A few weeks ago, I had a wonderful opportunity to bring in professional theatre technicians into my school. Through a colleague, I arranged for these specialists from Vertigo Theatre to come and do a workshop with my students. Before they arrived, I sent the brand names, model numbers and type of equipment ahead of time so they could prepare and know what they would be working with at my school. Any of my fine arts students were welcome to attend the workshop, and I ended up with about 25 interested students. I met with my students ahead of time (outside of class) with what to expect. After providing a few sample questions, students created their own questions they wanted to ask the professionals at the workshop later in the week. I created a document for students, which included spaces for their questions, answers and a note-taking section. Students then carried their documents on clipboards as we toured the school learning about the different areas and equipment, asking questions along the way and taking notes. The workshop mainly focused on sound, lighting and careers in theatre. It was a mix of lecture, Q&As, demonstrations, games, and hands-on lessons and activities. Students were engaged over the two-hour session and I was fully immersed in it as well, learning what I could from these talented professionals.
Ainsley Thesen is a junior high band, drama and dance teacher. Her hobbies include piano, scuba diving, travel and golf.
One of the wonderful aspects of my job is the different types of conversations I get to have with students. The opportunity to hear their ideas, suggestions or to simply have a chat brings joy to a role in which so much time is eaten away in fulfilling managerial responsibilities. Strolling the halls and visiting classrooms, being invited into conversations or simply being asked “How was your weekend?” is not only a pleasure but it strikes me how valuable these kinds of encounters are, providing insights and perspectives that might otherwise be missed.
We live in a time of accountability and data driven decision making. Is there a more authentic source of data than students’ perspective on the lived reality of their school? It never ceases to amaze me what I learn when I talk to students and what transpires from these conversations. The most recent topic of conversation is our Grade 4 students’ perception that CTF is, “exclusionary in a Grade 4-9 middle school”. While certain things such as interschool athletics does actually present a challenge for us with our Grade 4 students, who knew that the Grade 5-9 CTF curriculum would be seen as another source of inequity? There is nothing quite like student voice to provide food for thought and to make you revisit and rethink your actions and assumptions.
Elaine Demcoe enjoys travelling, skiing, golfing and reading but most of all loves spending time with her grand-daughter. She has been a principal of four CBE schools.
Flipping my Thinking
I have found since beginning my teaching career, that I have a love and aptitude for technology and now that I am taking my masters in this area I have found many things that intrigue me. One of these has been my journey with the Flipped Classroom Approach.
The Flipped Classroom Approach in a nutshell consists of having students watch videos or complete other learning activities at home prior to the lesson. When they come to school, the time is spent having them explore the concepts, rather than sitting down to a teacher-directed lecture. With increasing class sizes making it a challenge to support my class, I decided to venture into an experiment using this approach in math.
I recorded a video of myself teaching math lessons using my iPad and the ShowMe app. I had my students watch the video for homework and when they came to school, they immediately started working on the math. I had students that hadn’t watched the video, or felt they needed to re-watch do that first. What ended up happening surprised me, for the first time in ages I was able to check-in and help EVERY SINGLE STUDENT. On top of that I gave my student’s a survey and they loved having more time to work, and something as simple as not having my hand in their way!
While I am just beginning to experiment with the Flipped Classroom, I am excited for the possibilities for myself and my students.
One of the many things I have learned over my 35 years in public education is that we are extremely humble and reluctant to celebrate our successes. From the classroom to the boardroom we continually accentuate the negative and eliminate the positive. This is at best unfortunate and at worst damaging to all involved. I believe that we need to take every opportunity to inform our public about the great accomplishments taking place in CBE classrooms on a daily basis.
I have also learned that teacher voice is exceedingly powerful in the ongoing dialogue around students and schools. About a year ago I commenced my own social media journey. At that time I found that public dialogue around our schools was essentially trite and negative. The amazing successes and fulfillment which I had come to know as being an integral and constant part of our system was neither being shared or resonating through the electronic media. One of the reasons I ran for trustee was a belief that this could be improved and changed.
