Launching #CDNcraft

Part 1 by Julie Balen and John Stockmann

  1. "To Coincide with the events surrounding Canada's 150th year, #CDNcraft is the next iteration of an inquiry that ran in 2016 called #craftreconciliation. The overarching design of these projects takes a current topic or issue and views it through an Indigenous lens. Students are invited to investigate and explore the topic together via web conferencing tools, discussion forums, and other collaborative platforms. They work in small groups to build knowledge on self-selected questions and then they build or create or craft (think Minecraft) their response.
  2. Deciding to join an online project can be daunting. Not only are there the technical aspects to consider (access to devices and various collaborative platforms for example), but there is the "how do I incorporate this project into the course?" question to consider as well. This article will describe one way to "see" what #CDNcraft looks like in a high school English course.
  3. Planning

  4. Our initial planning was chaotic. We just dumped our ideas on paper and then we organized and colour-coded. For us, #CDNcraft is the course. This means that we need to weave the essential learning of the course throughout the project. Here you can see that we have organized our thinking about the course into three threads. The #CDNcraft thread contains the content, the collaboration, and the build. The Research Report thread contains individual research, writing, and presentation. The Literature thread contains the personal reading and analysis. All threads contain tactics (annotation, note-making, inferencing, drawing conclusions, asking questions, making connections), discussion, reflection, and metacognition.
  5. To help students dive deeply into the question "What being a great Canadian look like?", students need to begin to think about attributes, values, and beliefs of individuals and of countries. Do we all believe the same things? How does what we believe individually translate into national values? What is a global citizen?
  6. One way to help make abstract ideas visible is to find them in action. We decided to explore the global reaction to the turbulent American political environment to see if we could infer the values being expressed by different countries. Students choose one of the contentious decisions the Trump administration has made and researched one country's response to that issue. Students made a research note following a Cornell-style template.
  7. Hmm.... We will have to come back to the concept of National values. But this opening series of activities yields rich diagnostic information. We know where students are in the research process, how they make notes, how they use digital resources, what their comfort levels are with regard to working online. Finally, we got a glimpse into students' levels of reading comprehension and the tactics they use to support themselves.
  8. It's time to introduce #CDNcraft!

  9. Online Collaboration: Committing to a tool.

  10. How can we equip our students to a) build knowledge while b) building an online community? These are particularly pertinent questions since so much of our students' success in the later stages of #CDNcraft relies on these skills.
  11. The tool fulfills both of our criteria by building an online community through knowledge building. It allows members of a group to collaboratively annotate online texts together. Students have the opportunity to share their interpretations, reactions, and connections. They can read and reply to the comments of other group members. They can link their comments and those of other members to other texts/media that provide support or alternative perspectives.

    Through the exploration of texts, comments, and supporting texts/media, students build a collection of shared knowledge that can be used as a jumping off point for the later stages of #CDNcraft. Through their participation via annotating and replying, students can develop their perspective and voice within the larger community.

    As students move into the later stages of #CDNcraft, they can feel more confident that they have something to contribute and feel more confident that they know how to contribute it. is a unique item within our toolkit. With it, we have an opportunity to build a community based on shared insights and knowledge-building.

  12. Next, we'll do some show and tell on introducing the research process.
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