A Virtual W.I.N.

After one month of presentations, with no more than 3 students sharing each a day, my Grade 8 virtual class has finished their What's in a Name projects. These projects mean so much to me because I see a change in my students when they learn about themselves through their names. I was elated to red how much these projects meant to them and how, in some ways, they were even more important because we are in a virtual class. I have blogged and presented on this project many times because it is so high yielding.

The W.I.N. is a powerful, culturally relevant and responsive project that is always new with each class. I was curious to see how this staple of my Building Outside the Blocks (BOB) projects would fare in a virtual learning environment. I had missed this project due to my entire school taking it own two years ago, leaving me unable to do it at my former school last year. This year, I changed the rubric and hope that it would, even partially, do what it does in a regular classroom. The W.I.N. helps build skill, autonomy, community and connection to oneself as well as every member of the class who shared their work on their own terms and gets to know each other through their names.

As always, I look to my students to gauge the success of any project, and they got out of it as much as I could have hoped. Here are some of their thoughts (unedited):

I think the WIN presentation went very well and they helped a lot to get to know everyone through their names. I also think the fact we all got to learn something about our names was a good thing. It helps get to know yourself better anyways. So overall, I think the WIN presentations were very successful! Abby

I had several experiences. One of them was the research and learning my name of how popular it is in the world and what it means. That was very fun and I enjoyed each second of it. Another experience was gathering information and making this presentation in a good format. It was quite difficult to find some information such as how my name got originated from Hebrew. I learned many things about my name and stuff that I didn't know such as the meanings of my name and where it came from and things from my culture such as my Muslim name meaning. In general, this was one of my favourite presentations for a while. Armin

I think that the WIN presentations really helped each of us to get to know each other in an interesting way. I had a really hard time trying to find people who had similar names as me because a lot of people are named Audrey instead of Aubree or Aubrey. I also thought that some people were really creative when they added acrostic poems and when they used images to further explain the meaning of their names. Aubree

My experience with the What's in a Name project was great because I liked that I got to know more about my classmates and about who they are. I thought that this project was really cool and I liked how I also got to know more about myself and my name. This project was a great way to learn more about everybody, and also a creative way to connect with others. Caiah

I thought this project was very cool. I loved this activity as one of the first projects we did, because it was a fantastic way to see everyone's style of presenting, we got to learn a bit about everyone, and we could practise giving constructive criticism...Overall, I loved this project. Eva

... Out of all those projects, this is the one that I liked the most and had the most fun doing. I really like these kind of presentations where you learn about yourself but also others at the start of the year. I really did get to know a lot more about my classmates through their WINs and your name really does play a big role in your identity of knowing who you are or are not. Felix

This presentation really taught us something really important. Most people didn't care and didn't know what there's first and last names meant. After we did some research people cared and cherished their names. So its very important to do these projects because we learn so many new things. I honestly enjoyed this project because it was fun to hear people's names and presentation. Jake

Getting to do the WIN presentation was a very good experience. I got to learn a lot about my name (Kaylee) like that in Gaelic it is spelled Ceilidh. I found out why my mom chose my first name, which turned out to be a really interesting and kinda sad reason that I never knew. Another great part of the WIN experience was getting to know my classmates. Because of virtual school, I don't know the people in my class the way I would have if we were in person. Listening to others WIN presentations really helped me get to know some of my classmates. Another great part of our WIN presentations was getting to share a part of us. We didn't just do the WIN we got to tell others and share a part of us with our classmates. I think doing the WIN made a huge difference in our virtual classroom. Overall I am glad we did the WIN and I think that I learnt a lot about myself and others. Kaylee

While preparing my WIN, I found it as a great opportunity to interact with my parents and learn more about why my name was chosen. I think it was a good idea for me to learn more about my name as it is a major part of my identity. After listening to some of my classmates presentations, I thought about how it was cool that their names had many meanings. I also enjoyed some of the different styled presentations as it was cool to see how everyone else thought they should do it. Matt

I really liked doing the win presentations and I had lots of fun learning about other people and their names. I had fun making my presentation and i really enjoyed seeing how other peoples names affected their personalities or how their personalities affected their names. Rachel

I enjoyed getting the experience of preparing for the What's in a Name project. Before starting this presentation I was excited to start because I never researched deeply about my name and had never got a reason to. Something I learned during this project was to always find a unique way to do something so that the project represents you. These presentations helped me learn more about my peers because our names reflect our personality which helps me understand more about who they are and their characteristics. Rameen

I really love this What’s in a Name projects because I got to know interesting things and stories about my first and last name. It made me feel unique to know the story. I learned that my name isn't just a name, it is valuable and it makes up my identity. I also enjoyed listening to others’ projects because it was also interesting to know how they where named. Selina

I found that the What's in a Name presentation were a very fun experience, I truly believe it not only helped me better get to know my self by discovering what's behind my name but also was a chance to better get to know students in an online community. In each and every presentation I learned something about the presenter's name and something new about them. I would definitely do this project again because it's quite interesting and believe links very well to our This is Me and self-discovery unit. Sophia

So I thought the WIN project was really fun and interesting to do. It was interesting, learning the origin and meaning of our names and it was fun listening about other people's names. Before this project, I thought either that our names didn't mean anything or much but this project kinda blew my mind. It was fun doing this with everyone and it was interesting to learn what our names were about! William

After preparing and presenting my W.I.N presentation, I feel really good. I liked interviewing my parents and presenting to every one about my name. I had fun finding some history about my last name and reading the family book. After listening to everyone else's W.I.N presentations, I feel like I learned more about everyone. The presentation were very interesting. Zhengtong

My experience preparing for my WIN project and presentation was awesome! I had so much fun finding out more about myself, I really enjoyed this project a lot. It was a great way to introduce ourselves to our classmates. I really did like listening to my classmates presentations, learning more about them was super fun. I really do hope we do more assignments like this one! Andrew

They will. It’s called The Personal Playlist Project (P3), and they’re being given the outline on Thursday.