The Almote Gazette Vol. 22 No. 132

Technology Bridges the Gap
Intergenerational experience for immerssion students at ADHS and seniors of the Club 60.

By Burt Boudreau

Second language communication within the confines of a typical school classroom has always been a challenges. Often, opportunities to expose students to real-life conversational experiences have been limited.

To enrich second language learning one must go beyond the classroom. PACE 2000 and Dr. Marie-Madeleine Bernard recently provided an experience of interactive communication for Almonte and District High School (ADHS) students. They have been linked through video conferencing with seniors from the Pauline-Charron Centre in Vanier.

Almonte and District High School is one of the few schools in Ontario with video conferencing equipment. A few years ago, the schools bought the necessary equipment to pilot distance education. Students, who were involved in a house-building project off campus were able to profit from this type of learning.

More recently, this technology facilitated communication between students and teachers of Cowes High School from on the Isle of Wight in England and ADHS students. Now second language students will benefit as well.

Since early March of this year, Grade 11 French Immersion students have been discussing, once a week, a variety of subjects with seniors at the Pauline Charron Centre, a Plus 60 social and physical fitness club in Vanier. This intergenerational project has given students the opportunity to improve their French skills and to learn how seniors view different aspects of life.

The seniors talked, amongst other things, about their experiences , as children, as students and as parents. They gave their views on youth, television and leisure time. In return, students offered them their own perspective on the same subjects. School curriculum was presented in a different way and technology was introduced to both students and people in the community.

At first, students were reticent to communicate with strangers but in very short time this fear disappeared. Being able to see the seniors greatly helped to break down the barriers in a way that the telephone could not do. This joint undertaking between students and seniors has shown us that they have much to offer to each other.

This three-month project culminated in an inter-generational conference in the Champlain Hall at the Regional Municipality of Ottawa-Carleton June 10. It was attended by many seniors and students and by such dignitaries as Max Keeping from CJOH, John Baird, MPP and Madeline Meilleur, regional councillor.

Students participated in a round-table with seniors and explained to the audience the benefits of this type of education for them.

In order to refine their French skills, young Anglophones may travel or make extended stays in a French country or region and or community via the Internet with pen pals.

However, for those Sociology students at Almonte and District High School, this experience with PACE 2000 permitted them not only to improve their French but also to profit from the experience of seniors.

Special thanks to Wayne Thompson, head of the technology department at ADHS for all the technical help and advice he has given us.

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