Goal Setting in the Classroom

This year I’ve been really focusing on real-world learning and cross-curricular planning with the help of 3 amazing teachers I’ve been co-planning with. Personally, I’ve been working on myself and creating the life I want through goal setting. I’ve been using Powersheets by Cultivate What Matters to set purposeful, meaningful goals. I see the benefit and advantage of setting these goals and know my students would too.

I met with my colleague, Tammara Smith and we decided to get our classes together to learn about this together. We decided to start with some brainstorming about our lives and then watch and sketchnote some Ted Talks to encourage and inspire our students.

Here is what we have worked through so far.

* A quick note: We would always watch the videos 1-2 times and then discuss what we learned from them, what the main message was or the students’ connections or questions.

  1. Dream Journal Introduction
    1. What is Sketchnoting
    2. Pep Talk with Kid President 
  2. What can adults learn from kids
  3. There’s more to life than being Happy
  4. Dream Journal Creation
    1. Each student gets a journal which they put their name on and name it something like Dream Journal
    2. Draw/Sketch/Brainstorm What’s important to me?
    3. Draw/Sketch/Brainstorm Interests
  5. Living Beyond Limits by Amy Purdy
  6. Want to Change the World? Start by being brave enough to care by Cleo Wade
  7. The Skill of Confidence by Dr. Ivan Joseph
  8. Setting Goals that Matter by Samantha Kris
  9. Free Goal Book from TeachersPayTeachers
  10. Choosing the Right Goals Article
  11. Goal Setting Groups
    1. The Key to Progress: Mini-Goals Article Read Aloud
    2. Students share their Main Goal on Padlet
  12. We grouped the students into goal groups and got the groups together to get specific about what they want to get better at/learn about…
    1. fitness
    2. art
    3. subject improvement
    4. career
    5. babysitter’s
  13. By getting more information about exactly what the students wanted to get better at.
    Names What do I want to work on? How am I doing now at this? What is my plan to get better How will I know/show I’m getting better.
  14. Every week are giving students time to practice and work on their goals. They needed to show each week what they were working on and how they spent their time. We also created time for students to check in with their goal groups to help support each other and discuss the struggles they are having.
    1. Select 1-3 specific goals that you want to get better at.
      1. Prepare your “Before” snapshot via picture/writing/video to show that talent you already have
    2. Find “how-to” youtube videos/resources for your specific goals.
    3. Find a “mentor”/role model that is great at what you want to learn
    4. Practice
    5. Document your “After” Snapshot via picture/writing/video to show that talent you have learned
    6. Repeat.

Have you tried goal setting in the classroom? What has worked for you? Do you have any other Ted Talks you would recommend?

 

Co-planning makes Teachers Great

I’m always trying to be a better teacher. Always reworking my plans, reading new teaching material, and questioning what students really need to learn about.

As a newish mom, I was in a teaching slump. I was still trying my best and teaching well but knew there was better out there.

I decided to reach out to other teachers to help me teach better and I’m so lucky to have connected with 3 amazing teachers in 3 different subjects.

Luckily this year, a teacher who I knew at teacher’s college came to work at my school and teach the same grade as mine. We decided immediately to team up and plan a spiral math curriculum together.

Also my school is in it’s year to get a lot of new technology for its students. Luckily for us, that comes with training from our board’s technology coaches. They presented at our staff meeting and that sparked an idea. Why not ask one of the coaches to help me plan the way I want to. I’ve met with Louise several times now to plan Science units and luckily for me she is helping me plan using Overarching Inquiry.

I’m also working with another teacher and we are joining our classes together to work on a ‘Dream Journal’ with our students. The ‘Dream Journal’ is working on creating the life we want through reflecting, goals and learning from experts.

Co-planning is great for so many reasons.

1) Keeps you accountable

Teaching is a demanding, busy and draining job. We all have days where we want to take it easy and relax. By co-planning with a colleague you have to keep on track to keep up with the other teacher and class. Of course, if you are meeting your students where they are you are going to differ slightly but you’ll for the most part keep up the same pace.

2) Helps you problem solve

Don’t worry alone. You aren’t solving any problems all by yourself.

When you are co-planning you, of course, try your best to plan for all your students but nevertheless something comes up to throw you for a loop. If you’re planning together, you are going to check in on each other and ask each other questions about how that lesson worked or didn’t work. As a team, you can easily problem solve together and even reflect on how the unit went and makes notes for the next time you teach it.

