Differentiated learning in Ottawa, Canada
Ottawa Catholic School Board
- A publicly funded, Catholic School Board (OCSB) in Ottawa, Ontario, Canada.
- An urban-based school board serving over 40,000 students from the inner-city to the suburbs.
- In 2010, OCSB adopted G Suite across all staff and students.
- OCSB adopted technology integration as a priority and has placed an ongoing focus on that area ever since, offering support and visibility to this priority at all levels.
- OCSB adopted Hāpara in 2013 as a tool to simplify the adoption of G Suite and enhance the effective use of its tools.
Experiential and differentiated learning with Hāpara
OCSB engages a diverse student body through differentiated curriculum and instructional practices. Teachers and students use technology to support and organize authentic learning environments filled with student voice. The result? OCSB school culture is collaborative, high achieving and innovative.
Although OCSB has been using Google since 2010, it continues to be a challenge in a rapidly changing environment to get educators to adopt the Google tools and use them effectively to support substantial change in teaching practice. Our goal has been to use technology to help change teaching practice with the end goal of deeper learning for the students. As we discovered, this is no small task. People understand what Google Drive does, the value of collaboration, how teachers might interact with students to offer differentiation, that 21st Century skills are important and the value of a cyclical assessment loop. They also understand that technology can be a tool to help meet 21st Century teaching and learning goals, but they are not necessarily sure what to use and how to use it. The challenge lies in connecting technology with instructional best practices.
OCSB differentiates with Hāpara
Teachers learn from students
“Half the time you find that you’re learning right along with them, the students are teaching you sometimes more than you are teaching the kids. We are trying to really push the teachers into building these rich authentic tasks for the students, and part of those rich authentic tasks is leveraging tech.”
–Stephanie Myers, Technology Consultant for OCSB
“You find a common ground with them in their own personal lives and they’ll come to you and you just find the resources for them to explore it and they can make it what they want it to be.”
Brandy Kozowy, Culinary and Esthetics Teacher, Immaculata High School
“It brings them into the process and it makes the learning more student-centered and gives them a voice and really an opportunity to be part of the learning process. With using tools like Hāpara there are more opportunities to create personalized and individualized learning tasks for students. The learning experience really does become more reciprocal and the students start to eventually realize there are ways to use these tools to make their own unique contributions to the learning environment.”
Sam Robinson, 5th Grade Teacher, St. Anne Elementary School
“It’s about choice. The kids are more engaged if they have choice and they actually want to do the assignments.”
Students take ownership of their learning
“Success is really not measured in my opinion by grades… but it’s marked on your own enthusiasm and your own achievement. He said, ‘take the wood and go for it.’ So I drew up a set of plans, did some research on YouTube, found articles, compiled it all on Google Documents, shared it with him, and he said, ‘go for it,’ and from there I just started making it.”
“When I can control what I learn and how I learn it, it makes it more exciting for me to come to class and actually come to school and come to class and do it other than going to school knowing that I’m going to go to school and do the same thing, read a book and answer questions.”
“To me it’s good to pick it by yourself because then you know that’s what I want to learn, that’s what I really really want but if he chooses it for you, that’s not exactly what I really wanted to search on.”
Hāpara actually helps improve instruction. We often put walls in front of our challenges and say, “Oh, if only I could just do that, I would.” Learning and mastering a skill or a subject allows us to break down those walls. But sometimes a tool comes along that breaks down those walls for us. For our school board, Hapara was that tool. It allowed our teaching staff to truly adopt and extend Google Apps for Education in all the right ways that aligned with our goals of leveraging technology for enhanced learning.