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Our Government unit is in full swing.


More details on what we did  and pictures of course are below.


For now...


Padlet 1 - What resonated with you from our two days 


Padlet 2 - What is your wonder for Government that you will be researching? 


We’re up and running and our first experience has already been a great one so far.

As detailed in a previous blog, we spent much of September grounding our students in some of the key areas we felt needed improvement based on last year. Developing wonders, understanding how to research; knowing the difference between fact and fact analysis; and being able to apply the lens of perspective. All key skills that we hope our students will be able to apply throughout the year of Beyond the Classroom.

Experience one started this past week. We started with a pretest/questionnaire to see where our students were at and from there jumped right into the experience of government.

Day 1 took us to Queen’s Park where we sat in on Question Period. It was truly instructive to see how our elected provincial officials conduct themselves in the house setting.
Um….they may need to visit St. Sylvester to understand how to be more effective communicators – take turns speaking, focus on the speaker, and maybe listen to what’s being said for a start! Yikes, the speaker of the house has a more difficult job than our classroom teachers based on what we saw. He also had one  of my favourite lines of the day “We  need to elevate the nature of  the debate.” Nonetheless, it was informative to immerse ourselves in the issues of the day – health care, partisan advertising, and balanced budget were some of the main topics. And to return to a Beyond the Classroom staple, so much better to witness it live than to watch on tv, or read about it. Our experience also included the chance to talk to our MPP Soo Wong (thanks to her assistant Stephanie) on the steps of the legislature. Expert speakers with a direct knowledge of the organization make experiential learning so rewarding.
q park
Day two took us down to Nathan Phillips Square where our City Councillor Jim Karygiannis along with his assistants Nick and Andrea were able to get us into the Council Chambers to hear our municipal elected officials debate topics such as commuter parking. While the topic was not quite in our students’ wheel house, the chance again to be immersed in real life government was thrilling – even more so because students  got to speak first hand to Mayor Tory and City Councillor Jim Karygiannis.
mayor two
Two things that jumped out from Day 2:
  1. Our City Councillor Jim Karygiannis took us through an in depth look at how politics work and how things get done –  and we know that you are a Do er Mr. Karygiannis. You took the issues students raised like safety of our community and keeping our neighbourhoods clean (just a few of the issues raised)and turned it back on us by asking us to figure out how to enable change to take place, and the directing us on next steps to follow. A huge take away we shared with our students is to move BEYOND apathy and into engagement – it’s what our whole school learning plan is about.
2.     When the Mayor asked Austin to describe the program. Austin’s reply was perfect. “Rather than sit in a classroom reading textbooks, we go and experience things.”
To which the Mayor replied (and no voice recorder so apologies if I’ve missed a word or two), “Interesting you say that. In order to be the Mayor of Toronto, I try to experience things. To understand how our paramedics do their job, I rode in the ambulance. In order to experience what a firefighter goes through, I spend a day with them.”

Mr Mayor, we have a challenge and request for you (along with the Ministry of Education). You mentioned to us that you wanted to come and talk to the kids that day to get to know more about our Beyond the Classroom program – you name the time and place and we will visit you or have you visit us (at our school or one of our Beyond the Classroom experiences). No better way to experience government.
The week ahead will see the students start to get into their actual topics and we hope to share some samples soon. The areas of interest are pasted below.

Padlet 1 – What resonated with you from our two days


Padlet 2 – What is your wonder for Government that you will be researching?


Check back on our Beyond the Classroom website soon for more updates.

We’re into year two and we’re excited with what we’re seeing. We remain convinced that this is the way learning should be, and if our elected government officials are seeing, thinking and considering the same…..Look out for the educational journey ahead!