After stumbling upon an interesting post by The School Vlogger, Dr. Mary Hemphill, I noticed she happened to be talking about engaging student voice at her school, and when she began to talk about changing culture and keeping students at the centre, I was really intrigued. The idea being shared was one way that she was addressing the challenge of collecting data from the most important people in the school – the students! We’ve all used surveys, and engaged in conversations and observations, and of course google forms, but do we really hear from everyone that way? And how engaged in the process do they really feel? It was my experience as a school leader that despite the most intentional planning to know every student, there were some voices I heard more than others and some classrooms that I visited more frequently than others. After watching the YouTube video below, and hearing this idea, I was excited about trying it and was missing being at my school in order to give it a go!
3 simple questions…just 1 minute out of class time, AND asked to every one of the students at the school…could that be done?
Who did I know who might value this, and want to give it a go? I sent out a tweet to my first educational mentor, Kathy Gossling-Spears, who I was fortunate enough to meet in my first 3 years of teaching. Our dream has always been to have a school of our own one day! 🙂
Just as I thought, Kathy dove in and gave it a try. Watch the video below that inspired us and check out the interview with Kathy about her observations about the first time trying it!
Give it a try and let us know what you find out and how it works for you! Kathy is now on round two, so stay tuned for an update on what she has learned. 🙂
Kathy’s Interview after trying 1 minute meetings
Sometimes there are moments that bring you back in time to reflect on your teaching practice, and a visit to YRDSBs Quest Conference this week certainly did that for me. Brian Aspinall @mraspinall was mentioning his early efforts in coding with kids in a club that he started while he was a University student in 2005.
During the 2004-2005 school year (it actually may have been after the May ECOO 2003, although my memory escapes me), I began using MicroWorlds Jr Logo with my Grade 2 students as a result of being introduced to it by people who had been on board with programming with children since at least the 70’s. Whoa! I had some background to catch up on and began to learn and read about the giants behind this educational reform.
Beginning my Master’s degree at OISE in 2003 led me to inspiring people like Clare Brett, Jim Hewitt, Earl Woodruff, the work of Seymour Papert and the notion of constructionism. Being an ECOO member and attending the 2003 annual conference led me to meet inspiring people like @peterskillen who got me started with MicroWorlds Jr, @garystager, Karen Beutler @kbbeutler, @dougpete, @andyforgrave and Mitch Resnick, all of whom had been programming with kids for ages! I was WAY behind and knew it! My first workshop for teachers in 2005 was my effort to share what I was learning from this amazing community of educators who had sparked my passion and who were teaching me about new ways of teaching that suited my desired classroom culture: inquiry and student-driven project based learning. Coding became another way to engage students in the authentic application of math skills already at play in my classroom: art, music, building things and cooking, to name a few.
There was no problem connecting coding with my curriculum, as you’ll see in the slides below. Computational thinking was not a term I was using back then, but it’s interesting to look back and see connections to cross-curricular authentic applications of Math, as well as references to teacher-student co-learning and what we would now call global competencies or 21st century skills, especially in the areas of problem-solving, creativity, collaboration, inquiry and learning to learn.
My biggest advice to teachers, in this time where many voices are telling us that we must have coding put into the elementary curriculum, would be to take the freedom you are given with our Ontario curriculum and innovate your own examples to go along with overall expectations! I’m so glad that I didn’t wait and many other teachers like the ones at Quest and ECOO (BIT) are not waiting either. Don’t wait….Innovate!
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