3) Makes you happier

When planning with a colleague, you feel a sense of teamwork. We, as teachers sometimes feel really alone in our classrooms because it is just us with dozens of kids. We need to plan with other teachers so that we can feel supported. When we feel supported, we feel better and we do better.

4) Less stress

If you are making time each week to plan together, you are planning in advance. You know exactly what to do next and you can easily plan for that day or week. This makes you stress less as you know where you are headed, you know you have help, you know the big picture idea of what you are trying to cover so you know what you’re trying to accomplish and can easily adapt.

5) More willing to try new things

If you have a strong support system you feel more comfortable to take risks and try new things. This year for science my class and I learned about and tried out microbits. It was a new idea that I’ve never considered before and my students loved using them! And I loved learning with them too.

Trust Your Gut

Every year, I struggle. I struggle with being the best teacher I can, doing the best for my students, and am always trying to provide a classroom with choice, student voice and authentic learning experiences. I usually spend most of my summer reading professional development books and planning for the upcoming year. When September hits and I meet my new class, I falter. I get overwhelmed by everything we need to get done, by what my students needs are and by what they have yet to learn. I question what I think is important and I get advice from people who do not believe in what I do.

When you are doing things in your classroom that you don’t believe in, it will not work. I found that the hard way this year. Doing something that you do not believe in makes you not follow through the way you should. And it just will not work. I need to learn to stick to my gut. To teach what I believe in.

Blogging is something I truly believe in. I know the power of sharing your views with the world. This blog has transformed me. Never would I have thought that I would be a blogger, or that people would want to hear about my learning. This blog has made me a reflective learner, collaborator, professional development planner and more. I’m so grateful.

I know how essential all my students voices are and by giving them choice about what they want to blog about, they are engaged and empowered. They are actively finding out more about blogging, checking out their blogging stats and being blown away when people are visiting their blog. And we are only in week two! They are learning that their voices matter. That they matter. Nothing is more important than that!

Focus on what you know is important. Trust yourself. Trust Your Gut! The learning will follow.

CIVIX Democracy Bootcamp

I had the immense privilege to be selected to attend CIVIX’s Democracy Bootcamp this past Thursday and Friday.

If you aren’t familiar with CIVIX, they are a national registered charity that is dedicated to building the skills and habits of active and engaged citizens. They are trying to cultivate a strong and inclusive democracy where young people are ready, willing and able to participate. They do this by running many different events but Student Vote is their main one. Student Vote always occurs before the real Canadian elections. Students learn about the government, electoral process, political candidates and parties. By learning about these things, the students in turn learn about themselves by determining which party to vote for by lining up their beliefs to the parties. The students determine what is important to them, what they believe in and what they are willing to vote for. CIVIX mails schools and teachers who register everything they need to create this authentic learning experience for FREE. From the resources to help the learning take place, to the authentic voting booth, ballot boxes and ballots that their parents will use when they vote.

Voting booths and ballot box

My students casting their votes

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Democracy Bootcamp is a chance for teachers to learn more about the Student Vote program, and to learn from experts about politics, political strategies, ‘fake’ news and more. We learned from several experts in their field such as: @CraigSilverman@PeterD_Adams and .

It was such a wonderful opportunity to be spoiled and filled with new teaching ideas, amazing discussion, and a new found excitement for correcting ‘fake news.’

2 years ago I participated in Student Vote with my Tech Titians. My students chose a political party that they were interested in, learned about them and presented about the parties key beliefs to the rest of the class. By learning about all the different political parties beliefs, the class had to determine who they would vote for in the Student Vote election. They were thrilled to be able to cast a vote and I know that it led to further discussion about voting and democracy at home. I would highly recommend participating in Student Vote with your class or school.

 

Although I always vote, I’ve never been excited about politics but this Democracy Bootcamp changed my opinion of that. It provided me with a lot of information as well and resources to help me teach my students why politics is essential to know about. I’m excited to take all this new information back to my classroom and learn more with my students.

