Our Learning Community

The project focuses on students in grades 4-7, ranging in age from 9-13. Three classrooms are involved: one is a grade 4/5 classroom, one is a grade 6/7 classroom and the third is a grade 7 classroom. Over half of the students within the project are of Aboriginal Nations ancestry. All of the students who would normally be in any of the teacher’s classrooms are involved, and plans for expansion are continuing this year in the hopes of making the Connected Classrooms experience available to all elementary schools within our school district. The four classrooms in the project are highly intertwined, despite most schools being roughly an hour’s drive apart from the other; videoconferencing and online programs have dissolved geographical boundaries.

Learning takes place in cross-cultural and social contexts. It has been extremely exciting to see new learning partnerships forged that help to create cross cultural understandings. The culture of each school is unique, and students are building understanding of the distant communities within the school district. There are several face-to-face gatherings a year for the students of the project; each community hosts a gathering. The focus of these gatherings is two-fold; we hope to build an understanding of the differences and similarities of our communities, and we hope to build relationships.
Visiting students learn new insights about the host community, and gatherings generally take place both at the host school and at a community facility. Facilities and venues within the host communities have been supportive of the project and have made facilities available for students to gather at. It is thrilling to watch new friendships form that would not have previously existed; often after the gatherings students will message each other and continue communications. This has led to a larger community within the project, and builds a level of comfort for students to share.
Activities also play on the need for student talk time and emphasize the collaborative nature of learning. Teachers model the value of collaboration for students, and students engage in group projects and collaboration daily. In every lesson, students are expected and encouraged to draw on the insights of their peers and share their own valuable insights. Combining varying insights has led to students being capable constructors of their own learning.
Finally, Elementary Connected Classrooms is one of many iniatives within our district designed to meet the needs of declining enrolment and rural isolation through technology and instructions; models exist within secondary schools as well. The connected learning and peer relationships continue with English 8/9 Connected Classroom that link secondary English classrooms, and there are a variety of shared learning initiatives at the senior secondary level throughout our district as well.