Recently I visited Algoma DSB in Sault St. Marie to participate in their meeting with Rainbow DSB for their multi-district project for Learning Connections. Their project is focussed on having LC Champion teachers collaborate with each other within their own districts and between districts, ultimately having students from each district work together on an inquiry based project for grade 7 or 8 science.
Team planning is based on the Professional Learning Cycle and projects focus on using literacy strategies outlined in the Adolescent Literacy Guide combined with inquiry strategies from Smarter Science Framework. Collaboration and sharing will happen through a variety of means including: Ministry’s Virtual Learning Environment (vLE), Skype, FaceTime, Google Hangouts….
My visit was to the Algoma DSB site, but they were connected all day with Rainbow DSB. The morning was spent on reviewing the strategies of inquiry in science using Smarter Science Framework and mapping this to the Adolescent Literacy Guide. It was interesting to see how these two approaches fit so well together. Shannon took the group through the Smarter Science guides demonstrating how the different templates for inquiry can be used for students with a variety of needs. We also discussed how these templates could also be adopted for non-science inquiry as well. Shannon provided both teams with handouts and inquiry examples that the teachers could use in their classrooms the next day 🙂
During the morning, the teams also reviewed aspects of the vLE and ensured that everyone could access the shared course that was set up for the group to use.
As part of their project, each district purchased iPads and ProScopes to be used during their inquiry. The next part of the day was the most fun, as the teachers had a chance to play with the ProScopes. These devices will be rotated from school to school depending on the timing for each partnership’s project. A ProScope is a hand-held microscope that connects to one or multiple iPads. Photos can be taken of the view using the iPads. SO COOL!
In the afternoon, the partnered teachers had time to connect with each other to plan their inquiry and determine the timing for their project. Each of the three partners successfully connected and are well on their way. I am realizing the importance of starting these types of projects early in the year to provide flexibility in planning, allow for testing of the technology, give time for partners to build positive relationships and provide time for new learning.
What a great day with a group of great educators!
I am happy to report that the risk of weather issues due to travelling in January did not happen. The travelling was great and AC was actually on time! Lots of snow and very cold in Sault St. Marie, but check out that blue sky! Great walk when I arrived – here I am taking a rest leaning on the light pole 🙂