Today our EDCI 336 class had the pleasure of visiting the Pacific School of Innovation and Inquiry (website is linked below). PSII, as the name suggests, focuses on individualized learning through inquiry. Each student has an individual learning plan that is based off of their own passions and interests.
The new BC curriculum emphasizes the importance of inquiry based learning. Because I was educated in a traditional school, my experience with inquiry based learning is limited. I am interested in learning about tools that can help me facilitate inquiry with my future students. PSII uses Trello to organize students’ inquiry projects and E-Portfolios as a place to save all of their work over the course of the year. PSII offers one on one sessions, group sessions, individual work time, and group work time, depending on each learners’ needs. They have a variety of different work spaces to accommodate all of the different needs of learners. During my visit, I spent a fair amount of time in the well equipped music room talking to one student. This student kindly took the time to describe his experience at PSII. Overall, it was quite positive. He said that he has learned a lot and that when he took a political science class at UVic last semester it was “pretty easy”. He was eloquent and clearly has a good sense of self. He not only answered our questions, but asked all of us questions about our lives too. One thing I was interested to know was approximately how much time an average learner at PSII spends per day. He answered honestly, saying that he looked at one screen or another for most of the day. This results in most PSII students being exceptionally adept with technology. Although that is positive in many ways, I do worry about the long term effects on learners that extended screen time may have. I also asked this student about his daily physical activity. Being active is a profoundly important part of my life, so I was curious about whether the school emphasized its importance. He said that he goes to the YMCA to exercise two days per week. The BC curriculum requires that students get a minimum of 150 minutes of exercise per week (which may translate to 30 minutes per school day). To me, it sounds like many of these students reach the bare minimum requirement, which is not ideal. Having said that, reaching the daily physical activity requirement is also an issue for many kids who attend traditional schools.
I was amazed to hear what the PSII learners are doing at a young age. There are kids designing clothing lines, makeup lines, curating art shows, starting up businesses, and many other ambitious projects. Overall, I think that PSII is a fantastic school and I feel very fortunate to have had the opportunity to visit.
PSII website: https://learningstorm.org/
Principal Jeff Hopkins’ Twitter: https://twitter.com/hopkinsjeff?lang=en
PSII Twitter: https://twitter.com/PSIIvictoria?lang=en