Field-trip to PSII

Our EDCI 336 class went on a field-trip to the Pacific School of Innovation and Inquiry (PSII for short). It was very generous of them to allow 20 teacher candidates into their space and ask all sorts of questions. There is too much information to go over everything that I learned (besides they have a great website https://learningstorm.org/ ), but here are the highlights.

PSII Core Values (photo taken with permission)

I found it intriguing that by using an inquiry learning model that subjects and grades were no longer siloed. A grade 9 learner could be doing an inquiry that involved grade 9 and 12 biology and grade 10 math. This gives learners the opportunity to make connections between subjects just like we do in real life. Very rarely is my mind engaged in just one subject. The ability to pull different bits of knowledge together to get a greater whole is a powerful tool.

The school uses Trello extensively to help learners stay organized. It also allows teachers to keep track of what the learners are working on. Teachers can pin resources to a learner’s Trello list. There is also the ability for learners and teachers to communicate through cards on Trello. I think that this is a great tool because it keeps everyone on the same page. I made a Trello board that mimics what they do at PSII. I can definitely see myself using Trello in a middle school classroom.

PSII Style Trello board

PSII is an independent high school, so there are many things that they can do that I would not be able to do as an elementary school teacher in the public system. I would certainly use Trello if I was teaching middle school, but what could I take away if I was teaching grade 3? Is there anything that a visit to PSII could to to improve my teaching practice with young students? The answer is YES. Jessica, our tour guide and a teacher at PSII, told us a sad fact that some of the learners who come to PSII take months to be confident enough to voice what they are interested in/ passionate about. They are used to the teacher knowing what is important and following their lead. Student interests have to be followed outside of school hours. What an impoverished learning environment! My personal goal is that no matter what grade I teach, I want students to be confident enough to tell me what their passion is and try to work it into their learning. Learning is much more engaging if it is something you care about. It will probably take more time, but I think that it is worth it. I want students to leave my class with more knowledge but also with an excitement and joy for learning. My trip to PSII made me realize that I need to be proactive in nurturing a learning environment that incorporates the interests of my students.


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