Giscome teacher Brady MacLise borrows the Star Wars music and scroll for the introductions to his videos. The idea is to get students engaged right away.

MacLise demonstrates the cooking of scrambled eggs.

The best part: MacLise samples his dish, hot from the pan.

MacLise gets ready to cut his tortilla pizza into slices.

Giscome staff member Denise MacDonald introduces her Mind-Up Minute video.

After demonstrating how to make peanut butter cookies, Roy Hooker gives one a taste in Humble Cooking with Mr. H.

Hooker reads from Robert Munsch's Get Out of Bed during Read Aloud with Mr. H.

Danielle Jacobs, Giscome's Aboriginal Education Worker, explains the planned activity in her video, Mrs. Jacobs Presents: Ingigenous Games.

'It's been overwhelmingly positive'

Giscome connects with online learning

The title screen of Mrs. Jacobs Presents: Indigenous Games.

Staff at Giscome Elementary overcame the challenges of their school’s rural location and found a winning recipe for online learning.

For residents of the area, located east and north of Prince George, home internet either doesn’t exist or is still in the dial-up phase. Given the circumstances, teachers knew that instructing on livestreaming platforms like Zoom during the COVID-19 pandemic wouldn’t be feasible. At a weekly staff meeting, teacher Brady MacLise came up with the idea of establishing a Giscome YouTube channel which parents could access through cell phone data plans or home dial-up. As well, YouTube videos could be viewed at any time of day, as opposed to a livestream session with a specific start time.

MacLise got the channel started, and teachers started making videos. The clips – 10 of them as of May 22 – are reaching their audiences and having the desired impact. MacLise’s own segments, called Mr. M’s Cooking Show, are delightful to watch. They are entertaining, informative and have become very popular.

“It’s been overwhelmingly positive from other staff members and families of the students that we’re doing it for,” MacLise said, in reference to the feedback he has received. “They get a laugh, they have a smile when they watch it, which is really our priority. The reason we did this is because we wanted to make sure that they have a smile on their face through this tough time that we’re in.”

Thanks to Giscome vice principal Jason Schwartz, whose previous post was at a school in China, Mr. M’s Cooking Show has even gone international.

“I’ve shared his links with many of my colleagues over in Asia, and he has a small Asian following now,” Schwartz said. “He’s been watched in Hong Kong, in China, in Japan, in Taiwan, so there are people around the world checking in on him now, which is fantastic.”

To date, MacLise has done five episodes of Mr. M’s Cooking Show. Each one opens with the iconic music and scroll from the Star Wars movies.

“I definitely wanted to capture the students’ attention right away because that’s what you’re supposed to do when you’re doing a lesson,” said MacLise, a Kindergarten to Grade 3 teacher who describes himself as “a large nerd” and “huge fan” of the Star Wars franchise. “You have that thing to really entice them in and then you’re able to give them the information you want to impart.”

MacLise’s first five recipes are for scrambled eggs, pancakes, grilled cheese sandwiches, tortilla pizza and salad. He chose the first for its simplicity and readily-available ingredients and the latter four based on suggestions from students.

“As teachers, we want to put some of the onus on the students and have them control some of their learning so I asked them what kind of dishes they want,” MacLise said. “One of them was pizza and so I took that idea and pared it down to a safe and readily available dish so then they could make it.”

Each episode of Mr. M’s Cooking Show ends with a mission: safely make the dish, take a picture of it and send it to Mr. M., write a journal entry about the process (including any modifications and parts that were challenging), and, of course, to have fun.

“They send me pictures, they write out a journal entry which ties in the cross-curricular stuff that we want to promote as teachers,” MacLise explained.

Other videos on the Giscome YouTube channel include: Mrs. MacDonald’s Mind-Up Minute; Listen with Mrs. MacDonald; Humble Cooking with Mr. H; Read Aloud with Mr. H; and Mrs. Jacobs Presents: Indigenous Games. Giscome families receive the links via email and they are also posted on the school’s website.

Mr. H is support teacher Roy Hooker, whose duties at Giscome include librarian, learning assistance and English language learning. On his Read Aloud video, he points a camera down at his tabletop as he reads and flips the pages of Robert Munsch’s Get Out of Bed. The concept is simple and beautiful at the same time for its ability to connect with young viewers.

“One of his passions is helping kids become better readers,” said Giscome principal Sarah Petrisor.

Petrisor is proud of Giscome’s delivery of online learning and the fact it is ticking so many educational and physical literacy boxes for the school’s 28 students. She also tips her hat to a staff that, before the COVID-19 upheaval, had to deal with a nearby train derailment that resulted in the evacuation and subsequent closure of the school.

“Giscome has had more than one challenge and I view this as a huge exercise in teamwork on the part of staff and tapping into people’s skill sets,” Petrisor said. “I think kudos to Brady. He’s had experience making YouTube channels and lots of extracurricular experiences that helped him bring expertise to this situation.”

The links to the Giscome YouTube videos are below.

Mr. M’s Cooking Show: Episode 1

Mr. M’s Cooking Show: Episode 2

Mr. M’s Cooking Show: Episode 3

Mr. M’s Cooking Show: Episode 4

Mr. M’s Cooking Show: Episode 5

Mrs. MacDonald’s Mind-Up Minute

Listen with Mrs. MacDonald

Humble Cooking with Mr. H

Read Aloud with Mr. H

Mrs. Jacobs Presents: Indigenous Games