Monday, October 27, 2014

Cupcakes are just....

During one of the rare times when we had just one of our grades in class, one of the girls started talking about a cute poster that she'd seen online somewhere, something like this:

She wrote it on the board and the kids there all laughed and then went about their work.  But the most interesting thing happened a few minutes later, when the younger kids came back.  Most of them saw the message, laughed too, and went back to work.  Except for one small girl, who looked at the message, thought for a moment, and then reached up and erased the word "ugly," picked up a marker and wrote the word "different" in it's place. No one else noticed, but I was happy to witness such a beautiful moment. 

Saturday, September 27, 2014

Days 24-27

Once again, I'm behind.  I am off the great schedule that I was on for a few weeks, and I'm trying to get it back again!

Day 24 
Which learning trend captures your attention the most, and why? (Mobile learning, project-based learning, game-based learning, etc.)
I love, love project based learning and I love to take it a step further and get kids into Genius Hour and Innovation Day.  It's so worthwhile to give kids the opportunity to explore their interests, follow their questions and learn to plan and execute a project from beginning to end.  

Day 25
The ideal collaboration between students–what would it look like?

The ideal collaboration between students would look like passing a ball back and forth, but each is adding something to the ball to make it easier for the other person to keep it going (I keep thinking tennis, but that's not exactly the metaphor that I want).   I have this kind of collaborative relationship with one particular colleague of mine and it's amazing.  We bounce ideas of off one another, we share ideas and lesson plans, we finish each others sentences!  We collaborate in a way that is second nature now, but needed time to grow.  It's amazingly helpful and enriching and I want that for my students.   I'm developing this with my new teaching partner and it will take time, but I think we'll get there!

Day 26
What are your three favorite go-to sites for help/tips/resources in your teaching?

My three favourite sites are TwitterEdutopia, and We are Teachers.  I enjoy Edutopia and We are Teachers for the resources and articles, but Twitter is my favourite place to get help, learn a new strategy, technique or tool, or ask for help.  The teacher community there is amazing and you should all be part of it!

Day 27
What role do weekends and holidays play in your teaching?
I use weekends and holidays to both finish my teaching work and prepare for the next week, but I also use them to take a break from teaching so that I can recharge.  On a similar note, weekends and holidays are for my students to have family and recharging time and I do not assign homework on weekends or holidays, ever. I make a point of telling my students that I know that they have other commitments besides school and that their families are important so it's necessary to take that time away from schoolwork.

Tuesday, September 23, 2014

Day 17 to 23 (double whoops!)

I have not been doing well with this blogging challenge this week - I did however, do well with with my personal 30 Day work out challenge - I've only missed two days!

Day 17
What do you think is the most challenging issue in education today?
The most challenging issue in education today is that we are in the midst of a huge change in education and we don't quite know where we're going or how we're going to get there. 

Day 18
Create a metaphor/simile/analogy that describes your teaching philosophy. For example, a “teacher is a ________…”
Community is life.

Day 19
Name three powerful students can reflect on their learning, then discuss closely the one you use most often.
I'm not sure what this question means?  Perhaps tools that students can use to reflect on their learning?  If so, one of the most powerful tools that I use to help students reflect on their learning is visual journals and the visual thinking routines from Project Zero.
Day 20
How do you curate student work–or help them do it themselves?
I use the visual journal!  We collect samples of our work, sketches, notes, etc. in a chronological order.  A fantastic thing to use, one of my favourites.
Day 21
Do you have other hobbies/interests that you bring into your classroom teaching? Explain.
I have a passion for outreach and the environment.  I spend a lot of time making sure that my students understand the wider world around them and their responsibilities and privileges in making this world a better place - "be the change you wish to see in the world!" (Gandhi) 
Day 22
What does your PLN look like, and what does it to for your teaching?
 I have had several PLNs.  My main PLN is a core group of Twitter educators that I connect with on various topics, edchats, etc., a wider one is the core group of teachers that I encounter at local PD an conferences, and then I also had a small group of grade 4 teachers that got together a few times a year for the past 1.5 years to plan and discuss teaching.  It was great!  We'd say, "I'm doing Light and Shadow and I'm having trouble teaching this concept, anyone have any ideas?" and then share.  I loved it.  I'm sad that it's over, I'm hoping that we can pick it back up again next year.....this year, we're kind of on hiatus as two of our group are teaching Grade 3 this year, two are on maternity leave, and I'm in Montessori Gr4-6, so we've got just one Grade 4 teacher left at this point! 
Day 23
Write about one way that you “meaningfully” involve the community in the learning in your classroom. If you don’t yet do so, discuss one way you could get started.
 I try very hard to meaningfully involve the community in the learning in my classroom through a variety of projects. We ensure that we have parent involvement in some way over the year and often invite parents to share their area of expertise, we invite guest speakers, connect via Twitter, visit local seniors' homes, and try take our learning out into the world as much as possible.  We interact with various levels of community, including school, neighbourhood, city, province, country, and internationally.  It's a great way to learn!

