We spoke with Grace Maio in April. She’s a Grade 4 teacher at Grant MacEwan School. We asked her about inquiry-based learning and what she thinks of gamifying the classroom.
Hi Grace, thanks for sharing your thoughts with us.
You’ve checked out Mobile Escape before, yes? What do you think?
I really appreciate the concept of connecting something so fun, authentic and hands-on (like an escape room) to the curriculum. I think a lot of the kids struggle because curriculum can be boring or hard to connect. I think Mobile Escape is a cool approach.
Is inquiry-based learning something you focus on at your school?
Our school is very inquiry-focused. Inquiry is discipline-focused where teachers are planning lessons around how an expert in that field approaches the problem at hand. Students are learning through the lens of a junior version of such an expert. Inquiry-based learning tries to find a connection between curriculum and the real world. For example, teaching students how to blueprint makes them feel like a junior version of an engineer: authentic, real-life based. Not just knowledge-based. Students learn better when they choose to engage. We introduce a topic with a hook, maybe a video, or we’ll create something to get them interested.
How has your Masters program affected your teaching?
I did the first year for personal growth where I learned about wellness. In the second year I took a creativity course which has broadened how I approach teaching. I’m not spoon-feeding so much. Students go home and research and explore ideas on their own, find it in the library, it’s neat. It’s made me not focus so much on the curriculum. I personally think if you teach the basic skills, the learning will happen; it’s all correlated anyways. I am more focused on the front end of the curriculum rather than each specific learning outcome. If I can have a conversation with kids, they may take it off topic, and that’s part of learning.
What do you think of gamifying the classroom?
I’m all for it and it aligns well with kids today. Kids are teaching me how to use Snapchat! I think gamification is a great idea, but there are a lot of traditional teachers—maybe half of us? How are you going to engage those teachers to change a pedagogy they’ve had for 20 years? I don’t know!
What would you think of an escape room residency?
We’ve done art and dance residencies. The kids like looking up to someone else, in a balanced learning experience that’s not so paper-and-pencil. I really like the idea of the kids creating their own escape room. After all, when you can share an idea you really get it.
Any final thoughts?
It’s awesome that you guys are promoting critical thinking. It’s something that kids really need nowadays. Kids have become zombie-like. Your approach is very natural: asking questions. If you’re stuck in a room, you have to ask questions to get out.
Oh, and you should give them lab coats.
Thanks. This is really cool!