Back to the classroom…Here we go! Part 1

I’m headed back to the classroom .5 this fall as I also move into my new role as Vice Principal.  So, after about 7 years of being in a central board position, I’m back at it with lots to be reminded about; different deadlines, report cards (writing and reading), assessment and tracking and the weekly timetable.  Creating a collaborative learning culture, planning lessons, units and projects were the things I absolutely loved best about being the classroom so I’m pretty pumped!

After asking the Junior teachers what might work best for them, my assignment is to see 5 classes each week for an hour each (Grades 3-5) and look after Media Literacy, Dance, Music and some resource time for the school as well.  I immediately thought about how the Media Literacy piece would support the Dance and Music elements.  I also thought that since I’m not a fluent French speaker (yet!),  Music, Dance and Media could be combined to support learning about French culture – I could help contribute in that way to the French Immersion experience.

So…where to start?

Step 1: Curriculum Connections

I’m a lover of PBL, so I’m immediately drawn to how these 3 subject areas might overlap and how rich projects could emerge.  I’m also considering that since I only see these classes once a week I’ll need to work through cross-curricular rich tasks or be left tearing my hair out!  My sense of the curriculum was that the creative processes in the Arts would align nicely with the overall expectations in Media Literacy.  I took to a and here’s what emerged!   Fabulous alignment in 3 areas! 🙂

Screen Shot 2014-08-23 at 9.01.45 PMStep 2:  Rich and Relevant Tasks

I was inspired this summer by a visit to the Titanic Quarter in Belfast, Ireland, where they have created a fantastic mulitmedia experience for learners.  I got thinking that if the Media piece were to involve sharing out what we learned about Music and Dance (forms, creations, reflections),  this would be a meaningful way to bring in many important elements of media study (digital citizenship, audience, purpose, voice, forms, multimedia tools and devices).   My next step is to use a Graphic Organizer to pull out the specific expectations in each grade level and sort them based on how they align with each other.  This will prompt project ideas and give me a framework for how to shape students’ wonderings and questions around some big ideas as we move forward.  Stay tuned for Part 2 as that emerges over the next week or two.

In the meantime….Screen Shot 2014-08-23 at 9.28.02 PM

As the year starts and I get my plans in place in conjunction with the other teachers, I’m going to start with Bitstrips with all of the classes.  This will allow me to get to know each student, build community in an online space, teach some preliminary skills around digital citizenship, and work on how to give effective feedback to each other.  The feedback and reflection element will be very critical as we move into exploring the arts together!   It’s also a Ministry Licensed OSAPAC tool and I know that it should work well on multiple devices…not to mention how exciting it is for students!


  1. This is lovely. I am so excited for you and so happy for the teachers and students in your charge.

    It is clear that your passion for this upcoming year and your expertise in curriculum, technology and learning will merge to serve your learning community well.

    I look forward to your updates!


  2. It’s so funny…because 10 years ago I would have been thinking about what great resources I was going to find and now I’m wondering which people and experts we’ll be connecting with around the world as we get started! The Grade 6 class is already connected with a classroom in Japan for the next year for an Art Miles project as you know!! Exciting! 🙂


  3. Now you have me thinking (as you usually do!) — might it be possible for you to have a public-facing LCD tv in your staff room of hallway where your posts and other shared works might be displayed.


  4. This is exactly the kind of concept I have been trying to get across to some of the colleagues I work with. Each subject area does not need to fit into a specific box on the schedule with only so many minutes per week. You demonstrate so effectively how subject areas can be integrated and interwoven creating meaningful learning for students. I remember our Toronto days together when we were doing just this with our students and it was the best and most fulfilling teaching of my career.


    • Feel free to pass this along – I would love to get a conversation going with others who are trying to integrate!

      Ah yes…our fabulous days at Parkdale!! Maybe we’ll get that school we dreamt about yet! 🙂 🙂


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