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Category Archives: Thinks Big Picture

Finding Meaningful Connections with Each Other

In a 24/7 world, thanks to technology, we need to remind ourselves that we all have a lot in common. We just do not notice it. In the classroom or on a school staff, take time to develop relationships. Add it to scheduled meetings, events, activities, lessons, etc. There are a number of protocols and frameworks available and I will list some of my favorites below. Check out TV Danemark and how they created meaningful connections (bring a tissue).

 

  • Student Perspective from LearnAlberta Inclusive Ed Library is filled with Interest Inventories and Surveys for the classroom but could be easily adapted for adults. From this information, appeal to their interests and use it throughout lessons, morning greetings, etc. These items can be templated online in a Google Doc or via a Google Form. A class shared Google Slide with one slide per student can also share interests and thoughts for the whole class to check out.
  • Say HELLO and GOODBYE to every student every day – this is the simplest yet most important personal connection teachers can make. Watch how a Kansas teacher does secret handshakes:

  • Let students inside your world – tell stories about your own family sprinkled throughout lessons and conversations. This makes teachers more relatable and accessible. Create a bulletin board, share photos add to the class blog or newsletter, whatever you are comfortable with.
  • Use critical thinking frameworks like Inquiry-pacs, Tools for Thought, Critical Challenges, Picture Setys, History Docs, etc. from The Critical Thinking Consortium to have students involved in the thinking, learning, discussion, not just the teacher.
  • Guide students with TRUST. Discuss what it means to be trustworthy, how we earn trust and how we can break it. Chart this out, review it, create posters. It is a powerful word. For instance, if a student has acted inappropriately on the playground, a teacher can say “I trusted you to act kindly on the playground and you broke that trust” and then work with the student in regaining that trust from their classmates.
  • Kagan Structures also provide great protocols. Take a read about using them for Emotional Intelligence and another regarding Silly Sports and Goofy Games.
  • Check out Huddle’s blog about the four main types of building activities – Communication, Problem Solving, Adaptability and Trust – and the activity write-ups. You will surely find one or two for you.

Robert J. Marzano has written widely that “the most powerful message from the research is that relationships are a matter of student perception” and really that “it’s what teachers DO that dictates how students perceive those relationships”.

And, don’t forget your colleagues! Create relationship building moments throughout the year, take a brain break and visit, share family or class stories. Join the #ObserveMe movement where you invite people into your classroom.

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Take 30 Days to Challenge Yourself

Goals. Challenges. The New Year. A new semester. A new month. The start of the week. Each of these begs our senses to think about a re-start or a fresh start. One way to get into a habit of doing something, is to establish a 30 day challenge.

Check out what Matt Cutts says about this in his TED Ed talk:

Here are a few 30 day challenges that you or your colleagues may want to take on sometime throughout the year:

And there are even more to improve your health, fitness level, relationships, etc. (My goal was to share educationally/professionally based challenges.) If you are looking for other ideas, check out these books:

What kind of challenges have you taken on? Which were successful? Which would you like a do-over?

 

Lead Yourself – Leadercast 2018

Leadercast Live focuses on the leadership issues most relevant to today’s leader. It is a pairing of inspiring messages and rich interaction with fellow leaders who are being intentional about raising their standard of leadership, through a creative, energetic and memorable experience. My school division hosts this annually in our Centre for Education Board room.

It is an exciting time bringing together various PSD employees, vendors, students and community members. I enjoy the excitement energy and thoughtfulness that the day brings. I also like coordinating my hosting efforts by setting up an elaborate theme for the day! I have a fantastic and creative Administrative Assistant that is just so phenomenal. We not only want the speakers to be the focus but also the environment.

Our group was joined with more than 100,000 leaders for the largest one­-day leadership event in the world this past Friday, May 4th!

This year, the Leadercast Live stage featured leaders who explained the power and importance of leading yourself first so you can lead others well. I posed three main questions of reflection at the start of the day for participants:

  • What does it look like to lead yourself?
  • How can you intentionally develop your own leadership skills and style?
  • What qualities do you hope to embody as a leader?

We also had fun with the Lead Yourself and the May 4th Be With You theme. Some of us dressed up as Star Wars characters, all of the food and drink items were labeled with Star Wars references. Leadership books were on display. The tables had the itinerary and lightsabers. The food tables had huge Star Wars LEGO models as well as Leadercast Speaker quotes. This year we had a wonderful set of sponsors – Cisco Canada and Compugen Inc.

