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Woodland Elementary students first in N.L. to take part in national education project

Grade 6 students at Woodland Elementary perform a song for students across the country via video call.
Grade 6 students at Woodland Elementary perform a song for students across the country via video call.

DILDO, NL — Sixth grade students at Woodland Elementary in Dildo recently took part in a new education project looking to change the way children learn about their country.

Kids Guide to Canada is a project that connects students all across the country via a live videocast, which is streamed from inside the classrooms of participating students.

The first webcast for the project took place on Wednesday afternoon, June 14.

Woodland Elementary in Dildo was the first and only school in Newfoundland to jump on board with the project right away, and the sixth grade students there were the first in the province to catch a glimpse of the educational opportunities the project offers.

Emily Mayne, ambassador for Newfoundland for the Kids Guide to Canada project, said she was very excited for the project to get started, and was looking forward to the benefits it will have for students in the future.

“I think this whole idea is really great,” said Mayne. “It’s such a step away from just sitting kids down with a book, or reading to them about these places and showing them a few pictures. They get to meet and interact through the Internet with kids their own age all across the country, and I think that’s really going to have a major impact on the way they learn, and also the way we teach.”

Starting at 2 p.m., the webcast began with a Grade 4 class from Vancouver, British Columbia, who took turns introducing themselves and talking to other students on the webcast about their province.

Students performed “Mussels in the Harbour” to help teach other Canadian students about Newfoundland’s ties to music and the arts.

The webcast, which lasted about an hour, saw students from several provinces follow suite, until finally reaching Woodland Elementary, who represented Newfoundland.

Photos taken by music teacher Leila Brown were displayed on the screens of other classrooms, and students in Brown’s class explained what each photo was.

At the end of the slideshow, students prepared their instruments and performed “Mussels in the Harbour” as a way to introduce other students to Newfoundland culture.

“The photos we showed the other classes were all taken by me. Some people in the country tend to think that our province is a little behind the times, and it’s not, so I wanted to make that clear to students with those pictures,” explained Brown. “But then, after the pictures, of course we still needed to demonstrate what Newfoundland culture is all about. When you think of Newfoundland culture, of course one of the first things that comes to mind is the arts – music, performance, all that. I think it’s important that we teach other students about that as much as we can. That’s why we played “Mussels in the Harbour” for them.”

Elementary school students from British Columbia, Edmonton, Saskatchewan, Ontario, Halifax, and Newfoundland all joined in the very first webcast for the Kids Guide to Canada project.

At the end of the webcast, Mayne said she was very impressed with how things turned out, despite some clear technical difficulties and time zone issues.

“This was the very first time this has been done, and I think that for a first time, it went great,” Mayne said. “There were a few hiccups here and there, but overall, I can’t complain. This is still a learning process for everyone involved, and I think once things get ironed out, it’ll be a really great learning and teaching tool.”

Both Mayne and Brown agreed that the timing of the video call was something that could be worked on, as students at Woodland Elementary are dismissed for the day at 2:40 p.m., leaving them with little time to fit everything in if the webcast starts at 2:00 Newfoundland time.

Other technical issues were faced during the webcast, including minor microphone issues for some schools, and a school in Halifax being unable to connect to the call properly.

“If these were the only issues, especially on our first run, then I think we’ve got something good going here,” added Mayne.

This webcast was considered something of a practice run for the project, and if all goes well, it will take place in many more schools starting in the fall of 2017.

chris.lewis@cbncompass.ca

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