CSS/RVSD Collaborative Planning

Greg Neil ~ Grade 6 Math/Science
I signed up for the Environmental Planning Institute in order to have the opportunity to collaborate with teachers from other schools.  After five years of teaching at the Calgary Science School, I craved the opportunity to see what was happening in other classrooms and how other teachers approached inquiry-based learning. 
During the tours of RVSD schools, I was immediately impressed with the way teachers approached student learning through rich questions that connected to numerous areas of the curriculum.  The inquiry questions I develop with my own students are often more directly connected to a specific discipline and do not always make strong connections between the Humanities and Math/Science curriculums.
 After listening to students describe their work, it became very clear that developing deeper cross-curricular connections could be a powerful way to unlock even greater levels of engagement.  Instead of students working on completely different questions in subject specific classrooms, I began to think of how we might develop questions that could bridge the subjects and create even more authentic multidisciplinary investigations. 
Thinking ahead to next year when I will be teaching Grade 7, I used some of the planning time provided in order to investigate the Humanities and Math/Science curriculums in search of strong cross-curricular connections.  After being introduced to “Alberta Tomorrow“, (a GIS simulation tool) during one of our planning days, I started to think about how we might be able to use land use planning tools as part of a year-long investigation into Canadian History.  Connecting to the Science curriculum, we might begin the year with a look back through Geological Time, leading up to ancient and recent Canadian history.  Working our way through pre and post-Confederacy, we would end the year with an investigation into how our current world-view, focused on continual growth, has impacted the Canadian landscape.   “Alberta Tomorrow“, will serve as a fantastic tool for investigating some of these complex questions and will allow students to make land-use decisions and see the potential future impacts.
Working with my curriculum and grade team partners, we will continue to develop this theme and to design authentic tasks, which will guide students through this complex landscape.  By connecting Canadian History to the natural environment and by exploring questions that connect our history to potential future outcomes, we will endeavor to create an authentic and engaging multi-disciplinary inquiry that will captivate our students.  This inquiry might begin by presenting the following question to students.  
“In what ways has Canadian History impacted the natural environment and how will Canadian History continue to impact the natural environment for future generations?” 

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