Learning through participation
Experiential learning is the process of learning through participation. In January, the Grades 9-12 Campus tested the idea of a full day of experiential learning opportunities. The experiment was a great success: in 2019-20, Experiential Day becomes Experiential Week.
Dock held its first-ever Experiential Learning Day on Friday, January 4, for grades 9, 10, and 11. Students had both half-day and full-day options for on- and off-campus learning experiences, and were able to sign up for the activity of their choice.
"At Dock we realize that significant learning happens outside the traditional classroom, so we planned a day for experiential learning," said Dr. Sharon Fransen, Assistant Superintendent of Curriculum and Instruction. "We know students learn about the world and other peoples through innovative experiences, play, and reflection. We envisioned a day where teachers would share areas of expertise or passion, and students would learn something not found in our formal programming."
Experiential learning is the process of learning through participation rather than by listening to a lecture or reading about a topic. Learning opportunities for Dock students ranged from Spanish language immersion to tours of the National Liberty Museum and Penn Museum in Philadelphia, sustainable farming practices, shooting and editing better photographs, creative writing workshops, and many others.
Dock's first Experiential Learning Day was held the same week that seniors were off campus doing some experiential learning of their own during Senior Experience—a full week of job shadowing and/or service opportunities that help many seniors discern college and vocational interests.
Experiential Day was judged a success by both faculty and students—so much so that in the 2019-20 school year, it will become experiential week, and will be called Mini-Term.
Experiential Day featured dozens of learning options for students, including (clockwise from top left) rock climbing, Dutch baking, board games rich in learning opportunities, such as Settlers of Cattan, and jewelry making.
Mini-Term debuts fall 2019
For several years, Dock has been seeking new ways to engage grade 9-11 students when our seniors are off-campus for their Senior Kingdom Living Experience. Mini-Term offers an answer by providing students with rich, hands-on learning activities that are not otherwise covered in our regular curriculum. In order to accommodate this new experience, we will move our Senior Kingdom Living Experience to coincide with our Mini-Term, October 28 - November 1, 2019. Seniors will still be expected to serve or job shadow for 30 hours in a place of their choosing as part of the required Kingdom Living Bible class.
Beginning next fall, we will offer a “Mini-Term” academic opportunity to allow for educational options beyond the traditional classroom for students in grades 9-11. This past January 4 we held “Experiential Day,” which served as a one-day trial for our new Mini-Term model. The day was a success and we learned a great deal. Also, many of our Mennonite sister schools have utilized this experiential model of instruction to supplement traditional methods.
Experiential learning about solar power
What better way to learn about solar power than to put a working solar panel right in the classroom?
Dock students now have a hands-on learning opportunity about alternative energy right in their Environmental Science classroom, thanks to a generous donation from Bergey's Electric. Over the Christmas 2018 break, Bergey's installed a solar panel in Ms. Valerie Metzler's classroom that will provide real-time data so that students can learn more about solar energy as an alternative to fossil fuels and other energy sources.
While Bergey's donated the panel itself and the labor to install it, other equipment for the installation was purchased with the David Souder Endowment Fund. Souder was a member of the Class of 1963, which funded the endowment and continues to oversee its use. In previous years, the endowment has funded science projects ranging from a rain garden that protects the tennis court side of Groff Pond, to lab kits that allow students to study a wide variety of environmental events, including heat and climate change, groundwater, physical and chemical properties of soil, and others.
"We are grateful for Dale Bergey’s commitment to this project and the generosity of Bergey’s Electric," said Dock Director of Advancement Robert Rutt.