RVS Teacher, Langdon School – Students from Langdon School recently had the opportunity to learn Japanese from a group of students in Honolulu, Hawaii. This wonderful opportunity was facilitated by Verena Roberts, a Technology Specialist with Rocky View Schools, and partner teacher Melvina Kurashige of the Mid-Pacific Institute. Interestingly, this connected learning opportunity began through our conversations on Twitter.
I had initially made some assumptions regarding this experience. I had assumed that it would be interesting and engaging for students to connect with peers from another country. I also had assumed that the work presented by students would be of a high quality, as they were presenting to a genuine audience. What actually occurred far exceeded my expectations; and that takes us back to 1998…
Before Instagram, and Twitter, and Facebook, and even MSN Messenger, there was ICQ Chat. I remember a classmate in high school telling me about this new program. He mentioned something along the lines of “yeah, this program is so cool, you can add your friends and talk to a bunch of people all at the same time”.
My initial reaction was disbelief. Was it truly possible to connect with multiple friends online at the same time? I eagerly rushed home and began using ICQ. To this day, I vividly remember the telltale “uh-oh” sound which accompanied an incoming message. At the time, I didn’t think of ICQ as a way of learning. I thought of it simply as a means of communication.
As I reflect upon this as an educator, it becomes clear that, although I was communicating with others, I also was learning about others. I would learn the score of the basketball game that night, or what one of my friends had for supper (Doreen Rowe’s Lasagna is fantastic, by the way). What fascinates me about this process as an educator, is that as technology has advanced, so has the ability to connect with others.
What if students were eager to rush to class, just as I had rushed home, to connect with and learn about others? What if students asked genuine questions to their peers in another country regarding their lives? What if these simple connections could break through barriers and help students to develop empathy for one another? What if this act of connecting could be a simple, yet effective method, as educators, to help students to genuinely understand and celebrate our differences and similarities???
…back to 2016. When my students connected recently with the Hawaiian students via a Google Hangout, many of these questions were answered. Watching students become more globally aware, while learning new content, has opened my perspective regarding connected learning. Students were learning content while also learning about one another. In this sense, they were more than just globally aware, they were entering a whole new world that involved becoming active global citizens, one step at a time.
The next step for my students in the connected learning journey involves the creation of Science games. The games will be shared with students in other countries as a genuine audience. This project has been supported by a community of practitioners through the Gamifi_ED2 project. Working with such a knowledgeable and supportive team is highly beneficial in supporting our students. I look forward to continued connected learning opportunities where students will connect with their peers internationally.
Superintendent of Schools – RVS has a wide variety of platforms and an amazing communication department which helps communicate about the work of the division. We leverage websites, blogs, YouTube, Twitter posts, email, electronic newsletters (Replay, On Track, etc.) to communicate both internally and with our broader communities. Our corporate communications are always professional, informative and very well done.
As Superintendent, I help tell the story of the division through my own perspective. Via this blog and my Twitter account I have the opportunity to share some of my thoughts and experiences as I engage in my work throughout the division. The communication need not be profound or necessarily overly exciting but it helps to let staff, parents, community members know about their division. Clearly, I am not a professional writer nor proof reader. I do enjoy the opportunity to talk about the great things going on. I’ve maintained a blog for about five years (ever since my first year as Supt in BC) and generally it has been well received. Some weeks are tough as I never found the time to write, but generally I’ll talk about something that I experienced that week or about a topic that has been top of mind.
New for me has been taking a more active role on Twitter. I have found Twitter to be great professional learning through the diverse group I follow. I jumped on Twitter quite early and I’ve kept my list of those I follow to a small, manageable list (just under 100 as of today) because it can be quite overwhelming if some of the people you follow are prolific tweeters. I very rarely search for one of the hashtags displayed onscreen when viewing one of my favourite reality TV shows (guilty pleasure). This fall I’m tweeting almost daily about some event, meeting, visit, etc. Along with a quick picture it documents just a glimpse of what is going on in RVS. If you want, follow me @gregluterbach to see what I’m up to.
Assistant Principal, Prairie Waters Elementary – I strongly believe that if you aren’t talking about your school, someone else will. George Couros, author of The Innovator’s Mindset says, “For too long, the narrative of education has been shared mostly by people outside of education. That needs to–and can-change”. We can use the power of social media to ensure the message being sent is an accurate and positive one.
One tool our school utilizes is Twitter. Classroom teachers, support staff, and a school account provide the greater community with a transparent lens into our building. By showcasing the learning, a culture of trust is fostered. Educational practices have changed a great deal since many of our students’ parents, and our staff have attended school. Our goal is to take the mystery out of our building. Often when parents ask, “What did you do at school today?”, they are met with limited responses. When parents are able to see what has happened, they are able to use more direct questions and create more meaningful discussions.
Not only is it important to have parents understand the learning in our schools, but inviting the larger community in as well is instrumental in creating an engaging learning environment. We invite community in and give them opportunities to interact with our students; again using social media as a platform to reach out. The impact on student learning has been phenomenal. By sharing our school’s learning we have created a strong, positive and collaborative culture. Students are highly engaged in their learning and are excited to share with the world. Many of our school community members are active on social media, so why not use it to your advantage! We love our school and want to share the powerful learning with others!
Director of Communications – September is a magical time of the year in our K-12 education system. You can see it in the faces of our Kindergarten students as they arrive at school for the very first time. You can hear it in the chatter among staff as they catch up on their summer break. And you can feel it in the excitement of parents, because their kids are back in school!
Rocky View Schools Communications Department is hoping you’ll help capture this magic through its Face of Rocky View School campaign. Thorough to November 1, we are inviting emerging, apprentice, and professional photographers to help capture images across our jurisdiction that align to one of the four categories:
Culture, People, School Life – Humans are the most fascinating subject a photographer can choose! This category calls to photographers who can capture the face of learning through portraitures, daily rituals, and traditions in their school.
Architecture, Schoolscapes, Learning Spaces – From the buzz of a busy hallway to the serenity of a wooded classroom, photographers will aim to capture the vitality or raw beauty of RVS’ learning environments.
Action, Sports, Adventure – Energy, adrenaline, activity. Turning movement into an eternal moment. Photographers will aim to capture action and adventure in the blink of an eye.
Creative Composition – Creative digital photographers can take an average photo and transform it into an illustrative work of art. For those that think of photography as a blank canvas.
Up to 50 photos will be selected and featured on RVS’ new public website that will be launched in the spring, along with the photographer’s credits. The photos also will be mounted in RVS’ Education Centre foyer and celebrated at a “Faces of Rocky View Schools Exhibition” in 2017.
We’ve already received a number of fantastic shots from students and staff. I hope you’ll help us capture the magic!
Welcome back everyone!
BTW. Greg I’m still waiting to get paid that $1 for breaking our branding standards…..