Category Archives: arts

Our Learning Commons gets a maker space addition!

In a few days, I’m taking on a new role with a secondment to the Ministry of Ontario in the 21st Century Learning Unit.  I’m feeling bittersweet about the new role; sad to be leaving my school and all of the wonderful students, teachers and parents I’ve come to know in my short time aIMG_0787s a VP, but excited about a new challenge and ready to embrace a new adventure!

Luckily for me, I get to continue to support my school’s newly acquired grant from Future Shop, where we’ve received almost $20000 to enhance student learning with innovative technologies.

Our shopping is almost complete, and I’m planning on chronicling  our journey as we move forward, starting with a little piece of the grant proposal as follows, and sharing our plan of action over the next 8 weeks.

Our students want to become producers, not just consumers of media, and participate as 21st century learners in a world that is creative, collaborative and global. We want students to access tools that allow participation as global citizens, demonstrations of learning through the creation of shareable multimedia projects, and engaging in STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering and Math) programming through projects that are possible with robust technology tools.  Innovative practice with a STEM focus in elementary schools means that students see themselves as idea-makers, planners, designers and builders. We’ve found that our Chromebooks allow us easy ways to collaborate and share files, but this is not enough.  We need tools like laptops, programming software, peripherals for multimedia creation, and Ministry licensed digital resources in order to leverage more of the powerful applications that computers afford us.

Currently, our library is a traditional space holding books and 20 desktop computers in a lab setting.  Our teacher librarian has begun to turn our space into a creative Learning Commons that promotes flexible purposes for learning, and we need mobile devices available to all students, at all times, to be truly transformative for student learning.  Our Learning Commons has the infrastructure to manage this with our efficient wifi throughout the school and a small room attached to the larger space that is the perfect solution to a technology enhanced maker space and multimedia production studio.

STEM initiatives such as the one we are proposing provide an engaging way for students to connect to the curriculum in the areas of math, science, and technology, as well as support the Ontario Ministry’s focus on inquiry based learning and leveraging the power of intentional play to advance learning.  With this grant we can transform this space to include learning, invention, play, creation and innovation and we see it growing from the basic elements we’ve requested to a creative play and invention space that is responsive to the needs, interests and abilities of our students at different age levels.

We are so grateful that Future Shop saw our vision and chose us to be grant recipients so that we can make this happen!

The technology requested in this grant will allow students to develop:

  • skills and experience in creation with multi-media tools (e.g., podcasting, websites, videos, presentations, music)
  • skills and experience in using Logo programming languages (i.e., Scratch, Turtle Art (both free) and MicroWorlds which is included in the proposal, as well as ProBots and BeeBots)
  • hands-on experience using programmable materials (i.e., Little Bits construction tools along with Arduino and Sphero Balls)
  • an understanding of manufacturing and design elements using software that will transpose student designs into 3D artefacts using the 3D printer

Art Miles Japan — Our successful completion!

BIG congratulations to the Grade 6s and Mme Caudarella from  École Edward Johnson who participated in a Global Project called Art Miles Japan this year.  It is coordinated through the International Education and Resource Network (iEARN.org) and is a fabulous way for students to have a global learning experience.  A teacher is matched with a class from Japan and the classes begin by introducing themselves in the iEARN online forum and through videos that they create.   The two classes then decide on a theme for a mural; in this case it was around the local culture and nature evident in our two countries.

The class from Japan begins the first half of the mural painting, and, once complete, sends it to the class in Canada to finish, which we shared earlier here. What a great opportunity for students to research, collaborate, design, and be creative with a classroom from across the world! Mme Caudarella’s class received the half-finished mural from Japan in January and sent it back just before March Break. Thanks so much to our partner class from Japan for this wonderful collaboration! 🙂

Here are some pictures of the class working on and celebrating the finished mural:

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Art Miles Project – Our Mural Arrives From Japan!

I’ve been working with Siham Caudarella and the students of her Grade 6 class this year on an international project called Art Miles.  This is one of the fabulous iEARN.org projects that make global collaboration fun and a great learning experience for students.  Art Miles is a new one for me this year; I’ve been lucky enough to take part in a few over the years and have written about them elsewhere.

Art Miles Japan involves connecting with a classroom in Japan and collaborating on a theme for a mural.  We are connected with Masaaki Kato’s Grade 6 class from Nuka Elementary School and in our case, we chose the theme of sharing nature and culture in our respective cities.  The Japanese class begins by painting the first half of the mural, and we complete the second half.  We began by introducing ourselves to our partner class through a video, and then we visited their city and neighbourhood via Google Earth.  Although we would have liked to arrange a Skype or Google Hangout, the time change did not work in our favour this time around. 😦

Yesterday was such an exciting day! The box arrived as soon as school resumed in January, and we got together to open the box and see what was inside.  We were sent paint and the mural and lots of discussion and wonderings came out from students and teachers…

What was the mural made of?  How did the other class decide on their symbols for images?  What do the images represent? How will we learn to write our names in Japanese so that we can sign the mural?  What kind of paint are we using and how will we solve the problem of reading the Japanese on the paint cans?  Should we paint our scene in the same season in order to blend the two sides or should we make our section look really different?

We’ll be busy planning, drafting and painting in the next few weeks — stay tuned for the final product.  In the meantime, we capture a few moments of the mural’s exciting arrival here:

 

 

 

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 Lino.it 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!

Art Miles and Google Lit Trips

One of my favourite things to do with students is connect them globally with others around the world, and I’ve written about that here in earlier posts.   I’m starting to daydream about getting back to a school one day soon, and one of the things I’ve missed is participating in, not just suggesting, some of these awesome projects!

If you or your class are interested, consider signing up for the Art Miles Project in Japan this year.  The sign up deadline is May 31, 2014 and the English registration instructions are provided here.

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If you are looking for interesting ways to use Google Earth, check out Google Lit Trips where you can see how media can be embedded into placeholders in Google Earth tours.  This place-based storytelling helps to bring some of your favourite children’s literacy alive, using Google Earth.  You and your students could consider making your own tours after you check out some samples. Very Cool!

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Shattered and Sundered – A Film Tribute to Canadian Veterans in WWI

kieran-shattered shotIt’s been exciting to see a project in which my son Kieran is involved take shape this past year.  Filming is about to begin and Director Jeff and his team have been crowd sourcing some financial support in order to make their film as professional as they can – and they’ve met their goal!  This project is a dream come true for Kieran, because although his friend Jeff wrote about his great-grandfather’s experience at Vimy Ridge, Kieran’s own ‘Poppie’, James Orr, survived the Battle of the Somme at age 16 and was a member of the Royal Inniskilling Fusiliers.  We spent many Sunday nights listening to Poppie retell his experiences of trying to survive life in the trenches, so to see Kieran depicted in the promo video was a bit haunting.   I’ll never forget my grandfather, responding to something my Mom was NOT going to let me do as a young teenager (the details escape me) — saying “Aach…Kathleen, when I was her age I was in the trenches in France fighting for my life…let her go! ”

We are so proud to see Kieran involved in telling this story – and Poppie would be so proud too!  Thanks so much to the friends and families of these young artists – your contributions are making dreams come true! 🙂

More about the film…and the donation campaign:
http://igg.me/at/shattered-and-sundered