Digital Projects

Projects as Digital Fluency Consultant & 
Technology Coach

The Teacher Librarian EdCamp Site - Check Out Genius Hour!
An essential aspect of integrating technology is looking not at the digital tools, but how these tools can be used to enhance curriculum and further student learning. Technology must not merely act as an "expensive pencil", particularly with the benefits that can be realized with using digital tools. Technology can further creativity, communication, collaboration, and critical thinking. Classroom technology integration is not about using the latest flashy device or app, it's about exploring how even the simplest tool can transform learning. One example of how technology can be used to transform, extend learning and empower students is through the Genius Hour Initiative. 

Genius Hour Resources and Digital Stories
In the Regina Catholic School Division, through collaborative working groups, teachers are working together with colleagues and students to learn from each other in how to make Genius Hour work within the contexts of their classrooms. Initially the initiative started with a small group of interested teachers. Over the course of 7 months, it has grown to include Teacher Librarians, administrators, and teachers from grades 3 to 9. To date, there are approximately 30 teachers who are currently exploring Genius Hour in their classrooms. Many resources can be found on the Teaching With Technology Hub Website. These resources are ones that I have collected, adapted, and created. However, after the project started gaining momentum, a few teachers starting creating other resources to share. Some of these resources include translations of the Genius Hour student documents into French These resources are found on the page, L'Heure de Genie. All of this just demonstrates, that it's easy for teachers to get behind projects that not only promote creative and critical thinking, but empower students to look at ways to propel their own learning. One can only imagine if we have come this far in 7 months, how far Genius Hour will be next year or even in a few years!

 Genius Hour Classroom Connections
Genius Hour Classroom Connections
One aspect of our project that sets our division apart from other divisions, is the collaboration of teachers and Teacher Librarians. Part of the successful implementation of Genius Hour in the classroom in our division, can be attributed to the promotion of this inquiry-based, student-centered approach by Teacher Librarians. The following images are links to resources I created for the Teacher Librarian EdCamp and the Teaching With Technology Hub. Part of the reason, I started the Teaching with Technology Hub was to build upon the resources that had been created by fellow colleagues in Educational Technology and share integrative projects or "digital stories". These digital stories show case innovative ways teachers in our division are extending curriculum, engaging students and enhancing learning.  

At the Regina Teacher's Convention, I was asked to share a presentation on Genius Hour. Rather than just speaking second-hand about how it has propelled student-driven inquiry, I was fortunate to also have a few co-presenters. Teachers who joined the RCSD Genius Hour Group this year. Feel free to scan the powerpoint  by clicking on the link, to see the Teachers Convention Presentation.

Teaching Digital Learning Projects

Digital learning is more than just using "cool tools". It's about transforming learning or taking it beyond what can be done with just pencils and paper. With access to technology, teachers can take learning beyond the walls of the classroom on the "ultimate field trip". One in which the teacher is no longer the "all-knowing guide", instead an engaged participant who is also learning in this journey.

The following inquiry projects reflect my journey as a teacher and a digital learner.

U. N. Peacekeeper Blogging Project
Deshaye Catholic School, 2010-2011

In the fall of 2010, I heard that my friend Karen Hamelin, an R.C.M.P. officer and teacher at the Depot, was accepted with the U.N. to go to Sudan and be part of a peacekeeping mission during the historic referendum and the formation of new country. I believed that this once-in-a-lifetime mission was one that Karen could not keep to herself, so I approached her about blogging with my grade 7/8 students at Deshaye Catholic School. Initially Corporal Karen was not interested in "blogging with a bunch of Canadian kids". However, through some convincing, she came around to agree that it would be a rewarding collaborative learning experience for the students. After months of blogging, she grew to enjoy their amusing observations, comments and questions. She was also quite touched by their reflections and insights. At the conclusion of her mission, it was evident that the experience was one that touched the hearts of not only the students but also our U. N. Peacekeeper. 

Check out this 2 minute video highlighting key elements of the project.

Architecture Goes to School 
Deshaye Catholic School, 2011-2012

In the summer of 2011, I applied for acceptance into the Saskatchewan Architecture's, "Architecture Goes to School Program". This program allowed for grade 7/8 students from around Saskatchewan to engage in an inquiry partnership with local mentor architects.

My grade 7/8 class of 33 students, was partnered not only 
with one architect, but two. The best part was that one of the architects was my father-in-law! For the next two and a half months, Roger Mitchell and Chang Sun mentored my class two afternoons per week. In this cross-curricular project we explored the question, "How can we create a community where we can live, work and play?" Students examined not only aspects of ratio, design and urban planning, but more importantly, how we could create a community which reflected our classroom ideals - one of diversity and cultural inclusion. Students were divided into different community project groups then took on leadership roles within each group. The roles included: Writers, Sketch Up Experts, Artistic Graphic Designers, Visual Organizers, Sustainability Experts and Project Leaders. In creating the plans for our project, we utilized the power of Google Sketch Up.

If you would like to read more about the Scope and Sequence of the project, please check out the Architecture Goes to School page on my blog, Stewie's Smart Thoughts in the Classroom.

To view the inquiry process and the students in action, please check out the Architecture Goes to School Slideshow Presentation

This presentation was presented to the Regina Catholic School Board, January 2012. 

