Expeditionary Learning (EL)

Expeditionary learning provides students with learning experiences that encourage high-quality student work.


Expeditionary learning provides students with learning experiences that encourage high-quality student work.  This is accomplished by providing students with an authentic audience; a community outside of their classroom that will benefit from the work they produce.  The students are presented with a compelling topic that will guide their expedition.

2016-2017 Expeditions

Spring 2017

Insects in the Hills of Headwaters

Grades: Jr. & Sr. Kindergarten

As Junior & Senior Entomologists, the students went on a variety of expeditions to different parks and our own school yard to see what insects we could find in our area.  By collecting, examining and building habitats for these insects, we learned their parts and life cycles. We were excited to find and house a Wooly Bear Caterpillar, watch it form a cocoon, and eventually turn into an Isabella Tiger Moth.  Our final expedition was to the Cambridge Butterfly Conservatory where we participated in hands-on activities with insects up close and personal! Our final product was a published hardcover book containing pictures and interesting facts about insects in our area.  After multiple drafts and critiquing by fellow students, the final pictures were amazingly life-like! Two books were presented to the public libraries in Orangeville and are available to the public.


Grades: One & Two

The students studied various plants in our local community to become Botanists! Throughout this learning experience, each student was given an opportunity to pick and research their own plant. Expeditionary Learning was integrated into other curriculum areas to further the learning experience. Students went on Field Guides to observe various types of plants and flowers in our local community. As a final project, the students wrote plant biographies as if they were the plant themselves! These biographies were then published into a plant book. Additionally, students studied various artwork which focused on plants and flowers. Through a multi-draft procedure, which included both self and peer assessment, students sketched a picture of their plant to go alongside their written plant biographies.  Their book was exceptional and clearly captured some of God’s magnificent creation within the Headwaters!

Designing an Outdoor, Natural Learning Space at OCS

Grades: Three & Four

Learning from various local experts, the students became designers of an outdoor learning space here at OCS.  We explored local habitats – using our senses to discover, observe and explore. We visited Norval’s Montgomery Sensory Garden after we learned from its designer, Eileen Foley. The next step was to excavate a site at OCS.  A hill was leveled, large rocks moved and placed, benched tables set up, trees trimmed and cut down as we worked together with landscape architect Geoff Corlett. We also learned how to invite desired species such as blue birds, butterflies and many more to come and make their homes right here at our school. Success was experienced as we set up blue bird houses and some came to nest!  The class would like to especially thank local blue bird expert Keith Ousoren. Foundational to this expedition was the invitation to truly be a “creation-enjoyer,” praising God for the majesty of creation and to actively become an “earth-keeper” and care for creation around us.

Designing an Outdoor, Natural Learning Space at OCS

Grades: Five & Six

How can we, as field study experts, help people recognize the importance of each species in the Credit River habitat?  This was the challenge facing the Grade ⅚ class at the start of their expeditionary learning.  Through various expeditions to sites along the Credit River, along with research, the students identified species that were key to the keeping the Credit River healthy.  This was important to the class because they hatch and release salmon every year into the Credit River. The students created field guide cards that they, and subsequent grades, could take with them to Belfountain where they release the salmon.  These cards would allow them to see if they can find and identify species while on site. In their learning they discovered that the presence of these species is an indicator of the health of the river.

The Hills of Headwaters

Grades: Seven & Eight

The students studied the water cycle, the Credit Valley Watershed, water conservation, and water treatment. Through guest speakers, videos, and field studies, students got a hands-on look at the importance of water conservation here in Orangeville.  To put all that they learned into practice their end project was to create and implement rain barrels on our school property and to create professional brochures to hand out to community neighbours that emphasize the importance of rain barrels and water conservation.  

2017-2018 Expeditions

Spring 2018

The Five Senses

Grades: Junior & Senior Kindergarten

As Junior & Senior sensory experts, the students were able to teach our family and friends about the amazing senses that God has given us.  In order to become experts, we invited Dr. Ponke to our classroom to teach us about the senses and lead us in several experiments to experience our senses at work.  We read many books together and learned the parts of the ear, eye, nose, mouth and skin. We also went on an expedition to a park where we participated in a sensory scavenger hunt.  Our final product was a presentation to our family and friends. In order to do this well, we spent time learning about and practicing public speaking. We worked on making eye contact, speaking loudly and clearly into a microphone, putting together visual aids and incorporating volunteer participation.  


Grades: One & Two

The students studied various communities and countries around the world to help build an appreciation of God’s diverse world and become Sociologists! Throughout this learning expedition, each student was given an opportunity to pick and research an area around the world all while brainstorming how they can mindfully showcase their appreciation and cultural awareness. Students engaged in taste testing foods, studying landscapes and structures, observing and creating various art work which focuses on these diverse ethnicities. Through PenPals and Skype, students communicated with people who live in Cambodia, China, Ireland, Nunavut and more! Students performed both self and peer assessment in order to further advance their project and learn these essential critiquing skills. Mapping skills were a fundamental part of this expeditionary learning experience. As a final collaborative project, students designed a mural which was painted in the hallway of our school to represent God’s diverse world.

