Pinnguaq’s Delivery Team was in Baker Lake, from October 27 to November 2, 2019, to run our Digital Skills Camp! Baker Lake (ᖃᒪᓂᑦᑐᐊᖅ) is a hamlet in the Kivalliq Region of Nunavut, also known as its Inuktitut name Qamani Tuaq translating to “where the river widens”, referring to the Thelon Heritage River which feeds into the lake.
Baker Lake is known for its vibrant arts community and home to internationally known artists Jessie Oonark, Simon Tookoome and Marion Tuu’luq. So naturally, there were many students interested in the programming being delivered, especially the digital art workshops!
Travelling from facilitating another digital skills camp in Rankin Inlet, Mary and Jonathan made their way to Baker Lake. Originally, our entire Delivery Team was scheduled to attend but due to weather and flight cancellations, some staff were unable to make it. So onward they went to explore the world of technology and build their digital skills with the students and staff of Rachel Arngnamaktiq Elementary School.
Scratch and GraphicsGale
Working firstly with the students, Mary and Jonathan introduced them to Scratch and GraphicsGale. Working in small groups of students, the Pinnguaq team introduced them to the functionality of these open-source software and shared ideas and drawings of previous students’ work.
Once the students understood how the software worked they were encouraged to write and draw, creating stories behind their graphics. The students were participating, gaining digital understanding and feeling confident in their new skills.
We had received excellent feedback through the teachers that the students were really excited about our programming and the new things they were learning. The High School Book Club, made up of students in grades 6 and 7, reported to the teachers of their next class that they had just done one of the coolest things ever!
We had one teacher report that the first-morning class was far more active and participatory than usual at such an early time. She felt they were really engaged and interested in the programs being taught. Jennifer, the Grade 5 teacher, reported that after downloading Scratch onto the classroom computers, a lot of her students were already honing their new talents.
Professional Development and Sustainability
The Pinnguaq Delivery Team also had the pleasure of holding a professional development session with the teachers of Rachel Arngnamaktiq Elementary School. We focused on introducing the teachers to the new software their students had just learned, to better equip them to assist their students in further developing their coding and digital art skills. It was noted that a lot of the students don’t have access to technology at home, so the school is their primary technology resource.
Following discussions with teachers, it was suggested that the programs be downloaded on all of the school computers. This would allow the teachers to continue with training during an after-school coding club, in turn bringing more technology and digital know-how into the school.
Overall the students and teachers seemed really interested in more exposure, support, resources, and coaching in the programs. We’re very grateful for the warm reception Jonathan and Mary had received at Baker Lake and for the opportunity to work alongside such a motivated group of teachers and talented students.
The Jesse Oonark Centre
After the training sessions were completed, Mary and Jonathan enjoyed visiting the Jessie Oonark Centre, the centre is for local artists. The Centre is a place that sells local arts and crafts and provides a place for materials, tool storage, and communal working spaces for the artists. They had the opportunity to meet a few local artists and have discussions which were translated by a young girl from the school they had just visited.
All in all, it was a great week. Thoughts and ideas were shared, and invaluable software skills were imparted to eager young students to hone their 2D graphics aspirations, learn to code and create digital stories. Pinnguaq looks forward to going back to Baker Lake soon and sharing more digital skills with eager students.