Thursday, 9 April 2015

PBL Experts - In Touch With India

Incorporating real life into our units is so very meaningful.

I was so pleased to have one of our local pastors, Julian Erb, in to talk about his recent travels to India.   He came with a Canadian perspective fully aware of the differences the students would likely notice between their Canadian quality of life and India's.  Little did he know he would hardly be presenting but facilitating a  barrage of questions!  He would mention a new topic and five hands would fly up eager to ask (or more likely contribute) to what he had to share.

After researching, writing, checking our sources, writing, creating, editing and questioning for what seemed like forever (check out my India PBL unit here! with photos of student work, scroll down until you find Unit's the second one listed) I wasn't sure they had really learned all that they should have.

This one hour visit confirmed it.  The connections the students were making were undeniable. The dialogue was rich and detailed and where one student left off another would pick it up.  It didn't matter if he flashed a photo of him in front of the Taj Mahal, on a train or at the leper colony, the students all related what they saw back to their research.  (Which by the way, none of the students researched landmarks, transportation or health issues) It was the first time in my life I understood how, with careful observation and anecdotal notes I could forego a pencil/paper test and be confident in giving my students a grade just by watching and listening!

I actually think our one hour class morphed into two so thank you Julian.  Your ability to relate and connect with my students was appreciated so much!

Another interesting connection we were able to make was by Skyping two ladies that have immigrated to Canada from India.  One moved over twenty years ago and the other more recently so their perspectives were very interesting and different.  In addition, they were from very different parts of the country but had found themselves in the same city working for the same company as one of my student's mothers.  They were so kind to donate their lunch hour talking with us.

Although the connection was not ideal - my whole class had to huddle around a laptop which is what we had to use for speakers and a microphone - each student had a chance to ask questions and as a group we eagerly listened to their replies. 

As you can imagine, the "real" India according to them, was very different than what our textbooks, other non-fiction resources and websites had told us.  While the stats told us that most of the country practiced predominantly Hinduism (and of course they are right), our guest was born and raised Catholic right in the middle of India, so her reality was very different than what we had learned.  Sure enough, she celebrated Christmas (albeit alongside Diwali) which after all, wasn't very different from us was it? 

Once again, the connections the students made in talking with these "experts" were deep and meaningful and they had a blast doing it.   A nice little touch was the excuse to write a thank you note to each of our "guests", which of course I could assess for language arts writing! 

No comments:

Post a Comment