I guess this is one of my catch-up posts (there will be more, I am sure). Now that the risk of bad weather is a little less, I have started my travels again. Actually writing this one on the plane to Thunder Bay (of course, I will have to post later – still no wifi at 30,000 feet). This post is about my visit to Algoma District School Board (ADSB) in Sault Ste. Marie.
Algoma DSB is a returning District Champion having been a part of LC in the past. Their LC project this year involves Grade 7 and 8 students using the Ministry provided e-Learning platform, Desire 2 Learn to improve students’ literacy and media literacy skills. While I was visiting, I had the opportunity to talk with some of the teachers and then visit a classroom to see the students in action. Teachers reported that students are really engaged when they have the chance to work online. Students’ online work included projects for global citizenship. Students had discussions online, conducted research and prepared a digital report of their learning. Teachers commented that their students were learning how to provide appropriate feedback and that more students participated in the online discussion forums than discussions they would have face-to-face in class.
I was also told about one of the grade 8 teachers who hosted an information night for parents to show them about the e-learning platform and how the class is using blended learning. The feedback from parents was very positive (no surprise) and they really liked how they could access the homework and classroom news.
The visit to the classroom was awesome since I got to see how the students interact with the technology. The classroom had a class set of laptops and the students were introduced to their new assignment for media literacy. It was great to see how students supported each other when having technical difficulties – they didn’t have to wait for the teacher. This was a true collaborative atmosphere with problem solving at its best. Students started to research different websites and learned about the different components of an effective site. Their assignment will be to create their own media, like a Dragon’s Den pitch, where they will have to pitch according to their purpose of the topic and audience. The final product will be open ended, allowing students differentiation in their assignments. I am finding that the use of technology allows students greater variety in how they can show evidence of their learning (Power Points, videos, Explain Everything, websites…). Students are provided greater ownership for their learning and how they can share their learning.