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I'd like to take a minute so just sit right there, and I'll tell you how I help my students get some fresh air!

I really believe that this world would be a much better place if we all just spent more time outside.  And I  wanted to share what I do in my classroom with everyone so that someone might be able to incorporate some of this into their own classrooms if they wanted.

SOSXL stands for the Science of Survival eXperiential Learning adventure through grade 9 science.  If you want some more info about how I got started, send me a message, or stay tuned and I'll add a little bit of the "History" to my journey.  The following, however, is where I am at now.  

In this last quadmester, our students built or designed a homestead in an effort to learn about living off grid and promoting a sustainable living lifestyle in order to promote and protect nature as well as developing an understanding that human being are in fact part of nature, and not apart from nature.  

SOSXL, originally was the Science of Survival, but I thought I'd change it up a little bit and call it the Science of Self-Sufficiency.  The entire course was going to be built around the students building or designing their own homesteads as a mechanism to learn about living off the grid and how to develop and maintain a reciprocal relationship with nature.

We started off by watching a documentary on Amazon Prime called Life Off Grid as the entry point to the project so that students could get an idea about what living off the grid looks like.  It was a demonstration about how some Canadians produce and use their own energy, and water, and food, and shelter.  After the movie, the students were told that now they were going to build their own homestead, and provide a way to produce their own energy and clean drinking water and then I got out of the way.

I  got out of the way, but not out of the picture.  I showed my students some examples of homesteads and urged them to start thinking about what their life would be like if they would be living off the grid.  Click on "Lesson Plans" below to learn more about how the couse actually rolled out.  

The course was developed using project based and experiential learning models and made a lot of use of Sugata Mitra's SOLE model as the high yield instructional strategy.

SOLE stands for Self-Organized Learning Environment and I strongly recommend looking into these as a way to help students discover all kinds of knowledge, and then use a project or an experience to help the students do somethign meaningful with that information.  In my experience, SOLEs work best when they are directed by students' questions and the work that they are doing. 


In short, to run a SOLE, the teacher asks a question, puts students in groups of four and then lets them find the answer.  After 45 minutes (ish) of work, the teacher takes about 30 minutes (ish) to consolidate.  Usually, there are four students in a group but only one computer, this process works in "normal" times, I can assure you of that.  In COVID times, it also works with each student on a computer.  It's not as awesome, but it does work.  In the case of this program, I came up with the first question to get them started and as the course develops and students do more work, more questions develop organically.  Asking questions that are driven by student work or student curiosity really helps with the success and the depth of the answers that the students find.  And the best part of the SOLE is that they are self-correcting, meaning that they never find a wrong answer, and this really helps in engaging students who would otherwise be afraid of answering a question for fear of failure and ridicule from their classrooms.  

"LESSON PLANS" (<-- click the link for more!)

Not necessarily full lesson plans, more like a "day to day" rough outline as it relates to SOSXL and the homestead...not the class specific minutia.


Click here to see some of the homesteads that the students built or designed.  

I should mention here that I was VERY fortunate to have the help of two outstanding teacher candidates from the University of Ottawa, Damian Chin was a big help with the inital planning and ground work for this course/program/quadmester and Ghislaine Stepanian played an integral role in the roll out of the course/program/quadmester.  Both of them provided some invaluable experience and insight and asked some very good and important questions to help make the experience as meaningful as possible for our students!

 The seed for the SOSXL model was planted last school year (2019-2020) while I was out in the bush in my backyard, connecting with nature, and thinking "how can I add a 'survival aspect' to my grade 9 science classes?"  I threw that question on to my Twitter feed (@TheStoppelsShow) and Derek Brez (@DerekBrez) and Cameron Jones (@Cam_Is_Learning) bit the hook.  We met at our school board's office (OCDSB) and from a brief but hilarious discussion, SOSXL was born and none of this would be possible, at least not as awesome as it has been, without the support of these two dudes!

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