Tuesday, September 16, 2014

Days 14-16 (a.k.a Whoops!)

Reflective Teaching 30 Day Challenge

So, I haven't blogged since Saturday.  It's time to remedy this!
Day 14
What is feedback for learning, and how well do you give it to students?

Feedback for learning or as we often call it,"assessment for learning," is when we engage with students during the course of their learning and can discuss understandings/problems/questions/concerns, etc.  It's helpful for us as educators to observe and engage in the learning process right along with our students, and helpful for our students to get that feedback during their learning rather than afterwards.  I think I do this quite well, as I really enjoy discussing understandings and comprehension with my kids - they always have questions that I haven't anticipated, which is awesome!

Day 15
Name three strengths you have as an educator.

Three of my strengths as an educator is that I am very organized, I'm good at breaking down concepts and figuring out the puzzles/tricks of understanding, and I value student input and choice.  I really want kids to have a say in their education, and I really want them to learn to think rather than just memorize, so we spend a lot of time learning how to do proper, effective internet searches and how to ask good (non-googleable) questions!

Day 16
If you could have one superpower to use in the classroom, what would it be and how would it help?

This is a great question - telepathy comes to mind so I could understand what kids were thinking or wondering when they don't always put it into words, but that might be too much information at most times!  So, with that in mind (ha ha ha - pun alert), the superpower that could be most useful could be something like germ deflection so I never get sick or perhaps a photographic memory so I could remember everything that kids do or say during a day and whatever needs to be done next!  There are probably lots of other things that would be useful, but I'm tired and not really up to thinking outside of the box at the moment!

Saturday, September 13, 2014

Day 13 - EdTech Tools

Day 13 of the Reflective Teaching 30 Day Blogging Challenge

Name the top edtech tools that you use on a consistent basis in the classroom, and rank them in terms of their perceived (by you) effectiveness.

I don't use a lot of EdTech tools the classroom, partially because I ensure that the tools that we're using help to aide the goal, and are not tech being used solely for tech's sake.

Here are the ones that we use consistently:

iPad (Keynote, Pages) - We're a 1:1 school, so we have an iPad for each child.  We use these for research, presentations, writing, etc.  We have some apps, but there are few that we use consistently. 

Twitter - We use this to communicate with parents and our school community as well as the greater world.  We have a child tweet each day (in an ideal world) to give a summary of our day.  We also tweet with other classes, authors, other people we're interested in communicating with (Craig Kielburger from Free the Children, etc).

KidBlog - I like to have the kids do some of their written work on KidBlog, particularly opinion pieces or journal writing. I'm trying to fit this into our schedule more often often, as it takes some time for the kids to learn how to use this tool.

Wikispace - We use this primarily for events like Global Read Aloud, to connect with other classrooms.  It's a fun tool!  In conjunction with this, we might use things like Lino It or Animoto.

Friday, September 12, 2014

Day 12 - Next Five Years

Day 12 of the Reflective Teaching 30 Day Blogging Challenge

How do you envision your teaching changing over the next five years?

In the next five years, I envision my teaching continuing to change and grow as I gain experience and knowledge, and learn more about different pedagogies and outlooks.  I envision becoming even more comfortable in my role as teacher, and continuing to strive to do my very best!

I also envision continuing my role as a Teacher Leader. This is the second year that I have been a Social Media and Outreach Coordinator at my school, running our school's twitter feed, helping out with the FB page and website, and overseeing our community and outreach involvement (Me to We/Free the Children, food drives, charity bake sales, etc).  This year, I'm on the new Teacher Leadership team, helping the Division II team plan PD and problem solve, plan and introduce programs, etc.  It's going to be lots of fun!

Thursday, September 11, 2014

Day 11 - Parts of the School Day

Day 11 of the Reflective Teaching 30 Day Blogging Challenge

What is your favorite part of the school day and why?

I have many favorite parts of the school day, but I guess my favorite part would be when I get to read aloud to the kids.  I love to read and I love it when I get to share this with my students.  I'm so looking forward to Global Read Aloud this year!