Community Connected Experiential Learning

Durham District School Board (DDSB) is pleased to offer a variety of Community Connected Experiential Learning (CCEL) opportunities for students. CCEL is an inquiry-based approach that promotes active participation, thoughtful reflection and meaningful application of learning.

In conjunction with a community partner, students derive meaning from these experiences and then apply new learning and behaviours to their decisions and actions in various aspects of their lives.

CCEL cycle

The participate-reflect-apply cycle is dynamic and the process is as important as the product. It is made up of guiding questions including:

Participate: What?

Students are immersed in experiences in their community and globally. They should be aware of what is happening, what they are doing, and how they are feeling about these experiences.

Reflect: So what?

Students are guided to use reflective questions to understand how they are thinking and feeling about their experiences. They should ask themselves what they learned personally from the experience and what they learned about the community, the world, and this opportunity.

Apply: Now what?

Students then apply what they have learned to stimulate further inquiry and new behaviours that have come from the learning process. They are guided to consider how the experience affected their opinions, decisions, behaviours, goals and future plans.

Benefits of Experiential Learning

Benefits of this program include:

  • Increased student engagement and motivation to learn
  • Increased student success by connecting the learning to situations students care about in their community and the world
  • Promoting the development of 21st century competencies (collaboration, communication, critical thinking and problem-solving, and entrepreneurship)

CCEL projects

CCEL has many projects throughout each school year. Some featured projects include:

The Urban Garden at Sinclair Secondary School

This project offers a hands-on, holistic approach for Special Education students. It helps enhance intrapersonal and interpersonal skills. The purpose is to create an environment that fosters participation and diverse learning experiences, including a hands-on connection with nature. Students are responsible for implementing and presenting their ideas, prior knowledge and skills to create the garden. They will also learn new skills through the guidance and support of community mentors. Care is necessary on a daily basis for the potted plants, vegetables and herbs in the garden.

Elementary Skills Ontario Regional Competition

Skills Ontario are leaders in preparing Ontario's youth for the highly-skilled economy of tomorrow. Partnering with school boards, colleges, small business, large companies, labour groups and governments, Skills Ontario provides opportunities for youth to explore and develop skills for successful careers in the skilled trades and technologies. Their programs represent a long-term investment in the lives of all Ontarians. DDSB is pleased to send 8 teams to the Skills Ontario Provincial Competition in Toronto in May 2019.

Ambitious 7s

  • Thirty Grade 7 females from across DDSB have a chance to begin conversations on personal and professional goal setting, build confidence and motivation, and build connections to the community.
  • This project is facilitated by Erin McLean who earned her MBA from The Schulich School of Business after graduating from Sinclair Secondary School. She is also a 2008 Olympian in softball with Team Canada. Erin is currently a Senior Vice President of Marketing & Customer Success at Herjavec Group where she leads the Shark Tank portfolio for Robert Herjavec from ABCs Shark Tank. The project includes two half days of professional learning and a visit to the Herjavec Group head office in Toronto, where students will have the opportunity to job shadow and learn about different roles and career paths.

GrandPals at Terry Fox Public School

The 3 intermediate classes at Terry Fox Public School will be conducting a series of interviews and creating a narrative story (in various forms) about a senior in their community. The program promotes intergenerational connections that have the power to challenge, realign and refine character. In a world of endless information, they have the power to connect students with a real living history and wisdom; at the core the program remains focused on a common vision: bringing students and seniors together for the purposes of friendship, social engagement and shared learning. 

Chemistry Labwork Skills and Biotech Opportunities

Students in this project work with a professor and teaching assistant at Trent University in Peterborough. This is a hands-on, 2-hour lab in the Chemistry department using high tech equipment. It is a first-year university level lab with grade 11 and 12 curriculum. After the lab, the afternoon is spent at Noblegen, a biotech company. Students will meet with the founders of Noblegen who are young entrepreneurs in their twenties who started their venture as a high school science fair entry, and then turned it into a successful company. Noblegen has created an innovative way to produce vegetarian protein and recover valuable trace minerals from mining sites and tailing ponds using the organism Euglena. They are very inspiring individuals particularly for high school students. This part of the project includes a tour of their facility.

Contact DDSB for more information on CCEL initiatives and opportunities.