Mike Snider, curriculum consultant with the Yukon Department of Education, teaches some iPad skills to Yukon teachers in Whitehorse on Jan. 15. (Crystal Schick/Yukon News)

Yukon teachers get a lesson in new technology

Technology training allows educators more accessible options in the classroom

It’s a typical classroom scene at Elijah Smith Elementary School on Jan. 15: a teacher at the front of the class guides students as they navigate the features of an iPad.

In this case though there is one distinct difference from your typical elementary school classroom.

The more than 20 students in the class are Yukon teachers from a variety of schools around Whitehorse as well as a couple from communities outside of Whitehorse who are taking the training online.

The training provided from Apple Canada is aimed at ensuring each school in the territory has staff that knows the ins and outs of the products so that learning is accessible to all. It’s part of a broader effort to ensure staff are aware of the resources available to their students.

That means learning about the First Voices Keyboard app for Indigenous languages, a Draw and Tell feature which allows younger students to draw and record their voice to show what they are learning and Book Creator which allows users to use a variety of media (text, audio and video) to create stories, digital books and more.

In the Yukon, most students have access to iPads to some degree depending on their grade level and class.

The teacher training is part of an overall effort by the territory’s Department of Education to ensure teachers know how to use the resources available to make learning more accessible and provide more learning opportunities in a variety of areas.

There might be a student who has a learning disability and has trouble communicating in writing, said Mike Snider, curriculum consultant with the Yukon Department of Education in a Jan. 15 interview.

The Clips feature allows anyone to take a short video that transcribes what it hears as the words are being said. There are a number of other features that can help students who have vision problems or may have various learning challenges, he said.

The Jan. 15 day-long session was aimed at ensuring each school has an educator equipped with the skills to know what features might be available to assist students dealing with challenges.

“We’ve got all these tools,” Snider said, adding Yukon schools are fortunate to have much of the technology needed to make learning more accessible.

The territory made investments over the years to have that technology in place so officials want to make sure that investment is used wisely, Snider said.

Technology in the classroom has come a long way since Snider began his career in education. He recalled when he started teaching in the United States about 18 years ago, the best he could do to bring computer technology to the class was to essentially “take garbage” – older computers people were getting rid of and refurbish them into a usable piece of equipment, used mainly as something students could type on.

“The connectivity wasn’t there,” he said. Even having a projector in the classroom was a bonus in those days.

As tablets became more accessible, the issue then moved to schools accessing them and then it was not having enough to go around. Now schools in the territory have the equipment and a long list of apps and resources are available to teachers.

“iPads completely changed the way everything worked,” Snider said.

Snider’s goal is to have a community of teacher leaders in the territory armed with the resources to help others at the school navigate those tools to find what is needed for their students.

The demands of teaching, dealing with individual student issues and parent concerns often leave little room for educators to explore a long list of apps, he said.

Having at least one staffer at the school familiar with what’s available means when another teacher is looking for a resource, a suggestion can be made for the program or app that will assist the student rather than the teacher having to spend a lot of time trying to find something that will help.

Along with the resources aimed at making learning more accessible, teachers at the Jan. 15 training sessions were also introduced to the “Everyone Can Create” series that provides opportunities to learn skills in art, music (including using music to teach literacy and numeracy), videos and/or photography.

Snider, who would later lead a session on the music part of the program, said the program allows teachers who may not have skills directly in those subjects to facilitate learning through the programs.

Snider said in his experience once teachers are aware of the features available they’re amazed by the options that can help in the class.

“Creating that awareness is the challenge,” he said.

For Katina Bernier, a Grade 7 student at Elijah Smith Elementary, having technology in the classroom is a key part of her learning.

“I find it’s really helped me,” she said.

Some programs like Clips have made it easier for her to explain her thinking and what she has learned in class, she said. Her class has also incorporated apps as part of the work in detailing the steps required and findings for science experiments.

Bernier said as she looks ahead to high school, she’d like to have more opportunities to use technology in her classes and would specifically like to learn more about coding.

