Because of the challenges of our extreme geography and small, remote schools, e-Learning is a high priority for our board. e-Learning is an essential component in our strategy to be able to offer a breadth of programming opportunities to students and to develop 21st century skills for their future endeavours. To this end, students will be introduced to Blended Learning in the provincial virtual Learning Environment in their intermediate years.
Superior Heights is a grade 7-12 school that opened its doors in 2011. The school board and school planning team, through its visioning process, determined that Superior Heights would be a school of modern technology, and so the infrastructure of the building provides tremendous opportunities for teachers to use technology in their instruction.
With the recent implementation of a Bring Your Own Device (BYOD) policy in Algoma, Superior Heights has a unique mixture of student- and board-owned devices available for learning. The challenge is now to harness those devices for use in learning while developing the skills of digital literacy and citizenship. To this end, the five teachers of grade 7 and 8 students at Superior Heights will engage in a Collaborative Inquiry.
The key question as we have framed it thus far is “How can we use Blended Learning to support literacy and numeracy instruction in a mixed BYOD environment?” The CI process will allow the teachers, school administration, and central support team to use a variety of instructional approaches according to their assessment of student readiness, learning styles, and preferences, and then reflect individually and as a group upon the effectiveness of each instructional approach. Students will also be asked to respond to short, digital surveys about the use of devices and online tools in their learning.
To develop Literacy, it is expected that teachers will choose to explore the Discussion tool, the ePortfolio tool, and the Blog tool in the virtual Learning Environment. These tools are by nature collaborative, providing students with a voice and an audience, and allowing opportunities for self- and peer-reflection and feedback. Research indicates that threaded discussions and blogging are both effective in promoting boys’ literacy, which is an area of interest for us.
To develop Numeracy, it is expected that teachers will choose to explore the Ministry-provided interactive learning objects and the Quiz tool. For both Literacy and Numeracy, Ministry-provided Blended Learning content resources and external resources will be highlighted for consideration. The instructional approach will balance problem-solving, communication, and computation. As part of the project we would provide professional learning in the use of the virtual Learning Environment, consider the available resources to support the project, engage with parents, co-plan, co-teach, and co-assess.
Professional Learning Program:
Our board has been using the PLC structure to enhance the opportunities for supporting the CI, so there is already familiarity with the CI process. The primary need for this project to be successful is release time for teachers to – plan instruction together – develop an understanding of and comfort with the digital tools (e.g. the virtual Learning Environment) – discuss next steps for student learning based on student data and work – observe in each others’ classes – co-teach in each others’ classes – connect with other related LC projects in the province.
Algoma DSB - LC Project 2013-2014 Video