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L E T T E R S 13 March 2017 | Professionally Speaking Are you looking for content in French to use in your classroom? Advantages abound for you and your students: 1 Over 8000 digital educational resources are available 2 Content can be shared with students 3 Quizzes and activities can be created Idello.org Sign up for IDÉLLO today! * Teachers working in one of the 72 School boards in Ontario It's free for all Ontario teachers*! A BRIGHT IDEA FROM GROUPE MÉDIA TFO Mind Your Geography I was excited to read "Taking Tech to the Next Level" in the December issue, however, I was disappointed by the scope of the article. The notion that this article showcases work from "across Ontario" is misleading. Ironically, the challenges of interviewing teachers from north of Sudbury, or even Thunder Bay, which may have once existed, have been removed by the very technology the article speaks of. A testament to this fact is that a secondary teacher in this province may be teaching students from Red Lake, Sudbury and Manitowaning in a digital classroom on any given day using innovative practices and tools. Perhaps it is our remote location that brings forth a desire for both educators and students to think innovatively. In order to teach in a manner that is both pedagogically sound and engaging, educators need to recognize that cutting-edge education is not about the existence or use of technology, but rather the ways that we are meeting student needs with and through the technology — preparing them for 21st-century thinking. Professionally Speaking would do a great service to its members to report on the vast amount of innovation occurring in the least likely of places to showcase not only the accessibility of these practices, but also the necessity of them. —Taryn Vachon, OCT, is an Intermediate/Senior English teacher and language arts area leader at Red Lake District High School, Keewatin Patricia District School Board, in Red Lake, Ont. Editor's response: We couldn't agree more! Please check out this edition's Tech Class, which profiles how a teacher in Waskaganish First Nation is using social media and other technologies to connect with students and parents in this remote northern community. #just one word What a surprise to see my name in the Chair's column in the December issue. The kind words from Angela De Palma, OCT, were humbling and much appreciated. It is so heartwarming to hear that something you did during your teaching career benefited a student in such a positive way. I had 35 wonderful years of teaching, and if the truth be known, I learned much more than I ever taught. I'd like to thank Angela and the many other students for the opportunity to be part of their lives. —Harold Nobes is a retired teacher who formerly taught Grades 4 to 8 at St. Jerome Catholic Elementary School and Grades 9 to 12 physical education at St. Thomas More Catholic Secondary School, Hamilton-Wentworth Catholic District School Board, in Hamilton. 36 Professionally Speaking | December 2016 37 December 2016 | Professionally Speaking PHOTOS: MATTHEW LITEPLO TAKING TECH TO THE NEXT LEVEL These OCTs are using technology to transform teaching, engage students and enhance learning. BY STEFAN DUBOWSKI Jennifer King, OCT, uses web-based collaborative software in her Grade 6 class at St. Gabriel School in Ottawa. F rom smartphones to laptops, from classroom apps to board-wide software, the range of technologies available to teachers is broad — perhaps overwhelmingly so. As a professional, you need to consider not only the spectrum of solutions, but also how hardware, software, apps and games affect student learning and the way you go about your work as an educator. So how do you assess these high-tech options and how might you make the best use of them? To help answer those questions, we interviewed six teachers from across the province who are taking technology in the classroom to the next level. Read on for inspiring case studies of teachers turning to 3D printing, digital portfolios and other tools to motivate students and improve learning outcomes. Collaborating using Google Apps While teaching Grade 6 last year at St. Gabriel School in Ottawa, Jennifer King, OCT, gave her students access to technol- ogy to facilitate group work. She also gave them lessons in constructive collaboration. The students thrived on the software and the instruction. They were studying invasive species such as zebra mussels and giant hogweed. The learners worked in groups of four or fi ve to consider ways to keep the largely unwanted invaders from destroying Ontario's natural environment. They used web-based collab- orative tools, specifi cally Google Apps for Education (google.com/edu), to collect and develop their fi ndings. Apps for Education includes software for word processing (Google Docs), presentations (Google Slides) and data storage (Google Drive). Document management was the key in order for students to work together. They could see from the information in Drive when a document was added. They could also see who in their group was contribut- ing to the documents — who was providing new information and who was making help- ful comments. And everyone could see who wasn't contributing. That caused trouble. At one point during the project, some of the students complained to King about the laggards. Rather than mediate, she taught them constructive feedback. "They learned to respond to an issue like that respectful- ly," such as telling a team member that the group values their input and needs him or her to play a bigger role, she says. That perspective empowered the stu- dents, enabling them to handle a group- work crisis later on: members of one team wanted to leave because they couldn't support the ideas of their compatriots. Using their new communication skills, they discussed the matter and amicably agreed to split the team. "The conversations they had were more adult-like than the ones I've been involved in, in similar circumstances," King says.

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