“Taking Your Seat at the Fire” continues the conversation around culturally responsive resources. Leona Prince, Professional Learning Team Member, shares with us ways in which we embed Aboriginal perspectives into all parts of the curriculum in a meaningful and authentic manner. Here is a quick tour of ERAC resources that can be used to support Aboriginal perspectives.
Watch the video now.
Find some examples of integrated units by clicking here.
February 07, 2018
Cari Wilson, a member of the Professional Learning Team, provides a quick “fly by” of the resources that are available to all ERAC members including the BCDC Core Collection, “a la carte” options and curriculum support material.
To access more BC Digital Classroom online resources and support, visit the BCDC website.
The collection will include Canadian websites that add value for students and educators. Today’s learners engage with a variety of media, including games, videos, web casts and interactive online tools outside the classroom. Using similar tools in the classroom will increase student engagement with the BC Curriculum and the intended learning outcomes.
As online resources expand, teachers have the daunting job of choosing resources that fit the criteria that makes them suited for classroom use. This new collection of online resources meets a baseline set of criteria that ensures each online resource is suitable for classroom use:
Resources that pass the preliminary criteria then go through a deep evaluation by teams of trained evaluators who are practicing BC teachers to ensure that they are relevant to students, accurate, timely, and appropriate as well as meet core and curricular competencies based on the BC Curriculum.
Fast Track Students to Quality Content
For example, the resource A Journey into Time Immemorial is from the SFU Virtual Museum and offers “an in-depth look at the culture and customs of the Sto:lo people” according to the ERAC review. The content supports grades 4 through 12 in a variety of subject areas and “is a rich source of non-fiction texts.”
The number of websites from a Google search, many of which have commercial interests, make finding suitable and safe digital learning experiences and resources challenging for teachers. Even within one site, such as NASA, finding the materials suitable for your students can be overwhelming. Having a curated collection of pre-selected sites – with specific URLs to the exact resources you are looking for – saves time and ensures that students can access digital resources that will engage and educate them.
Many interactive sites exist in a variety of subject areas including science, coding, space and language arts. Consider Storyline Online, which has celebrated actors reading to students in an engaging manner with images and illustrations included. Many students will recognize Elijah Wood from the Lord of the Rings reading Me and My Cat by Satoshi Kitamura. Each book comes with an Activity Guide that suggests ways of working with the book in the classroom including information regarding both the author and the reader.
This collection will include virtual tours, videos, web casts, demonstrations, games and more.
How To Access the New Collection
June 02, 2017
Curriculum Connections Provide Starting Points
This website provides over 100 examples of starting points connecting curriculum to the BC Digital Classroom (BCDC) collection resources. The starting points highlight the Big Idea, Learning Standards, lesson topic, and a seed activity idea. Each starting point is linked directly to the relevant website within the BCDC resource, allowing the teacher to spend less time browsing and searching.
In addition, the team has created some starting points which highlight First Peoples Principles in Learning and Aboriginal Worldviews and Perspectives.
These starting points are just that – a place to support teachers as they explore the connection between these digital resources and the curriculum, and a way to spark the creation of new lesson connections using the BCDC collection.
F2F Professional Learning Events Provide Deeper Exploration of Resources
ERAC’s Professional Learning Team has provided in-district workshops and professional opportunities to district teams around the province, and supported teacher librarians, consultants, and helping teachers in planning for professional learning in their own districts.
At these F2F sessions the Team presents an overview of ERAC services and resources, and offers an in-depth exploration of the resources and tools within the BC Digital Classroom Collection.
The Professional Learning Team also highlights the K-12 Resource Collection where members can access full information on evaluated resources, such as novels, videos, and websites. Download the BCERAC app for Apple and Android to have quick mobile access to search the database.
These on-site sessions allow districts to maximize the value of their membership in ERAC and are actually enabling ERAC to expand support to other districts by sharing the exciting work being done across the province.
One example is Maple Ridge School District 42, where, through the hard work of Irene Gibeault and their team, the district has developed an online resources page: http://schools.sd42.ca/onlineresources/. It is well-organized for primary, intermediate, and secondary teachers to access ERAC, the BCDC Collection, and other licensed databases. A value-added aspect of this site is the identification and annotation of magazines available through EBSCO resources. See example of intermediate magazines here.
Providing Online Professional Learning Supports
Because not every district or every ERAC member can attend a F2F session, the Team has created short video clips and PowerPoint templates that educators can use to further explore and customize presentations for your district or school.
