One Minute Meetings – What could you possibly accomplish? 

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! 🙂

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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

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Coding in 2004 – Looking back to move forward…

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!

 

Google Forms and Siri Unite For Recording Anecdotals

I’m a big fan of using Siri on my iphone and have been ever since I began using speech to text software with students in about 2006.  Boy, has the technology improved since then!  I now use it to create reminders, schedule calendar events and dictate emails and documents when I have a quiet place to do so.

So this summer, while exploring assessment with AQ students, we were considering the ways that technology affords us powerful ways to capture or document learning.  We know that the easy access to cameras and video has been helpful, so how are you transforming the ways that you keep your anecdotal records?

Google Forms is a great way to capture information that automatically populates a spreadsheet to keep records for you.  So why not put it to use, with Siri, to record the great things you see going on in your school if you are an administrator, or in your classroom if you are a teacher!  Using your phone, you will always be able to quickly update and you can sort your spreadsheet later by category or by name.

  1.  Create a google form that lists the people you are keeping records about, in a dropdown type of format in question #1. Screen Shot 2016-08-09 at 8.54.52 PM
  2. Use categories with a checkboxes list – since you will perhaps want to select more than one category at a time in questions #2.
  3. Screen Shot 2016-08-09 at 8.57.23 PMFor question #3, add a long answer paragraph so that you can dictate your message using Siri with lots of space to talk. Screen Shot 2016-08-09 at 8.59.54 PM
  4. Add the link to the Google Form to the home screen on your smart phone or tablet and you are ready to go!

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I’m a primary teacher at heart so recording observations and conversations are stilpizza-boxes-358029__180l some of my favourite ways to document.  In the early 90’s I used pizza boxes (empty, clean and donated) to save the best pieces of student work (determined by my grade 1’s and 2’s ) and based on success criteria (not sure what we called it then but that’s what it was…).  Students then led the parent-teacher conferences with those portfolios – the evidence of their best learning with an explanation of why.

We also used to develop many ‘rolls’ of camera film to post around the room to document the learning.  Now, that’s such a snap with our digital devices!

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Making in Grade 2 – Circa 1989

 

 

New Health and Physical Education Curriculum

Many school administrators are aware that some parents are feeScreen Shot 2015-09-20 at 3.35.47 PMling the tension of change in Ontario’s Health and Physical Education (HPE) Revision for 2015. Concern that kids need more current information (the last curriculum was released 17 years ago), and a more comprehensive understanding of all the aspects of healthy living, has led to this revision. Ontario curriculum is written by experts in education, content, and policy, as well as in consultation with parents across the province. Many people are involved in trying to dispel the myths about the new curriculum that began to surface last spring, in many cases anonymously, and it’s my guess is that once folks actually dig in and read the curriculum, as some journalists have begun to do, fears quickly subside.

The Health and Physical Education curriculum has four main sections for each grade:

  • Living Skills: understanding themselves, communicating and interacting positively with others and learning to think critically and solve problems
  • Active Living: active participation, physical fitness and safety
  • Movement Competence: skills for moving properly and with confidence
  • Healthy Living: learning about health, making healthy choices, and understanding the connections to everyday life

A quick google search ‘myths about sex ed curriculum’ will bring up lots of good information to dispel the myths about Ontario’s revised HPE Curriculum, but my hope would be that parents actually read the curriculum, in order to make their own decisions.  Here is a gathering of some helpful resources that school administrators or school council chairs might want to share with concerned parents who are wanting more information:

Overview of the curriculum revisions, including the sexual health component.

HPE_flyer_AODA – Ontario Ministry of Education – The ministry has produced a suite of materials for parents in several languages to build understanding about what students will learn. There are also details about how to order parent materials that Principals and Vice-Principals can make available to parents.

CBC Radio Interview with Meg Hickling – Veteran educator about body science and sexual health

Grade by Grade Guide to the Ontario HPE Curriculum (Sexual health portions) written for Muslim parents and created by Anela Jadunandan – hear her CBC Radio interview  on Metro Morning.

CBC – Parents speaking up in support of the Ontario HPE Curriculum

Sexual health experts from BC in support of Ontario’s new curriculum