MISO in Action: Conversations about Coffee

by LeeAnne Lavender

Service Learning Coach

At the end of semester one, MISO interviews took an exciting front-and-centre role in a cross-divisional partnership between grades 1 and 2 and the high school Social Entrepreneurship class. MISO (which stands for Media, Interviews, Surveys and Observations) is an action research model used in the service learning cycle, and it was wonderful to see these skills developing in conversations between elementary and high school learners. 

In the fall, Gabriel Olmeda, an English Language Learning specialist in the elementary division, was co-teaching a mini lesson using coffee beans in Naomi Stewart’s class. ES Principal Eric Semler visited the class and, afterwards, mentioned to Gabriel that there was a Concordia coffee initiative called Third Culture Coffee, founded and managed by the high school Social Entrepreneurship class.

Gabriel met with Anne Love, the teacher of Social Entrepreneurship, and it just so happened that her students were learning about the bean-to-cup process of coffee production at the same time. This serendipitous timing led to a wonderful cross-divisional learning experience where the needs of both sets of students were met in rich ways.

Anne’s students were tasked with telling the story of coffee production in an age-appropriate way for grade 1 and 2 students. In creating their narratives, students had to demonstrate a deep understanding of content; they needed to synthesize detailed information and distill it into the most salient points while, at the same time, using communication and writing skills to convey the information in an engaging way.

One student, senior Josh O, wrote a particularly clear and engaging summary of the cup-to-bean process, and this was chosen to be an anchor text for grade 1 and 2 students in their language arts curriculum. Gabriel worked with the text first, pulling out language features such as vocabulary that could be taught in advance of the lesson, and then students read and responded to the text. They had options to either write in response to the text, write a letter, or ask questions (in writing) of the high school students.

Before responding, the students had an opportunity to engage in a Zoom conversation with the HS Social Entrepreneurship students. The ES students were able to practice their interview skills and ask questions, and the conversations back and forth between the ES and HS students were fruitful.

“I was impressed by how my students were able to communicate and connect at that (elementary) level,” Anne comments. “They really tried to connect with the young students and it was really successful.”

After the Zoom sessions, the ES students worked on their written responses and questions, and when the HS students received questions, they wrote written responses back to the ES students.

“The written responses the students then did were varied, with students choosing different response options,” Gabriel reflects. “The elementary students really enjoyed working with the high school students. They were transfixed and paid attention during the zoom sessions.”

In the future, it could be possible for students to do in-person visits and for the ES students to tour the TCC coffee roasting process in the high school. This could add another tangible, hands-on element to the partnership and experience.

For 2020-21, it was wonderful to see teachers and students in different divisions recognizing and responding to each others’ learning needs, and for students to hone their MISO action research skills.

If you’re interested in learning more about Third Culture Coffee, visit their website at  https://www.thirdculturecoffeeroasters.com/.