Canadian Engagement Heads West and into the Future!

By Garth Brook

I’ve just returned from a tour of schools and presentations in Calgary. As a retired teacher who has now been “out of the classroom” for over 10 years, it’s such a thrill to be in front of a class again to talk about Project Love and Project CODE, our two Canadian engagement programs.

What I did learn in Calgary was that technology has moved ahead – way ahead! When I started teaching, the mimeograph was popular even if you might get covered in its tell-tale purple ink! Thank goodness I just missed the jelly-pads which I hear were even more challenging and more purple! If you wanted to display anything to the whole class, there was the opaque projector; a heavy, cumbersome machine where you could display pages of a book onto a screen and you had to borrow and bring to your classroom. Then that was replaced by the overhead projector where teachers could project transparencies. They became universal in every classroom and as a result used frequently. The only frustration was when it became very hot or the bulb burned out and a replacement was not at hand!

The early 1990’s saw the advent of PowerPoint and the need for a LCD Projector a.k.a. Liquid Crystal Display (did you honestly know what LCD stood for?) but then as is always the case with technology, getting it to hook up correctly and compatibly with your computer is the challenge!  Although technology progressed so did the need of the requirements for the user. Fortunately every staff seemed to have a staff member who was more tech savey than most (and younger) to assist.

Fast forward to October 2010 and Calgary. At my first presentation at the Leadership Conference of the Alberta Reading Council, I was told that I could use the Smart Board for my very first PowerPoint. Wow! What great technology and so many applications for teaching and learning. My PowerPoint moved flawlessly forward from one slide to the next and the interactive capabilities allowed me to show links to our website and to video clips with just a touch! After my first presentation, I felt I was almost an expert although I am sure there is more to learn. I’ll get around to that - eventually.

On Wednesday, October 20-27, I head to Vancouver for the Pro-D Event of the British Columbia Reading Council of the International Reading Association (BCRCIRA) the following Friday. I will also have the opportunity to visit several schools and make presentations to classes while there. I enjoy these presentations because they are fun, interactive and integrate sharing stories from books which is my greatest thrill. At the same time the students are getting some background about CODE, Project Love and the global village “out there”. My favourite part is the game at the end which is based on Deal or No Deal! (except I don’t have the budget to load my cases with $$$). Students who successfully answer a question based on my presentation are really pleased with the valuable prizes which vary from pencils, glue sticks, post-it notes etc. which, compared to the learning materials their peers in Haiti and Malawi have now, or will be receiving in their Project Love kits, do have some added value.

Other events scheduled in Vancouver (October 26) and Victoria (October 27) are the two CODE Donor Receptions. If you are a donor, a Project Love supporter or wish to know more about CODE and its work, you can contact Genevieve Perras at the following email for further information. Hope to see you there!