Monday, 3 September 2012

Happy New Year!!

  Hmm... Trying to collate and gel all the learning and ideas that I have experienced this summer is taking a bit of time. I read many powerful books that have challenged the way that I do business in my classroom. From Angela Maiers, A Passion Driven Classroom, The Book Whisperer by Donalynn Miller,  Teaching With Intention by Debbie Miller, The Connected Educator by Sheryl Nassbaum-Beach and Lani Hall to Cafe by Gail Boushey and Joan Moser. Through in a little, Making Thinking Visible by Ron Ritchhart and you have my summer of learning!! What a journey it has been. Although these titles and subjects differ they all had a common threads. Strategic teaching and student choice. Student choice has not always been easy for me but I found that last year I was ready to work and learn along side my students in a manner that I had never before done. It was liberating but it was challenging!

 My goals for this year are to encourage risk taking, create a culture of wonder and inquiry and to make more global connections! There will be many firsts for us! We will be participating in our first #flatclass project-A Week in the Life, the Global Read Aloud, Dot Day, the Oreo Project, Crazy Crazes, Pass the Blog and Genius Hour!I am also looking forward to making connections with other classes through blogging!                                    
 I have spent the past two weeks preparing my classroom for the arrival of my students. I have changed to design of the room in order to promote more questioning, more student choice and more wonder! By creating more intimate work areas with less harsh lighting I am hoping to create an environment in which student feels comfortable, empowered and more willing to take risks.                                                                                      

   However, I think the most important change in the classroom is me. I have shifted my practice to allow for a more student centered environment, I am willing to learn along with my students, and to take risks myself. I begin this year with anticipation, excitement and a measure of fear! But that's OK, being uncomfortable makes it possible for me to relate to my students, to understand how they might feel during their learning journey.

I am looking forward to the challenges, rewards and excitement that this year will bring! Happy New Year Eve!

Friday, 3 August 2012

Letting go and trying.......

     So, I have been procrastinating about restarting, actually, REALLY beginning to blog all summer.
     This past year was a whirlwind of learning, chatting, experimenting and connecting. I think the most important thing that I did last year was to let go. Let go of all the things that I had done from year to year, let go of the need for approval from those around me, let go of knowing. I began to experiment with new ways of learning, new technologies, new ways of demonstrating learning, and began to just try. Try the iPad, try apps, try Twitter, try letting my students teach me, try being vulnerable.
     It was one of the most exciting and terrifying years I have ever had. Things were changing and at the end of each day I was exhilarated and exhausted, thinking WOW that was a busy day, maybe tomorrow will be more relaxing, but that tomorrow never came!
     We experimented with iPads, iPods, digital cameras, laptops. We blogged, we Skyped, we created, we recorded, we wondered, we played, we chatted. I read, went to work shops, followed Twitter and learned from so many. Yet actually writing about it all did not happen. I have never been a writer, never had a journal that actually had writing in it. I bought many, trying to inspire myself to put my thinking and reflections on paper. I had someone design my blog so that, maybe, I would want to write. Nope, didn't happen.
     I loved Pernille Ripp's blog post that said that maybe all teachers didn't read to write on a blog(woohoo, someone on my side!!), I sent her a thank you comment, I felt relieved! Phew! But guilty. I don't understand this guilt. Maybe, it is insecurity. All of these bloggers had important things to say, musings, wonderings and opinions. Maybe I was intimidated, why would folks want to read what I had to say, did I have anything to say? How could I possibly sound so eloquent, so knowledgeable, so confident?
     I have always been a learner and I have always reflected on my practice, I just never recorded my reflections/thinking. But, it has been in the last few days as I have been participating in the Connected Educator webinars that I have begun to find my voice. During the webinar with Chris Lehmann of SLA, I wrote a few words about the effects of connecting, and Chris asked me to elaborate. I actually spoke!! It was a first for me! It was a turning point for me! I don't think Chris realized just how empowered he made me feel. I made a comment and it made sense, it was in context and nobody thought it out of the ordinary(well, not that they mentioned anyway!) Today I participated in another webinar with Sheryl Nussbaum-Beach and Lani Ritter-Hall. Once again I commented and connected with like minded educators and I came out of it feeling even more empowered.
     Tom Whitby's latest blog post, What's the Big Deal About Blogging?(you can find it here) called me out.
Here I was asking my students to blog, reflect and record their thinking but I wasn't. I wasn't setting a good example, I wasn't being transparent. So I am rising to the challenge. Challenging myself to record my thinking for me, as an act of reflection. Of course I will worry about how it will be interpreted by others but, I.... will it.....for..... me. As a means of sifting and making sense of this wonderful new learning journey that I have begun. I will be vulnerable, I will risk, I will write. I will try!

