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Guest Blog: Fourth Grade Students and Agents of Discovery

Andrew Doyle is a fourth-grade teacher in Airdrie, Alberta. We’re excited to showcase a guest blog post on his experiences using Agents of Discovery in the classroom. 

Last year I attended an Environmental Education Conference in Calgary with the hopes of gaining ideas to: a) keep my students engaged in environmental stewardship, and b) take part in active learning opportunities. I wasn’t disappointed.

I learned of Agents of Discovery, an app that engages kids in an augmented reality nature walk at Bow Habitat Station in Calgary. I wanted to learn more about this app and discovered the great learning possibilities I could take back to my classroom. The planning was on.

My Grade 4 classroom was developed to engage learners in authentic, meaningful, and active learning opportunities, and Agents of Discovery facilitated that nicely. As part of the Grade 4 curriculum, we explore the history of Alberta, including the local history of Airdrie. We began planning how we could use this curriculum to make a meaningful and living activity for students and community to take part in.

We were on a Mission (pun intended).

We began by researching Alberta and Airdrie history. Once students had some base knowledge, they divided into teams and researched more in-depth about a specific person, event, or place. From there, we discussed how to create effective questions and what hints may be needed for people to finish the Challenges (questions). After all the research and planning, we set out to build our Missions.

Students quickly learned the ins and outs of the Mission Builder with Agents of Discovery. (The Mission Maker is the backend of the app that helps educators, and in this case, students, create educational content in a fun and engaging way.) Students chose pictures, learned how to credit their sources, and crafted their Missions.

Launch Day

The most effective part of authentic learning is students showcasing their work. In June, we headed to our city park where we had geo-located our Missions. We tested them out, made minor edits, and invited other classes, parents, and community members to play.

The Communications staff at Agents of Discovery were a tremendous help at getting the word out about what we were doing. They reached out to local media and got them to come out to Launch Day. Having this shared so widely with our community allowed students to flourish. They owned their learning – they connected the dots from initial background and research to designing, creating, and eventually showcasing their work!

It was a great time and the kids (and community) learned a lot!