The ERAC Beyond Databases – Presentation Format Slides includes an overview of the complete BCDC Collection and speaking points for the slides. The PowerPoint templates have been separated into sections to focus on the attributes of specific resources such as World Book K-3, EBSCO 4-7, Gale 8-9, Global Issues in Context, and KnowBC. Watch for more updates to this page by September 2017.
District Contacts and PSA representatives – Please request and book your Professional Learning Team workshop by contacting Kevin Amboe.
ERAC’s approach is always to do the work once on behalf of the Consortium, and to share the results with everyone, saving time and effort.
April 06, 2017
After a moment of silent reflection, Leona Prince states, “When thinking about the journey of Aboriginal Education in the province of BC, we are starting to understand the importance of collaboration and knowledge sharing. Aboriginal culture is polyphonic, meaning that it requires many voices to sustain it, and therefore so does Aboriginal Education. These voices need to be a network of diverse narratives if we are going to truly begin the work of reconciliation. ‘Taking our Seat at the Fire’ is a vision of all of us taking our seats together and being inspired by our similarities and differences. It is a call for all of us to take ownership of the responsibility of contributing equally to our future in education.”
The new BC curriculum reflects the broader societal growing awareness of the rich history, traditions and cultural practices of Aboriginal people and their role in the country. Classroom and students are a way to bring broader awareness and understanding to the future. “Through the process of reviewing the Ministry of Education document Aboriginal Worldviews and Perspectives and staying true to the framework of the FNESC guidelines for the First Peoples’ Principles of Learning, we were able to find a way to contribute to BC Educators in a meaningful way” states Prince.
As part of the Professional Learning Team, Monica Berra and Leona Prince, presented at the IT4K12 2016 “Taking Your Seat at the Fire – Continuing the Conversation Around Culturally Responsible Resources”.
“We began this work 3 years ago, as colleagues in School District No. 57 and ERAC supported our work around culturally authentic and relevant resources,” states Berra. This was first defined by FNESC in their 2008 publication English 12 First Peoples. ERAC redefined how resources were evaluated with these added criteria in 2014 and restructured the process by which Aboriginal Resources are evaluated. At IT4K12 2015, Prince and Berra presented on Culturally Authentic and Relevant Resources, which highlighted the work done to date. As momentum grew within the organization around Aboriginal Education, it culminated in the creation of the ERAC ABED Support Site.
“The site framework of the natural elements, although grounded in the ideals of the Medicine Wheel, was chosen because of the inclusive nature of fire, water, earth and air. We all have our own personal connections to each of these, especially in BC where we have these in abundance. It really emphasized the privileges as residents of BC to have such beautiful natural surroundings, but also the responsibility to the land,” Prince relays.
The idea for the presentation was rooted in both Monica and Leona’s connection to their personal histories, their families and the lands that they both grew up on. Every detail in the presentation speaks to the importance of connection and collaboration. The photos of Leona’s two daughters on the lake side home where Monica spent most of her life highlights the importance of shared knowledge and collaboration. It is also a nod to the cover of Bev Seller’s ‘They Called Me Number One’, a story of personal significance to Berra.
Both Monica and Leona are storytellers and they weave for us a journey and invite us to come along. “Speaking with the audience at our sessions truly gave me an understanding of the cross section of educators across BC and the challenges they face,” states Prince. “It was humbling. For us to change our practice, we need to change the way we think and confront our biases and I believe we are well on our way. It is important for us to give, all those that are interested, an entry point into imbedding Aboriginal ways of knowing and being.” The session includes culturally authentic and relevant resources, the BC digital classroom, Aboriginal Ways of Knowing and also highlights technology in the classroom from a cultural perspective.
To begin your journey in Aboriginal learning, Prince encourages educators to find someone that complements them so that they can learn from each other. Berra agrees, noting that her practice has been brought forward by talking with others and learning from them, especially from working with Prince. The mutual respect and camaraderie is palpable between Prince and Berra and this continually opens the door for more conversations.
“Our ERAC consortium is an invitation to the conversation,” encourages Berra. “Let’s keep those conversations going.”
Each of their sessions ends with this poignant question, “Who is sitting at your fire?” It is a call to action for each of us, as educators, to take ownership of your own learning journey and to find those that share common goals.
Check out more by taking a walk through ERAC’s Aboriginal Education Support Site or connect directly with Leona Prince at email@example.com or Monica Berra at MBerra@sd57.bc.ca for more information. As part of ERAC’s professional learning team you can schedule this professional learning session through firstname.lastname@example.org.
