Voices as Stories from the Heart

Ever hang out with people who dream up things that make your head spin? While lots of people come up with over-the-top ideas, it’s rare that these come to fruition with powerful lasting impacts. I was fortunate enough to have been a part of a listening circle to see this one unfold. Imagine the months of work in fine tuning the idea to match the goals, engaging in heartfelt conversations and inviting participation at many levels. Finally the day arrives and something unexpected happens. Social media takes over and amplifies the story in such a way that the world notices.

Inspired by Canadian heroes Gord Downie and the Tragically Hip,  Sheila Gourlay (Parkcrest Elementary) and Carlene Montgomery (Chaffey-Burke Elementary) launched a project that encompassed 3 goals: honour Gord Downie and the Tragically Hip, raise money for cancer research and celebrate Canada’s 150th birthday. Two schools, 700+ students, one song (Ahead By A Century) and hours of rehearsals, their voices unite across cyberspace. The video says it all. You can also find their story on A Kids’ Guide to Canada celebrating Canada 150 (a national story connecting student voices from coast to coast to coast). 
What did the students learn? “Even though they’re young, they  can aim towards something bigger than themselves and make a difference.”

The story doesn’t end here. Gord Downie and the Tragically Hip have just been named to the Order of Canada.


Why Blog?

With the many demands on a teacher’s time, what would make a person want to blog? Yes we know all about how a blog or what I prefer to say, “a web presence”, can communicate. That is what a blog can do. However this is too simple of an answer. 

Here is my current short list of what I think of blogging… Perhaps you have others.

  • global connector to extend classroom activities and learning to the world
  • breaks down walls to invite the world into the classroom (including scientists, mathematicians, artists, entrepreneurs…)
  • connects visible learning moments for parents (yes, it’s automatic – delivery service to their phones or whatever device they use) 
  • creates a place for students to share their story and practice digital citizenship in an authentic environment (positive digital footprint)
  • values the student in owning their voice and story (“They matter… one person can change the world.”)
  • creates an environment for students to push their thinking 
  • inclusive of every learner through visual, audio, video, text (“It’s not just words.”) 
  • share curricular learning journeys and stories that can be discussed at home 
  • gives opportunities for creativity, exploration and pose/answer the questions that truly matter 
  • allows learning to be captured, annotated and reflected upon (“Tell our collective story.”)
  • create opportunities for teachers to engage in capturing formative assessment information
  • allows embedding of content from multiple places (“connecting the pieces”)
  • extend classroom notes and links, criteria reminders, memory joggers (honouring parents/teachers/students time)
  • continues the conversation of learning as never ending, always moving through building a community of practice 
  • access, access, access… anytime anywhere any device

Maybe the bigger question is, do you have a web presence? If you would like to start a blog, contact any member of our Learning Technologies team or go straight to our FORMS/APPLY page to begin the process. 

Student Driven Conversations

Funny thing about data (or I’d like to call them stories) – when students are an intricate part of the conversation, it takes on a whole different meaning. Recently, I was with one of our Joint Teams (LSS/Classroom partners and Learning Technologies) focused on supporting learners with written output challenges. I had shared how we could incorporate audio, video, images, or word prediction using digital platforms as enhancers for students to record their understandings and how important it was to have snapshots of these over time. Using digital tools invited a dialogue about a place to collate the artifacts. Our “student blogfolios” allow students to share and hold their story digitally. A range of possibilities exist: 

  • access anytime anywhere by participants
  • collaborative feedback in an organised focused manner
  • connected communication between student, parent, teacher (of course anytime, anywhere)
  • historic snapshots of whole child learning processes

Examples you ask? Grade 6/7 , Grade 4/5 , Grade 1 , Grade 8 

Knowing your “why” aids in this journey. Without any advertising, our Learning Technologies team has seen this expand exponentially (yes we really only started a little over a year ago with a small pilot). The implications are huge as we attempt to work through what it means to communicate learning in different ways, to empower students to own their voice and story, to share these breakthroughs with parents in ways that allows for collaborative dialogue. 

If you are interested in this, please contact any member of the Learning Technologies team or go straight to our FORMS page to apply.