Susan Digby

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Olympic College

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Activity

Producing Bioregional Knowledge and Understanding: Student Projects Based on Field Learning part of Curriculum for the Bioregion:Activities
In this activity each student creates a project that reflects their own observations of the bioregion rather than a synthesis of existing knowledge accessed through library research.Student projects consist of a set of eight personal 'insights' based around a theme that they have selected from field trip experiences within their bioregion. Themes that students have selected in the past include: people who make a difference, colors, geological features, birds, place-specific fairies, special places, picnics, architecture, 'off the beaten track' places.Resources that lay the foundation for the student projects are the field trips themselves and journals that students are required to keep to record their field trip experiences. The journals are a stand-alone assignment but they also function as an intermediary between their field experiences and the project.The directed field trips can include urban and rural sites, museums or relative wilderness. In our case, at Olympic College, the field trips are integral to a learning community involving three courses related to the bioregion. Each week there is a daylong field trip that involves the students and all three faculty members. The field trip is in addition to classroom instruction in which involves discussion of readings (see 'References and Resources' section).Each student selects a theme for their project based on field trip experiences and their own interests. Each of the eight insights that form the project consists of some type of image produced by the student (e.g. photograph, drawing, collage, letter, postcard, three-dimensional work, video, quilting, diagram, graph) and some type of written text that relates to the image. In this work students are producers of meaning rather than consumers of existing knowledge. Insights come primarily from their own observations. This is not a library research project; rather students are required to document their own thoughts, findings and experiences. For instance a project with the theme of flowering plants might contain an insight about skunk cabbages. Information about this plant (one of the eight that make up the project) might involve where the student found it, what drew the student to select it, what was growing near it, how it smelled, insects on it, the associations it has for the student and what physical characteristics they have observed.Student Handout for Bioregional project (Microsoft Word 2007 (.docx) 15kB Jul20 11)Input to this project has been provided by Donald Seavy and Cameon Geyer, Olympic College.