March 02, 2017
If you’ve always wanted to go to Space, then best start saving now as the price tag for commercial space travel will cost you around $75,000 to reserve your seat. A better option is to join Mark Hauk and Merle Ross on a virtual field trip! Besides experiencing the International Space Station via a live interview with the astronauts, you can also go on an archaeological dig with scientists or a deep-sea dive with professionals off the coast of Australia, or scale the peaks of Mount Everest alongside an explorer…just to name a few!
Mark Hauk is the Virtual Field Trip Coordinator with SD23 and has worked within Education for the last 22 years. His colleague, Merle Ross is a Video Specialist, working with equipment and education television over the last 10 years. With their combined expertise and enthusiasm, and while working on the development of a course, they built a strong infrastructure which they used for blended learning. They saw the potential for using it in different ways and worked on rolling out virtual field trips over the next few years.
“Access used to be a challenge, it was all about bandwidth” explains Hauk. “But now there are many cost-effective options like Zoom which allows up to 50 simultaneous connections. This allows more opportunities for teachers and schools to participate. Generally, now all that is needed is a webcam and a computer with Wi-Fi.”
Hauk and Ross started connecting with a variety of people, finding all the options for students including a database they discovered that provided the info needed to connect with museums, zoos and other educational facilities. Some could be accessed for free while others charged a small fee. They would then set up a schedule and class would start with students gaining world class experiences without even leaving the classroom.
“For students that are unable to travel, or can’t afford the cost, or maybe just have anxiety issues, this option is a great way to introduce the world to them,” notes Hauk.
Students were thoroughly engaged when they interviewed an astronaut, live on the International Space Station. But it truly hit home when they were done the close-up interview with the astronaut and he let go of the microphone. It started rotating in mid air on its own, eyes went huge and students were all reminded of zero gravity in space.
“Kids love it and consider it pretty cool to connect with someone so far away,” explains Hauk.
“We grab Google Earth and show the students where on the planet we’re connecting,” notes Ross. “For instance, the Australian live dive took us 11,800 kms away from home which is 17 hours by flight, and 25 feet down in the ocean.”
They also interviewed a survivor of Auschwitz which was eye opening for the students as they got to ask questions and interact, unlike the learning experience obtained when watching a video or reading about it.
“Our next goal is to create a virtual reality experience,” explains Ross. “If we could give students a headset, they could be live on a tour of the Pyramids or stand with the explorer on the peak of Mount Everest while interviewing them.”
“The great thing is that technology is constantly growing, providing more opportunities,” states Hauk. “We’ll be bringing our program to thousands of more students over the next few years.”
Hauk and Ross shared their virtual field trip experiences during a presentation at the last IT4K12 event. They are always happy to share more and help get others on board so feel free to contact them at: email@example.com and firstname.lastname@example.org.
Maybe someday, through connecting with space satellites, students will be able to take a virtual tour of another planet! This exciting future for our students is truly beyond the limit of the sky.
January 13, 2017
“Is it plugged in?” are the four most common heard words that often bring mortified embarrassment to many. Yet, for others like IT professionals, they are the four most common words asked. Although our IT support teams help us with the simplest of issues like making sure our devices are plugged in, they also help with complex solutions that directly impact the classroom and our students. For this reason, it is important to have a solid, strong working relationship with your IT professionals, at least, that’s the way Lisa Read sees it.
Lisa Read is the IT Coordinator for SD79, Cowichan Valley, and is a member of ERAC’s Professional Learning Team. Most recently she presented at IT4K12 on the “Feed & Care of Your Nerdlings”.
“I’ve always said that pedagogy is the driver but I like to add that technology is the accelerator,” explains Read, “And when we meld those two worlds together, we’re going to have a strong educational impact.”
That impact is only as strong as the entire team and the efficiency of their communication. If the educational group can’t clearly identify the needs, then the IT team can’t properly address the issue or find a timely solution. Clear communication can help speed things along.
“Our situation is quite unique” notes Read. “In most school districts, you rarely have educators involved in running the technology department, but we do. It assists us in having an education lens or perspective when making and guiding decisions.”
To help get those conversations started, Read’s team holds a 10-15-minute meeting every morning. Tech staff can then ask more specific questions to help source out the problems and offer precise solutions.
“The conversations are much richer and make it easier to come to a resolution than just answering a ‘ticket’”, explains Read. “For instance, a teacher may be having a problem with a printer but when the technician understands it’s 30 elementary students using that printer at the same time, they get the bigger picture and realize the common solution won’t work in this instance.”
Ultimately, the end goal for our students is the same, but these groups can come at it from two different directions and that’s why it can be beneficial to find a better way to communicate. Increased empathy on both sides can go a long way.
