Experiential Learning at Ojai Unified Schools
OUSD students visit Catalina Island Marine Institute (CIMI) each year
The experiential - or “learning by doing” - education model is a valuable, and effective, way for students to learn, and one that is adopted widely at Ojai Unified schools.
According to Dr. Sherrill Knox, OUSD Assistant Superintendent, “Anytime students are learning by doing, they thrive.” Dr. Knox added that while OUSD schools offer significant experiential learning activities, such as Catalina Island Marine Institute (CIMI) and Forest Home’s Gold Rush Days, daily opportunities in all of our classrooms are equally important.
Dr. Knox noted that, “Through long-standing partnerships with Food for Thought Ojai, students are studying plant life cycles through the planting of seeds and watching plants grow, to harvesting of fruits and vegetables.” Other time-honored traditions at Ojai Unified schools include the infamous egg drop experiment in Science class, and cultural and historical experiences such as Greek Olympics Day and Hispanic Heritage Month.
Topa Topa Principal Dawn Damianos agrees. “Moving students from the school setting to learn in an outdoor environment is a valuable experience,” said Ms. Damianos. “Days off campus are not days lost in the students' education, but rather are enhancing the learning as kids explore, engage, move and get their hands into their learning. I wholeheartedly support activities and events that go beyond the classroom”
Because a typical experiential learning opportunity consists of four stages: action, reflection, conceptualization, and application, “…before students attend CIMI and Gold Rush Day, teachers front-load the students with vocabulary and information that provides foundational learning,” said Mira Monte Principal Katherine White. “Through real-life connections and hands-on experiences provided by these off-campus field trips, learning is enhanced beyond what is possible in a traditional classroom setting”
“Experiential learning components of education are typically more labor- and time-intensive, and parent volunteers are instrumental in helping with the organization and programming of some of our more large-scale activities,” said Dr. Knox. "We are thankful for the many parent and community volunteers who contribute their time, and ensure these opportunities are available to our students"
"Gold Rush Days" at Forest Home Ojai
An all-schools visit to Forest Home Ojai Valley is a long-standing tradition for OUSD's 4th grade students, teachers and volunteers."Gold Rush Days" offers students a fun, engaging way to learn about the Gold Rush beginnings of our state's history, and includes such hands-on activities as; butter churning, panning for "gold", a covered wagon obstacle course, leather craft, and more.
Catalina Island Marine Institute (CIMI)
Catalina Island Marine Institute (CIMI) is an outdoor science school, providing an exciting outdoor education experience for students from public and private schools. During the program, students and teachers enjoy a variety of hands-on labs and field activities in Marine Science and Island Ecology. This year, as part of an ongoing tradition at Ojai Unified, OUSD 5th and 6th graders attended a week-long program at CIMI.
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