Well, I have done my farthest trek for the year. I had the pleasure to visit northern Ontario with a day of travelling to Superior North Catholic DSB, then a day at St. Brigid School, in Nakina, followed by a long drive back to Thunder Bay Catholic DSB. Before I tell you about the fantastic projects happening in these districts, I have to thank the folks from SNCDSB who drove me to Nakina, about 10 hours in the car – no voice left after talking for so long (and unfortunately, no wildlife). I have to also mention that the weather was awesome and my boots stayed packed – big thanks for this 🙂
SNCDSB is new to LC this year, joining in February 2014. I was very excited to visit the north and their school in Nakina. St. Brigid School has a total of 14 students from K-7, with children from 8 families. The teacher who is involved with LC has a class with 10 students from grades 4 – 7, all with IEP’s and all working at different levels. This creates a unique situation for the teacher coupled with the fact that the school is very remote making it difficult for teachers to collaborate. The SNCDSB Learning Connections project involves investigating how iPads can be used to help engage their students and support them to become more independent learners. During the visit, students were working on a project using their iPads for support and after having the iPads for only a couple of months in the class, they were very adept in using them. In this short time of having the iPads, the teacher has seen huge improvements in the students’ work and their engagement. Part of this is because the teacher has set them up for success, providing meaningful tasks and providing access to appropriate apps to complete the tasks. Students are now able to provide evidence of their learning using the iPads and use the accessibility features available to support them. This visit has made me realize the importance of having teachers like Lindley as a part of LC to help her feel connected and have access to resources and support from other teachers in our network. Welcome to LC!
Back in Thunder Bay, I spent the morning with a wonderful group of about 30 JK and K teachers and Early Childhood Educators. This was the first of two sessions, with another group meeting the next day. The goal of the session was to learn how to connect their kindergarten classrooms with parents to improve parent engagement. The session was lead by the e-learning contact (ELC) who showed the group how to access their class website in the Ministry’s Desire 2 Learn (D2L) platform that the ELC set up for them. They also went through the process to post to the news stream and use the calendar.
Some teachers were already using their D2L site and shared how they were using their sites to communicate with parents and promote parent engagement. It was very interesting to see how they were using their class sites to promote the oral communication of their students. Parents were encouraged to spend time with their child to review the site and have the child explain what the photos and posts were demonstrating from the classroom. The district is working on connecting their D2L sites to many of the application licences the district has purchased to allow teachers and students access through one login. To date, they have access to DreamBox, Encyclopedia Britannica and BookFlix has a link but still requires its own login if accessed outside of district. The goal of the district is to build capacity through the grades starting with the Primary students and working the way up. They will also work towards using the ePortfolio application in D2L for students to build their portfolios throughout their time at school. I look forward to seeing their growth and how they continue to build capacity in TBCDSB.