“To Plant a Garden is to Believe in Tomorrow” – Audrey Hepburn
“To Plant a Garden is to Believe in Tomorrow” – Audrey Hepburn
What does intellectual engagement look like? Haysboro students know! Hands covered in dirt, shovels, trowels, and magnifying glasses in hand … Students working as agriculturists, scientists and mathematicians documenting their learning and the experience of harvesting and cultivating the School Garden.
Haysboro Dream Catcher Garden Harvest begins: “Which ones are the beets?” “Look I found a carrot … wait a tonne of carrots!” Students were amazed to see how the patches of dirt where they had planted seeds had grown into vine covered, leaf filled beds of potential. Eyes glued to quickly filling buckets, frenetic energy, curiosity, counting, classifying, collaborating, learning engulfed us. “Why are these carrots bigger than those? How much do you think the water mattered?”
Student generated, teacher guided, parent supported, our students learned the process and intense work it takes to start with seeds and end up with an edible product. Through classroom conversations, student chose to plant root vegetables with the purpose of growing food that could be donated for those in need. “We donated the food [to the Calgary Food Bank] because most of the hungry people don’t get fresh food normally and because over a third of them are children.” (Gr 5/6 students) Students cheered as they loaded 53 Kg of fresh produce onto the Truck just in time for Thanksgiving. With help from the Calgary Zoo, we have put our beds to rest for the winter and are planning for future harvests. This is what intellectual engagement looks like at Haysboro School.
Tracy Kohan (@PrincipalKohan) is Principal of Haysboro School. She is a curious, collaborative and passionate about pushing learning to its limits.
A Music Teacher’s Dream Day
Today, Cranston school K-4 students were part of TWO very special musical celebrations. The first, this morning, was to commemorate the 50th anniversary of our flag’s birth. We joined students across the country, making history, as participants in the largest recording of O Canada ever produced. The Hometown Proud National recording Tour came to Calgary and recorded 564 of our students singing, O Canada. It was absolutely beautiful.
The students loved participating in this project. When asked how he felt, fourth grade student Alexander K. said, “I was so happy, I just wanted to sing in it! The Canada Flag is 50 years old and that’s pretty special.” Like Abir C. most of our students agree they, “feel happy when I sing O Canada.” All our students recognize just how proud they feel to be a Canadian, and I share this pride too, but most especially when singing our national anthem.
Our second musical celebration took place this afternoon. We have had the opportunity to have a drumming residency at our school for the past two weeks. One World Drumming instructor David, taught us how to feel African rhythms and to play with not only our hands, but also our hearts, and play we did. We held two concerts at the school to allow all the students the opportunity to perform for their families, and it was indeed an amazing experience.
Something I love about being a music teacher, is the opportunity to share the gift of music, each and every day with my students. It truly makes me appreciate the wonderful benefits of fine arts education in our schools and in our lives. Days like today are busy, and a great deal of work, but they are always worth it! They create treasured memories in the here and now and also in the future.
This Thanksgiving weekend, I am truly grateful for opportunities like today, that I am afforded in my career. I give thanks for the wonderful, talented students and staff I get to work with every day. I have an extra large helping of gratitude for our wonderful full-time music instructor Mrs. Jessica McBride (@jmmuise) who continually inspires me with her energy, expertise and musical talents.
For more information videos, photographs and art work for the Hometown Proud Canada flag project can be found at: www.flagofCanada.ca.
For information and opportunities to try your hand at drumming, contact: www.oneworlddrum.com
@liannesjones is a pianist, who loves to read, write, and spend time with her 4 kids! She particularly enjoys bingeing on genealogy, twitter, reading, chocolate and naps!
I’m currently teaching Grade 6’s at Nose Creek Middle School. I love to incorporate design-thinking tasks into learning and am in a constant battle with time
Time. Could time arguably be the bane of a teacher’s existence? Moving from an elementary to a middle school a few years ago, I am thinking it is very likely. Most of the time I think I push through, and the students come out with skills under their belts. Then are days, like today…
It began with a question. Frankly, not the most interesting question: what are the differences between a prism and a pyramid? As per many Space and Shape classes, there were nets, building, comparing and discussing with classmates. We learned a procedure for drawing both types of 3-D shapes on dot paper and answered questions about parallel lines and perpendicular edges.
And then there was this question: “I am wondering how to challenge myself?” — the question I eagerly await, but when I hear it am usually not quite able to give as great an answer to such an awesome question. On the spot, with a few kids awaiting me too, I just blurted out, “Well, why don’t you try to build an irregular 3D shape, or maybe create a net for a new shape all together, or…something?”
Soon it was not just one, but all my students. There were fascinating discussions, problems encountered and handled, connections made, compliments given and failures moved on from. There was fascination, frustration, excitement, pride and every kid was willing to share their work, no matter how simple or complex.
On top of all this, the most amazing, incredible, even miraculous thing occurred: Time stood still.