Here are some resources to help you with Student Vote:

Register here

YouTube Videos to help you teach Student Vote

Quiz on Issues in Elections to see which party your students beliefs link up with

5 Tips for Surviving your First Year Back as a Mom

In September 2017, I went back to work as a homeroom teacher and a full-time mom. This year has been so different from any other. Before kids, I would work a lot, plan educational events and edchats but now, I have a family to take care of. Someone who needs me to be there and be present. I’ve found out this year that balancing it all is tough. It is definitely been all about learning what is important to me and asking myself what do I want to spend my time and energy on.

Here are some tips that helped me survive my first year back:

1. Plan ahead

Being a mom and teacher, I feel like there are 50 balls in the air that you are trying to juggle. In order to do it all well, you need to plan. Planning ahead your teaching plans, knowing where you are going in the unit and planning the night before keeps you anxiety free when drama occurs.

My partner and I have a shared Google calendar where we both enter our work events and who needs to pick up or drop off the kiddo on specific dates. This really helps when trying to organize your time.

Planning ahead what is for dinner every night or making your lunch for the week on the weekend seems like a small thing but it saves so much time and thought after a busy workday. I find as well, if you preplan meals, you eat healthier and feel better.

2. Ask for Help

Asking for help from colleagues really helps. Ask for coverage if you have a support teacher if you need to write report cards or IEP’s. Ask for unit plans or report card comments for other teachers you trust. Teachers love to help each other but if you don’t ask, you don’t get help.

Asking your spouse for help also is important. If you need time to stay late at work or some time to yourself, ASK. It will help you feel calmer.

3.Self Care

We cannot take care of others when you are exhausted. Do something small for yourself every day. Some ideas that I enjoy are a big cup of coffee with a good book, a bubble bath, a run, or listening to upbeat music. All of these things help me feel better.

4. DO NOT reinvent the wheel

All teachers want to do their best every day but sometimes it is better to save yourself time and buy the lesson/unit. There is no shame in it. Check out TeachersPayTeachers for millions of resources!

5. Choose your Priorities

Did you know that it takes 3 years for a new mom to feel completely back to herself? I had no idea that it took that long! Pre-kids, I was so active in the education field. I actively learned, read professional development books and then blogged about it all. But since having a child, my priorities have changed. I am slowly getting back to feeling like myself again and with that, I want to step back into the educational world again and begin blogging more often. I’m starting by really focusing on what my priorities are and being really intentional about what I am working on. So right now, my priorities are taking care of myself, family, school, and blogging when I have time and/or inspiration.

I would love to hear more about how you guys survived being a parent and balancing your teaching career. Please let me know in the comments below!

Hackergal Hackathon

I was very fortunate to be able to help plan the Hackergal Hackathon on Wednesday December 13th, 2017 at my school. The Hackergal Hackathon helps introduce and inspire girls to coding and hopefully begin to equalize the gender divide in tech industry.

The Hackergal Hackathon has groups of 2-3 girls working together to plan, write and play a game all within a couple of hours. The girls worked really well together and created some amazing games and stories.

OCDSB Hackergal Hackathon Press Release

We even had a visit from Minster Brison! Check out what he said about our Hackergal Hackathon here.

Wire frame story boards are coming together!!! #Hackergal2017 @DRK_Bulldogs pic.twitter.com/1oZtTVtjBQ

New Year. New School. New Focus.

This year I’m teaching at a new school. I’m so excited for a fresh start. I’ve been really focusing on rethinking all my teaching practices and figuring out what is important to me this year.

This year I’m focusing on:

  • Student Conferences
  • Student Voice and Choice
  • Student Learning
  • Goals

Student Conferences:

I just bought my own Chromebook. I’m so excited to be able to work with my students and conference with them more. By spending more time with them conferences, I will be able to build better relationships with all my students and challenge them more.

Student Voice and Choice:

This year we are going to start with a blank slate. Literally. I have a blank classroom and I’m so excited to let my students have say about how they want to arrange and decorate the classroom. We are going to start the year with 7 key questions.

Thanks so much to George Couros, Stephanie Ranger and Leanne Stanton for some ideas to make my questions more impactful.

Student Learning:

Who actually really know how they learn and what they need to succeed? I’ve been in school or teaching for 31 years and I had no idea. I want to empower my students to learn about how they learn and learn about and use tools to help them be as successful as possible. Students will learn about what kinds of learners they are. This will be highly impact on how we set up our classroom this year so I have left our classroom as empty as possible so we can set up based on their learning styles and what they need.This will be something we will be working on throughout the year.

