!

What one thing were students surprised to learn?
Cardboard can be incredibly resourceful! They were able to fold, curl, strip, tear, etc., essentially manipulate it in so many different ways to bring their creative ideas to life. They also realized their final product looked very different from their initial designs. It's all about the process and experience!

We are excited to offer students STEM learning opportunities and were thrilled to see the level of engagement and excitement for this challenge. We hope to introduce other building tasks and activities in the future!

Grade 8 Nordic Skiing
Interview with Ms. Leona West

Where did you go? 
Cypress Mountain

What did you do?
Nordic skiing

What did you learn?
Students either learned some basic skills or had the chance to practice existing skills.

What was the group’s favourite activity?
Some really enjoyed a run called “The Roller Coaster,” while others fell a lot!

Best story from the day?
Multiple gymnastic wipeouts from multiple students.

What one thing were students surprised to learn?
This activity was well outside several student's comfort zones, but as risk-takers, they persevered (because they had no choice) and some got better and more confident by the end of the day.

Our Grade 9 and 10 Students had a busy CWOW with three different activities throughout the day!

Grades 9 and 10
Interview with Ms. Rhonda Laurie

Where did you go?
We stayed at the school but had both grades working together.

What did you do?
Students were working on a collaborative clay installation centered around the effects of global warming on our oceans’ most rare and productive ecosystems: the coral reefs.

What did you learn?
Previously, students learned more about the role coral reefs play in the oceans’ ecosystems, how they are nurseries that offer diverse populations of fish and their offspring protection from predators, provide food all the way up the food chain, and how the rising ocean temperatures affect corals, already made fragile by acidification. Of deep concern are the ‘warming events’ which is an unusual rise in ocean temperatures that occasionally happen (the last major one was in 2017 and affected most of the world’s corals. As one becomes aware of an issue, one begins to care about it, and when one cares about it, that’s when change can happen. Students not only learned about the issues that surround these delicate ecosystems but engaged with them personally.

In groups, Grade 9 and 10 students decided what corals they wanted to create and created 3D clay tiles that will all be installed together to form a colourful coral reef. I am hoping to extend this collaborative project to have students create a second series of clay tiles that show what happens to corals when oceans heat and then what the end result is when corals die off. Considering that 8o% of the Great Barrier reef has died off in the last 25 -30 years (something that has survived millions of years) it is important to understand the rapid changes that animals and habitats must adapt to. All is not doomed, though, as there have been many breakthroughs that scientists have seen, and I want to get that message of hope across as well. I am looking to have an installation as soon as I can, but it is quite a large project that may take another year to complete.

What was the group’s favourite activity?
Once the students got the hang of how to create the various textures, they were off and creating. Most students really like the feel of clay in their hands – it’s so tactile and responsive.

Best story from the day?
Not only do the students like it, but the supervisors got in on the act and were eager to create their own version of this. I think adults need to regularly engage in play-based learning too!

What one thing were students surprised to learn?
I think students were surprised about how much they didn’t know about what is happening in the oceans and how important coral reefs are. As the oceans are a vast open space that seems so abstract and distant (they never really think about it in their day-to-day lives), and something that remains largely unexplored (we know more about space and the moon than what is in the depths of our own oceans) people continue to not pay attention to what is actually going on. As 90% of the world’s population depend on fish for food, it is vital for human survival to understand our oceans. We need to rid ourselves of the idea that we can just flush everything down or toilets, down our drains and into our storm and sewer systems (essentially using our oceans as giant depositories for waste) and think it disappears or that it won’t have an effect. We only must see the amounts of plastics and toxic chemicals in marine animals’ bloodstreams to fully understand the effects human consumption is having on all ecosystems (and as we consume those animals too, our bloodstreams also contain the same things- you are what you eat).

Grades 9 and 10 Commedia dell’arte
Interview with Ms. Danielle Donovan

What did you do?
The Grade 9 Students had to make a Commedia dell’arte scene (an Italian comedy scene)

What did you learn?
The Grade 9’s have been looking at Commedia dell’arte (Italian Comedy) and how to physically embody the characters. The Grade 10’s then gave them tips to improve and then we saw the final result.

What was the group’s favourite thing about the activity?
Making up the silly storylines.

Best story from the day?
The laughs that Lucas L. got as the character of El Dottore (the doctor) while he was “examining” his patient (incorrectly, of course 😉)

What one thing students were surprised to learn?
How specifically each character is embodied, and how they stayed the same regardless of which Commedia company was performing them.

Grades 9 and 10 Designing French Games
Interview with Mme. Isabel Pava and Mme. Emily Gish

Where did you go?
The student were in the cafeteria working in groups of six people.

What did you do?
During the first part, students explored the board games about French vocabulary, then they chose roles to develop a specific topic such as an illustrator, a game designer and a game tester. They had to follow the stages to design a board game.

What did you learn?
Students practiced different skills such as cooperative working and creative thinking.

What was the group’s favourite activity?
The student’s favourite activity was designing their own game.

Best story from the day?
Playing some games was exciting for the students. There were smiles and friendly competition.

What one thing were students surprised to learn?
All the roles involved in the creation of a game.

Grade 11 Spanish Visual Art Lesson with Artist Clarissa Banos
Interview with Sra. Maria Palacios

What did you do?
We invited Clarissa Banos, a visual artist and graphic designer originally from San Salvador, El Salvador, into our class. She comes from a long line of artistic, strong, and determined women who diligently encouraged and nurtured her interest and passion for art and creativity from a very early age. She talked about her story and then she led an art workshop. The students were able to freely create their pieces of art following some advice regarding techniques and materials.

What did you learn?
We learned about her culture and art. Clarissa’s ancestral heritage fuels her artwork and creativity. She is passionate about the indigenous civilizations of the Ancient Americas and is particularly intrigued by the Pre- Hispanic iconography found in ancient textiles of Mexico, Central, and South America, of which elements can be seen in her artwork.

What was the group’s favourite activity?
Learning about her culture and traditions, and how they are connected to her identity as a woman and as an artist. It was a great activity where learning was experiential and was a great introduction to our unit "Experiencias: Expresiones artísticas".

Best story from the day?
The full morning was in Spanish and the students were able to understand even though her accent from El Salvador is different from Señora Palacios' accent!