MAPLE, ONTARIO, CANADA – Jamie Cohen is a 9th grade English teacher and Director of Student Extra-Curricular Activities at Tanenbaum CHAT (Community Hebrew Academy of Toronto). This year he ran his second SOLE (Self Organized Learning Environment) Student Leadership Seminar for 115 students ranging from 13-17 years of age, all of whom are in some way involved in creating, organizing, and running extra-curricular events and activities. He is interested in “spurring teenagers on through adversity to creative, new angles in the planning process of events, how to be clearheaded, present and cool under fire in the week leading up to an event and the event itself” and, overall, to learn how to become exceptional leaders. He used W2M (Willing to Make Mistakes) Inspiration Boards to explore Investment in Loss and Using Adversity with this highly competitive group of students, with an aim to help them shift their perspectives “when looking at mistakes, obstacles, and resistance points during the adventure of creating extra-curricular school projects.” They also used the learning principles to create a plan for their commitments and activities throughout the year, learn to prioritize goals based on those commitments, and become more cognizant of where they focus their energies. Self-assessment will be included in the process and there will be a follow up meeting to help keep the students focused on their commitments. Mr. Cohen has shared the complete assignment for the seminar, as well as a few of the students’ written and visual responses on our Resources for Educators page.
In addition to his work with the SOLE seminar, Mr. Cohen developed an Art of Learning program in his 9th grade English class as part of a 6-week novel study unit. The students used The Art of Learning in conjunction with their study of the novel, The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time. As a culmination to this unit, the students applied their knowledge of one of the main themes: empathy comes through investigating, seeing, hearing and feeling the world from different perspectives through the creation of a Curious Empathy Board that integrates the “play between knowledge, intuition, and creativity.” The Empathy Boards included both visual and verbal components and encouraged students to focus on ideas from The Art of Learning such as Numbers to Leave Numbers and Breaking Down Walls. Mr. Cohen has shared the complete assignment for the empathy board as well as some of the students visual and written responses on our Resources for Educators page.