Sydney, a Grade 5 student from Lansdowne-Costain Public School, plays chess with Evan, Grade 5 student at Jarvis Public School, during an activity break at the Ed Tech Student Crew day.
In the auditorium at Joseph Brant Learning Centre, approximately 285 elementary students from 17 Grand Erie schools are troubleshooting a variety of hypothetical scenarios involving technology in the classroom. Presenting the scenarios is Ed Tech Itinerant Teacher Chris Bates, and he’s getting enthusiastic responses from students – both verbally and virtually, using tablets – about what to do if a drink spills on a device, or if a projector won’t work, and even how to handle the matter of a teacher forgetting their login password.
“Is this something you could solve yourself, or do you need to contact Information Technology Services?” he asks after each problem is presented. Responses are tabulated in real-time on the screen at the front of the room as students weigh in.
The students in the room are getting used to the idea of being resident experts, capable and empowered to solve common tech problems that can stymie many adults and professionals. They’re learning how to help their classrooms make the most out of technology to support learning.
The event is the kick-off for Grand Erie’s Ed Tech Student Crews this year. Ed Tech Student Crews are composed of students who show an aptitude and interest in technology, and are trained to support the use of educational technology tools in the classroom. It’s the fourth year Grand Erie has run the Student Crews, with new schools coming on board each year.
“The feeling of sharing knowledge and supporting others is incomparable, and giving students the ability to do that is a big part of today,” says Bates. “Educators don’t have to be tech experts here; they just have to motivate and help students move along in their planning.”
The Student Crew model is both hands-on and online. Students log on to the Learning Corner through the Board website, and can work through tutorials, access apps and resources, and earn badges as they complete various tasks. Taking tech tools into the classroom enhances other lessons and curricula, and students learn different approaches to solving problems by learning how to code, for instance.
“I really like coding because you can do so much with it,” says Evan, a Grade 5 student and part of the Ed Tech Student Crew at Jarvis Public School. “It’s way easier than if you tried to do the same thing without it.”
Technology is one of six pillars in Grand Erie’s Multi-Year Plan, and is unique because it informs virtually all aspects of that plan.
“Technology can assist Grand Erie teachers in identifying and responding to the most urgent student learning needs as well as enhance the demonstration of improvement with their achievement,” says Jason Hall, Information Technology Teacher Consultant in Grand Erie. “Technology is a factor in creating equitable environments for all students, from establishing a balance of access for assigned classroom devices to supporting students, parents, and teachers with technology to meet diverse learning needs and personal expression.”
Cynthia Gozzard, Ed Tech Itinerant Teacher for Elementary, expands on this idea: “We often hear technology being referred to as the ultimate equalizer in the classroom, and when supporting student achievement and equity, I believe this to be true… it offers a personalized learning environment for students, meeting them at their just-right learning point,” she says. “We as an Ed Tech team observe technology offering students experiences of success, excitement, collaboration, and a sense of belonging.”
Students taking part in the day will be back in the new year for a follow-up workshop with additional applications, coding, and computational-thinking exercises. In the meantime, they’ll be working with their schools and expanding their own knowledge and skills through the Learning Corner.