ARCHIVED - Eel Ground First Nation School, New Brunswick

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Blending new technology with traditional cultural teachings the Eel Ground First Nation is proving that innovation can be enjoyed by all. Using technological aids such as smart-boards, videoconferencing and the internet, the Eel Ground First Nation is gaining recognition as one of the most technologically advanced in Canada. Since it first opened its doors the Eel Ground First Nation School has seen attendance triple with their groundbreaking approach to learning.

Transcript: Eel Ground First Nation

The Gulf of St. Lawrence is the ocean gateway to the Miramachi Region in Northeastern New Brunswick.

It is home of the Eel Ground First Nation, and traditional territory to this community of more then 800 Mi'kmaq people.

And where a small First Nation kindergarten to grade eight school is gaining attention as one of the most technologically advanced in Canada.

Since its beginnings in 1978, enrolment at Eel Ground First Nation school has tripled.

Eel Ground's principal and staff brought the school from its humble beginnings with a small bank of computers and one dial-up connections to today's sophisticated high-tech capabilities.

With a clear vision for the future and tapping into many resources such as the Atlantic Canada First Nations Help Desk, the school was able to finance the purchase of new equipment.

Student driven projects, many dealing with social and health issues, such as Fetal Alcohol Syndrome, Drug Abuse and West Nile Virus, have won numerous awards.

Today, fully equipped computer laboratories and classrooms invite hands-on use of hardware and software across the curriculum.

The schools' mostly First Nations teachers are constantly updating their skills through professional development workshops on the latest innovations in technology and user techniques.

Eel Ground students, like students everywhere, learn the core subjects, but in their case technology is part of every course.

From the earliest grades, teachers and students alike use Smartboards – interactive whiteboards that can display and manipulate computer - generated images at the touch of a finger.

All of the students at Eel Ground School learn about their Mi'kmaq culture and traditions, including the Mi'kmaq language, often with the guidance of software programs.

The students in this grade 2 Math Class move digital images from camera to computer to Smartboard while learning basic addition.

Science class is always a favourite at Eel Ground using a Proscope digital microscope to magnify, illuminate and analyze objects that appear as on-screen projections, makes for an interesting and highly informative Grade 3 and 4 class.

This grade 7 and 8 multi-media class offers endless possibilities to the students who experiment with a variety of creative technological projects.

Like this claymation project with its many stages, from making the clay characters and a scenic backdrop to capturing them frame by frame.

The students have access to high speed internet throughout the school. Not only do they learn about the vast potential of the internet, but also the importance of internet security and the threat it can pose to its online users.

The Eel City Beats is one offshoot of the school's music program, students write their own songs using computer technology, and create their own original compositions that they post on the web.

The Eel Ground School has its own website that is constantly updated with students' work and information for the whole community. It has received hits from all over the world.

The school also stays connected to the outside world with its extensive use of videoconferencing and live webcasts.

Interactive visits are made in "real-time" to and from the students and staff by a variety of people, from Mi'kmaq Elders, to students in First Nations and Inuit communities across Canada, to world renowned children's authors like Robert Munsch.

Even the extracurricular activities are influenced by technology.

In one after-school club students do a weekly radio broadcast on Miramachi's local FM station, where they report on school activities.

Eel Ground First Nation School is also progressive in other ways.

The students learn about lifestyle and health issues that are important to their growth and development, like diabetes.

The schools' diabetes screening initiatives is now in its fifth year. All students get test annually, followed by a nutritious breakfast.

Students at Eel Ground School have the skills and education to take them confidently into the future, secure in the knowledge of their heritage and with a sense of pride in the land they call home.

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