Visit to Upper Grand DSB – 2016

UGDSBWhat a beautiful day I had to drive to Orangeville and join Upper Grand DSB for their day of learning.  There are 22 teachers and teacher librarians from 10 different schools involved in their Learning Connections project.  Through other funding, each of the schools received 6 Lego EV3’s (with Nexus 7 tablets) and 4 Lego WeeDoo’s to support the transformation of their Library Learning Commons to Maker Spaces.

This year, the LC project for UGDSB is focused on connecting curriculum through the Library Learning Commons with the following inquiry question:

How can the Learning Commons (and the teacher librarians who oversee them) be leveraged to develop and support integrated inquiry based learning experiences using the technological resources that are available in their Maker Spaces (robotics and coding) that connect back to the classroom and the greater school community?

IMG_1820The morning was spent describing the goals of the project and providing time for planning followed by an afternoon of “playing” with the robots. It was emphasized that schools should own their learning and that the school projects must meet the needs of their student population. Although they are getting many robotic devices, it is not just about the robots. There is a need to keep the curriculum in mind and determine the ties to the curriculum when planning.  The group has also been given the permission to fail, as this is an important part of the learning!

In setting the context for the day, the group completed a survey to determine the level of comfort in using technology and coding/robotics. Most teachers were comfortable using technology in the classroom, but few were comfortable with using coding in their classroom.  The numbers dropped even more when they were asked if they were comfortable using coding to tackle curriculum expectations.  This was not surprising and I am sure, by the end of this project, this will improve. It was evident that there was a wide range of comfort levels in the room that will certainly aid in the collaboration and learning.

Jen also reviewed the skills and the end goals that their projects should address as outlined in the UGDSB Learning Connections proposal. Here are a couple of examples:

Creativity and Innovation:

By co-learning and collaborating using Robotics and Coding in a school specific context, with input of all stakeholders, students will have to useScreen Shot 2016-02-18 at 12.49.54 PM and develop their Creativity and Innovation skills with their teachers.

ICT Literacy:

As there is no recipe to follow in terms of their school specific project, students and teachers will develop the skills and mindset required to learn about new technologies and troubleshoot problems as they arise.

During the planning time in the morning, the school teams discussed some possible activities and the big ideas that could be used in their schools.  In making their learning their own and meeting the needs of their school population, here are some of the big ideas that the schools shared:

  • Invite parents to compete in Math Night with childIMG_1866
  • Find links between coding and mathematical processes
  • Improve French language vocabulary by using coding commands in French
  • Grade 6 Space or Grade 5 Structures: create Mars robot to do whatever.  Students can decide what the robot will do – very open ended
  • Invite classes into library for coding not just to borrow books
  • Coding gurus – train expert students to help at risk students with coding and robotics
  • Grade 8 science – have some students in shop and some working on robots (centres) – how to combine shop activities with robotic coding?
  • Combine learning how to use robots with Skills Canada competition
  • Partner older students with younger students to have them discuss/teach: what is a robot? What are the social impacts of robots? Once younger students have the learning with older students, they could go back to their classroom to write a story

IMG_1867The afternoon was spent with Logics Academy setting up the EV’3s and learning how to program the robots.   Although they had some challenges because the robots needed a hardware update, the teachers gained some insights of how the robots work and some started to program them.

What an exciting day full of learning and lego.  I look forward to their next session and getting deeper into linking coding and robots with the curriculum.

Yes, it was a beautiful day to drive, IMG_1395but even more beautiful was the gas price in Orangeville!  It was over 90 cents that day in Toronto, so I was happy to get a full tank before heading out 🙂



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