All posts by Laurie Petrucci

Science Fair Resources

Time to get out the microscopes, backboards, and lab books! The Northern BC Regional Science Fair will be held in Fort St. John this year on April 11, 2017 at North Peace Secondary School (NPSS) gymnasium. In the upcoming months, students at local schools throughout the district will be showcasing their innovation, curiosity, and discoveries to be eligible for a spot to attend the Regional Science Fair. It is a wonderful event where students connect with peers to celebrate their enthusiasm for scientific exploration. The fair also provides students with the opportunity to talk to local science experts and find out more about potential careers in the Science, Technology, Engineering and Math (STEM) areas.

The Science Fair Guide is a great resource to find out more about potential science fair projects. For example, students can create projects with a focus on experimentation, innovation, or studies. Students need to also remember that when they plan experiments that involve human or animal subjects there are ethical guidelines to follow and permission from the science fair committee is required. Students should contact Ms. Gatt – agatt@prn.bc.ca – for more information and check out the general rules and ethical guidelines.

There are also many great resources available on this Digmore site. Check out World Book Science Power, Gale Science in Context, or GreenR for research information. There are also many scientific videos available at Learn360. Another great resource to find out about more on past national science fair winners and get research ideas is the Let’s Talk Science CurioCity site.

If you have any general inquiries regarding Science Fair, please contact Jennie Copeland at jcopeland@prn.bc.ca.

Good luck with your projects…  see you at the Regional Science Fair!

Laurie Petrucci

Helpful Resources:

There are many online resources available to students, teacher, and parents to find out more about science projects, general rules and safety, and science fair information.

Northern BC Regional Science Fair website:

http://www.northernbcregionalsciencefair.ca/

Youth Science Canada:

http://www.youthscience.ca/

Science Fair Guide 2017:

http://www.sciencefairs.ca/website/media/ScienceFairs/About/Booklet-2017-final.pdf

Let’s Talk Science CurioCity:

https://explorecuriocity.org/

General rules and ethics: http://www.northernbcregionalsciencefair.ca/uploads/2/3/5/3/23538168/general_rules_and_ethics_2017.pdf

Digmore – STEAM

http://www.prn.bc.ca/digmore/s-t-e-a-m/

Computational thinking and the new curriculum

Thinking, communicating, and collaborating to solve problems, address issues, and make decisions are key “doing” actions of the core competencies in the redesigned BC curriculum. The core competencies are embedded within learning contexts4-circle-venn-diagram-plain-2, and students employ the ability to think creatively and critically in order to meet the challenge of solving problems.  

Along with creative and critical thinking is the ability to engage in computational thinking. This is the process of reasoning out and actively finding solutions. Computational thinking strategies involve decomposition, pattern recognition, abstraction, and algorithms. Students find success when they are able to break down a problem into smaller chunks, find similarities of things and connect it to prior knowledge, remove unnecessary details to reduce complexity, and create a process to follow in order to find a solution.

Computational thinking is part of the Applied Design, Skills and Technology (ADST) learning standards but also applies to problem solving in any learning strand such as using manipulatives in geometry to help determine surface area or making a 3 point shot in basketball according to the location of the throw on the basketball court. Another activity that involves computational thinking is coding.

Coding not only supports computational thinking, but also fosters core competencies in communicating and collaborating. While students design a program to solve a problem or address an issue, they are required to make decisions throughout the process and are able to have greater success when they communicate and collaborate with their classmates. Coding is also required in the ADST learning standards.

There are many different ways to support coding in the classroom through unplugged and online activities. The Hour or Code website is an excellent resource and has many tutorials and activities for students to use. There are also links provided on the Digmore site under the “ADST” tab such as Scratch, Lightbot, and Hopscotch. Careers in computer based fields can also be found on Curiocity. Additionally, Glen Longley and I can provide support to teachers who would like to explore computational thinking in their classroom.

Laurie Petrucci

K-9 ERAC Learning Resources

It has been an exciting term this year for K – 9 teachers, parents, and students in British Columbia. The redesigned curriculum is fully integrated into classrooms and focuses on a Know-Do-Understand model that highlights Big Ideas, Core Competencies and Learning Standards (Content and Curricular Competencies). This new curriculum is intended to provide students with flexible and innovative learning opportunities.Screen-Shot-2015-11-01-at-9.46.52-PM1

With the introduction of new curriculum, teachers are faced with the challenge of finding applicable resources and lesson ideas. A great resource to meet this need is the ERAC bundle, which is featured in the Digmore student e-library. To go along with these online learning resources is the new ERAC webpage – Making Connections with Curriculum & Resources.

This resource was created by ERAC’s professional learning team and features 100 lesson ideas for K-9 students with connections to specific digital resources found in our Digmore student e-library. For example, in World Book Science Power, grade three students could review Food Chains and Webs to consider how plants use sunlight to produce new plant material. Each lesson idea is shaped around a Big Idea and relevant curriculum connections.

