My visit to our two northern districts was awesome last week. I flew into Thunder Bay and the next day, Leah arrived, very early in the morning, to drive us to visit Superior North Catholic DSB classroom at Our Lady of Fatima school in Longlac. They always give me the choice of visiting in either snow season or bug season and I chose snow 🙂 Unfortunately we had snow for the drive in the morning but the afternoon was clear – thanks Leah for your safe driving all day!
The overall goal of their project is to have students take ownership of their learning by practicing 21st century learning skills and take part in hands on, inquiry based, experiential learning that is collaborative in nature and culminates in a final community building event. The teachers are engaging their students by building community between the three northern schools in the district using technology to focus on well-being, confidence building, motivation, and independent learning.
I had the opportunity to visit the grade 7/8 classroom in Longlac that was part of their Learning Connections project. Students from classes in three different schools (Longlac, Geraldton and Nakina) were partnered together to connect online and start their project work with an ice-breaker to “get to know each other”. The student goal for their activity was to work together in Google Classroom to create a Google Doc to explore their shared interests. The shared Doc had questions for students to learn about each other, their interests and brainstorm topics they want to learn about together. Once they have gone through the introductory collaboration phase, they will begin working with their online partner to research any topic that interests them.
- awesome – got to learn about someone from a different school
- fun- we had a long conversation – lots of common interests
- fun researching – for student with no partner
- “I didn’t like my partner” – slow typer, grade 5 had different ability
- Annoying – “my partner kept deleting my stuff”
- Students asked: “when are we doing this next?”
- it was beneficial to connect with someone who they may meet in high school next year (thinking of students in Nakina who have a graduating class of 4)
- great way to meet new friends
- they learned something new and could share their ideas with someone outside their class
In the discussion after the activity, it came out that this class was more experienced working online and they realized that this might have been the cause for some of their frustration. They then recognized that they were the experts for working online and could mentor the other students and model how to contribute to the shared Google Doc. Great learning for all!
It was also interesting to hear the discussion about collaborative work. They recognized that it was sometimes difficult to work in groups during face-to-face, so imagine the difficulty when working at a distance and you don’t see the other person. This was a challenge they have to learn how to overcome and work through for future online meetings with their partners.
Note: you will hear about my visit to Thunder Bay Catholic DSB in a post coming soon 🙂