Two years ago, Doug Sadler and Joe Sisco took on the arduous task of introducing me to Tools2Go - the Windsor-Essex Catholic District School Board's version of Google Apps. Keeping in mind that I forget my First Class password on a weekly basis and yell at my laptop when IT makes a mistake, it's easy to say that they had a long road ahead of them. I consider these men the Patron Saints of Software and under their tutelage, I was able to navigate Tools2Go (document creation and collaboration, website development, etc.) and model it for my students within days.
- Doug Sadler is the Vice-Principal of St. Joseph's Catholic High School and Online Learning
- Joe Sisco is the e-Learning Contact for the WECDSB
- Learn more about Tools2Go
Over the past 9 months, my Grade 6 students have experimented and worked with Tools2Go to create things like Electronic Portfolios, as well as informational websites for their peers. Honestly, I was hesitant to undertake something new like this, but I was pleasantly surprised in the end. These 11 and 12-year olds floored me with their careful planning, execution and proficient use of technology to not only meet, but exceed the Learning Goals set out for each project. The guidelines and parameters for each task were constantly evolving, as students would brainstorm and add elements I hadn't previously considered. It was a subtle (but important) reminder that I needed to let students "drive the bus" and assume the role of "tour guide".
Here's are two samples of what some of our Grade 6's created:
Each student created an Electronic Portfolio (personal website) to showcase selected pieces of work throughout the year. These were instrumental in our Student-Led conferences, as they allowed parents to see exactly what their son or daughter had been working on at school.
Connecting it to our faith and religion curriculum, we explored the 30 basic human rights and how they came about. As a summative project, students had the choice of creating a PSA, website, song, or children's book to highlight the importance of the human right they selected.
We're constantly inundated with the message that technology is chipping away at the foundation of "community", turning our children into obese online zombies, and single-handedly ruining English as a written language (the latter makes me L.O.L.!). If used incorrectly and without supervision, technology is quite capable of all the above. Should we as educators recognize its importance within the social realm of our student's lives, understand it's allure, and use its "power of captivation" in the learning process... we have the opportunity to create meaningful and relevant experiences for our students.
Jeff Hackett is an educator with the Windsor-Essex Catholic District School Board,
a Scorpio, and is afraid of Chuck Norris.