Sunday, 19 February 2012

This is my first year being part of the Connected Classrooms project. We got off to a rocky start because of technical issues. When the sound from the lead teacher is low or muffled, it is next to impossible to keep a class interested on the screen. When that problem was fixed we were off and running. The first challenge I faced was trying to keep what I was doing with the class and the connected part cohesive. At first we were not connected frequently and each carrying on with our own classes. I found it hard to keep a momentum with my teaching when we were connected once or twice a week. After a collaboration meeting and discovering that the other teachers felt the same way, we started connecting more frequently. We take turns teaching units and grammar bites and set time aside of literature circles. Over the months we’ve had to adjust the time set aside for each of these. I think a big challenge has been trying to coordinate 4 classes. We want to connect regularly, but with different assemblies, presentations, home room and other interruptions it can be hard to keep energy and interest up. I feel that now we are humming along nicely. We each have units and time frames to work within that, although are always flexible, provide a better structure that the intermittent connections we had earlier in the year.

One fantastic benefit of being part of this team is the feedback. As much as teachers collaborate and work with each other, this profession is can be lonely in the sense that you are generally by yourself leading a class with only students to provide feedback. We all reflect on what worked and what didn’t work in a lesson, but actually having three other professionals watch and participate in a lesson and then encourage, praise, comment and critique it after has been wonderful in helping me grow as a teacher.

Sunday, 13 November 2011

The Project

The English 8 Connected Classrooms project has grown out of the success of the Elementary Connected Classrooms project in School District 74.
This project links English 8 classrooms in the communities of Clinton, Lillooet, Ashcroft and Lytton at the secondary level.  The teachers and students collaborate to combine their classrooms via team teaching through videoconferencing and online collaborative work.  Collaboration lies at the core of the project and a community of learners has been created where both teachers and students can learn from each other.  This has provided opportunities to broaden the learning community of our students and foster collaboration between geographically distant students and teachers.  Through this project, students are provided with opportunities to extend their peer groups working collaboratively with students in different communities.    Technology is used as a vehicle in this project to promote and facilitate connections among students and teachers enhancing digital literacy.
 The learning is organized by core teachers who collaborate and plan with each other.  Through the use of on-line literature circles and connected video conferencing lessons where teachers can lead lessons on subjects they are passionate about, the Connected Classrooms Project provides opportunities for students to experience different teaching strategies and offers a greater scope for individual choice.  Through the team teaching and planning process, teachers also become learners in this project working together to build on their own skills as teachers.

The Teaching Team:

Brenna O’Connor, Kumsheen Secondary School (Lytton)

Jen Eddie, Lilooet Secondary School (Lilooet)

Karen Miller, David Stoddart School (Clinton)

Sara Drennan, Ashcroft Secondary School (Ashcroft)