Elementary Connected Classrooms

In this month’s Adminfo there is an article by Judy Halbert and Linda Kaser discussing the OECD’s Innovative Learning Environment project. As a district we are so proud that the Elementary Connected Classrooms has been selected for this project.

 The Elementary Connected Classrooms project started four years ago. The project connects three intermediate classrooms in three different communities: Ashcroft, Lytton and Lillooet. It was a project that was seeking to connect students and teachers through engaging learning strategies supported by technology. The goal was to expand the community of learners and create a broader more diverse learning community. Each teacher is a member of this collaborative team which strives to embed critical thinking, creativity, collaboration, cross cultural understanding, communication, inquiry and the tools to be a socially responsible citizen in an online world into their teaching. Every day the classes connect via videoconferencing, during this time each teacher leads the learning in an area that is their passion and expertise. As a result, students in each classroom benefit from participating in the learning opportunities from each of the three teachers. The three classes remain connected throughout the day through moodle for online literature circles, current event discussions, numeracy problem solving challenges, and digital photography. In addition, the students are guided through a yearlong inquiry project of their creation. Three times a year the classes meet in each of the three communities to develop and nurture a face to face relationship that supports their online relationship.

 The last four years of the project have been extremely positive. Students are meaningfully engaged in their learning, they have taken ownership in their learning, and they have developed a technological literacy and proficiency that is outstanding. District assessments have also shown a positive impact in students reading and writing. The other success of the project has been the excellent professional development each teacher has received by working in a collaborative professional learning community that is focussed on improving student learning opportunities.

 

Feedback Beyond the Classroom

In my last post I shared a number of videos made by students in a Digital Media course. These videos highlighted the powerful political voice of youth today. The videos have created significant conversation in the district with many of these discussions focused on the importance of allowing students to express their voice in a way that reflects their learning, understanding and beliefs. It is great that the work of these students has been such a catalyst for meaningful professional dialogue. However, the accolades for these students and their creations continue, as the videos made their way to Rick Mercer and he sent a personal response to the students.

How wonderful for these students to have their thoughts, ideas and creativity validated by someone beyond the classroom, school or local community. While this type of feedback is not possible with all of the work done by students on a daily basis, I cannot imagine the impact this message will have on these students. A Canadian icon, known for speaking his mind and being celebrated for it, took the time to recognize the work of these students, encouraged them to keep at it and not be distracted by detractors. What could learning and feedback look like if all Canadians took such an interest in encouraging students in their path of personal expression?