Saturday, 11 February 2017

Back to our beliefs

Wow, here it is...

It's been 7 or 8 months since I reflected on anything using my blog. Something has been speaking to me lately that it is time to start up again. This is the first of a new burst of posts. As I warm up to the idea of doing my masters, I think I need to dust of the keyboard and get back into writing. There is so much to think about, reflect about and write about. Sometimes I hope to draw, sometimes write. Maybe even find other ways to reflect.

In my new job, as a specialist, I get to work with amazing people. Both the team I collaborate with, and also the teachers I get to learn with too. Visiting over 35 schools in the short 5 months I have worked in this role, has already opened my eyes to many new things.

One of the biggest things I have come to realize in all the work I have done lately, is how we need to continually remind ourselves of the core reason we are in this work. To learn. In our work to help support school in design think, maker education, learning commons, educational technology, learning resources, and whatever else we do in our team, we stumbled across a reminder shared by our #CBEliteracy team about the importance of focusing on our beliefs about learning first. It is important to consider what we know about learning, before we start planning our lesssons/projects, and also choosing our resources. Routman (2014) says our "practices are our beliefs in action" (p.85). He talks about how we often start with resources, then look at our practice and the finally, think about beliefs. He also suggests that we need to do a hard flip of way we do things.

What often happens...

What needs to happen...

I think this is always a good grounding for us as teachers. What kinds of things do we remember as learners. What learning experiences stuck out to us? As Will Richardson suggests in his Ted Talk, we'll all come up with a very similar list.

The following image is one I created a while back, as I reflected on some of the work I had done overthe previous year.  After sharing that image on twitter, it was retweeted a lot. It has turned into the most retweeted tweet I have ever shared. Such a simple idea but something that has resonataed with many!

This is something I am going to continually keep asking and reminding myself.

Routman, R. (2014). Read, write, lead: breakthrough strategies for schoolwide literacy success. Alexandria, VA: ASCD.​​

Monday, 16 May 2016

Hooking Them In!

I'm a big believer in hooking students in to learning. I think it's worth spending time to create something engaging that will hopefully hook their imagination, excitement, curiosity or something inside students so they want to learn more.

Tomorrow I launch a new inquiry around the choices that preteens and teenagers make in their day to day lives. The grade 6 students I'm working with will end up creating infographics that will promote healthy choices.

We will start by watching the following video.

Then we will look at a few symbols and discuss them in the presentation below.

I am also going to make a conscious effort to give the students plenty of time to think and THEN talk. I am going to say very little throughout this task. I want to listen their ideas so I can shape the lessons to follow.

Saturday, 14 May 2016

Designing Icons, Thinking Visually

After a meeting with a colleague this week, I have been thinking more about how I can make my thinking more visible. I would love to bring this in to my teaching more as well. I wonder if all students will benefit from this?

Visual thinking is certainly different than writing down all information. It requires the brain to think a little differently. I'm a very visual thinker. I often think and make connections with things that I have seen or by drawing something to get a better picture of it. I have enjoyed sketchnoting and drawing notes of keynotes and ideas I have come across in my work. I haven't done it as much as I would have liked and would love to make more time to draw. I am currently trying to think more visually. 

This weekend, a group of colleagues have challenged each other to sketch an icon that you haven't used before. I pushed it a little further. I designed an icon for 'evidence capture' as that has been I have been focusing on this week (see note below). My icon consists of four other icons brought into one and represents what it means to gather evidence of learning.

This is my entry in this weekend's #sketchdown. We document learning, we have conversations, we record video and voice to capture learning in different ways.  

In my work this week I have been all about gathering evidence. At this time of the year we are thinking back to work we have done and we start reflecting on how effective how work has been. We also want to share that reflection with others and also celebrate our successes. I have begun recording evidence of learning this year as we have focused on literacy throughout the year. We have come to learn that I this first year of this focus, we have realized that we have probably focused more on reading and writing literacy. We now need to move into more discipline based literacy. This will be an exciting shift as everyone, in their own discipline, will be able to focus on what it means to be literate in Math, or Science, or Music, or in PhysEd.

Monday, 9 May 2016

Sketchnote: Design Thinking

Giving Students Time

Over the weekend I was thinking about things that are important for teachers to remember in this faced paced world of teaching. I thought about time. Do we give enough time to students?

Do we give students enough time to think?

Do we give students enough time to talk?

Do we give students enough time to create?

Do we teach them how to do these three things well? Isn't this all part of being literate in today's world? We need to be able to think about things, so that we know what to say, or know what questions we might need to ask. Then we need time to create something that results from that thinking and talking.

When a colleague and I challenged each other to visualize something that we were passionate about, one of the ideas I thought about was this thing about giving students time. Here's what I created:
Today, as part of a new project I was apart of at school, my colleague and team member for this project, Ms. Sargent, was running a discussion about a topic we are about dive into in Humanities, Rebellion. Through this task, students were presented with three images from controversial artist, Banksy. She asked students to think about what they knew about rebellion and relate that knowledge to the artwork. The students were given time to do the following:

  1. Look, observe, absorb
  2. Describe what you see using your 5 senses
  3. What connections can you make
  4. What questions do you have about this work of art?
  5. What meaning do you get from this work of art?

This was amazing task. The longer we participated in it, the better the students got at it. We could see and hear more connections being made, we could hear more questions being asked! It was awesome! This was great to experience the success of giving students more time.

Are you giving your students enough time?