Archive of ‘Professional Knowledge’ category

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

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.

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?

Ottawa Teachers Professional Learning Community

As a teacher today in this fast paced, constantly changing world, it is really hard to keep up to date with all the different teaching tools, websites, and strategies.

We created Ottawa Teachers Professional Learning Community (OTPLC) for all different kinds of teachers to come together and learn about one new topic a month and have hands on time to play with the tools and chat with other teachers.

Our first get together is on February 16th, 2017 at Oh So Good in Westboro at 6pm. This is a very casual where you can connect with other teachers, grab a coffee and make sure to bring your device.

Occasional, contract, public, and student teachers are all welcome.

To know more about this, please check out the website at https://otplc.wordpress.com/

 

 

 

Student’s viewpoint on Choice and Voice

This year I have been giving my students choice and voice in everything we do in the classroom. It was a huge, difficult and sometimes frustrating change for me but one that I see is so hugely beneficial.

Before the Christmas break, I asked my class

Being given Choice and Voice in the classroom means to me….”

I asked them to discuss how this impacted their learning and feelings on coming to school. This is the unedited feedback they gave me (I just removed their names).

“Having voice in my classroom is fairly new to me, since in the past few years all my teachers have been strict and only cared about what they said. In my opinion classes that are given choice learn more responsibility and function better. In class we are given the opportunity of helping to create our projects. It also feels like she cares more about us, and cares about our opinion. I definitely learn better when we are given choice, since Mrs. Bowker adjusts how we learn so it’s easy for everyone.”

“by giving a choice i think the teacher cares about us because all other teachers are mean and don’t give us a choice and we won’t be interested the only teachers that i think are giving kids a chance are ms.bowker and ms. h.I also think that i learn more by having a choice.”

“Having voice in Mrs.Bowker’s class is fair to me because all the teachers I have had before don’t care about the kids, there like “I teach these kids, and I get money.” but Mrs.Bowker cares and is way different. My other teachers don’t care about the kids, they care about themselves. But no, that’s not the case with Mrs.Bowker, she cares, but now and then she will get a little annoyed with us or we don’t agree and so on. But Mrs.Bowker is the best teacher I have ever had. Before As Well teachers did not ask for our opinions,”

“I feel important that i get to pick what i do not the teacher or and cuz in the years i’ve been in school teachers think that  all i have to do is tell them what to do except for ms bowker and ms h.”

“To me given choice is being equal.  In the past no teacher asked for my choice.  I want to say what’s in my mind and tell everyone, if I agree or disagree. Mrs. Bowker gives us choice and lets us say what we want, she teached us to be honest. Mrs. Bowker lets us be the teachers. To be given a voice I feel free. To be given a choice it is important because you get to learn how to be responsible. I wish you’re my teacher every year and giving our class “choice” and “voice” is the best choice ever! Thank you Mrs. Bowker.”

“knowing that someone cares about you and can help you grow as I person and help you get set for life challenges. having a voice is important too, it gives you power and responsibility. Choice is also important to me, because I feel free. I hope all teachers were like you Mrs. Bowker.”

“Being given choice in class means a lot to me . It means to have freedom and do whatever you want , Kids should have there own choice with what they are doing just like adults do . For me Mrs. Bowker is being fair with all the students . She trusts us with everything and she is always honest with us . I also like to choose to work with who and i like to pick the topic i want to do a project about.”

“I love the idea because I never had a teacher that does this and it’s very fun. I have a voice you have a voice we all have voices and we can use them that is why Mrs.Bowker has a very fun class.I love this year. I learn more this year because we have choice and it makes me want to learn more then before”

“I think I am learning way more and about school I think it is great and new I love going to school. Last year I DID not like going to school that much.”

“I think I work better when I choose what to work on. I like it better when I go to school better than going to school last year. That’s how choice affects me.”

Reading the students comments made me realize how much students need to be offered choice and voice in the classroom and in their learning. Having students that hated coming to school and now love coming to school has been a huge turn around for them and I’m so happy for them.

In my class, I rarely have to discipline the students. I’ve had to scold students for being too excited about the projects we are working on and going home and working on it all night long. But isn’t that what learning is supposed to feel like? Being so excited to work on a project that you can’t think of anything else? I’m so thrilled that my students are feeling safe, loved, cared for, excited and that they are important!

 

 

 

Get Connected: Professionally and in your Classroom

On July 14th, 15th, and 16th I was honoured to present “Get Connected: Professionally and in your Classroom” for ETFO’s Summer Academy. I was a 3 day course that I created, organized and presented.

Maybe you are interested in this course but could not attend so I’ve decided to share my 3 day presentation and resources I used in the course with you.

The course covers:

To get the entire course, click on the picture below

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Learning while Presenting

I was lucky enough to be a presenter for ETFO’s Summer Academy this summer. My workshop is called “Get Connected: In your Classroom and Professionally” and we learned about Twitter, Blogging, Skype, Global Projects and GAFE.  I had 3 days to teach these teachers with varying degrees of technology experience how to create and use these tools to connect themselves and their students to the world.

While teaching these amazing teacher’s who gave up three days of the summer vacation to come spend time with me I learned some great lessons.

Learning is joyful.

After the school year, teachers are so tired and burnt out. Yet, teachers sign up for courses and read books just to be better at teaching the next year. During the course when I was explaining Google Drive, a teacher jumped out of her seat and ran to hug me in front of a whole room of teachers. The power of learning and sharing how to learn motivates us to be better and do better. Another teacher started clapping when she understood how to do something and then tweeted about it.

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We are all experts at something.

After the first day of  presenting “Get Connected” I went for a walk with two other teachers. One of the teachers I start walking with, Barbara Brockmann, turns out to have won a Governor General’s Award for Excellence in Teaching Canadian History and a Writer’s Award for her book of five plays that brings wartime history alive for students in Grades 5-12 in 2014. You never know who you are going to meet at these conferences so always make sure to meet some new people. We are all experts at something, what are you an expert at?

Teachers just want to share.

During our walk, Barbara begins to share many resources to teach social studies for my future Grade 6 class. When you feel passionate about a topic, it shines through and I was thrilled with all the resources she shared with me. I actually had to go back to my hotel room to grab my laptop to record them all.

Here are all the links if you are interested:

historicalthinking.ca

 

http://www.ohhfa.ca/media/Steps_to_Creation_of_a_Heritage_Fair_Project_Revised.pdf

http://www.ottawaheritagefair.org/English/awards.htm

 

http://activehistory.ca/

http://oessta-teachers.ca/

http://www.onthemarkpress.com/product/01/EBC145/Remembrance-Day-Plays-Grades-5-12eBook

http://www.canadashistory.ca/

 

Project of Heart http://projectofheart.ca/

 

 

Summer Reading

With Summer quickly approaching I’ve been thinking about what I’m going to read over the break.

Here is my list:

Unshakeable by Angela Watson

Hear-the-Unshakeable-presentation-at-2-conferences-this-October

“Reinventing Writing:The 9 tools that are changing Writing, Teaching and Learning Forever” by Vicki Davis

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Going to continue to read, “The Power of Habits” by Charles Duhigg

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And I’m going to re-read “Passionate Learners” by Pernille Ripp

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What are you reading this summer? Let me know in the comments below or let me know if you have a suggestion.

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