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  • Jenni Rubuliak and Sydney Hertz

How Might We Use Technology to Create Community, Build Connection, & Spread Positivity?

Updated: May 25, 2021

We are two of four educators who teach in community together at Canyon Falls Middle School. At CMS, we are a multigrade school and we call our community the Dragonfly Community because the dragonfly symbolizes joy, transformation and change. Our community has 125 grade 6, 7 and 8 students who learn together throughout each day in a variety of ways.

We want our students to feel positive about school, learning, themselves, and their community. We value the social emotional aspects of the school day and try to take an integrated approach to learning so that all members of our community are able to contribute and feel a sense of belonging.

This year, due to the global pandemic and its repercussions, we were uncertain about how to hold up what we value most about learning in community: collaboration, community and connection.

To that end, we have been exploring the following questions:

  • What does it look like and feel like to learn in community?

  • How can we build emotional connections between more than 120 students?

  • How might we be able to harness the power of technology to help us form connections in our community?

We know that our students are connecting with each other through technology outside of school, so throughout the year, we have embraced and explored how we might use technology to:

  1. Learn more about how we can practice digital wellness when we are online.

  2. Decide together how we can use technology and our personal devices in a positive way at school.

  3. Create a 'Humans of Dragonfly' Project with the app 'Minga' to spread positivity and build our CMS community.

  4. Use the app 'Eduflow' to give each other feedback so we could improve each others' writing as we inquired into how we might write our own dystopian stories.

  5. Use the app 'Goose Chase' to connect with nature and take technology outdoors.

Watch us tell our story:

As she reflected on learning in the outdoors, one of our students shared:

"It's a really peaceful place. Where we go... there are lots of places to explore. It's kind of just a whole mystery of different pathways and you can even go off the pathways." ~Sofia Bojidar-Christman

Just like our students have been exploring a variety of pathways this year, we have also been exploring different approaches to connect the members of our community during this strange and ever changing time.

In the end, our inquiry into technology and building student connections has actually taken us off the pathway, and led us back into nature. We have seen how fresh air, movement and time in the outdoors can lead to great questions, curiosity and a sense of shared belonging.

We hope to continue to find ways that we can use technology to enhance our experiences and learning outdoors.

by Jenni Rubuliak and Sydney Hertz


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