By Courtney Robertson
My Learning in Depth Journey
I have always enjoyed the collaborative aspects of having a “buddy” class. Being a Kindergarten/Grade 1 teacher, I have been the younger buddy group in the pair, but have really enjoyed the many benefits of having a regularly scheduled buddy class. In the past I have done healthy buddies, reading buddies, craft buddies, and math buddies. I think what I liked most about buddies was spending time with another grade and teacher and planning together.
I was fortunate enough to begin my Master’s Degree in in September of 2015 and was exposed to the , or LiD, program through both the and my professor. I was immediately drawn to it!
In my practice, I have always aligned myself with inquiry and child-driven learning. Now here was a program that met both of these philosophies, while at the same time providing a new approach to the buddy class idea.
I approached my Vice Principal to see if he would be interested in starting LiD as a buddy program with my K/1 class and his 4/5 class…and so it began! I’ve learned a lot so far.
Here are 10 Tips for your success:
- Have resources at hand. I have spent many dollars on resources in the past and have found that many sit on my bookshelf. ($50) has many valuable resources, from a book guiding your implementation, to ongoing support for LiD kids! My favourite part of the kit is the prompt cards for the students that are open-ended questions to help the students dig deeper or wider into their topics.
- Communicate the importance. A ceremonial start to the program conveys the importance of the learning that will take place…so make time for it! We had cookies and juice and celebrated each topic. Inviting parents, sharing in the class newsletter, or showcasing it on the school website will convey the value of the program.
- Build LiD into your schedule. By building it into your weekly schedule, you assign importance to something. Making LiD the thing you do when you have time, conveys to the students that it is secondary to other learning…when in fact it isn’t!
- Be involved. Check in with your students. Knowing where they are and where they are stuck will help you support their growth and understanding of their topic. Within the LiD book there are checklists and reflection sheets that make checking in and supporting your learners’ time effective and valuable.
- Connect! Make contact with other LiD teachers via Twitter (), the , this imagineEd blog (), etc. Sometimes just seeing what other LiD teachers have done can change your mindset and get you excited or refocused on the amazing benefits of the program. Read other posts by LiD teachers .
- Provide a place…Make sure each student has a place to store LiD paraphernalia. We bought clear plastic shoeboxes for each child ($1.00 each) and made labels for each of their boxes with their topic and name. Within each box I added a notebook, pencil, and eraser so that they had the basics to start with.
- Use the resources. Use the materials on the DVD in the LiD Kit to send home information to parents, make labels, and share with colleagues. Spend some time learning and exploring the program prior to beginning it with your learners.
- Take a leap of faith. Don’t be afraid to jump in…with both feet! Many amazing things have occurred in my LiD journey because I jumped in. I have learned what works well and what does not, but wouldn’t have come to that realization without jumping in and getting started.
- Celebrate! Plan a year-end celebration that showcases the learning and journey the students have undertaken. Providing the children with an opportunity to show their learning, in whatever way they choose, is powerful learning in itself. For our year-end celebration we decided on a Gallery walk style. We guided our students to show their journey either through a PowerPoint presentation, experiment, diorama, poster, interview, report, etc. The more creative the better!
- Involve parents. This isn’t a project that is taken home and hastily completed on a Sunday night; it’s an ongoing journey for families to meander through. Parents showing excitement towards LiD translates positively to students. We want students to see what incredible things learning and exploration of the unknown are!
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About the author: Courtney Robertson is a K/1 teacher at RC Garnett Demonstration Elementary School in Langley BC. She has been teaching for 10 years and is currently working towards completing her Masters of Education (curriculum and instruction) in Imaginative Education at Simon Fraser University. She loves learning and children…so teaching is a good fit! Some academic interests and pursuits include pedagogical documentation, inquiry, multiculturalism and critical literacy, imagination, and dialogical thinking. Lots of big words just to say that she is a life-long learner who wants to do the best she can with the littles she works with!
Follow her on twitter (her newest techie achievement!) or email her at [email protected]
(Photo credit by Daniel Sicolo Photography)
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