U-Connect has undergone some big changes this year! We started the year off with a move from our old school site at Lochiel to Simonds Elementary, where we now share a site together. This move gave us an opportunity to rethink and redesign our learning space. Before we moved we created a Pinterest account that we shared with our students, encouraging them to pin any ideas they wanted us to take into consideration during our redesign. At the end of this process we have created an amazing learning area called the “Senior Hub”.
It was important to us to create a space that allows students to self regulate and find a spot that works best for them to learn. This might be a traditional table and chair, or maybe it might be a bouncy chair, or a soft rug, or even a beanbag. We also added blankets and different textured fabrics for students to choose from.
We made use of rolling walls and sliding chalkboards to create a moveable space that is open to collaboration. We can create a large learning space or move in walls and rolling whiteboards and dividers to create small nooks for group work.
U-Connect, Simonds, and H.D. Stafford had a visit from Google with theirGoogle Pioneer Expeditions Program on Friday March 4. Our students had an opportunity to participate in a virtual reality field trip using Google cardboard, a relatively new technology. The students were able to visit places like, the Palace of Versailles, Egyptian pyramids, and Coral Reefs in an immersive world experience that could be guided by the teacher. It created a group adventure that we could take together! As an educator in the 21st century, the possibilities are limitless with this technology.
John Harris was onsite with his Imagine Reality 11 class toshowcase some of their work that they have been developing. His students are collaboratively creating immersive virtual reality gaming and curricular applications for both the Oculus and Google cardboard environments. They are also learning strategies to not only create 3D objects and virtual worlds but to also layer these objects onto real world environments designed and built with "maker-spaces" and a laser cutter.
As we started to plan for next year we had the opportunity to visit a very cool school in Victoria called The Pacific School of Innovation and Inquiry (PSII). This school blew our mind! It was an awesome program where students conducted all their learning via inquiry questions and projects that they designed themselves. Teachers then came alongside them and helped them to identify the learning outcomes that their projects covered. It was a very unique program where students were very engaged in their learning.
We were so inspired from our visit that we thought we would experiment with guided inquiry in our classes. We showed the students a YouTube video on how to create a hologram with your iPhone and ask the students to create the biggest, best hologram that they could in multi-aged groups. What unfolded before us was beyond our expectations! Students came alive and were sourcing out templates and information off the Internet. Holograms began to pop up all around the room and the energy level in the class began to explode!
We are super excited about next year! It will be a pile of work but each of us is excited to be a part of reinventing and redefining our school model and changing lives forever along the way! Once we get our reinvented program off the ground next year we encourage you to come visit!