The Sir Wilfrid Laurier School Board Learning Backpack

Dimitris Ilias

It did not take long really. The Sir Wilfrid Laurier School Board following the closure of all its schools to avoid the spread of Covid-19 sprung into action to keep its students educated, motivated, occupied and entertained during these difficult times. Led by Geoffrey Hipps, the SWLSB Pedagogical services worked for a week to create the first version of an online learning hub for the students of the entire board.  After the learning backpack was launched, having a better understanding of the situation and the needs, the site was revised for week 2 and will continue to be updated on a weekly basis.

The hand-picked resources curated by the Pedagogical Services Department team to support the learners and their families include many features such as “Weekly activities’ for every level, several subject based resource pages, family support page for the parents, specialist support pages and a SWLSB PreK/K Transitions website.

This was a school board initiative. The activities housed on the site however should not be considered a program.  The pedagogical services simply provided the parents, or anyone else wishing to access the site, because it is open to all, a variety of activities that their children can experience.  The department has also offered a suggested schedule should they wish to follow.

The Learning Backpack is completely optional and the Pedagogical Services worked extra hard to create it being conscious of the fact that parents are not teachers.  Several criteria were followed when choosing activities for the site for example: it should be easily understood by parents, where possible, a child should be able to navigate autonomously, and it should be engaging.

Pedagogical Services focused on helping the parents keep their children, students, engaged in productive learning activities.  The current directive from the Ministère de l’Éducation et de l’Enseignement Supérieur, is that students should be engaged in activities that will help consolidate the learning that took place up to the closure of the schools.  Pedagogical Services are in close contact with the MEES and will follow their directives as they move through this crisis.

Finally, Pedagogical Services informed us that they do not foresee the necessity of maintaining the Learning Backpack when the schools open.