“It’s important for IT professionals to understand the pressures educators have within the classroom,” advises Read. “Likewise, teachers should understand that there are multiple ways to address a problem and the technician needs to consider the best solution for the individual and the entire system—in other words, will it scale?”
Some of the ways that Read explains you can work with your IT team better is to: connect with the IT team through their preferred method of communication (they have created a system that works well for them, a combination of tickets, email and face to face check-ins); ask for help instead of trying to fix it yourself; try to differentiate the need for IT support ( is this a new problem, or an ongoing one that the team already knows about); give the team some time to work on the problem (double reporting can bog down the process); and (on the IT professionals’ wish list) it is also of great benefit if the people they support have a minimal level of technological understanding.
“I always encourage teachers to approach technology the way they ask their learners to,” explains Read. “Don’t be afraid to try a different approach if the first one doesn’t work and don’t be afraid to ask for support.”
There are also ways that IT professionals can help educators by understanding that teachers want what is best for their students, so if resistance is sensed it is most likely based in fear or uncertainty and they might not know how to properly ask for support. Read also encourages IT Professionals to go into the actual classrooms and see how teachers are using the technology so they can understand what is being asked of them.
Finally, the biggest challenge continues to be keeping up with classroom/staff support and keeping everything in place working well, while still pushing technology forward with new ideas and solutions.
“It’s the Tyranny of the Urgent,” notes Read. “Our techies are keen but time is our enemy. Technicians are naturally curious and find wonderful ideas and solutions but finding the time to implement them can be extremely challenging, as well as the potential lack of proficiency by users.”
If you have solutions that are working well within your school or district, feel free to contact Cathy Yeomans so she can share your story with others. She can be reached at email@example.com.
Lisa Read and all members of the Professional Learning Team provide support for the BC Digital Classroom resources. To arrange for a remote or face to face connection, please contact Kevin Amboe at firstname.lastname@example.org.
December 07, 2016
The word “technology” or “coding” can drive fear into the hearts of some, especially if they are expected to teach it. Not so with Kara Dawson, Lead Information Technology Support Teacher of SD71, Comox.
“I’ve always dabbled in coding but am definitely not an expert,” explains Dawson. “During a project I was involved in over 13 years ago with Dreamweaver, we started a school district page and I found I loved working with code”.
That love for code has stayed with Dawson throughout her 20+ years of teaching, including the start of an Hour of Code that she has always promoted. Last year she noticed she was getting a lot of questions around coding so she created a workshop for her district. She was then invited to participate in ERAC’s coding project which she thoroughly enjoyed and came back to the district with more excitement and more focused coding goals.
“I started with Lego Minestorms which has lego pieces that include tiny sensors,” notes Dawson. “It takes a few days to put together and is challenging but was limited to the Lego code at the time.”
Wanting to expand on coding, Dawson integrated a different product, a Sphero. This ball robot was very durable and could be made to jump, move and change colours. Students were able to make light shows that worked in time with the movements and colours.
“As I was teaching myself to create a square and figuring out the calculations to do a 180 degree turn, I realized I didn’t need to know it,” explains Dawson. “The students were learning faster than me and were collaborating together.”
The children soon surpassed Dawson and they took pleasure in sharing their knowledge with others; students and teachers alike. And it wasn’t the kids you expected to excel, but rather some of the struggling students who shined when it came to coding and creating the robots. It ignited their enthusiasm and they enjoyed sharing their expertise with their peers.
“It’s always better to work in a group because different people bring different strengths to the table,” shared Dawson. “You have the mathematician that is able to think very linearly for the calculations, then you also have the creative student that is able to conceptualize the final product and take the lead in design, and so on. Doing coding can be frustrating if done by yourself.”
Controlling something on a screen is much different from controlling a 3D object through coding and students found it very empowering. Dawson recommends the Tickle app as a great option for teaching coding to primary students and Lightning Lab has been beneficial for older students as a hub to create, contribute and learn with Sphero robots.
Dawson will be sharing more insights at her IT4K12 session “Demystifying Coding” on November 18th at 11:00 am.
“Some people have a fear of code,” notes Dawson. “I hope through this presentation that attendees will feel that it’s more doable and that they’re more comfortable with it overall. My main advice is to not be afraid and just go for it!”
In Dawson’s role, she teaches students and teachers how to use technology in a meaningful way. You can see what she’s up to with her SD71 teachers through her personal site at Kara’s Corner.