Becoming Better Neighbours

Grades: Three & Four

The students were challenged to find ways to initiate connections in their communities and to discover concrete ways to “love their neighbours as themselves” in everyday life.  They asked and answered questions like: How can I get to know someone I don’t know? How can I build community in different social structures around me? Why are we afraid of differences? How have inequalities hurt people in the past and around the world?  Students worked in crews to learn about a country they knew very little about and we learned about Zimbabwe as a class.  Country crews were invited to paint their country flag on the Grade 1/2’s world map in the hallway. The class learned about Mennonite culture on a Farm Tour and by visiting the St. Jacobs Market.  Classroom visits included OPP Officer Shannon and Pastor Jay Wagstaff.  The students initiated “Always room for one more” recess activities at OCS that help to foster inclusiveness, getting to know others through play and finding ways to make sure that everyone experiences fair play and fun.

Food for Thought

Grades: Five & Six

How can we take action to address the importance of making wise food choices at home, at school, and in the community? This is the essential question that the students are seeking to answer in our expedition.  Students explored the nutritional value of the food we eat, the benefits of eating locally sourced food, and developed methods of raising awareness of these things. They chose to do this by creating a recipe book containing recipes that met their criteria for being healthy.  Creating an original recipe was part of their task. Guests were invited to the Celebration of Learning and were treated to food that could be found in the recipe book.

Building Healthy Christian Minds

Grades: Seven & Eight

The students studied a variety of topics that fall under youth mental health.  The class decided that their EL project should focus on the following question: How can we, as the Grade 7/8 Class, build healthy relationships here at OCS?  Through guest speakers, videos, and surveys to other schools, the students gained knowledge regarding ways that OCS can better improve a more positive and inclusive community.  They communicated with other schools to learn what programs were in place there and what programs or activities they can start to incorporate or adapt here at OCS to foster a healthy school environment.

2018-2019 Expeditions

Spring 2019

The Planets in our Solar System

Grades: Junior & Senior Kindergarten

Lights, camera, action!  In order to present to a live audience of around 200 people, the JK/SK class spent six weeks becoming experts on each of the planets and how they orbit around the sun.  First, we learned about each of the planets: their physical features, temperature, orbit speed, moons, and other interesting facts.  Based on real photographs, the students painted large visuals of the plants and the sun to wear during the presentation.  Every student had an integral part in presenting to the whole school community.  Some students wore the planets that had been painted and orbited (walked) around the sun to show how the planets orbit the sun.  Other students used a microphone to tell the audience about each planet, and others played the role of welcoming the audience and explaining the presentation. 

Broadcast Meteorologists

Grades: One & Two

Grade 1/2 students became Broadcast Meteorologists as they studied how the weather and seasons affect humans on earth. Throughout this learning experience, students scripted and acted as new anchors providing information about our earth and space weather systems. Students filmed the news segment at a professional broadcasting center in Orangeville and were able to watch themselves later on the big screen. The driving question was: How can we, as Broadcast Meteorologists, share daily and seasonal changes in the environment? 

Lots of Space

Grades: Three & Four

Grade 3/4 students became authors of a question and answer book entitled, “Lots of Space.”  We researched- and wrote about- planets, heavenly bodies, astronauts and space technology.  Each student got a book, there are copies in the OCS library and we gave one to Canadian astronaut Chris Hadfield.  He even signed a copy for us! During our expedition, our minds were blown!  There was no way we could grasp the splendor, or how huge the ‘heavens’… the galaxies, the light-years, the billions & trillions counted, the amount of SPACE (oh lots and LOTS OF SPACE) or how large the universe.  Oh Lord, our Lord how majestic is your name in all the earth! 

The Heavens Declare

Grades: Five & Six

As we study the heavenly bodies that God has created, and explore their reliance on eachother, we want to be in awe of our Creator.  The essential question that we were seeking to answer was: How can we, as artists, instill a sense of awe and wonder in our community for God, the Creator of heaven and earth?  Our class set out to do this by creating a 3D model of the solar system that was hung from the ceiling.  Along with a model of a celestial body, the students created a coloured fact card that gave viewers information about what they were looking at.

The Water Cycle

Grades: Seven & Eight

The Grade 7/8 class studied the water cycle, the Credit Valley Watershed, water conservation, and water treatment.  The class toured one of the local water treatment facilities and participated in a nationwide webinar that discussed global water issues.  The students decided to take a global outlook on key water issues by partnering with WE Charity. The class learned how many people in the world are without access to clean water. Through discussions the students decided to fundraise by taking part in their own WE Walk for Water event.  Students walked 6 km total, carrying about 20lbs of weight for half that distance. Students set a goal to raise $2,000 and exceeded that. The biggest statistic that stuck was learning that $25 dollars can give a person clean water for life.  The class was excited to learn that they were able to provide over 85 people with water for life!

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