Exploration activities are where students get to dive in and learn something new. School in the Park exploration activities should be:
- Active – at SITP, students learn by doing!
- Authentic – as much as possible, structure activities to mimic what professionals do in the field. (NOTE that if you’re working toward an authentic assessment at the end of the week, that will lend itself to authentic activities throughout the week!)
- Accessible – activities should be designed for all students to be successful, regardless of varying strengths and abilities.
- Place-Based – at SITP, students do things that they wouldn’t be able to do back at school, making optimal use of the resources available at each institution. Resources include:
- Directly tied to a learning goal for the day – the exploration activities are the points on your road map leading students to your overall learning and achievement destination for the week!
Tips for making exploration activities…
Checking for understanding
Because the exploration activities are where students are learning new content, there must be frequent and strategic checks for understanding throughout. Checking for understanding gives you feedback in real time as to whether or not the students are picking up what you’re putting down, allowing you to clarify any misunderstandings or spend more or less time on a concept depending on where the students are at.
Planning tip: As you plan the activities that are intended to help students learn new concepts and skills, think through what they may have difficulty with. While you don’t need to include this in your curriculum template, it’s important to come up with some back-up plans for:
- Ways to re-explain a concept if checks for understanding show you that many students are not grasping it
- How to adjust your day if an activity takes longer than expected because students need more support
- What extra challenges or elaboration activities you can add if students complete an activity/fully grasp a concept more quickly than you expected
For ideas on different ways to formatively assess student learning, try 60 Ways to Check for Understanding.