In a few days, I’m taking on a new role with a secondment to the Ministry of Ontario in the 21st Century Learning Unit. I’m feeling bittersweet about the new role; sad to be leaving my school and all of the wonderful students, teachers and parents I’ve come to know in my short time as a VP, but excited about a new challenge and ready to embrace a new adventure!
Luckily for me, I get to continue to support my school’s newly acquired grant from Future Shop, where we’ve received almost $20000 to enhance student learning with innovative technologies.
Our shopping is almost complete, and I’m planning on chronicling our journey as we move forward, starting with a little piece of the grant proposal as follows, and sharing our plan of action over the next 8 weeks.
Our students want to become producers, not just consumers of media, and participate as 21st century learners in a world that is creative, collaborative and global. We want students to access tools that allow participation as global citizens, demonstrations of learning through the creation of shareable multimedia projects, and engaging in STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering and Math) programming through projects that are possible with robust technology tools. Innovative practice with a STEM focus in elementary schools means that students see themselves as idea-makers, planners, designers and builders. We’ve found that our Chromebooks allow us easy ways to collaborate and share files, but this is not enough. We need tools like laptops, programming software, peripherals for multimedia creation, and Ministry licensed digital resources in order to leverage more of the powerful applications that computers afford us.
Currently, our library is a traditional space holding books and 20 desktop computers in a lab setting. Our teacher librarian has begun to turn our space into a creative Learning Commons that promotes flexible purposes for learning, and we need mobile devices available to all students, at all times, to be truly transformative for student learning. Our Learning Commons has the infrastructure to manage this with our efficient wifi throughout the school and a small room attached to the larger space that is the perfect solution to a technology enhanced maker space and multimedia production studio.
STEM initiatives such as the one we are proposing provide an engaging way for students to connect to the curriculum in the areas of math, science, and technology, as well as support the Ontario Ministry’s focus on inquiry based learning and leveraging the power of intentional play to advance learning. With this grant we can transform this space to include learning, invention, play, creation and innovation and we see it growing from the basic elements we’ve requested to a creative play and invention space that is responsive to the needs, interests and abilities of our students at different age levels.
We are so grateful that Future Shop saw our vision and chose us to be grant recipients so that we can make this happen!
The technology requested in this grant will allow students to develop:
- skills and experience in creation with multi-media tools (e.g., podcasting, websites, videos, presentations, music)
- skills and experience in using Logo programming languages (i.e., Scratch, Turtle Art (both free) and MicroWorlds which is included in the proposal, as well as ProBots and BeeBots)
- hands-on experience using programmable materials (i.e., Little Bits construction tools along with Arduino and Sphero Balls)
- an understanding of manufacturing and design elements using software that will transpose student designs into 3D artefacts using the 3D printer