All K-12 public school teachers in Ontario have access to Brightspace as part of a provincial virtual Learning Environment. A few of those teachers shared how they’re using the LMS and what they love about it.
D2L and the Ministry of Education have an 11-year partnership, with the goal of supporting technology-enabled learning in Ontario.
Every school board in Ontario has a Technology Enabled Learning and Teaching (TELT) contact, who support teachers using Brightspace. If you’re an Ontario teacher, contact your school board to learn more about your TELT contact and how they can help. You can also check out the Brightspace Community.
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Bringing class discussions to life
“I really like that Brightspace has so many tools that I can use to support my teaching and student learning,” says Carly LeBlanc, a teacher with the District School Board of Niagara.
“The Discussion tool offers my students the ability to have full tilt online discussions. The positive impact of these discussions include student accountability, the opportunity for peer feedback, and offering a ‘louder’ voice for students who tend to shy away in class discussions or need extra ‘wait time’ before responding. I love that everything can be done in one environment including the ability to incorporate additional widgets to support the topics and interests of the students.
“Overall, Brightspace is a great place for me to help support and communicate with my students. Can you tell I love D2L?”
From student opposition to fandom
“When I introduced Brightspace to my Grade 10 French Immersion class – I was transitioning from my class website in First Class – and then started using some of its features in class (i.e. the discussion forum), I faced some vociferous opposition from a few of my students,” says Katherine Graham Burra, a teacher with the Limestone District School Board.
“After a few weeks of getting used to this format one of the most vehemently opposed students was sitting in class working exclaimed – completely unsolicited – ‘Wow! This is really useful!’ I looked at her incredulously and she said ‘I know Madame, I’m sorry.’ Now, she is in Grade 12 and has used Brightspace in summer school and thanked me for introducing her to it because it made it so much easier for her to do an online course.”
Better engagement for younger grades
Joanna Nikkel and Meaghan French, both kindergarten teachers at Harriet Tubman Public School (DSBN) in St. Catharines, Ontario, are using Brightspace in their classes to engage with their students, and also to better communicate with parents. Check out this video to hear, in their own words, how Brightspace is making the kindergarten experience even better.
Communicating with parents
“Last year we made the switch to using Brightspace for our parent communication. We love that not only can we update parents on all of the learning that is going on inside of the classroom, but we can link them to great web resources to help engage them in learning with their child. Our parents love the virtual tours of our indoor and outdoor classrooms, our embedded learning slideshows and our daily posts using Pic Collage,” say DSBN teachers Michael Folino, Dawn DeCaria and Mary Schmagala.
“In my Grade 2 classroom, I use Brightspace as a way to intimately connect parents with their child’s education,” says Michael Snow, another teacher with DSBN.
“To connect parents to our classroom, I take videos of students’ conversations, gallery walks, math activities, and much more. I link these videos, along with a written description of the activity, to pictures in my news feed. By doing so, parents are not only able to read about the great things happening in our classroom, but are able to see firsthand how these activities are carried out.
“Moreover, I have created an ePortfolio for each student. Students’ ePortfiolios contain a variety of work samples as well as videos and audio files from student-teacher conferencing. By including videos and audio files, parents are able to monitor their child’s understanding of curriculum, as well see and hear the individualized strategies I am using to take their child’s learning to the next level. As a result, my students’ ePortifolios are not simply a ‘how am I doing?’ folder, but are an interactive ‘how am I learning?’ experience.”
Wellington Catholic District School Board has grown to 55% adoption of Brightspace products in just three years. Jeff Cummings, who is responsible for Technology-Enabled Learning and Teaching at the board, explains that he made use of available technology funding to help finance the initiative, and the scalable training model that they put into place.
“We started by training one teacher from each school in how to use D2L,” he explains. “These teachers are now mentor-leaders, and their job is to go back to their schools and to train and inspire at least four other teachers. The goal is to exponentially increase the number of teachers using D2L each year.”
Supporting classroom communities
“In my class we view ourselves as a community. This includes my students, their families, other teachers and me,” says Lee Martin, a teacher with DSBN.
“The D2L platform allows me to not only create this community, but support it. Each day my students are able to connect, interact and access authentic learning tasks and it is all organized for them on our site…
“My families are able to track and interact with the daily events, future fun and learning with ease of access. Our site further allows myself and other teachers to share recorded tutorials of how we are learning a new concept, so that our families can support their children at home using the same strategies learned in class. There are great things going on in classrooms all across the country. With the D2L platform, teachers are not only able to promote engaging learning, but involve the entire classroom community in it.”
 According to D2L’s Business Intelligence report.