Last week for two days, ASPS students and staff hosted E-Learning Contacts from Northern Ontario. Often referred to as eLCs, these are educators whose focus is to support Ontario students with digital learning opportunities. As well, learning alongside with us were Education Officers from the Ministry of Education.
How to organize our time together so that our visitors would really understand our learning community and our collaborative culture?
The rule of three came to mind so this is how it went:
#1 Face-to-Face Huddle
It is important to set aside time to meet, greet, understand the focus for time together, set the stage and field initial questions. On both mornings, we gathered together informally, eLCs, Education Officers, ASPS staff and student ambassadors in our Learning Commons.
Key points that I shared:
- blended learning is the sweet spot – a mixture of online and onground
- learning conditions matter
- creating a collaborative learning culture focussed on continuous growth for all – no opting out!
- learning alongside with everyone is key
Here is a slideshare that brings forward my thoughts shared during our informal huddles. Pay particular attention to slide 12 please as it summarizes my thinking about how to build a collaborative technology enabled learning culture with staff.
Also, Jason Kortmann, our grade 7 & 8 Science and Visual Arts teacher, shared our journey with venturing down the road of school-wide implementation of the HWDSB Hub for our 305 grade 7 and 8 science program.
Key points that he shared:
- Going virtually paperless
- Foster Inquiry Based Learning
- Engagement for students
- More reflections are here from Jason
#2 On Safari
Two student ambassadors accompanied our visitors each day during the school safari and this involved spending time observing in classrooms and also, most importantly posing questions to students and staff. Thanks to all staff and students @AncasterSrPS who welcomed visitors and so openly shared their learning spaces, practices and thoughts.
#3 Open Discussion
We closed each day with a student-led open discussion. This involved bringing together thirty or so grade 7 and 8 students and opening up the floor for them to share their thoughts about technology-enabled learning. It was a free flowing discussion and the grown-ups had an opportunity to probe for deeper understanding during the discussion.
Below are a few quotes that I pulled from the gDoc sharing student thinking:
When we learn with technology, it is like what we do everyday anyway (relevance, familiarity).
This generation is about technology. School and life are seamless.
On ground and On line – how do we learn best? Now we have choice.
I want a blend – some on paper and some online.
Group work is good in tech, but there has to be a face-to-face conversation at some point
It was confusing to submit to the dropbox at the start. When you had to submit you had to change format, etc. Now it is getting better.
You can communicate with teachers right when you are thinking about things rather than having to wait until the next day.
Next year in high school – what do you want – more tech or more paper?
Tech – keep me organized.
Maybe it depends on the subject?
I want a blend – some on paper and some online.
Blend, but more tech in some subjects
So, you guessed it, I am one very #proudprincipal. Sharing our journey about technology enabled learning was very eye-opening! Discussing with visitors how we cultivate technology enabled learning and teaching and more importantly build a collaborative learning culture for all really made me reflect on what matters most. Trust. Trust that we are all in this together – there is no opting out. Why? Because we are doing the right thing and learning in ways that are engaging, accessible and real-world. We are motivated by our successes, challenges and even our failures.
Our vision for learning is put into practice each and every day in all learning spaces. Everyone here at ASPS – all students and all staff are invested in learning ways to connect, create, collaborate and communicate that leverage the affordances of technology along with face-to-face learning.
It’s not one or the other. It’s always a blend for all – students and staff. It is this wonderful mixture and choice of online and onground learning that creates optimal learning conditions for everyone. That’s the sweet spot I’m talking about.
A special thanks to all who visited @AncasterSrPS and shared their thoughts, posed their questions and so graciously offered us feedback about their observations.
Donna Fry @fryed
Stacey Wallin @WallwinS
Gino Russo @GinoRusso79
Humberto Pacheco @h_pacheco22
Peter Anello @pjanello
Anna-Marie Boulding @NOLAmathgeek
Andrew Swartz @swartz19
Anne Shillolo @anneshillolo
John Gibson @jgibson314