I believe CBE 182 is becoming a useful instrument in the broadcasting of the great happenings in our public schools. The real difference makers in education - classroom teachers - have taken charge and are sharing their stories. This is striking a chord with our public. This is what our public wants to hear. This is what our public needs to hear.
It is my pleasure to commend those who have already contributed and I am looking forward to the stories yet to come.
Dr. Judy Hehr, 1st Term Trustee, Elected to Wards 8 & 9
The year of Web 2.014
Our grade three and four students have been using Web 2.0 tools as a way to create, collaborate and share in the inquiry process. Students have created 3-D storybooks entitled “The Diary of A Grizzly Bear”, a humorous account of the life of a Grizzly Bear in Alberta. We printed off story codes, which enabled us to view our stories using Ipads. The program allows the story to come to life in three dimensions.
Next students constructed Glog’s to share their knowledge of the regions of Alberta and the plant and wildlife that live there. Using the Glogster program students created posters using texts, graphics, animation, attachments and recordings of their own voice. The Glog’s were all assigned a QR code, which could be read using a QR code reader. The codes created by both the Zooburst and Glogster program allowed our students to easily share their work with the school community and they were thrilled by the positive feedback they received.
The next step in our inquiry journey is to create” Who Would Win Books” using an online storybook creator called Storyjumper. Students have chosen various animals native to Alberta to pit against each other in a virtual fight. The information presented in the books will allow others to form their own opinion about who would win. Using Web 2.0 tools has been very motivating for our students.
When asked how to describe our classroom students came up with “in Room 5 we are busy imagining, researching and creating.”
Raman and Carla currently share a spirited Grade 3/4 classroom at O.S Geiger School. They are passionate about fostering a love of learning in their students.
On Saturday, April 26, I went to the Young Writers’ Conference. It was a big deal for me because I got to meet tons of amazing authors like Nicole Luiken, Jhan Groom, and Eric Walters. I learned so much about writing and creating different worlds and stories.
Kennedy is a grade four student at Twelve Mile Coulee School. She enjoys writing stories and reading science fiction.
“Behold the turtle. He makes progress only when he sticks his neck out.”
~ James Bryant Conant
Recently, for our grade 9 summative assessment for the immigration unit, my colleague and I asked our students to answer the following question: How does immigration benefit Canada? Instead of the traditional (and safe!) essay assignment, we asked students to use the Aurasma app to share their knowledge. They had to create a target image on paper that visually represented their main idea, and then using the app they connected their image to a videotaped speech where they expressed their views orally. This was a risk for both the teachers and the students … most of us had NEVER even used the app before, but were interested in the idea of augmented reality and wanted to give it a try in the classroom.
Other risks that were taken during this project:
Was doing the assignment this way worth the risk? You bet! Students were engaged, assignment completion and submission was 20% higher than usual and the final products were of high quality and demonstrated understanding.
So, what did I learn today? I was reminded that teaching and learning, or making progress, always involves taking a risk!
Melissa Hopkins (@MN_Hopkins) currently teaches social studies and home economics at Clarence Sansom School. Her interests include fostering critical thinking, literacy, & creativity, as well as exploring the concept of the flipped classroom.
I have a great learning story.
I went into Sra Flor’s grade 2 class to read with the students in February. I don’t speak Spanish, but I can help with technology integration. Sra Flor and her students were learning how to create a class book using a word document. The lesson did not go as planned, however; Sra Flor then had the chance to show me all the amazing student created videos and digital stories that the students had created. She asked me how she could share them more efficiently with parents in D2L. I had given her a copy of Kathy Cassidy’s book, Connected from the Start: Global Learning in the Primary Grades and Sra Flor showed me, through digital examples, that she had read and examined the book in detail. As a parent, you can’t be more touched when a teacher actually appreciates a gift - and applies it to her own class, which includes my son.