Goals:

Setting goals is so important for students to learn. We are going to focus on them a lot this year and learn in the first week how to create SMART goals. We are going to write and reflect on our goals once a week and I plan to discuss their goals with them when I conference with them as well. I think it is also important for teachers to share their personal and professional goals with them so students can see that we are all learners.

What are you focusing on this year? I would love to know. Let me know in the comments below.

Blue Sky School- The Change Education Needs

Last night I had the honour to attend the  Blue Sky School Action Team Meeting.

Blue Sky School: the Experimental Prototype School of Tomorrow is a not for profit, independent school opening in September 2017 in Ottawa, Ontario, Canada.  The educators behind Blue Sky School, Shauna Pollock and Karen Hill are rethinking education in its entirety and building their school from the ground up, literally. They are working on building a innovation centre and a completely new curriculum.

We did a really cool activity called Start, Stop, and Keep to help us rethink the current education system. What do you think the education system should START doing, STOP doing, and KEEP doing. Our table was a——- group of teachers, admin, parents, community partner and a government worker. By doing the activity on our own first and then sharing them with the group, it really became apparent the huge changes that need to be rethought and changed in education. Here is the picture of our ideas for Start, Stop and Keep.

We shared the key points from our tables with the whole group and the consensus was START
  • telling the truth: parents to teachers, teachers to parents…
  • collaborative, real world, problem solving teaching
  • teaching students life skills: cooking, taxes, budgeting

STOP

  • standardized testing
  • textbooks
  • curriculum checklists and struggling
  • grades
  • homework

KEEP

  • hands on learning
  • field trips and connecting with real work
  • caring and passionate teachers

This school sees all of these problems with the current education system, is addressing them, correcting them, and inspiring others to do them same. Education should be a community responsibility and Blue Sky Schools will be just that. They are encouraging community members and experts in their fields to connect and inspire their students to know that nothing is impossible. A future student created the schools tagline…

Blue Sky Schools where the sky isn’t the limit.

Education affects us all. We have all been to school, maybe you have children in school but we all know that education is essential for the future. Get Involved. Learn about Blue Sky School and partner up with them to show them that these educational change need to be made. Here is how you can help.

Critical Thinking in the Classroom

Something I really want to do better in my classroom is having respectful, thoughtful and passionate discussions about many varied topics. One way I want to do this is by having a Statement of the Week.

So each week you introduce a statement such as ‘Zoos are awesome’ or ‘Students should have to wear uniforms’ and based on the statement, your student have to go to one of the 4 corners. Each corner will be labeled with a piece of paper that says Strongly Agree, Agree, Disagree, or Strongly Disagree. In their corners they will discuss with the other students in that corner why they feel that way about the topic. They will go back to their desks and circle their point of view and write why they feel that way.

Then for the week, Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday you read articles based on the statement with differing points of views. Each day your students will write down the name of the article and the key ideas in that article.

Friday, the students need to evaluate their initial viewpoint and then analyze their key learnings from each article. Then they need to choose a final viewpoint and defend why they are keeping the same point of view or why they changed it. Then they will have a discussion where they try to convince the other corners that their corners are right. Then they will have to fill in the sheet on their final verdict.

I have added a option of a pro and con list on the back so that if the students are stuck on their options, they can use that to decide which point of view is correct.

Click on either picture or here to get your own copy of the Statement of the week.

 

To find the best articles, use Newsela. Newsela is a site that has tons of articles on different subjects and can be sorted by age range and language. You can find an article about your statement and then choose Lexile levels to suit your students reading levels. This way you can differentiate easily but all your students will still be able to participate on the same statement.

 

21st Century Learning Skills

As I’m on Maternity Leave I’ve been reflecting about my teaching practice and how I can make it better. I really want to focus on and integrate in all my teaching is the 21st Century Learning Skills.

I’ve been reading about these essential skills but I wanted to figure out how we can, or already do use them in our classroom everyday. In order for me to really teach to these skills I wanted to really understand them.

I am going to introduce the topic of 21st Century Skills by having a discussion with my class about what they believe communication, collaboration, critical thinking, and creativity are. What do they already know about these skills and how do they already use them in their everyday lives? How can we use these skills in a better way?

Below, I have made the graphic brainstorming the ways I can teach these skills or how we use these skills already.

I would love your feedback about this graphic. What am I missing?

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