School Name: Houston Secondary Twain Sullivan Elementary
School District: SD#54 Bulkley Valley
Inquiry Team Members:Eric Arpin firstname.lastname@example.org
Ted Beck email@example.com
Inquiry Team Contact Email: firstname.lastname@example.org
Type of Inquiry: NOIIE
Grade Levels: Primary (K-3), Intermediate (4-7), Secondary (8-12)
Curricular Area(s): Applied Design, skills & Technology, Arts Education, Language Arts – Oral Language, Language Arts – Writing, Physical & Health Education, Science, Social Studies
Focus Addressed: Core competencies (for example, critical thinking, communication, problem solving), Experiential learning, Flexible learning, Land, Nature or Place-based learning, Social and emotional learning
In one sentence, what was your focus for the year? We created a Buddy System between Elementary and Middle School students to build social connection and motivation for learning.
Scanning: We perused class lists to match older and younger students with appropriate buddies to support needs. Once together, we immediately noticed connections. How was it going? Well, the relationships were being built around fun, trust, and learning. We could tell very early on that the buddy pairs were ready to move onto some exploration learning. This occurred faster than we expected. Ice was broken immediately.
Focus: Social responsibility, communication, innovation, personal responsibility, creativity….We hoped a Buddy System would foster strong relationships to make sure every child felt important, and that every child was involved and motivated to learn. Fostering relationships between students in the two schools is one of our ‘campus’ goals. We felt our project would work towards that.
Hunch: In matching the buddies, we went with our own knowledge of our students social and academic needs. Some needed a calm big buddy, while others would benefit being paired with a more theatrical personality. Our hunches were proven appropriate as we observed the relationships.
New Professional Learning: Technology: We learned how to support students with coding with robotics. Human resources, specifically our District Principal in charge of Technology ad Innovation. He gave us basic instruction, then supported us as we explored possibilities with the program. We found that we could rely on each other for professional growth, interacting with the students, and sharing the entire exploration process.
Taking Action: Open ended learning. We had goals in mind, communicated them with the students, but then let the students drive the direction of instruction. Example: Buddy Groups were to create courses around which their Bots would travel; that we did very little direct teaching allowed for each of us to observe student interactions and progress and give regular, meaningful feedback. Our interactions with students also supported our communication and social goals. In many cases, we got out of the way to let the learning happen, but having two of us present allowed for regular feedback.
Checking: Students built relationships and were motivated to learn. After the initial get together we never had to motivate either the big or little buddies to be involved. As well, a level of caring developed between the buddies. The older students became sensitive to the needs of the younger students; they would not let a young buddy become isolated or alone.
Reflections/Advice: A Buddy System between elementary and middle school students can build relationships and motivate students to learn. We also learned that the two of us work well together; we are already starting to think about where to go next!