I encouraged Dalhousie teachers to consider some of the CBE PD opportunities that encourage authentic integration of technology - and a bunch of them took the challenge!
Since that day, I attended #EdCampYYC, where I was able to learn with a variety of teachers from Dalhousie as well as with teachers from around the district. I sat in sessions with my son’s teachers and was so proud to be in the room as we engaged in a critical examination of how we teach, learn and engage with our students. I have also helped the school with some Google Apps for Education training as the school transitions into the Google world.
What I learned that day in February, when one technology lesson did not go as planned - is that my child really benefits and learns from watching the perseverance and risk taking of his teacher. I was just lucky that I was included in one of their learning paths this year. Sra Flor's grit and determination is evident every time I am lucky enough to be in the classroom. I truly appreciate her patience and willingness to be transparent in including me in her learning in order to provide opportunities for her students. How many parents can say that they learn with their child’s teacher?
The story does not end as the year ends….next year I will continue to support the school in its new technology adventures, and I look forward to watching Sra Flor and the other teachers support each other to provide choice for CBE students and each other.
Verena Roberts (@verenanz) PalliserBB Teacher,Consultant - Changemaker Goal: To Find & Create Collaborative & Innovative Learning Opportunities.
Educational Blogging with Grade 3 Students
This year my students have had the opportunity to engage in educational blogging through the Kidblog platform. The purpose of our blog site is to communicate our ideas and opinions on educational topics among our classmates in an online environment. Students receive weekly blog prompts to respond to related to curricular content we are studying at the time. They also have the opportunity to write their own blog posts on educational topics of personal interest. Students enjoy this platform as they have a way of sharing their learning with their entire class instead of just their teacher. Often, students choose to write and respond to blog posts outside of class time. During our blogging experience, we have learned how to write an interesting blog post that elicits a response from its readers. We have also discussed how to provide feedback to our peers through the commenting feature.
What I appreciate most about blogging is that I am able to better understand what motivates my students and can provide timely feedback on their writing, which is not always possible when teaching in the classroom. I can then incorporate their interests into daily teaching activities, or provide further information such as hyperlinks and media. I love how engaging this activity has become for some of my quieter students. Our blogs add value to in-class discussions and can replace in-class journaling activities. Blogging is a great way to expose students to digital literacy skills, collaboration, critical thinking and online communication.
Chelsea O’Leary is a Grade 3 teacher at Hidden Valley School. She is an edtech specialist who has an interest in blogging and mobile technologies.
It’s May 5th at 5:00am when 48 bright-eyed Grade 8 students and 5 coffee-fueled educators meet at the Calgary International Airport’s Meeting Place B. The majority of students and parents arrive to the muster point early, eager with anticipation for BP’s annual Voyage au Québec - a weeklong French language immersive experience in Québec. During this 6-day excursion, we visited various historical sites and cultural hotspots throughout Montréal, Québec City, and along the Beaupré Coast.
In the months leading up to the trip, students attended bi-weekly preparatory meetings after school where they selected two sites from the itinerary to research and prepare their contribution to a collaborative documentary film of our trip. These meetings were great opportunities for students to use their language skills in a more casual setting than their classroom as they shared their expectations and responsibilities during the Voyage. Throughout the year, I saw students from the Continuing and Late Immersion programs collaborating on their language learning.
While in Québec, students were excited when we arrived to their sites. They took ownership of asking for our Tour Director to wait a few minutes so that they could film their experience. They were able to speak, in perfect French, to the historical significance of their site.
During the many stops, tours, and meals together, students were independently speaking in French amongst each other, asking questions and for clarification of the tour guides, engaging in conversation with our very Francophone Tour Director and laughing at his very Francophone jokes.
A student summed up very eloquently what I had learned today...
“Mme, it felt good to use all of the French I have learned in a real French setting.”
Sheena (@MmeSheena) is a FI Teacher/LL, and an Apple Distinguished Educator. She is passionate about blending technology and language learning and offering students real-world language experiences.
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