Ecoquest

Contact person (The person making this entry has the ability to edit this entry in the future. See above for details as to how): 
Jana Miller
Email address of primary contact person: 
millerj@spsd.sk.ca
Describe the project (This description appears in your map point. Insert a photo if you choose by selecting the "tree" icon): 

The Ecoquest program is a subject-integrated program for grade eight students in the Saskatoon Public School Division. Students from schools across the division participate in a year of community and experiential oriented learning. The program, which celebrates a flexible timetable, carves out opportunities for sustained periods of field research. The diverse activities and in wilderness and urban environments also provide opportunities for students collaborate on tasks and projects together and create a strong sense of community. Although the program has its base camp in Buena Vista School, one of the program mantras is Students Without Desks. Saskatchewan's diverse landscape is the classroom as students make numerous connections with the Saskatoon community and local ecosystems. As such, the timing of each of the experiences is weighed heavily by the teachers. Following both the seasons and the provincial curriculum guidelines, Ecoquest’s two teachers work to integrate subjects into unifying themes which explore environmental and social contexts at local, national and international levels. These themes include: Settlement and First Nations Histories, Winter Ecology, Healthy Communities, Water, Globalization and Gender Discrimination. Although the focus shifts throughout the year from one theme to another, each themed study and associated field trip is designed to provide experiences which challenge students intellectually, physically, spiritually and socially.

From the outset, program designers Scott Thompson and Shelly Loeffler maintained the importance of student involvement in the assessment process and providing written feedback rather than numerical marks. This approach recognizes student learning as a continuum, and places the onus for improvement on the student. It also removes some of the marks-based competition many middle years students experience. This is vital to the creation of a supportive and inclusive learning community in which every student can recognize the many strengths they contribute.

Describe the timing of your project (Please describe the date and length of time the project runs): 

Ongoing

Keywords (Please list keywords, separated by commas, that relate to the project): 
Community learning, experiential learning
Describe the educational component of the project (e.g. formal education, training, or public awareness advanced by the project): 

The Ecoquest program is a subject-integrated program for grade eight students in the Saskatoon Public School Division. Students from schools across the division participate in a year of community and experiential oriented learning. The program, which celebrates a flexible timetable, carves out opportunities for sustained periods of field research. The diverse activities and in wilderness and urban environments also provide opportunities for students collaborate on tasks and projects together and create a strong sense of community.

What level of education does this project address?: 
Middle years school
Describe any participation in your project from the grassroots community, youth, the poor/vulnerable, minority groups: 

The Ecoquest program is successful largely because of the contributions and support from Saskatoon community members. Throughout the year local storytellers, historians, photographers, journalists, activists, conservation officers, and elders spend time sharing their perspective and experience with the students.

Project sponsors/funders: 

Local organizations such as CHEP, Wanuskewin, Meewasin Valley Authority, The Open Door Society, etc. also play an important role in welcoming and mentoring our students on their community stewardship placements.

How did you find out about this survey?: 

Data from recognition event 2011