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Designing Meaningful Learning Together

by Cory Topf, Director of IA Summer AcademyColegio Roosevelt, The American School in Lima, Peru

“The search for meaning is not a solitary philosophical quest, as it’s often depicted, and as I thought it was in college–and meaning is not something that we create within ourselves and for ourselves. Rather, meaning largely lies in others. If we want to find meaning in our lives, we have to begin by reaching out.” – Emily Esfahani Smith, The Power of Meaning

This is one of the key lessons in our course The Imperfect Art of Living. Even though it can be difficult to ask others for help, and our cultures too often celebrate the individual, we are wired to connect. We design our lives in collaboration with the people around us, and we make our lives meaningful through our contributions to them.

Designing meaningful learning experiences is no different. Our goal with the IA Online Summer Academy was to model this for our students. We took one of our projects from the Innovation Academy at The American School of Lima, Peru and reached out to schools and students around the world to join us. The response was incredible.

Whether it was The American School Foundation in Monterrey, Mexico who was the first to join us and offer to help sponsor the course, or the 20 other international schools who helped spread the word and get their students on board, this experience would not have been possible without their collaboration. It also would not have been possible without the help of AASSA and the Tri-Association, who helped to tell our story, and to the US Department of Overseas Schools, who provided our students with a generous grant. 

In the beginning, our hope was to have 12-20 students for one cohort so we could prototype The Imperfect Art of Living. In the end, we had close to 60 deeply engaged students from North, Central and South America, Africa, Europe, the Middle East and Asia.

The course was also led by teachers from three different schools and we were able to connect with 17 teachers from around the world through online professional development workshops. Again, none of this would have been possible had we tried to do it alone.

The course was also led by teachers from three different schools and we were able to connect with 17 teachers from around the world through online professional development workshops. Again, none of this would have been possible had we tried to do it alone.

As a result of these collaborations, students were able to gain perspectives on life from their peers in completely different countries, and they opened up in ways we could have never imagined through Zoom. The depth of their conversations, along with their eagerness to connect authentically with each other, comes through in their powerful feedback on the course.

Now, with the success of the IA Online Summer Academy, we are offering The Imperfect Art of Living as a semester-long course, and we are hoping to continue learning together and connecting students and teachers from around the world. If you are interested, here is information about the course and the professional development opportunity.

IA Online Semester Course

  1. IA Online: Overview for Schools

  2. IA Online: Pitch to Students

  3. Imperfect Art of Living: Course Overview

  4. IA Online: Professional Development Opportunity

Above all, please reach out to us if you have any questions, or if we can help in any way, even if it is unrelated to the course. We love to connect with other educators and administrators because we all design more meaningful learning experiences together.

Corey Topf

ctopf@amersol.edu.pe

IA Online Summer Academy Director

The American School of Lima, Peru

Joseph Bonnici

jbonnici@amersol.edu.pe

Innovation Academy Director

The American School of Lima, Peru

Sara Bivin

sara.bivin@asfm.edu.mx

Philosophy and History Teacher

American School Foundation in Monterrey, Mexico

Lola Sanchez-Carrion

lolasanchezcarrion@gmail.com

English Teacher

Brownsville Middle School, Florida

#ColegioFranklinDelanoRoosevelt #Peru

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