Mystery Skype - Collaboration and Curation
Deshaye Catholic School and St. Gabriel School,  2013

In the fall of 2012, I heard about Mystery Skyping. Mystery Skying allows students from around the world, of appropriate time zones, to connect and play a game which combines "Twenty Questions" with "Guess Who". This inquiry driven activity reinforces outcomes in both ELA and Social Studies, once again extending the walls of the classroom. This project had so much potential to engage and excited students.  However, there was one problem in getting involved... I didn't have a classroom. I wasn't even working - all because I was on maternity leave.  So what can one do in this situation? Find friends who teach, and convince them to try Mystery Skyping. So that is what I did.

I worked with Matthew Bresciani, grade 7/8 teacher at Deshaye Catholic School, and found a classroom in the United Kingdom via Twitter for his class to connect with. Then after some discussions with my friend, Mary Scott, Teacher Librarian of St. Gabriel, I discovered she was working with Lindsay Hodel's Grade 5 class on a unit, "What does it mean to be Canadian?". In their case, a class in Canada would be best for the outcomes of their learning. Using Twitter once again, I found a class of compatible grade level in Ontario for the grade 5's to Skype with. All connections were made via Twitter using the hashtag #mysteryskype.

To further assisting my collegues in launching this project, I curated and coordinated resources to assist in the planning of the Mystery Skype. These can be found on my blog page "So What's the Hype With Mystery Skype?". Some of these resources included the scope and sequence of coordinating a Mystery Skype, organizing student groups for the activity, as well as preparing for a Skype call and post-Skype reflections. 

Deshaye Grade 7/8 Class engaged in their Mystery Skype with the United Kingdom


St. Gabriel Grade 5 groups engaged with their Skype Call from Ontario

Pre-K Family "Digital Literacy" Day 
St. Francis Community School, 2013
Collaborative Project with Lisa Cooper, Pre-K Teacher

As a teacher librarian I have the unique opportunity to work on various collaborative projects with teachers from Pre-Kindergarten to grade eight. This collaborative project was "digital exploration" of how parents can use digital devices to enhance their Pre-K child's learning. We had fun exploring apps and interactive links on a variety of devices ranging from iPads to Laptops. Parents and children had engaging in trying out all the digital tools, as well as accessing some excellent resources such as the Regina Public Library's Tumble Books.

Interschool Collaborative Digital Book Club Project
St. Francis Community School, 2014
Collaborative Project with M. Bresciani, C. Nicolson, C. Treptau, T. Redler & S. Rieger

Dystopian Science Fiction is one of my favourite literary themes in English Language Arts. My love of connecting literature with real world themes, and a love for collaborating digitally, was the initial spark that started this project. As both a Teacher Librarian and grade eight English Language Arts teacher I was able make the connections with fellow grade eight teachers and Teacher Librarians in the Regina Catholic School System to form this project group. The Inter-school Digital Dystopian Book Club was an inquiry project that brought 4 teachers, 3 Teacher Librarians, and 130 Grade 8 students together to reflect and discuss dystopian literature, while answering the essential question: "Is Our World Becoming Dystopian?"

Each week the students deepened their understanding of their assigned dystopian novels in a variety of ways. Within the classroom, students engaged in exploring different reading strategies to deepen their understanding of their dystopian novel and blogged about their questions with their classmates. At an inter-school level, they explored connections to current events and global issues with other grade 8's from classrooms across the city. Inter-school discussions took place via synchronous and asynchronous collaborative tools via Edmodo and Today's Meet.

During the Edmodo discussions, students had the chance to further explore the theme introduced in the Today's Meet through blogging. The purpose of these discussions was to provide students further time to reflect deeply on the assignment presented and further generate a few questions of their own. Teacher Leaders were continually impressed with the level of insight that the students demonstrated in their responses.

This project was presented at Regina Public School Division's YQR Edcamp in the spring of 2014. We provided a QR Code poster so other teachers could check out and adapt our unit. 

Digital Dystopian Book Club Unit -  Click on the links to explore the unit.
Scope and Sequence
Dystopian Themed unit for the Classroom
Inter-School Collaborative Unit

Project Presentation Video

Video for the Digital Dystopian Book Club

Student Feedback on the Digital Dystopian Book Club

The following are links to a survey I created with Survey Monkey to collect valuable feedback from the student participants on the project. Please click on the links to view the results!

Digital Dystopian Book Club Survey Part 1
Digital Dystopian Book Club Survey Part 2

International Collaborative Quadblogging Project
St. Francis Community School, 2014
Collaborative Project with K. Boutilier, Grade 3 Teacher

In the spring of 214, I collaborated with Kristina Boutilier on an inquiry blogging project for Grade 3 Social Studies. This project explored the essential question: "How is my life the same or different from other children in the world?" 

In this project we coordinated blogging partners through Twitter as well as the Quadblogging website. Our initial contacts included classrooms from countries which included the United Kingdom, New Zealand and the United States. Instead, due to differences with the school year end, we blogged with another class from Saskatchewan. Blogging took place over the course of  2 months. In the first four weeks each school took turns at posting their responses to the questions posed by their teacher, with the other classroom responding to the blog post. In the second rotation, the same cycle repeated, for a total of 8 weeks.

This project gave the Grade 3's an opportunity to reflect on culture through on-line discussions. The project was also a perfect opportunity to explore digital citizenship with the students, and practice their writing skills.

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