November 04, 2016
3D printing has come a long way. We can make model replicas of almost anything including prosthetic limbs and now with the use of hydrogels mixed with living cells, even human organs for transplant. Your students won’t have to go that far though to get engaged in a 3D project
Chris Gauvin, who is a grade 4/5 classroom teacher at Ecole Martha Currie Elementary, got interested himself in 3D printing four years ago. While watching some helping teachers experiment with it, he showed interest and wondered aloud about using it with elementary students, and soon he had a borrowed 3D printer for use in his classroom for three weeks
“After getting involved with it, I saw the huge potential for learning opportunities,” notes Gauvin. “So I, along with several of our district helping teachers, started researching what would be the best suited product for what our district needs would be.” That research paid off as Gauvin was soon provided a 3D printer for his class.
The students were excited and interested as none had seen or used a 3D printer before. The process in using a 3D printer is to take a digital 3D model and turn the digital file into a physical object. Tinkercad was the online computer automated drafting program used to create the three dimensional items. Two projects were soon identified; one a personalized keychain name tag, and the other, a project on symmetrical snowflakes to tie in with a lesson on symmetry and measurement.
The level of engagement was high and students soon started to see their own designs coming to life and handling their tangible creations. “There was a great level of interest,” explains Gauvin. “The students got to see what worked and what didn’t and to figure out how to change it to get the result they wanted.”
It was challenging for the students to wrap their head around the multiple dimensions of the objects and they were reminded to look at it in all the different angles. Gauvin specifically picked the projects that weren’t going to work so they could analyze it and come up with new design processes. For instance, some of the letters would fall off the name tags, or they had to correct measurements for the proper snowflake symmetry once in 3D. This provided another level of problem solving and accomplishment as students revised and finalized their products’. Students were able to personalize their name tags even more by colouring the plastic once printed.
“Overall, it was quite easy and is still quite a novelty with the students,” explains Gauvin. “There was a bit of a learning curve but they supported and helped each other throughout the entire process.”
The learning curve for the teacher can be quite a bit more but Gauvin encourages you to initially start with a buddy or someone who knows the product. This will help get you up and running faster.
Generally, the printing doesn’t take too long, depending on the size of the project and how fast the printer can print. Gauvin’s name tags took about 30 minutes to one hour and the snow flakes about one to two hours, depending on the intricacy.
So when your school gets the opportunity to obtain a 3D printer, grab it and get your buddy to help you set it up. There’s lots of creating to get started on!
To find out more about everything 3D, register for IT4K12. The theme this year is “Learn & Work in 3D – Ideate, Innovate and Integrate”. Come to learn and share with your colleagues!
October 12, 2016
Are you ready for an explosion of data, machine learning and artificial intelligence? Whether you are or not, it’s fast approaching, it will affect and impact all of us, and most likely we will not have the choice to opt out. How will this impact education? Nora Young, Keynote Speaker at IT4K12 plus CBC Host, Author and Journalist, provides some insight.
“Over the next two to five years, we’re going to see some key trends emerge,” explains Young. “On a micro level it will have an impact on the sphere of education and the broader context of the world students are headed into.” When it comes to students, privacy is always a concern and Young notes that it is definitely the number one issue across all industries where data is used and shared.
The potential with technology is great but the risks are also large. The impacts are real and can affect peoples’ lives and that’s why it’s important to understand the level of impact. Ultimately the potential value is in the creation of sustainable and smarter communities. Great empowerment comes with that, along with the roles we need to play.
“We need to position ourselves as leaders in the community and in our schools,” Young encourages. “It’s our job to prepare the next generation. The type of skills we are teaching our children will need to evolve to meet the new environment.”
That new environment includes AI (artificial intelligence) that will change the type of skills that will be needed and valued in future. Many task-specific jobs presently done by humans will no longer be necessary. That’s where the critical thinking skills will need to come into play to understand the technology and innovative uses.
“One of the most important roles in this transition will be the role of a teacher,” advises Young. “This is a technological revolution and we need people who are engaged to help in this new democratic arena and who have a collaborative approach.”
It’s an interesting and crucial lens to look through right now in understanding the digital world around us. Understanding how it works will help us moving forward and Nora Young promises to give a glimpse into this at the November 17-18 IT4K12 conference. Come find out for yourself and make sure to register!
Nora has also authored The Virtual Self which is about the growing phenomenon of ‘self-tracking’ and why we need a different approach to privacy. You can also listen to her CBC show “Spark” which is in its 10th year and explores technology, innovation and ideas. You can find out more in the Speakers’ Spotlight on Nora Young.
September 12, 2016