ES Session 6: Week 2
What are the benefits of a learner-driven environment? I could point to scientific studies on intrinsic motivation or educational leaders who point to the future of learning. But sometimes, it is simply easier to show you.
For the past two weeks, the Wolfpack has been learning from home. It is the ultimate test of independence. Certainly, heroes have struggled and run into obstacles, but they have also persevered, been resilient, and found success. Here are a couple of their stories.
Mission: Build a Boat
Mission: Write a science-based story
Heroes are trying a new type of Writers’ Workshop this session. They each have a gameboard and level up by writing. This story comes from The Story Spine Challenge, based on Pixar’s world-class storytelling method. The first part was created by a guide as a prompt and the second half imagined and written by a hero.
Once upon a time there was a beautiful bee named Benji. Unlike normal honey bees, he was brassy green and aquamarine blue. His colors were so exquisite, it was like he carried a painting on his back. Everyday, Benji would fly around his forest in southern Mexico. He collected nectar from flowers and even fungi, but his favorite collection spot was the Orchid flower. Oh! Benji was overwhelmed with the scents: eucalyptus rolled into vanilla and spiced with wintergreen. Nothing else smelled like an orchid.
One day, Benji was drifting through the forest and saw a special flower- a Bucket Orchid. It was most fragrant and delicious flower he had ever smelled. He landed gently on a pedal. “This smells like heaven!” he thought to himself. He couldn’t wait to collect the scent and store it for his scent collection. Benji had special scraper hairs just for that purpose.
He was leaning forward to reach the first scent-patch when ploop! He fell down into the flower and was suddenly stuck in a patch of water.
Because of that… Benji struggled in the water for a bit, afraid of not being able to get out, or getting stuck under water and drowning, for bees can not, just like humans, breath under water. Benji really wished he had gills then he could just stay in the patch of water and not worry about getting out. He used all his strength and tried to grow gills, It did not work. “Darn!” He thought (But in bee language) He needed to find another way to get out. It could be days until a fellow bee found him.
Because of that… Benji franticly searched for a way of escape, He wished he could rip the flower, but unfortunately he was not strong enough to do that, and he had left his tiny bee sized tools at home this day. He tried to rip the petal with his stinger, so no success, the petal was just out of reach. He could feel the oxygen becoming low, that was bad. Because bees just like humans also need oxygen. He could not move from the water. He Came to the decision if he were going to get out, he needed to get rid of this water first.
Because of that… He searched for a way to get rid of the water, he could try to dump it out. But how? He could try to move to the other side to tilt the flower.. No that wouldn’t work He is not nearly heavy enough to to tilt it. He could try to scoop it out, but to his disappointment, he did not have hands. Benji felt there was no way to escape. He had lost all hope and came the conclusion that this was his fate. But then he had an idea! If he could not remove the water the water from the flower, then he would drink it! He began to drink the water “This has to work!” He thought. He quickly drinked the water. Although it was not all water, it had hints of nectar in it, being in a flower. This did not bother benji at all it gave the water flavor. He drank until he could not any more. “Oh no!” He could not drink it all! He decided he had to try anyways. There was nothing else he could do. Three.. Two.. One.. Fly!
Until finally… It worked! He flew he got out. He debated going back to finish the flower, but that did not seem like a good idea. He was too full anyways. Next time he would be sure to be VERY carful.
Mission: Use the past to decide the future
Two times a week, the Wolfpack comes together for Civilization. This session, they are exploring the Middle Ages from the perspective of different countries. A recent question was inspired from explorers to the New World: should the new continent have been named America after Amerigo Vespucci, Columbia after Columbus, or something else since people were already living there? A hero answered, “I think it should be something else. Columbus enslaved people and didn’t treat them fairly.” A second hero agreed, “Plus, the Vikings were actually the first ones to land in Canada.” Pretty cool to be a history buff and evaluate through a different lens.
In sum, the heart of a learner-driven environment is that students care about the things that they create.