By Susanne Bergmann
Quebec Grade 5 and Ontario Grade 2 students had the opportunity to collaborate on the creation of small digital books last spring. The entire project was conducted remotely and in French, drawing on the strengths of both groups of students. We tell you their story.
Under the coordination of Annie Martin, Director of Development, Leadership and Learning at Apple Education, and her colleague Shawn Lennie in Ontario, an interprovincial language and technology sponsorship project took place from March 21 to June 15, 2022, which led to the publication of digital books by the participating classes. The project involved four elementary school classes, paired in dyads, who lived the experience.
The first dyad was Martine Gagnon's Grade 5 class from Jacques-Plante Sports School in Shawinigan (CSS de l'Énergie), who was paired with Carie Arseneault's Grade 2 class from Hillcrest School in Petrolia, Ontario (Lambton Kent District School Board).
The second dyad was Colin Dufour-Labrecque's grade 6 class from École Notre Dame de la Paix in Beauharnois (CSS de la Vallée-des-Tisserands), which was paired with Linda Thomas' grade 2/3 class, also from Hillcrest School.
We had the chance to speak with teacher Martine Gagnon from Jacques-Plante School to find out more.
Initially, the request came from Hillcrest School in Ontario, which wanted to offer its students opportunities to practice oral French and reading. In Quebec, Jacques-Plante School was to focus on writing.
First, the two classes met by videoconference. Afterwards, the students prepared questions and each teacher made video vignettes where the students had to introduce themselves, talk about their interests, etc. The vignettes were shared with the twin class so that the students could choose a partner and create teams. The vignettes were shared with the twinned class so that the students could choose a partner and create teams.
Bringing objects to life in a story
The partners met in groups of two via Meet. The younger group presented an object and the older group had to question the characteristics of this object in order to make it the main character of a fictional story. The Pixar films inspired teacher Martine Gagnon to imagine how to transform objects into characters (she gave us the example of the character " Fork "in Beauty and the Beast).
Afterwards, students wrote their stories using the Pages for iPad application, and Annie Martin of Apple Canada provided a template for them to turn into a digital book. Participants put their content into the pages of the template, and shared the books with their compatriots in Ontario. They completed the books with illustrations and a recording of the story (yes, you can listen to the story too!). Finally, the Quebec team edited and added details (such as the cover page) and transformed the books into ePub.
Every two weeks, there was a follow-up meeting via video conference. And on Tuesday, June 14, the last meeting took place, marking the end of the project and the celebrations.
The Quebec Cycle 3 students enjoyed being paired with younger students. The "younger" Ontario students really liked their "big brother or sister" from Quebec. In some cases, their teammate became their idol, as Martine Gagnon mentions. Beautiful bonds of friendship were created. The Quebec children were also able to discover another reality, that of the Francophonie in Ontario.
According to the Quebec teacher, the project was well supervised and supported by the Apple team. She and her Ontario colleague said they would like to do the project again, ideally earlier in the school year, to meet all the deadlines.
Indeed, it was impossible to skip steps or turn corners since the final production was indeed tangible: the publication of digital books. Fortunately, motivation was at an all-time high. And when they saw the final product, the students had "stars in their eyes," according to Martine Gagnon.
"Projects like this give you wings!"Martine Gagnon
And the result is impressive: 19 digital books! Annie Martin, from Apple Canada, reminds us that "these are young people in the process of learning; the objective here was not to make perfect books, without mistakes or pronunciation errors... The emphasis was on the process of creating a friendship with a young Francophone from another province and building something together," she explains.
In fact, during the evaluation of the project, one of the French immersion teachers said that she did not know that her students could speak so well in French! "With me or with each other, they never force themselves that much!"
Photo credit: Martine Gagnon