Have you ever wondered how we, as teachers, can meaningfully connect our students with local experts in our community? There are a number of community members who have mastery knowledge in a variety of subjects tied to our curriculum, like museums. Why not take a virtual tour or speak to a real scientist through online learning? Recently, some Golden Hills teachers connected with the Royal Tyrrell Museum to find out just how they can engage with local experts to provide quality instruction and engagement for their students.
The Golden Hills Sr. High Biology and Jr. High Science collaborative learning groups teamed up with educational programmers at the world-leading Royal Tyrrell Museum of Palaeontology in Drumheller. Their goal was to collaborate on revamping the educational programs currently offered at the Museum. The Royal Tyrrell Museum currently offers multiple one hour onsite and online learning opportunities for students, with the intent to directly tie programming to the Alberta Program of Studies. When the Golden Hills Sr. High Biology Collaborative Group reached out to the Museum, they jumped at the opportunity to work with teachers. In turn, the local school board was excited to access the paleontologists’ expertise in enriching their own classroom experiences. “Working with the education staff at the Royal Tyrrell Museum was an outstanding opportunity for science teachers to collaborate with the Museum to modify and improve some of the programs that are offered to school groups and the public. The teachers in attendance also had exposure to other education programs, a tour of the museum, and even a behind the scenes tour to further deepen our understanding of the process to get a fossil from the field to display in the museum galleries” (Jason Rasmussen).
Connecting and Contributing
The Connecting and Contributing driver of Powerful Learning highlights the interconnectedness and relationships that students need in order to develop global competencies, enabling them to connect and contribute meaningfully. With the knowledge gained from the day, the Golden Hills teachers felt equipped to teach with Powerful Learning in mind, by providing their students with authentic and engaging learning experiences. As well, the support from the local experts at the Royal Tyrrell Museum made this “[an] excellent opportunity to collaborate with scientists and specialists in the field of Palaeontology and helped to make direct connections to learning opportunities that can support student engagement and learning” (Jill Gron).
Teachers walked away from the experience with a deeper understanding of the programs delivered by the Museum both onsite and virtually and a deeper understanding of how their curriculum can live outside the classroom. Through this experience, teachers had opportunities to pilot upcoming virtual programs, as well as form connections and relationships with community members, that they will be able to share with their students. When students make connections they are able to observe, interact, collaborate and create with experts across the world. This interconnectedness provides opportunities for ongoing local and global connections and contributions by our students.