Sunday, August 31, 2014

T-1 day until the start of a new school year!

A brand new, sparkling school year is nearly upon us!  I have a new teaching assignment this year, and am excited to start with the kids....instead of teaching Grade 4 (Progressive) at River Valley School, I will be co-teaching in a multi-grade (4, 5, 6) Montessori class with my buddy Jyoti Basarke and our fabulous aide Sharon Turnbull.  Together, we're the UE team!  I'm looking forward to learning a lot of new skills, widening my understanding of teaching, learning, and pedagogy, and most of all - working with a great group of kids :)

The classroom is ready, our materials are ready, my home office is set up and ready to go.  Our team has discussed and planned the first day, and most of the first week, but beyond that, the rest will have to wait until we talk with and work with the kids to see where their interests and needs lie.

It's going to be a great year!

Friday, August 22, 2014

BP A+ For Energy Conference

I just returned from the BP A+ for Energy Conference, which was held in Banff.  It was another fantastic summer learning opportunity, and I'm very grateful that I had the chance to attend!   I was able to attend this conference because two of my coworkers and I applied for this grant back in May, and were successful!  This coming year, we will be working on the past/present/future of the energy industry with the Division II kids at our school, looking at Alberta specifically for Grade 4, and branching out into Canada for Grade 5, and looking at government involvement in Grade 6.  We will be linking this up with a book series, The City of Ember by Jeanne DuPrau, which serves as an analogy of a dystopian future. 

The conference was a great chance to meet other people who were granted awards, many of whom have won more than once, to discuss projects, ideas, and plans.  We also took part in some in-depth discussions about the energy sector in Alberta (specifically oil/gas/coal, wind/solar/hydro/geothermal), ate some absolutely delicious food, and enjoyed the scenery in Banff. 

I had a great time with my coworker, Kat, and met lots of new wonderful people that I hope that I get to connect with again soon! 

Friday, August 1, 2014

Spark #SHIFTLab

So, with the usual guilt-and-apologies for the lack of posts for the past four months or so, I'm back.  This year, at the always fabulous ConnectEd Canada conference, which is now called Innovate West, I was fortunate to be able to take part in a session with TELUS Spark Educators to showcase and test drive some activities for their upcoming design thinking/making/tinkering summer intensive session called Spark SHIFTLab.  I had already applied to attend, because it seemed like a really cool workshop, but that session with Steph Nemcsok sold me.

I was, therefore, incredibly delighted to find out that I'd been accepted to attend the July cohort of the summer intensive, particularly when I found out that my new co-teacher and I would be attending together!

It was an absolutely amazing week that I am still fully processing, but I learned about many new things that I am super excited to share with my new class, my coworkers, and my Twitter PLN.  The next cohort is in session in August and then we'll all get together as a big group in November, which will be fantastic.

One thing in particular that has stuck with me is the emphasis on learning from failure.  I am super impressed by how often the staff of Spark will say that they failed at something, and then, this was miraculous, they just learn from it and let it go.  It's amazing to see that actually happen in practice. 

There were a few times that I was stretched to try or do something that I wasn't super knowledgeable or good at (hacking the electrical system of toys, anyone?), and even though I didn't "succeed," I still learned many ways NOT to hack a toy.  I've now concretely connected with that quote about Thomas Edison, which I've always loved.