Skateboarding into the curriculum

Students at St. Mary-St. Cecilia Catholic School are discovering that learning can be fun.
St. Matthew Catholic Secondary School teachers John Gilchrist and Derek Spence, along with several students, visited the local elementary school on Friday, October 14, where they assisted Blair Fitzsimons’ Grade 7 class in constructing – and learning how to ride – skateboards.
Following a program created by Gilchrist and Spence, Fitzsimons has his class of 24 students working on  creating and constructing their own skateboards.
“We use skateboarding as a gateway to the curriculum,” he said.
The program touches on art and street art, math and science concepts from budgeting to physics, writing, physical education, and, as a bonus, teamwork and collaboration.
“He’s the one who made this possible,” Fitzsimons said of Gilchrist. “He brought this incredible real world project into the classroom.”
Gilchrist said he and Spence came up with the concept as part of the school board’s Teacher Led Learning Project. The idea behind it was to discover if it was possible to increase student achievements in low interest curriculum with high interest activities.
“Unconventional learning meets them where they’re at,” he said. “They’re all at different levels, but they’re all successful.”
The “covert learning” project was a definite success, Gilchrist said, and this year the Cornwall teachers are busy, along with the help of several students, sharing their findings with four elementary schools, including St. Mary-St. Cecilia. St. Matthew’s teens have become the leaders, imparting their recently attained knowledge to younger students.
“It created an amazing school culture for us,” Gilchrist said. Spence and Gilchrist said St. Matthew’s has become known as the skateboarding school.

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