Andrea Jennings currently teaches Grade 6’s at Nose Creek Middle School. I love to incorporate design-thinking tasks into learning and am in a constant battle with time
Literacy Through Daily
This year I decided to implement Daily 5 in my classroom to support literacy instruction. For those of you who are unfamiliar with Daily 5, it is a literacy system created by Gaily Boushey & Joan Mosher, used during literacy instruction where students engage in (up to) five different literacy activities: Read to Self, Read to Others, Listen to Reading, Work on Writing, and Working with words (https://www.thedailycafe.com/daily-5). What my students like most about this system is that they have choice in which activities they would like to perform and they also have more targeted one-on-one teacher instruction during the Daily 5 period. When doing the Daily 5 check-in for each block, you can easily tell who enjoys reading, which students likes to write and who likes to work alone or with a friend. Not only do they have choice in what they perform, they also have some choice in where they work. We do not have our desks organized in rows; instead our classroom is like a Starbucks (minus the coffee station of course!) – we have tables spread out into different areas of the classroom, a gathering area on the carpet and quiet areas for those who prefer or need to work alone. So far, my students are enjoying our Daily 5 sessions. At the end of a Daily 5 session, I have heard students say:
“Can we continue reading with you again tomorrow?”
“Can I finish my free writing piece during our next Daily 5?”
“I’d like to read with a friend today.”
I hope this enthusiasm keeps on throughout the remainder of the school year.
Chelsea O’Leary (@Chelsea_OLeary) teaches grade 2 French Immersion. Believes that in order to become better readers and writers, students must read and write daily.
This year, I started in a bare-bones classroom and gave my students the challenge to design our space using the design-thinking model. I worked online with the help of Shafali Hamir, who created a Google document to create empathy for students. The result is a space unlike any I have taught in before: wholly owned by students. It has truly taken me away from being the center of attention and created space for student agency.
I never would have imagined at the outset what an all-encompassing project this would be. It took more effort and more time than expected, but the payoff was also far greater than I imagined.
What did my students learn?
My students can do math about our space, discuss our space in French, plan and own their learning and the products that will be made in our space. They are excited to be here and they own this space! Students built on the 21st century competencies outlined in the ministerial order on learning in Alberta: they collaborated, problem solved, researched, and communicated solutions!
But what would I do differently?
The question was asked by a colleague who appreciated the space but wondered what I learned.
This is a space that will need to be re-made at regular intervals to meet our current needs.
Tracy Evans teaches Grade Three French Immersion at King George School. Her passions include technology in classrooms, student-centered learning, and a good cup of coffee. She blogs at:thevalueofwonder.com
In September, Andrew Sibbald, Cranston and McKenzie Lake Schools spent a PD day investigating connections between technology and learning with George Couros, a Parkland School Division Principal of Innovative Teaching and Learning. He asked us, “If your students had a choice to come to your school, would they come?”
This got me thinking, “What makes students really WANT to come to school?”
So I asked.
I got a range of answers. Everything from: “I like sharing my writing about Mermaids” and “Assemblies are fun, I like when we all wear our school T-shirts for spirit days”. Two girls told me that they love the school Maker Space and Imagination Playground because, “we get to be creative together.”
Grade 1 and 2 students seemed to talk about two main things: PE / recess or reading. One boy said, “I like playing on the park with my friends. I like to jump off the long chain because it is higher than my teacher.” Many reported that they loved to go outside and run with their friends. Another student said, “I like EVERYTHING! But mostly stories, I like when people read to me.”
When I looked back over my notes the thing the seemed to jump out repeatedly was the notion of connections. Students making connections with each other, with teachers, with learning, with their environment.
What makes kids want to come to school? Connections.
Melanie Bennett (@APMaBennett) believes that having a positive impact on someone’s life is one of the most important things a person can do.
Re-inventing the Learning Commons
When Cranston School opened in 2010 we focused on getting books for the beautiful, bright library space. In 2011 we began to transition to a Learning Commons, a process documented and shared with many others. Now, four short years later, we are in the process of what can only be described as ‘re-inventing’ the Learning Commons!
It is not a re-imagining – our vision of a Learning Commons where students can come together to dream, share, investigate, explore and create is as strong as ever. Yet last year we noticed the student use of our Learning Commons had begun to diminish and we wondered why. The response - because we’ve grown so much (more than doubled our population) that the congested traffic getting to the gym, music room, and Learning Commons, including the movement of four technology carts, was inhibiting use of the LC - led to this ‘re-inventing’.
Our original LC is now home to the Kindergarten Triad. In mid-October we’ll open two new Learning Commons spaces, one in each of two wings of the school, and an auxiliary LC space in a hallway that links to the third. We are in the process of moving, ‘genrifying’ and re-tagging our book collection, moving furniture and deploying all technology to the new LC spaces for students to access as needed. An ‘on-demand’ model for students to access resources, support and peer connections - and an ambitious plan embraced by visionary teachers exemplifying responsive teaching and learning!
Lorraine Kinsman =Principal of Cranston School, a lifelong learner who loves nothing better than a new idea to pursue! @CranstonSchool
Do you want to get an email notification of all new posts? Enter your address below!