Collaborative learning for even the youngest students – Kaylyn Dorland, Canada

Most every teacher had an inspiring teacher of their own who steered them toward education. To find her own career inspiration, Kaylyn Dorland needed to look no further than her own family.

“I have been so lucky to be surrounded by passionate, devoted and caring educators my entire life,” Dorland says. “To choose one person that has inspired me the most does seem difficult, but at the end of the day, there is no one that inspired me more than my grandfather.”

Dorland explains, “Carl Dorland was an innovative educator. He believed in instilling respect and engaging students. Even though I never knew him as a teacher (he had retired by the time was born), I knew from stories and moments of reflections I had with him, his story, and I always appreciated his unwavering enthusiasm and passion for teaching.”

With that kind of example to follow, it’s no wonder that Dorland has become an innovative educator herself. Participating in efforts like the #WHOtoYOU global experience project, she has exposed her grade 2 students to the joys of collaborating with peers in other classrooms.

“The realization of seeing and speaking with others just like them (across the country, or further abroad) instantly teaches them they are all part of a much bigger picture,” she explains in her Microsoft Innovative Educator learning activity. “Students now have the capability to see and do so much more than generations before them, we have officially arrived into the 21st century.”

That enthusiasm for collaboration paid off in last year’s Education Empowered Conference, where Dorland’s team took home a first-runner-up prize for the “Sways of Hope” project. As part of the project, Dorland and her teammates had students use Sway and Bing Translator to send greetings to fellow students impacted by the recent earthquake in Nepal. It was an important life lesson for everyone involved.

Always adding to her skills, Dorland attended the two-day Camp 21 professional development course over the summer, and we can’t wait to see what she explores next. Here’s today’s Daily Edventure with the collaborative – and creative — Kaylyn Dorland.

What inspired you to become an educator?

The first moment I knew I wanted to be a teacher was when I was 17 and teaching swimming lessons at the community pool. I remember meeting my little group of six-year-olds on the first day of lessons and seeing very quickly that all of them had absolutely no idea how to swim.

For the next ten weeks, we practiced and tried many different strategies to build their coordination and confidence. On the last day of the session I remember testing their final skills and as each of my little swimmers swam across the pool successfully and safely, I realized that I had a big part in teaching them something. I taught them a skill they will use for the rest of their lives and that was the most gratifying experience. I knew I wanted to be a teacher.

What was a defining moment in your career when you felt proudest to be an educator?

Last year I was so lucky to be one of six Canadians chosen to attend the Global Forum Educator Exchange in Redmond, Washington. One of the most exciting parts of the conference was the fast-paced educator challenge. Every MIE attending was placed into a group to collaborate on a learning activity that expressed bravery, courage and leadership. Our team of international partners quickly got to work and ended up deciding on a learning activity called “Sways of Hope.”

Why do you feel passionate about innovation and technology in the classroom?

I am an advocate for using technology in the classroom simply because I think the opportunities it provides are endless. The particular moment that I knew that “tech” was working successfully in my classroom was during a #WHOtoYOU global experience project. I had my grade 2 students in Milton, Ontario paired up with their national partners in Edmonton, Alberta via Skype. Each partnered group has a list of tasks to complete, one of which was researching, co-creating and collaboration on a report project using Sway.

The students learned so many 21st century skills during the experience that took two weeks to compete. The best part of the project that really brought using technology in the classroom to a whole new level for me was having my students and their partners present their projects, live, using a split screen on our smart board.

Their co-created Sway was presented on one side of the screen, and their partner was standing up in front of their own class on the other side.  All the students and teachers could see and hear each other, as if we were all in the same room together! Highlight of my school year – in my opinion, global learning and collaborating is the most amazing opportunity that stems from using technology in the classroom.

Whether it’s a day-to-day challenge or larger problem, what’s the biggest obstacle you or your country or region has had to overcome, or will have to overcome, to ensure a quality education for students?

It wouldn’t say that this is a “problem” per say, however I think that Canadian educators need more exposure and training when it comes to technology in the classroom. Investing in educators’ professional development is important and, in my opinion, I believe we are nearing a time where students may know more about technology than their educators.

I hope that all educators, new or veteran, male or female, administration, and school board employees take the time to learn how to use technology in the classroom and in their schools, in a meaningful way, as well as feel confident enough to be innovative and try new and exciting 21st century learning projects with their students.

In terms of education innovation, what are you most excited about for the future?

I hope that global learning and collaborating becomes a weekly or monthly occurrence in schools all over the world. Let’s get to know each other and build compassion, empathy and meaningful relationships with international friends!

About Kaylyn Dorland

Primary/Junior Teacher, Microsoft Innovative Educator Expert

Queen of Heaven, Halton Catholic District School Board

Ontario, Canada


  • Birthplace: Hamilton, Ontario
  • Educational background: Swimming Lesson Instructor, Performing Arts Camp Director, OCT since 2011
  • Website I check every day: Twitter, my school boards website and the MIEE Facebook group
  • Favorite childhood memory: Spending the summer at my grandparents cottage with family.
  • Favorite book: Courage to Teach
  • Favorite Microsoft product, tool, technology: Tie – Sway and OneNote
  • What is the best advice you have ever received? – “Work hard in school” from my Grandpa.



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