Monday, January 30, 2017

MHHS English students create Beauvais Lake multimedia projects

MHHS English students with their Beauvais Lake interpretive sign
Chris Davis - Beginning in March of 2016, Matthew Halton High School English 20-1 students under the direction of English Teacher Clair Hockley began a project in conjunction with Alberta Council for Environmental Education (ACEE) and SouthWest Alberta Parks. Students explored Beauvais Lake Provincial Park west of Pincher Creek and were encouraged to choose areas of interest to explore before completing several multimedia projects based on those interests. Various different subjects were addressed, including Animals, Landforms, People, Trees, and Wonders of Beauvais Lakes. Another project was about Exploring Beauvais Lake in Winter. There was also a video project (see link below) and an interpretive sign project. The sign was unveiled at an event held on Friday, January 20.

According to AlbertaParks Visitor Services Specialist Heidi Eijgel, Alberta Infrastructure Maintenance's Barry Anderson and four students installed the sign in the fall. Anderson was present at the unveiling. Eijgel said seven school districts were involved in the projects. "I think Pincher Creek is one of the most active."  She said the students were treated like Parks staff during the process of creating their projects.

The students were in grade 10 when the project began, but due to the government process, waiting for approvals, and the actual development of the sign, the students didn't get to unveil it until they were in grade 11. Luckily, they were in Mr. Hockley's class again and he was happy to have them attend the unveiling. "Lets get our sign in the ground, and let's go celebrate it," he said, adding "I just loved the learning opportunity of being able to make something that is real. It's not just a piece of paper that sits on my shelf. This is pretty cool to me."

MHHS teacher Clair Hockley and student Jillana Hammond
MHHS student Jillana Hammond addressed the student perspective and how they incorporated real life work with the classroom. "The one thing... how we tied in English Language Arts (LA) with climate change as well as tying it in to a real life situation, that people actually do this for a job. It's not just an LA project." The students got to explore the entire process of making an interpretive sign, including having copies of the work submitted to the government which were then sent back for re-writes. "The first time we came out here, just to find a spot for the sign," said Hammond. "There was more than one place chosen, and the class had to vote. One option was a tree that had a girth larger than the circumference of five students holding hands to surround it." She explained topics covered by the sign included history, wildlife, plant life, and recreation.

Barry Anderson, Albera Infrastructure

Talking about the project on the ACEE website Mr. Hockley says "As an English teacher, I search for ideas and projects for my students. I believe authentic learning happens when student can see that their work has meaning and relativity. I often hear students wonder aloud if what we study in class will have any useful application in their lives. Questions like that rattled around my head during my high school tenure. I want to see my students engaged and challenged, and I want them to know that what they learn in my English class equips and empowers them for wherever they choose to go and whatever they choose to do. This project evolved or hatched from the conversations of people who think a bit like I do; and when asked if creating a sign, a sign with connections to the cloud, in which students could express their ideas and interpretations for the world to see, I believe I said, 'Oh yes! I like that! I like it a lot./ And so after a few meetings and a few classes we ironed out what we thought and what the students thought this project could look like. I find myself exuberant when I think about the fun many have had researching, working and playing with this project. And I would like to thank those who helped make it possible."

Pincher Creek area schools participating in the Alberta Green Schools program include St. Michael's, Livingstone, Matthew Halton, Piikani Secondary, and Canyon Elementary.

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