There are also thirteen lesson topic examples found at ERAC’s Aboriginal Education resource site with connections to curriculum and to Aboriginal Worldviews and Perspectives, plus First Peoples Principles in Learning. For example, grade eight students could use the resources provided on the site to participate in a lesson on Electromagnetic Radiation and Light: What are the positive and negative consequences of exposure to the Sun?

You can also find links to these curriculum connections under “Quicklinks” on the right hand side of the Digmore pages.

Learn360: a resource for UDL

An escreen-shot-2016-11-14-at-6-58-48-pmffective medium for curating visual and auditory resources is through video. Students can find educational videos on the internet or in the library, however the process may be time consuming.  The ERAC bundle that is included on Digmore under the student e-library has a video site called Learn360. The site houses videos that have been vetted by educators around the province and are suitable for school audiences.

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There are a wide variety of videos to choose from such as Madame Marie Curie: Famous People, Incredible Lives or Whale’s Voyage, A: Incredible Journeys. One of the best features of the site is that you can create your own account to save only segments of videos so that you are not required to show full length videos during class time. Students could then watch more of the video as a homework assignment if necessary. Even if you do not have an account, you can still choose to watch only a segment of a video. Some movies such as the Whale’s Voyage give you the option of watching “full video” or “segments in this video” such as “open sea off San Diego, CA” or “Vancouver Island”.

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Using short clips of a video is an effective way to engage your students in learning when beginning a unit or discussing a certain topic. It also offers them multiple means of representation. Learn360 is a great place to start if you are looking for just the right video.

This resource is well placed to support the Universal Designs for Learning (UDL) approach. UDL guidelines propose that learners should be provided with multiple means of engagement, representation, action and expression so they become more purposeful and motivated, resourceful and knowledgeable, as well as strategic and goal directed. For example, students can access visual or auditory information as well as text to gain knowledge and understanding of concepts. It is important that students have access to learning resources that are multi-represented to foster participation and competency.

Jenkins (2009) describes participatory culture as, “a culture with relatively low barriers to artistic expression and civic engagement, strong support for creating and sharing creations,…” (page xi). As students have greater access to digital tools that allow them to express themselves in multiple formats such as iMovie, Explain Everything, PicCollage and “Ok Google”, they are becoming increasingly digitally literate in auditory, visual, and text mediums and more actively participating in classroom learning. In addition, students are able to create as well as curate material using digital devices such as iPads, smartphones or computers.

Laurie Petrucci

“Digging” for more resources?

It is an exciting time in education and we are embracing new curriculum in British Columbia that allows students to take ownership of their own learning. It is a child-centred learning approach that encourages students to have voice and choice. Learning opportunities can be created around student interests, which better engages students in active learning and skill building.

digmore-cellphoneWhen students start a project or want to research a topic, the school library is the go-to place. Students gather resources on a certain topic as well as read and find books to take home for further reading. Traditionally the library has been a place that houses paper-based material, however libraries now offer online resources as well.

Libraries continue to be a cornerstone of learning and foster a lifelong connection to knowledge. Stories have been shared via drawings (initially in caves), stone tablets, papyrus scrolls, orally, handwritten codices and manuscripts, printed books, and digital formats such as audio-books and text. As writing mediums evolve due to technology advancements, so do libraries. Through the Internet, the walls of the library have been extended.  Now, both students and teachers have access to a vast number of learning resources both in paper and digital media.

Students learn better in a social setting where they communicate their learning to one another and work on activities together. Therefore, it is not a surprise that libraries are reinventing themselves to be considered learning commons. In a learning commons space, students are invited to discuss project ideas, research material, tinker with hands-on learning materials, and explore literature to read or listen to.

With the new curriculum, students and teachers need greater access to learning resources to support inquiry. The Digmore site is intended to support teachers in implementing new curriculum and for students to explore areas of interest. A digital learning commons like Digmore is an extension of a school learning commons. Students can access digital resources and material to dig deeper into content and acquire knowledge relevant to their inquiry.  

Established around 295 BC, the Library of Alexandria housed approximately 700,000 papyrus scrolls and was intended to be a universal library until fire ravaged the perishable collection.  Because of the internet, the idea of creating a “universal” archive of material is being realized. Nevertheless, while students do have access to the internet, it is important to guide them in how to safely find digital resources that are suitable for their age or grade. The ERAC bundle of learning materials available in Digmore features sound educational materials that have been curated by educators in the province and are available in multi-formats such as written text, videos, and audio.

School curriculum has been redesigned in British Columbia, so if you are “digging” for more resources to support learning, Digmore is a tool to support your endeavours!

Laurie Petrucci