How did you feel when you first began to blog?
Who inspired you?

Sunday, 29 April 2012

A little of this and a little of that.....

April has been a huge month for me. I was given an opportunity to attend a presentation by Alec Couros which allowed me to reaffirm all the changes that I have made in my teaching this year. I have also been asked to attend an iTunes U workshop this week at Apple headquarters in Richmond, I am very excited to say the least.

In class my students have been finishing their Prezi's, which we had a huge celebration for! We invited our parents and several special guests from our school district. To say the least they were fabulous!
We also had our annual Aquarium sleep over and now students are creating personal movies of their adventure!
I have also been working with several other staff members to create a grant proposal that could allow our school to catch up to others in the area of technology. The grant is for $20,000! I feel that we did our very best and that the proposal is marvelous. We are just waiting, not so patiently, to hear if our proposal was accepted.

Oh....and I was asked to present at the STA Pro d Day! My workshop is Using Technology in the Primary Classroom!

Here are a few  pics from this month:
The view from my bedroom window!

Working with Arrays!

Skyping with Chicago

Our Prezi party!

Oral reading Challenge with iPod touches.

Always a fun time!

Creating an array storybook with our digital photos.

Happy Earth Day!

Our Truffula trees!

                      The Lorax art work.

Sunday, 1 April 2012

Week of firsts

WOW......just like Mr. Slinger in Lilly`s Purple Plastic Purse...all I can say is WOW. What a week.
Over the course of our 2 week Spring Break I began to plan some new learning opportunities for my students and for myself. Through Twitter, I became aware of The Flat Classroom project and Wonderopolis. Both of these amazing learning tools have Tweetchats and on line discussion groups to share learning, successes and adaptions. I participated in my first chat with a fabulous bunch from Wonderopolis and saw immediately a perfect learning fit for my class. We began Wonder Wednesday last week. It provided my students with an engaging learning forum. many students wrote comments and quickly had feedback from Wonderopolis. How cool is that! Many students also reflected on their learning by posting on their personal blogs. WOW!

I have begun reading the Flat Classroom book but have been unable to join a chat due to time differences. There is one tomorrow and I am hoping to make it home in time to participate near the end.

We also had our first Skype session with a grade 2 class in Arizona. It was our turn to reply to their questions. Students had a day or two to collaborate and research(if unfamiliar) the answers to Ar. questions. It went very well for a first time. I would like to improve on the sound, it was not loud enough, and the placement of the camera in Ar.. I think students will be more engaged when the sound issue is worked out. We brainstormed questions that we would like to ask on our next session this Tuesday. To demonstrate what we have learned I would like st. to create a short video using maps and other tools to show the differences and similarities between our two classes.

We will also be preparing for our Aquarium sleep over the following week. Usually I have st. complete 2 research projects with questions that I have put together but this year I am hoping to get more st. input into the learning by finding out what they want to know in order to feel prepared for the the fieldstudy.

That`s it for this do folks do this everyday?

Wednesday, 14 March 2012

I think about blogging all the time

Guilty...that is how I am feeling. I am constantly thinking about writing on this blog, just like I was also thinking about writing in my reflection journal while at SFU. I guess that means that I am more of a thinker than a writer, well maybe a chatter(word?) as well. But I really am trying to blog about my reflections.

I'm finding this whole situation with the job action to be quite trying......I want to protect my rights and the rights of those who are just beginning their teaching journey but I am totally conflicted bout providing my students with the best possible learning experience while they are my responsibility. I don't imagine that any teacher is taking any aspect of this situation lightly. I'm not going to go on about this but I felt I needed to have a say!

Change of subject

I am so excited to begin a few new projects after the break;

I have been able to connect with several teachers about a Skype in the Classroom project. All of the teachers are from the U.S. but in a variety of different states and areas of America. It is my goal that by sharing information about their school, city, province, culture and country,with others, my students will become more familiar with B.C. and Canada. As well, they will have an authentic opportunity to compare and contrast their lives with other students of similar age.

Wonderopolis is site that I have linked to my class blog. I participated in a chat with the lead teachers and other like myself who are interested in using or have used the site as a tool to develop wonder, questioning, and vocabulary development among my students. I will be changing my morning routine to add this valuable resource to my day plan.

