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Blog: Wednesday, November 15th, 2017

Collaboration & Creativity at Fraser

The teachers at William A. Fraser Middle School are always looking for creative ways for students to demonstrate their understanding of the curricular competencies. Science teachers, David Blades and Michael Boldt recently collaborated with the new Library Learning Commons teacher, Anita Heitz, to co-plan an innovative unit for their Grade 8 students that integrated basic circuitry and coding skills into their learning about cellular structures.

As students were learning about the types and functions of plant and animal cells, they were busy accessing online sources to support what they were studying in class. Collaboratively, students created 3-dimensional models that could be used to help others learn about the cell. The models were created out of any materials the students could find, including cardboard, popsicle sticks, plasticine and styrofoam. Teachers noted the students’ resourcefulness during this process as they looked for materials and inspiration in unlikely places.

As students worked together to build their model cells, they were also challenged to make their models interactive. In order to achieve interactivity, students needed to learn how to use audio recording software, integrate Makey Makey wire circuits into their design, and learn basic computer coding using Scratch. Students enjoyed the challenge of integrating technology into their models and were motivated by trying something they had not done before.

With the interactive cellular models complete, users closed each of the circuits with their fingers to play the students’ audio recordings and learn about the functions the cell’s structures. As Mr. Blades and Mr. Boldt shared their students’ successes with their team, more and more teachers have begun co-planning with Mrs. Heitz to amplify their students’ learning through the integration of technology. This collaboration has been supported by building “collab time” into the daily schedule and through resources purchased with the School Learning Grant last year.

The interactive cell model is just one example of how students at Fraser Middle are meeting the BC core competencies of communication, creative and critical thinking, and personal responsibility. This interactive project also highlighted some themes of maker-centered learning that have been a focus of study among the staff at Fraser. These themes include self-directed learning, learning by doing, and peer collaboration. During this project, students who have struggled in other areas of their schooling were able to find success as they developed an increased sense of confidence in their abilities. 

Vice-Principal, William A. Fraser Middle School