Sandbox Learning

Imagine our Habits of Mind, Body and Action were grains of sand in a sandbox.

Mixed in the sand are heaps of creative and flexible thinking, collaboration, clear communication, and persisting. There’s sharing what you know, listening to understand, finding humour and making the world better. There’s even some showing self-control in the sandbox, but those grains may be a little less numerous somehow…

Now imagine playing in that sandbox.

Thanks to our electives pilot, I don’t need to imagine it. I get to play in that sandbox. Every Wednesday five grade 6 students and I meet for the Modern Languages Mash-Up elective. With the full support of Rosetta Stone language learning software, each student is learning the third language of their choice. Mandarin, Japanese, Spanish, Italian and Filipino are now languages being learned at KCS.

The sandbox part of the elective is the video we made for the showcase. The students had learned they were required to make a multi-lingual video where they each speak their respective languages. The rest was up to them. Thanks to all the various Habits, we were well on our way to making a tale of global conflict at high sea. Though we all brought various skills to the task, none of us had ever done all we attempted for this project. One jumped at the chance to write the script. Another set to work on Garageband, composing the musical track that would capture the mood of our saga. A third suggested we use Lego to enact the story, an idea that was met with a resounding “YES!” (and resulted in the precipitate drop in showing self-control – Lego is a powerful temptation apparently). Two others worked on the visuals, from building the Lego ships to putting together the iMovie. Most of us, at one point or another, didn’t know how to do what we were trying to do. That’s when we most felt we were in a sandbox. And that’s when I knew my little group of students and I were honing our lifelong learning skills. Our Habits were getting a healthy workout.

Much has been said about the unprecedented challenges and opportunities inherent in the decades to come. If ever the world was straightforward, it is decreasingly so. Tomorrow’s workers will likely face pretty bleak sandboxes sometimes, where they don’t know what to do but they must act anyway.

Our students will bring the Habits to their sandbox, plus some special experience playing in it.

I’m not yet sure how our movie will be received. Our plan, is for it to go viral once it’s posted on our KCS YouTube channel. You see, dreaming big is also part of playing in sandboxes.

But if it doesn’t reach blockbuster status, the educator in me knows it was all still worthwhile. The Habits have value beyond the making of this video.  And playing in sandboxes has value beyond the playground.

Andrea Fanjoy,
Assistant Head, Academics

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