The Jan. 15 training session is just one of a number of opportunities for teachers to see what’s available through various technologies. In February another event will focus on Microsoft tools aimed at increasing engagement, efficiency and developing skills in the classroom, with another session later in the month aimed at using the Minecraft game as a learning tool.

Contact Stephanie Waddell at

stephanie.waddell@yukon-news.com

Yukon Teachers Association

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

Chief Medical Officer of Health Dr. Brendan Hanley gives a COVID-19 update during a press conference in Whitehorse on May 26. The Yukon government announced two new cases of COVID-19 in the territory with a press release on Oct. 19. (Alistair Maitland Photography)
Two new cases of COVID-19 announced in Yukon

Contact tracing is complete and YG says there is no increased risk to the public

Yukon Energy in Whitehorse on April 8. Yukon Energy faced a potential “critical” fuel shortage in January due to an avalanche blocking a shipping route from Skagway to the Yukon, according to an email obtained by the Yukon Party and questioned in the legislature on Oct. 14. (Crystal Schick/Yukon News file)
Yukon Energy faced ‘critical’ fuel shortage last January due to avalanche

An email obtained by the Yukon Party showed energy officials were concerned

Jeanie McLean (formerly Dendys), the minister responsible for the Women’s Directorate speaks during legislative assembly in Whitehorse on Nov. 27, 2017. “Our government is proud to be supporting Yukon’s grassroots organizations and First Nation governments in this critical work,” said McLean of the $175,000 from the Yukon government awarded to four community-based projects aimed at preventing violence against Indigenous women. (Crystal Schick/Yukon News file)
Yukon government gives $175k to projects aimed at preventing violence against Indigenous women

Four projects were supported via the Prevention of Violence against Aboriginal Women Fund

Yukonomist Keith Halliday
Yukonomist: You don’t know what you’ve got ‘til it’s gone

When I was a kid, CP Air had a monopoly on flights… Continue reading

asdf
EDITORIAL: Don’t let the City of Whitehorse distract you

A little over two weeks after Whitehorse city council voted to give… Continue reading

Whitehorse City Hall. (Joel Krahn/Yukon News file)
City hall, briefly

A look at decisions made by Whitehorse city council this week

Northwestel has released the proposed prices for its unlimited plans. Unlimited internet in Whitehorse and Carcross could cost users between $160.95 and $249.95 per month depending on their choice of package. (Yukon News file)
Unlimited internet options outlined

Will require CRTC approval before Northwestel makes them available

Legislative assembly on the last day of the fall sitting in Whitehorse. Yukon’s territorial government will sit for 45 days this sitting instead of 30 days to make up for lost time caused by COVID-19 in the spring. (Crystal Schick/Yukon News file)
Legislative assembly sitting extended

Yukon’s territorial government will sit for 45 days this sitting. The extension… Continue reading

asdf
Today’s mailbox: Mad about MAD

Letters to the editor published Oct. 16, 2020

Alkan Air hangar in Whitehorse. Alkan Air has filed its response to a lawsuit over a 2019 plane crash that killed a Vancouver geologist on board, denying that there was any negligence on its part or the pilot’s. (Crystal Schick/Yukon News file)
Alkan Air responds to lawsuit over 2019 crash denying negligence, liability

Airline filed statement of defence Oct. 7 to lawsuit by spouse of geologist killed in crash

Whitehorse city council members voted Oct. 13 to decline an increase to their base salaries that was set to be made on Jan. 1. (Crystal Schick/Yukon News file)
Council declines increased wages for 2021

Members will not have wages adjusted for CPI

A vehicle is seen along Mount Sima Road in Whitehorse on May 12. At its Oct. 13 meeting, Whitehorse city council approved the third reading for two separate bylaws that will allow the land sale and transfer agreements of city-owned land — a 127-square-metre piece next to 75 Ortona Ave. and 1.02 hectares of property behind three lots on Mount Sima Road. (Crystal Schick/Yukon News file)
Whitehorse properties could soon expand

Land sale agreements approved by council

Most Read