Connected North resources changing how SMPS students learn, engage
Jesse Bonello - Staff Writer
Sioux Mountain Public School (SMPS) is looking to broaden their education landscape and get students more engaged and, according to school administrators and staff, their new partnership with Connected North should do just that.
Katie Burch, who is a Connected North Education Coordinator at SMPS, revealed that the new partnership gives students and staff access to a whole new world of digital learning resources.
“We offer interactive video conference sessions for schools that are under-resourced, which includes Sioux Lookout. We go all across Nunavut and northwestern Ontario,” she shared.
“The video conference sessions, like the cow eyeball dissection we hosted during our STEAM (Science, Technology, Engineering, Arts and Math) Day, are all sessions that have been donated by Connected North. This school has now become a Connected North school, so the teachers here just got access to our hundreds of resources of video conference sessions to bring experts into the classroom. Because we live in Sioux Lookout, there’s not that opportunity for our kids because we don’t live in the city where we can just pull a scientist into the classroom, so Sioux Mountain is able to do that now through video conferencing and Connected North,” she continued.
Connected Norths’ website reads, “Connected North fosters student engagement and enhanced education outcomes in remote Indigenous communities. This leading edge program delivers immersive and interactive education services, through Cisco's high definition, two-way TelePresence video technology. The program is made possible through a strong ecosystem of supporters with program delivery managed by TakingITGlobal. The goal is to provide students and teachers with access to content that is engaging and innovative, with the hope of increasing feelings of empowerment in school and in life.”
The online resources provide learning opportunities for all ages, including as early as kindergarten. Burch shared that the kids are already eager for these new opportunities.
“The kids are so excited because, with Connected North, we can offer them a session on anything they’re interested in learning about,” she said.
“It’s going to really open up curricular possibilities for our students and staff… A lot of our kids are kinesthetic learners, so that hands-on opportunity really assists with their learning,” shared Barbara van Diest, who is the Vice-Principal at SMPS.
Van Diest explained that these online resources will provide opportunities that were once only available through large-scale field trips.
“What this does is it helps with exposure to the world. It widens their world view. There’s a world outside of Sioux Lookout, and that’s important,” she said.
“Because of where we are geographically, our kids don’t have the opportunities to go to, for example, the ROM (Royal Ontario Museum) or to Sudbury to go to the Science North facility. There are so many different things that, because of where we are geographically, kids can’t access. Through Connected North, hopefully that will bridge some of the gaps that geography has naturally made for us,” she continued.
William Tennyson, who is a grade eight teacher at SMPS, shared that he hopes the added exposure to different resources will get students thinking beyond elementary school.
“It opens a lot of doors and opportunities to try maybe different careers that they aren’t exposed to here… It might get them thinking about what to do later on. A lot of them aren’t necessarily thinking beyond grade eight. This is broadening their ability to think about what they want their futures to include,” he concluded.
To learn more about Connected Norths’ resources, check out www.connectednorth.org.