submitted by the Living and Learning School-As the week begins at Queen Charlotte’s Living and Learning School, students 6 to 13 gather in our opening circle. They are talking excitedly about soccer on the weekend and the upcoming ‘School in the Bush’ trips to Grey Bay and Limestone Island. Teachers and a couple of parents join them and a brightly painted moonsnail shell is passed around the for a more formal sharing of weekend events. Our ‘Virtue Volunteers’ for the week then choose a quality such as cooperation, trust or courage that we will explore experientially and revisit in circle each morning. Circles are times of sharing, listening, games, music and learning.
After circle, unless we have a visitor or special event, our mornings are spent in groups, engaging in language and math explorations. Students point out that highlights for them in these areas are journal writing, writing ‘SuperHoot Adventures’ (SuperHoot is the younger class’s owl mascot), ‘Real World’ math and independent work-time to focus on language or math projects. Teachers and parents work with small groups and individuals to teach formal lessons, to identify and respond to the learning needs of students and to provide an environment for hands-on exploration.
After beachcombing or a bit of lacrosse at lunch, the afternoon begins. We engage in our Haida studies theme by diving into activities on cultural understanding. We move this into an introduction of our own rich island home by referring to a giant outline map of Haida Gwaii. As our unit continues, we will gradually add the historical and current place names, geographical features, political features and typical aspects of a map. Afternoons are filled with music, art, science, cultural and physical experiences and outings. We are often together as a whole school in the afternoon in order to learn with and from one another. We immerse ourselves in a theme such as Weather, Medieval Times, Birds or Haida Culture.
As the day draws to a close we ‘Step to It’ by sweeping, stacking tables, feeding the salmonids, taking out the compost and recycling and generally caring for our space. Our closing circle lets us check in on our ‘roots and wings’ of the day and prepare for the adventures the next day will bring.
Students identified a few things that make our school unique in their eyes; When a conflict arises we refer to the code of conduct created each fall and honoured by students and teachers. Through discussion, mediation, role-play, perspective taking or other methods we work for understanding. Once every two weeks there’s a student meeting, where issues such as camping trips, community mentorships, safety on the playground and what to do with extra lunch food are discussed and debated. Students take turns as chairperson and note-taker with teachers acting as moderators. We spend plenty of time engaged in the arts and love to prepare shows. As often as possible, we head out hiking or on field trips that take us to various corners of the island. Last month we visited classes at AL Mathers one morning and then headed out to hike the Dover Trail in the afternoon.
At the school we believe learning expands beyond the walls and into the community, land and waters of the islands.
If you are curious about our school or feel that it might be a good fit for your family, please contact us (559-8757) about coming for a visit. Otherwise, our Open House is on Friday, June 4 from 3:30 to 5:00 pm. Hope to see you there!
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