Close up of iPad on deskAt Cowichan Lake School in School District #79, classroom teacher, Lindsay Hartshorn believes in learning by doing, and in using the tools and options in your surrounding community to support educational goals.  Lindsay already runs the school community garden and uses it to work with students in learning Math, Science and Literacy.  Last year’s garden was self-sustaining as students grew and sold vegetables and made hanging baskets to return profit to the school.  Students were fully engaged in outdoor educational pursuits experimenting with the science of agriculture, practicing Math skills to plan the garden layout, price the produce, and make change, and, as the photos show, basked in the glow of working and learning within the community where they live.

What are the issues that you see around you? What directly affects your community?  What works well?  What needs fixing?  How do you work toward a solution to a problem?  This year, Lindsay has posed these questions as a place-based inquiry project to her Grade 4/5 class, asked them to observe their surroundings with care and concern and report back.  Armed with iPads as technology support to take pictures, videos and notes, the group took up the challenge and came back with multiple responses which they then prioritized to the one issue that they believe affects the most individuals in their school community:  Lake Cowichan School lacks a bus shelter.  As in many parts of rainy British Columbia, the sun does not shine daily, and a large number of students must wait for their bus enduring the relentless wet and windy west coast weather.

Lindsay’s class now had a mission:  Having identified a problem, they would like to find a workable solution, document their findings and propose possible solutions to their principal.  Having received a SET-BC Classroom Based Solution, Lindsay and her class used the available technology to support the presentation that they made to the administration, a presentation that used a varied array of app supports and integrated learning into all subject areas.

Lindsay systematically introduced various apps to her class:  Notes, for note-taking and preparing interview questions to illicit student opinion on the bus shelter situation; Pic Collage to prepare persuasive collages and signs that effectively illustrate why a bus shelter is so desperately needed; Pages for news articles and opinion editorials; and Do Ink, a green screen app, or iMovie, to prepare a powerful news presentation about the plight of the weather-worn bus-reliant students.  In a planning and brainstorming meeting with her SET-BC consultant early in the year, ideas for technology integration were abundant, apps were suggested and examined, and diverse methods of introducing students to app integration were discussed.

Shelter Project

The Grade 4/5 students worked through their project in all areas of the curriculum:  A PE class involved a walk to visit an un-used bus shelter that sits abandoned at a shut-down school.  In Math class, students worked out cost estimates to move the existing shelter or find an alternate solution.  In Science, weather patterns were studied and graphed:  How much precipitation actually occurs during the school year in Lake Cowichan?  Are we really getting all that wet?  How many students actually take the bus?  How many students can fit in the bus shelter?  What’s its area?  Perimeter? Capacity?  Reading, writing, social and community studies were inter-woven as the class worked toward their goal.

Lindsay is a passionate teacher who sees the big picture.  As she prepares students for a world where real-life situations require life-long problem solving skills, she is integrating technology as a tool to support their ability to express themselves.  Each student in her class is being given the opportunity and the means to present their thoughts, opinions and learning through a wide array of learning support tools and in creative and innovative ways:  Dictation on the iPad allows the students with writing challenges to express themselves easily in print.    Text-to-speech features are available for those who require support for reading.  Audio and video tools allow for role-playing for those students whose strengths lie in the dramatic arts.  The relevance of the student-identified issue that directly affects their school community adds to the engagement and purposefulness of the lessons. Creativity abounds!

Lindsay’s place-based classroom project is a great example of how to integrate technology as a tool to support learning.  Thanks for taking us with you on your technology “ride” this year – we sure enjoyed the sights (and sounds) of the trip!

To learn more about the technology used in this SETstory, search for it by name in learningSET.