Explorations

EXPLORATIONS (EXPOS) @  Peter Ewart Middle School 

Explorations, often called the “essentials”, are one of the important pillars at Middle School.  At Peter Ewart, students will have the opportunity to rotate through each of the Explorations courses (Expos) every school year as part of a three-year program where skills are introduced and built on.  Currently all Grade 6 students spend approximately 7 weeks in each Exploration class and rotate through all six Expos over the course of the school year.  Most Grade 7 and 8 classes will rotate through five Expos (not Digital Media), spending approximately 8 weeks at each one.  With six rotations and six Expos, the goal is for every student to experience every Expo class each year.    

 

MAKERSPACE with Mr. Smithson: 

The “Maker Movement” has grown over the last few years in both schools and the community.  The value of hands-on learning is undeniable and has always been a part of any vibrant classroom.  STEM (Science-Technology-Engineering-Math) activities and ADST (Applied-Design-Skills-Technology) projects are terms that have been around for quite a few years with teachers always looking for ways to incorporate such learning into their subject areas.  In Makerspace as an Expo, students get the opportunity to explore their creative side through designing and building small projects using a variety of tools, techniques and materials.  We stress the importance of reusing and repurposing old materials to create something new and unique.  It’s an exciting and busy place to be and I am continually inspired by the ingenuity of my students.   

Click here for a tour of the Makerspace room 

 

WOODWORKING with Mr. Proulx: 

The aims of the woodworking program are for students to not only learn woodworking skills, but perhaps more importantly for students to learn from their mistakes, to show resiliency when faced with adversity and to strengthen their problem-solving abilities.  Wood is a great medium through which students can develop these skills and it also provides them an opportunity to express their creativity in a truly hands-on learning environment.  

  

The woodworking program at PEMS is designed in such a way that the skills learned in previous years build upon themselves and are reinforced in the following years.  Students in grade 6 learn to use hand tools and the drill press while they develop their measuring, drilling and assembly skills while making a beach chair.  Grade 7 students are introduced to more machinery (such as bandsaws and routers) which they use to build custom lidded boxes with a focus on joinery.  In their final year at PEMS, grade 8 students are taught how to use the remaining machinery in the wood shop (the jointer and planer) to either build a project that is already planned out for them (a bandsaw box or a mini-TV phone stand) or they can design and build their own project following the Design Thinking model.  At each grade level, students are encouraged to take risks within a supportive environment with a strong focus on safety. 

  

For a virtual tour of the PEMS woodworking shop, visit: https://youtu.be/X0Qzpkpovjc 

DRAMA with Mr. Sedler: 

Throughout a student’s career, working from Grade one to Grade 12, they will be expected to participate in a lot of presentations. This can run from reading out loud in front of the class inside an English class, to presenting a quick little skit inside a French class, to participating in a Science Fair presentation in front of a crowd, giving a report… there are many, many examples. Yet in all these examples, there is one thing in common: Presentation in front of a crowd. 

Drama, at a Middle School level, is not so much about training the student in how to become the next Oscar-winning performer and making them the best actor they can be (although this is a great attribute to aspire towards), but rather Drama is about creating an environment where the student can build and grow in their self-confidence: To get used to being in front of people, talking to people, interacting with people… and this is done through Dramatic interactions, scenarios, training and exercises. Drama is about getting the student to progress outside of their comfort zone when in front of others (while still maintaining a safe environment), to challenge themselves in what they can do, and thus help strengthen their ability to give presentation. 

Drama is also about developing the concept of the ensemble – a gathering of performers with the goal of creating an environment of support so that the means of self-confidence can flourish. An ensemble works with everyone for everyone, to aid and guide all involved. Inside an ensemble, the concept of respect and trust are paramount, for without these two key features a safe environment cannot be created and thus one’s self-confidence cannot progress. 

As is with all Explorations classes, Drama is designed with a 3-year program in mind: 

  • At a Grade 6 level, the focus of the year is looking at WHAT needs to be in a presentation: Relationship, Story, Character, Creativity, Conflict, Vocal Projection and Scene Development.
  • At a Grade 7 level, the focus of the year is looking at HOW a performer can perform and what techniques are often used inside a dramatic performance (breaking it down into two key attributes – the Physical and the Vocal).
  • At a Grade 8 level, the focus of the year is about starting the student to truly examine what it is that they are bringing into their presentations and to start asking WHY. This is done through delving into the work and expanding their critical thinking through performance via Social Drama and through script work. By this stage, the student should be able to branch away from working in partnerships and groups and will need to prepare themselves for a solo presentation.

 

FOODS with Mrs. Quan: 

In Foods as an Exploration, students get the opportunity to safely practice their skills in the kitchen through a series of cooking labs. I have broken down the labs into breakfasts, lunch/dinner meals, and desserts. We use a variety of cooking tools and techniques, and there is emphasis on healthy food options. The Foods program is designed so that the life skills learned in previous years build upon themselves and are reinforced in the following years. I am cognizant of food allergies and special diets and try to modify as much as possible to allow everyone a chance to make something they will enjoy. It is an exciting and busy place to be and I am continually inspired by the empowerment and newfound confidence of my students.   

Click here for a tour of the Foods room: Food Room Tour  

 

DIGITAL MEDIA with Mr. Palfreyman: 

In Digital Media students are challenged to explore their creativity through a universal design process where they create, evaluate, and refine their designs based on a set of criteria and design intentions. As students explore their creativity in the digital world, they encounter new issues and opportunities and are challenged to find unique solutions to new problems.  Throughout this course students will be challenged to create unique pieces of Digital Art and design for intended audience while following the constraints of an objective. 

In Grade 6 students will be challenged to explore digital design practices through simple photography, creativity challenges, and digital illustrations. 

In Grade 7 students will continue their exploration of digital design through new challenges and constraints in photography, creativity challenges and using their artistic ability. 

In Grade 8 students will explore more advanced photography techniques and filmmaking skills such as angels, lighting, sound and using the camera to capture emotion. 

 

ART with Ms. Fast: 

In Art Exploration, students are taught that Art is a language.  Lessons focus on creative growth and adding value to individual pieces.  Elements of design such as proportion and colour are covered.    

When students walk into the Art room, they pick up their personalized folder that holds all the art that has been assigned.  they can work on ones that have not been completed as everyone settles.   

There is always a lesson to teach students how to better show their learning and to be more successful in their designs.  It could be proportion or perspective that they can incorporate into the art style they are working on.  They have time to complete the assignments in class.  There is no homework, but each student must complete 4 to 5 art pieces to present at the art-show which is on the final day of their rotation.  This gives them the opportunity to edit their own work and to identify which are their favourite pieces.   

While they work, I tell stories of my travels or of things I am passionate about, such as food security, being thankful for what we have in our country, and talking about people who have changed the world.  One example is Terry Fox.   

For any assessment or feedback, students will choose some of their individual pieces to show what they have learned and what they have enjoyed the most.   

 

Peter Ewart Middle School

7755 202A Street, Langley
BC, V2Y 1W4
Phone: 778-726-4815