I have had many people reach out over the past few months asking about experiential learning in k-12 classrooms. What is experiential learning? What is an example of experiential learning? Where can I get experiential learning activities? How do you use experiential learning in the classroom?
I have even had educators reach out that are in the process of starting experiential schools. That is really exciting, and from what I'm gathering, also a little scary and chaotic for these educators.
What is personalized teaching?
In short, personalized teaching is offering personal learning / customized learning opportunities for each student. Learning experiences are based around every students' unique background, interests, strengths, challenges, goals, and more.
End of the School Year Experiential Learning Activities
The end of the school year is among us, and everyone is tired. You're tired, your students are tired. Testing season is wrapping up, some students are studying for finals or wrapping up big projects. Others are helping prepare for end of the school year events such as prom or graduation. Let's face it. It's a lot. Implementing experiential learning activities in your classroom may be the answer you're looking for.
So why not let down your hair a bit and let your students have some fun and learn something at the same time? I've compiled a list of my student's favorite experiential learning activities to do at the end of the year.
Last week's post was all about how to assess experiential learning activities, particularly when it comes to project-based learning. Project-based learning rubrics are great for evaluating project-based learning activities as single experiences, but how can students document or share their learning experiences on a deeper and more comprehensive level? What can used as a big-picture project-based learning assessment?
Learning portfolios! Students can self-direct project-based learning assessment portfolios, building and managing the portfolios themselves.
If you are doing experiential learning activities of any kind with your students, such as self-directed project-based learning, having students build a portfolio of learning outcomes is essential.
All kids are different. We know this. Yet it is still common practice to evaluate all students as if they are the same. Students are assessed based on content - and not necessarily an understanding of the content, but the ability to memorize the content - while growth and competencies are put on the back burner.
It is difficult for exams and quizzes to measure growth, 21st-century proficiencies, and even a deep understanding of the content. The experiential philosophy is rooted in all of those things, so how do you evaluate experiential learning activities?
Imagine you walk into a classroom. You look around and see students spread out around the room. Some students are quietly lounging in bean bag chairs, reading or writing. In the center of the room you see a small group of students chatting around a large table. You find students sitting at desks, working away on computers. One of the students is creating an animation and another student is writing an email. You scan the room and see a couple of students watching a live webinar streaming from Facebook.
Relevance is important for students, not only to engage in learning but for them to care about the content. But why does it matter if they care?
Focusing on concepts that are part of the real-world, part of your students' worlds, helps them find purpose in the experience, which is an important piece of experiential learning.
I was heavily involved in the school travel program when I was teaching. I took students on a marine biology camping trip to the Florida Keys one year. A few months before the trip I began looking into campsites. Everything was booked and I panicked.
What is Personalized Learning?
"Everyone is a genius. But if you judge a fish by its ability to climb a tree, it will live its whole life believing it is stupid." I believe Albert Einstein said this, but it's been debated. This quote has also been criticized for a few reasons, one being that by calling everyone a genius, especially children, that they may believe they don't have to work hard in life. I don't really see it that way. What it means to me is that not all children are the same and shouldn't be treated as such.
There is so much to say about student-directed learning. Generally speaking, when learning activities are truly student-directed, classrooms are transformed, as are students. Self-directed learners, in short, have choice, voice, and autonomy.
These learning experiences can also be done just about anywhere on earth - in a classroom, remotely, out in the backyard or school yard, on the road, traveling around the world, and more because they are designed around personal interests and circumstances.
To provide innovative educational resources for educators, parents, and students, that go beyond lecture and worksheets.
Sara Segar, experiential life-science educator and advisor, curriculum writer, and mother of two.