Open door policies lead to excitement for teachers

A few weeks ago, another teacher came in to see me lead an introductory activity so I decided to show her how to do a Chalk Talk which is one of my favourite thinking strategies. She had a lot of fun participating with the students and learning from them.

Yesterday, she tried it today with her french immersion Grade 4 students to introduce Math vocabulary.  She was so excited to share with me how greatly the students responded to the activity and she mentioned how great it was to see what they already know. The added benefit is that those students have an extra opportunity to think,work, write and respond in French in a new and engaging way for them.

I have always had an open door policy and everyone is welcome to join. It is even more exciting when a person seeks you out and asks for you to show them how to do something specific. In the grand scheme of things, a half hour for the students to take pride in their learning and share what they know is actually more beneficial to them to realize that teachers are learners, just like them.

Collaborative Planning

Our team has made it a priority to meet regularly after school and to ask for time to plan together during the year. We create a shared agenda and I often take notes and link to our documents throughout our meeting. Here is an example of one of these documents. Collaborative Day – Grade 5 – March14, 2015

I use a shared Resource folder for my team that I share with many teachers in multiple districts outside of my school to share with them in order to make the most of our experiences and ideas. It has been a fantastic resource for us all. Here is the link to the Grade 5 Resources Google Drive folder

So many valuable things come from these days. Most recently, we have adapted a critical challenge from LearnAlberta to meet the needs of our students, then co-created with our students, the reflection and self-assessment rubric. Here is the link for this one.

Proud and excited students put forth amazing effort

The past couple weeks, my students have been working on a music video of their own to encourage people to do something. Religion is a rather tough subject sometimes as the majority of my students are not catholic. I have been looking for ways to take the lessons that they are to be learning and bring them to a worldly context that applies to everyone’s personal journey of faith, be it limited, devout or non-existent.

My students fell in love with the song Do Something by Matthew West early in the year. When I showed them the music video, I instantly knew they needed to make their own video. The kids planned and helped shoot the video and I put them together in iMovie for them over the weekend. When I showed the kids this morning, they were thrilled, excited and proud of the work. The reaction from parents and administration has also been extremely positive. I am so proud of the kids for taking ownership over this project and seeing the value no matter their personal beliefs.

Divisional PD Day – Reflection

Today we had a divisional PD day with the 6 schools in our division. It was great to see all the projects teachers are taking on to engage students. What stood out to me today was the engagement that teachers had in sharing and the curiosity people had about student learning.

One of the things I remind myself is that many of the teachers are still new to inquiry, PBL and reflection.  To me, reflection should be on going through out the process and not at the end as then it becomes more about the product. Still, we are moving forward and wanting to engage our students while pushing them to deeper levels of thinking, which is the most important part.

We also had a chance to look at the district’s vision for 2020. There is a lot of work that has gone into it and it can be an intimidating document if you are not willing to make yourself vulnerable in the process. This document was exciting for me because a lot of it is what I believe about education and the rest are mostly things I have yet to consider in my direct involvement in the classroom. One thing for sure, is that I would like make myself more involved in helping teachers become comfortable and give them some of the guidance they seek when looking at the educational shifts that are happening globally – even if projects like high school redesign or curriculum redesign in Alberta are changed or put on hold.

I decided today to try taking my sketching digital so I could implement them into my blog. We’ll see how it goes but at least now I can share.

div. pd day sept 18, 2015

What it means to be a part our learning community

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In January, I started to see some little issues emerge in the class. We had just started working on our own and instead of having 2 teachers and 44 students, we had 1 teacher and 20 students at the time. There was less supervision and more freedom. After hearing some name calling, we did some kindness activities to confront the things I heard one day. The students responded quite well to this. We each became uncomfortable to become more comfortable together. Together, the kids created a class agreement about what kind of reputation we wanted to make for ourselves and how we wanted our class to run now that we were working together on our own. The kids came up with two pages of what made us a learning community and how they thought about themselves as learners in our class. This agreement has also helped welcome 4 new students into our class this year so they had a sense of who we are and what we do in our class. I am so proud of the kids and ability to create this document. My favourite part is that they titled it “What it means to be a part of Learning Community 5A” instead of something like Class Agreement.

Reading to the kinders

Today I had an amazing opportunity to read to Kory Graham’s Kindergarten class in Minnesota as part of the #KoryTellers initiative she set up for her kids. I was so impressed with their attention span and their engagement. It is always fun getting to collaborate via technology. Here are a couple of clips from the experience.