A year ago, I attended my first WRDSB hosted sphero programming challenge. At this event, students worked in teams to program their sphero ball to travel on a predetermined “track” created with large sheets of chart paper taped down on a gymnasium floor. The focus was on a team approach to solving the path through coding. The excitement and collaboration levels were high as the students worked away at solving the puzzle. Have a look at the video to get a sense of the action.
Original sphero challenge
The next iteration of the WRDSB sphero challenge took a approach. Teams were provided a set of criteria to create a sphero track, which they would then solve using the collaborative approach as was done in the first challenge. I liked the concept behind this new approach combining creativity, differentiation and problem solving. Given the time constraints of running an after school event that involves teams from different schools, and therefore transportation etc. I thought this first attempt went well, although I did observe that some teams struggled with time management in the creation phase so there was less time available to solve the puzzle – good learning on the time management front, but some teams were not able to show their coding skills to the fullest. Check out the action captured in this short video.
Shero challenge 2
I certainly left each of these events on a positive note and pondered “what next”? In terms of track design, I wonder if a mid range approach might work – perhaps having a common start to a track and parameters to complete it to help with the time efficiency element. I applaud the efforts to create a coding challenge that requires collaboration to solve the problem. Over time, it would be great to see more students have this type of opportunity and also have students experience different roles within the team functions.
In this post, I am pleased to share the work of Mme Rosemary Berndt and her grade nine French classes. This year they pushed their approach to “un musée virtuel”to a new multi media and collaborative approach in making their learning visible.It was a pleasure to work with Mme Berndt and her students in providing support to the project.
This audio clip by Mmd Berndt provides a project overview and professional reflection. (Note: this is also included in the video introduction).
Last fall the Waterloo Region District School Board held their third Digital Learning Symposium. Each symposium has focused on sharing effective classroom practice, changing practice and promoting innovative practices.
The series of events has provided an opportunity for educators to come together, share, network and talk about next steps to pushing the envelope, building synergy and scaling change at the system level.
One of the strategies used at this recent symposium was to capture the best practices shared through video recording and create a WRDSB system blog to share the learnings and innovative approaches through other initiatives such as meetings of system leaders, school staff meetings and subject association sessions. It is important to keep the momentum of the change conversation going. This public blog also supports open learning for all educators.
One of the highlights from my week was participating in a “mystery hangout”. This particular (Google) hangout had an interesting twist with teachers and students learning together and collaboratively.
The Plan:Heather Theijsmeijerleveraged her PLN twitter connections with Donna Fryand me todevelop a plan to give the G Suite (Google Apps) lead teachers in Rainbow DSB a hands on experience with Google Hangouts to demonstrate the learning, collaboration and problem solving that can occur in this setting. After a call for participants, we firmed up the the Rainbow DSB GAFE lead teachers as one team, and Tania Bumstead’sVista Hills P. S. class as the other team. Alison Bullock and I played an online support role in the process as fact checkers and communication with each team lead.
The task was for each team to determine the location of the other team through a series of yes/no questions.
The experience: When it came time for he actual event, Heather connected everyone into the Google Hangout, and we were ready for a 45 minute learning situation, beginning with some introductions. The Vista Hills class worked in groups to tackle the tasks – receiving answers from team Rainbow, interpreting them and tracking them on Google maps. Another team generated potential questions and determined which question should be asked next. A third team interacted with team Rainbow and posed the questions. The excitement in the room was high, and there was a steady buzz throughout the session.
I was fascinated with the ingenious yes/no questions asked by the two teams as they working through the process of solving the geography puzzle in front of them. Are you located
east of the Manitoba/Ontario border
in the eastern standard time zone
within 100 km of Algonquin Park
west of the GTA
located north of the 402/403 highway corridor
east of the escarpment
in a city with a population over 100,000
within 50 km of Lake Huron
and finally, team Rainbow asked: are you located in KW? Team Vista Hills pressed on and with a couple more questions and one hint, determined team Rainbow was on Manitoulin Island.
Today I spent some time with WCI librarians Carlo Fusco and Leah Crowell discussion how they have Future Oriented the school library. In our discussion, we explored 5 areas of interest and impact which were determined in a previous visit.
Leveraging Multi Media
The impact of 1:1
Visioning the changing world of the teacher
Shifting to device agnostic spaces
Carlo and Leah, thank you for sharing your learning, visioning, and change process.
Interview in 3D video:
Interview in 2D video:
Students I chatted with at the school were very positive about the continued evolvement and current status of the future oriented thinking about the library space to service student learning needs.
As part of the recent WRDSB Digital Learning Symposium, teachers presented 20 minute sessions as part of the breakout offerings.
I was fortunate to attend Tania Bumstead’s presentation where she shared her experiences and insights on the journey of turning her classroom into a connected learning space. In the presentation Tania highlights the value of an online personal learning network (PLN) through twitter, collaborative work for students, taking risks and valuing new approaches.
The start of this school year has an extra kick of pizzaz for me. WRDSB is launching a 1:1 Chromebook program for all grade 9 students in the system. The intent is for students to keep their chromebook for their 4 years of secondary school.
The learning space has changed: access to digital resources for all, leveraging online learning environments such as Google Classroom and Google apps noting that over 60% of WRDSB staff and students currently use this environment daily for writing, researching, collaborating, exchanging ideas, providing feedback, documenting and sharing their learning. In many respects, moving to 1:1 is a scaling up based on the successes of the Futures Forum project.
Graphic from http://michaelfullan.ca/wp-content/uploads/2016/06/13599974110.pdf
On Sept. 1st, I had the opportunity to attend the grade nine orientation session at Cameron Heights CI. Principal Ray Teed estimated that over 90% of grade nine students were present. It was great to feel the energy and excitement in the building. Here are a few highlights from the tour, lunch and chromebook pickup.