Wonderopolis site

I have also discovered a professional book club that is meeting on Twitter to review the book:

Flattening Classrooms, Engaging Minds: Move to Global Collaboration One Step at a Time
I can't wait for it to be delivered!
So I am doing a lot of learning and hope to be able to share with others after Spring Break.
I also read these articles:

Teacher Leaders

Digital Literacy and Citizenship Curriculum K-5

Ok...I blogged........I'm off to bed now.....

Saturday, 3 March 2012

Another fabulous week!

On Wednesday we wore our pink shirts and bracelets to take a stand against bullying. We had several discussions during the day about being bullied, being a bystander and being a bully. We ended the day with a group activity. Each student created a paper doll of themselves. Then, we met as a group and began to pass the dolls around the circle. Each person made a tiny rip, wrinkle or tear in the doll. These rips etc. represented what happens every time we are bullied. We are scarred forever and no matter how much we try to fix our "wrinkles" and "rips" they leave a mark on us forever! It was a very powerful activity and really gave students a chance to connect to how bullying can effect everyone!

We also worked with our Prezi partners to record our learning statements so that we can add them to our Prezi next week.

One of the most important changes that I made this week was including my students in the creation of the criteria rubric for their Prezi presentations. Although student initially struggled to create criteria for a successful presentation(not surprising since they have never created a presentation like this and it was their first opportunity to partake in the expectation creation).
After several prompts and much discussion, students developed the criteria for their presentations. I will post the rubric when I have a digital copy created!
    Students also had an opportunity to explore the Prezi site and watch the how to videos with their partner. This allowed them a chance to see what their project might look like.

Monday, 27 February 2012

BYOD Day and Prezi

Thursday was an absolutely fabulous day of learning for the students and for me. We began the day with our BYOD learning where students practiced their active listening. We started with a discussion on why the students had brought in their devices. Students discussed the idea that our brains often go to "sleep" when we are watching TV so when we watched this content area video we wanted to keep our brains awake by recording what we were hearing!
After recess Miss Adelle began to help us learn about Prezi. We worked in partners to explore the types of things that we could do to demonstrate our learning during our Space study. She taught us how to begin and how to add photos and the students taught her how to create shapes.
The most important idea that I take away from these two activities is that I have so much to learn from my students. They are eager to explore and to take risks. They play with technology and discover as a result.
Before this work session I met with Liz from Pacific Cinematheque and Adelle to discuss our plan. I  said that I knew about Prezi but had not created one and I was OK with not knowing everything. I was willing to learn and discover with my students. I am willing to try and fail. I am not afraid.........

Wednesday, 22 February 2012

Loving the Learning!

I spent the evening with an enthusiastic bunch of IML contacts, Bryan Hughes and the amazing IML helping teachers from Surrey school district!
I can't believe I am lucky enough to work in a district that understands the power of bottom up learning for their teaching staff. I have been given the awesome opportunity to work with an amazing staff of excited learners and the students are the ones that are benefiting! YES, that's right's  the teachers are actually the learners and the risk takers as they try to facilitate powerful learning opportunities for students.A willingness to fail in front of and learn alongside students has made GT a stimulating place to work and learning. I can't wait to share all the iPad tips and tricks that I learned from Bryan!

Monday, 20 February 2012

New Design!

A special thanks to Kristen from Bitten by the Blog Bug Designs for turning my ideas into this awesome looking blog design. Your patience is much appreciated!

Today we(me and the grade three superstars) had a discussion about reflection. We were becoming aware that when we reflect we are actively thinking about something we have done or learned. Evaluating what we were happy with and what we wanted to adjust or change. Easier said than done. The students began by reflecting about why doubles were an important strategy for Numeracy. We chatted and chatted and many students were able to verbalize why doubles were important and how they helped with addition and subtraction, however, much was lost in the recording of their thinking. The answers that were written appear to be what the students thought I wanted to hear rather than genuine connections. Sure there were a few bright lights but not as many as I had hoped.  We obviously need more practice at this recording strategy!

In my classroom I encourage mistakes both in myself and the kiddos. I read an article this weekend that discussed the idea that we actually can learn from our mistakes! I love the idea of the growth mindset! What a relief! I told my students the exciting news. At the end of the day one of the cuties came up to me and told me that he was going home to make more mistakes so that his brain could become more powerful! Loved it, laughed out loud with him! I think we all may look like bobble heads soon!

I am looking forward to an exciting week of learning as I meet with facilitator from Pacific Cinematheque to develop our project plan, attend an IML dinner on iPad2's, and have a BYOD day this Thursday to develop our active listening and thinking skills while learning about the Sun.