Last year, 58 Grade 6 and 7 students from David Livingstone Elementary teachers Laurie Cassie and Sharon Moy's classes embarked on an adventure of a school lifetime when they travelled to Jasper Alberta (by train!) to solve a 60-year old mystery detailed in the pages of the novel On Mountaintop Rock. To kick off the week-long trip, students got in a special Via Rail train car, constructed pillow forts and set out for a gorgeous 18 hour trip through the heart of BC and into the Rockies.
Once they arrived, students got personalized tours of Jasper's historic sites in the town from book author John McLay. They visited the local post-office and totem poles (detailed in the novel) and also got to experience the natural beauty of the surrounding national parks thanks to tours from Parks Canada staff. Moy says one of the trip's biggest highlights was when the class headed out to Edith Maligne Canyon to fly kites just like the children do in the book.
Cassie says it was this trip into the Rockies and the beauty of the outdoors that really impacted her students.
"For our super urbanized kids, being in Jasper and Jasper National Park, really made them feel awestruck," she says.
The epic trip was the culmination of countless hours of lessons by master teachers Cassie and Moy. For their hard work, the teaching team was awarded the 2014 Governor General's History Award for Excellence in Teaching. Cassie and Moy were the only recipients in British Columbia who received the award.
Moy and Cassie say the trip was only the tip of the learning iceberg. In the lead up to the epic adventure, students did all sorts of inquiry based learning, researching historical figures like Marilyn Monroe, the exploration of the David Thompson River as well as fun tips on how to deer-proof your garden in the 1950s. The results of this work were plastered on display boards which the kids packed with them to downtown Jasper where they sought to bring the history of the town alive for the local populace by presenting to passersby in the town centre.
Livingstone Principal Bridget Browning says it is inspiring for her to watch Moy and Cassie work.
"These teachers are innovative. They know how to inspire kids to want to learn. Jasper was just one of a number of activities that keeps the kids excited about coming to school," she says. "All the work is project based. In all honesty it is fabulous to watch them teach."