Deep Learning: Ensuring the “ISU” lives beyond the school and classroom.

A week ago today, on May 30th at Yorkdale Silver City in Toronto, the 4th Annual Ignite digital media showcase of creative works produced in Communications Technology at Chaminade College School came to life. It’s with this culmination of student learning that Ignite provided all invested in the program with a tangible and shared outcome; an experiential experience lived from applied knowledge (both theory and application), global competencies such as collaboration and the activation of the Catholic Graduate Expectations including but not limited to the Effective Communicator and Discerning Believer.

In leaving a system level position to pursue a resurgence in the classroom four years ago, the need to create a discourse for student learning that lived beyond the school building was of paramount importance. The new learning from a system level position as a resource teacher provided for a new scope and urgency to to re-engage in the physical space of the classroom. Ignite stems from that re-engagement and the promise to students that their learning will transcend traditional assessment and will provide for an authentic opportunity to create from self, for self and for an audience.

Now in its 4th year, the challenge is how to evolve the experience to provide the showcased students an opportunity to share their skills in real time; perhaps facilitating a community workshop in video production or graphic design in the theatre space. As such, beyond being a showcase it must evolve into a shared  community experience. Nonetheless, regardless of the next steps, the core principle of the event is not merely producing and projecting short films on the big screen or transforming the theatre’s concession area into an print and digital gallery, but to establish a shared experience and remind students that their critical and cultural voice matters . Film , is a cultural discourse and sharing in the theatre experience is like no other within the creative milieu.

Such events do foster so many rich opportunities to engage in “ed speak.” However, whether it be my experience facilitating a similar event titled “Digital” at St. Basil’s the Great College School or in my very early years of teaching in Niagara Falls and moderating the student production of a local community access television program, or in my years of organizing and managing the Focus Niagara Film Festival from 2002 – 2006, the promise of the “lived and shared experienced “ is transformational and a acknowledges that our students are more than a canvas for tests and quizzes and deserve true opportunities for deep learning that ensures that assessment is not merely “marking” but rather an opportunity to provided descriptive and ongoing feedback – allowing students to grow during the course of an activity and after.

The journey to such an event is magical and I’m continuously amazed by the students – not just for their technical skill but more urgently their critical voice and resiliency in changing, evolving and embracing the promise that assessment is learning and not just the evaluation of what has been submitted.

Don’t take it from me, here students reflect on their learning leading to Ignite 2018 .

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