You would think I had just announced a pizza party when I inform my class that it’s time to get started on their annual ExploraVision projects. The beginning of each school year stirs excitement in the halls as if the holidays are approaching. My students view ExploraVision as an opportunity to make new friends, discover unexplored interests, and improve the world. For those reasons, I view it as an invaluable tool.
My name is Dianna Bonney and I teach gifted K-8 students, focusing on STEM learning, at Orangewood School in Phoenix, Arizona. I have been using the ExploraVision competition as a regular part of my classroom instruction for more than a decade. It provides an engaging way to integrate writing, research, and language standards into the science curriculum. Ultimately, it gives my students control of their own learning while meeting our instructional objectives.
How Modern Tools Enhance Project Based Learned
I’m continually amazed at the quality and variety of ideas that my students develop during their ExploraVision planning sessions. In the same way that their concepts improve each year, so do the tools that enable creativity. Over the last decade, edtech has made it easier than ever for students to collaborate regardless of learning style. For instance, Google Docs allows students to write, edit, and share ideas in one document. The voice typing feature within Google Docs has helped my primary students create their own entries with minimal help, allowing them to express their ideas without barriers.
I recognize the value of technology in my classroom, especially since my students are creating future technologies themselves! I encourage teachers to ask their district IT leaders or professional development networks about other edtech that helps improve student outcomes.
How ExploraVision Caters to a Variety of Learning Styles
As mentioned earlier, ExploraVision gives all learning types an equal stake in the success of their project. Whether students enjoy visual, auditory, kinesthetic, or writing-based learning, those preference is taken into account. This flexibility allows students to feel confident in their natural abilities.
Due to the structure of this competition, it allows students to think carefully when building their teams. Instead of simply choosing a friend, many try to find another student whose strengths complement their own, often making a new friend in the process! It serves as a wonderful way to teach collaboration, time management and goal-setting—life skills that apply to future learning.
As a veteran teacher, I’ve heard more than my share of complaints about “this time of year” being hard to get anything done in the classroom. However, for my students, it’s one of the most productive; proving to be a time of increased classroom engagement, expanded learning and of course, lots of fun.
About the Author
Dianna Bonney is a dedicated teacher who instructs STEM-focused classes for gifted students in grades K-8. Over the years, she has coached several Honorable Mention teams and for the past three years, she has been recognized as one of ExploraVision’s top teachers. Learn more about Dianna and other ExploraVision ambassadors.