Thursday, November 6, 2014

Makerspaces benefit students with learning differences.

In Mr. Seymour's new production technology room he utilizes the principles of a Maker education. Pictures show this year's students busy designing, making, evaluating, re-working, and reflecting on their stool design challenge. 

Jose working on his speaker design.

Maker education is a new school of educational thought which strives to deliver constructivist, project-based learning curriculum and instructional units. Makerspaces can be full high school workshops with a bevy of high-tech tools, or as small and low tech as one corner of an elementary classroom. What defines a makerspace isn't just the tools and equipment, but the learning that happens as students begin making and creating projects. Educators need to design these spaces to reach a diverse set of learners, particularly students with neurological differences, learning differences, and special needs. Makerspaces provide a number of benefits and opportunities for typical students. It just so happens that the type of learning Makerspaces promote best is also the type of learning that students with learning challenges need most.

Exploration and Execution

Students with neurological differences or other special needs have great gifts to bring into the classroom. They also bring a set of challenges which the teacher must be prepared to help each student manage. Students with neurological differences often have difficulty planning, organizing and executing complex tasks, navigating the intricate social community around them, modulating and regulating their emotions, and connecting their academic work to later career choices. As educators, we can leverage their strengths and interests to increase their engagement and learning -- just like we do for any other student. Any curriculum that we develop and deliver to our students must take into account these challenges and incorporate deliberately designed avenues for addressing them head on.
Maker education places a premium on the balance between exploration and execution. Small projects lend themselves to indefinite tinkering and fiddling, while larger projects need complex, coordinated planning. Often, small projects can organically grow into larger and larger projects. This deliberate process strengthens and enriches a learner's executive functioning skills. Additionally, communication and collaboration are two of maker ed's fundamental values. Makerspaces allow learners to practice their social communication skills in a variety of groupings, whether affinity-based or role-specified and teacher-assigned. It's important for both groupings to be present in student learning spaces so that all students can practice their social skills in multiple settings. Lastly, makerspaces present unique opportunities to generate flow learning and allow the teacher to leverage high-interest projects and activities into learning objectives.
Maker education gives space for the real-life practice of collaboration, integration across multiple disciplines, and iteration -- the opportunity to fail, rework a project, and find success. The benefits of a cooperative learning environment are well documented. And this environment reaps even more rewards for those students with neurological differences and other learning challenges.

Taken from:

Wednesday, May 28, 2014

Canadian History 11 Visits Halifax

On May 28 our Canadian History students visited two historic sites in Halifax. We spent the morning exploring Canada's national museum of immigration at Pier 21 on the Halifax waterfront. Students toured the exhibit and took part in a fun educational workshop. One of our highlights was viewing the new film in Canada: a 20 minute production featuring the personal stories and experiences of a diverse collection of immigrants to Canada from all over the world. Another highlight happened at the Scotiabank Family History Centre when one of our students investigated and discovered interesting details about her great grandfather's immigration experience at Pier 21.

In the afternoon we had the opportunity to visit the Africville Museum. The museum is housed in a reconstructed replica of the Seaview United Baptist Church, which was the heart and soul of the Africville community until it was demolished by the city of Halifax in the middle of the night. The museum tour provided an overview of the history of Africville from its inception to its eradication. Recently we have been studying injustices that have taken place in Canada. Our visit to the Africville site gave students a deeper understanding of the heartbreaking realities surrounding the 1960's resettlement of hundreds of African Nova Scotians.

Pier 21


Tuesday, April 15, 2014

                                      WE HELP WOLFVILLE

On Tuesday, April 15 the students and staff of Landmark East, in partnership with Clean Nova Scotia,  participated in the Great Nova Scotia Pick-Me-Up event. Ninety people, organized into six highly motivated teams, spread out throughout the town engaging in a massive spring clean up operation. The event was a tremendous success. We found an amazing amount of garbage left over from the long winter months. Clean Nova Scotia provided all the necessary collection materials, as well as great tips for waste sorting and safe cleanup practices. A sunny afternoon with a gorgeous temperature of 20 degrees provided the ideal conditions for our energetic, volunteer garbage collectors. It was so much fun and satisfying, that we will likely make it an annual event for the school.

The spring cleanup is linked to Landmark East's designation as a Me to We school. Back in the fall our students and staff participated in the Waterwalk which was a global action designed to raise awareness and support of a clean water and sanitation project in Kenya. Me to We schools are also required to engage in a local project. The Great Nova Scotia Pick-Me-Up event offered the students and staff of Landmark East a wonderful opportunity to help our community and satisfy the local project requirement of Me to We.

More photos of the awesome day…


Friday, April 11, 2014

Volcanoes Erupting at LME

During my grade 7 science class we are learning all about volcanoes from around the world. We created our own models of them from paper mache. 2 groups (Thomas and Izaak, Hunter and Brayden) made theirs to look like composite (high) volcanoes, and Emily and Kaylee made theirs to look like a shield (low) volcano. Kaylee's father offered some dry ice to help us 'explode' them! The students filled flasks with hot water and a bit of dish detergent and placed the flasks underneath of their volcanoes. I then went around and dropped a few pieces of the dry ice into each of the volcano openings. They immediately started to bubble out of the top and down over the sides. They were having so much fun that they began to think big! Really Big! They filled a large graduated cylinder with the hot water and soap mixture and I dropped a few more pieces of the dry ice into that and like the volcanoes, it too started bubbling! A LOT! Best science class ever!! Thanks Alan Comeau!!

Ms. Reid

Saturday, March 29, 2014

      Landmark East Students Visit NSCC Skills Competition 

On March 28 a number of Landmark East students had the opportunity to visit the Nova Scotia Community College Kingstec Campus to participate in their annual showcase of programs and observe current college students responding to skill challenges.

Our students were introduced to a variety of NSCC programs through hands-on demonstrations, interactive displays and engaging conversations. It was a great experience! One we will be sure to repeat next year.

Visiting NSCC has given Landmark East students a glimpse of the educational opportunities that are available at the community college level. Many are excited to have found a potential career path and a post-secondary destination. A number of our students are already planning to sign-up for a NSCC "test drive" during the next school year, at which they will experience a day-in-the-life of a community college student: attending actual classes and meeting students and instructors.