On March 16, 2020, when Justin Trudeau announced to Canadians, “it’s time for you to come home”, we had little idea about just how much all our worlds would change in a very short amount of time. 

For three of our PLP teachers and our PLP 12 class this was an immediate issue since we were in Vietnam with another thirteen days of field study planned! Luckily, thanks to the ingenuity and middle of the night sleeplessness of Bryan Hughes, we were able to rebook flights and come home safely, missing only the Cambodia portion of the field study. You can check out the pictures from our field study on our PLP Instagram.

After our fourteen day quarantine at home, more changes had been announced and more pivoting needed to be done. For one thing, all face to face classes had been cancelled. This included the planned Destination Imagination Provincial Tournament that was to take place the first weekend after spring break. Of course, we never give up in PLP, so we immediately shifted to make our own online tournament. You can read more about it in this post here. 

A PLP 8 team presents to our appraisers

Setting up our own Destination Imagination tournament was only the beginning of our online adventures. With remote emergency instruction underway, the PLP teachers and learners had to come up with new ways to do the things we love about project-based learning in our classroom. Luckily our use of 1:1 iPad and the tools we have to facilitate our learning helped. Making project-based learning happen online was more of a challenge, but as time went on, we had greater success then we at first thought would be possible – especially by using tools such as Zoom which allowed collaborative breakout rooms for students to work together within  and gave educators an enhanced access level to let us use those tools.

Once we got into the groove of the emergency remote instruction, the ground shifted again and we were allowed to bring students back into the school, in small groups, for face to face. This was a great opportunity for us as we were getting near the time where we would be planning our Spring Exhibition. 

For PLP 11, this was especially important. We had originally planned a large field study to the American South to take place in mid-May. Since we believe so much in learning outside the classroom, this field study was core to their project “We Shall Overcome” and build on a previous field study we had done in 2016. We were excited to reconnect with our friend and fellow Apple Distinguished Educator, Jeffrey Powell, in Mississippi. 

PLP 10 in 2016 with Jeffrey Powell and friends at Northeast Community College in Booneville, Mississippi

Of course, COVID-19 gave us other plans. Jeffrey immediately asked our learners to participate in his online conference: Mobile Learning 12 which we did on June 15. You can watch the reply right here!

The PLP 11’s used our in-class face to face time in June to complete a deep investigation of the concepts of race and racism, using the American Civil Rights Movement as a case study. In the midst of their inquiry, current events in the United States (and around the world) erupted and made the topic even more urgent and vital. They came together presented an outstanding online symposium on their topics, engaging the public and truly asking hard and meaningful questions. Check out some highlights below and read more on the PLP 11’s learners’ learning portfolios, like Emily explains here.

PLP 11 Symposium Highlights

We used the symposium as well as a chance to honour our friend Jeffrey Powell, who only a few days after the amazing Mobile Learning 12 conference passed away suddenly. We will never forget the impact that Jeffrey had on us as educators and will always strive to implement the ideas and learnings we gained from our work with him and his students.

Jeffrey, Petra, and Bryan in 2014

The PLP learners for grades 8, 9, and 10, meanwhile, were also busy on preparing for the Spring Exhibition. Their project, A Sustainable Blue Sky, was to work with the United Nations Development Goals as a guide and create a produce to solve a problem facing our community/province/world. The final presentations on Zoom took place with a small group that they planned a brief highlight and live overview of their take on these goals. We had a lot of fun looking at their different answers as you can see in the highlight reel below. You can also read more about this on our learners’ learning portfolios, as Noah’s in PLP 9 shows!


PLP 8, 9, and 10 Sustainable Blue Sky Exhibition


And of course, no PLP year end is complete without learner reflection and celebration. All the PLP learners participated in the year end Transitional Presentations of Learning where the learners came in – with their parents – to the school (where able or via Zoom if not) to reflect on their year and consider their advancement to the next grade level.

This was especially memorable for our PLP 12 learners who celebrated their fPoL: a final Presentation of Learning looking at their growth as a learner through thirteen years of formal schooling. We were thrilled to have permission to have this event take place live at the school with all their parents and learners to celebrate – appropriately distanced, of course! 



For celebration, we ended the year with our PLP Banquet. This year, there was no food – except at your own house! – as we shared over Zoom the amazing successes, FAILs (first-attempt in learnings!), and general craziness of the school year that was 2019/20.

  • An invitation to celebrate PLP learners: their learning, the field studies, and awards for all!

It was an outstanding finish to what was an upside year, but we would not have wanted to do it with any other team of amazing teachers, learners, and families! Congratulations on a strong finish, PLP community!