Check out the visual summaries (sketchnotes) created by @jgough on each of the Leadercast Live 2018 speakers:

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I also added to the Speaker lineup a few special guests to make the day a little more personalized. We used our Webex platform to videoconference in the following:

  • our own infamous MCHS Choir to sing Oh Canada to start off the day
  • Willa Black, VP of Corporate Affairs for Cisco Canada that spoke about the Connected North program during the morning break
  • 5 Prescott students on how they are leaders in their environments during the lunch break

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Overall, Leadercast Live always sends me away with many gems and takeaways. Definitely, a day that I look forward to in experiencing with colleagues and one that I don’t mind taking all the extra time beforehand in setting up and coordinating.

 

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(Dis)Connected, Distracted or Addicted? Understanding the Smartphone Generation

I had the extreme pleasure to attend both the Public Evening Lecture and the Research Colloquium on this highly important topic. Please view the STORIFY of the tweets and materials for the 2018 event.

Important points from both the evening and day events:

  • we all need SLEEP, 8-10 hours depending on age
  • step away from the turned on screens one hour before bedtime
  • middle years and high school students are going out less, doing less with friends
  • society needs to reconnect with nature – go for walks, hiking, playing ball/frisbee, sit around a campfire
  • all media is educational! It’s just as important to feed the brain as it is the body. It’s the quality of the media that matters.
  • try a weekly digital sabbath with everyone in your family
 

The Power of Yet

First grade reading - small group breakoutPhoto: Flickr by woodleywonderworks

As a fan of Carol Dweck, especially her research and books on Growth Mindset, I really enjoyed getting know who C.J. Luckey was via an e-newsletter. (Love his last name!) What a great experience to have a hip-hop artist and teacher (C.J.’s wife) combine their perspectives on growth mindsets and develop a down to earth musical extravaganza as way to reach students (and even teachers).

I had never heard of C.J., but to read about his experiences (see Mindset Works’ blog) just drew me in to his new E.P. entitled C.A.P.S. (Celebrating All Persevering Students).

The growth mindset has been a blessing to me. In many ways it has inspired me to change my perspective in life. The capacity to learn is a gift, the ability to learn is a skill, the willingness to learn is a choice. Learning is a choice I want to be intentional about making every day. 

~ C.J. Luckey

Using his gift of music, C.J. is teaching students some powerful growth mindset concepts in the learning environment. I especially like the simplicity of the message in the first song – The Power of Yet.

 

What do you think of C.J.’s message? How do you think students would react to this video? Do you think that they could come up with a multimedia message themselves (audio, video, poster, GSlide presentation, dance, meme, etc.) to share what they know about a growth mindset?

 

Design Challenge: Create an Inclusive Playground/Theme Park

Overview

“Children with disabilities are often excluded from, or restrained in, play activities because of the physical barriers of play structures and the surrounding environment” (Ripat & Becker, 2012).  According to the United Nations, 10% of the world’s population has a disability.  Canada and the United States report the rate of disability closer to 20%.  It was reported that only 17 parks and playgrounds in British Columbia were identified as being fully accessible (Accessible Playgrounds, 2014).

 

Design Rationale

Canada is often described as being a civil society.  We pride ourselves in our inclusion of others and our respect of diversity.  However, 1 in 7 Canadians are excluded from enjoying our playgrounds and municipal parks.  We need to revisit the notion of accessibility and ensure our play areas are inclusive for all users, including the disabled and the elderly.  

 

Problem Scenario

Your team has been selected to develop a prototype of a structural element or component of a playground that is inclusive, safe, fun, and engaging.  It needs to foster fitness, flexibility, and a joy of play.  Your team needs to consider issues of mobility, access, sensory challenges, etc.

 

Your playground structure must be a small-scaled prototype of a structural element or component that could be found in a playground or theme park. It must satisfy two of the following identified concerns:

  • Be accessible for someone with mobility issues
  • Be accessible for users of variable heights / sizes
  • Be accessible for someone with sensory issues
  • Be accessible for someone with cognitive challenges
  • Enjoyable for users of all ages

Success will be determined by

  • Uniqueness
  • Alignment of the prototype with the design sketch
  • Ability of your item to help the user enjoy play
  • Ergonomic design
  • Colorfulness to match environment and attract users
  • Intriguing enough to hold users’ attention
  • Degree to which it Is intuitive to all users
  • Functionality
  • Ease of long term maintenance
  • Alignment to design motto: “Make it smaller, stronger, do more, be easier to use, be cheaper, be clean, be greener”

Parameters

  • You must use some of all the items in tool kit in some way  
  • You must consider how to make your prototype colourful, intriguing and ergonomic.
  • You must prepare a group display which includes your design notes, your design thinking sketches and your prototype.

For teacher’s please read through the Facilitator Guide.

And here is the Napkin handout, the Placemat handout. (These resources were accessed from Innovative Learning Centre’s Taking Making into Classrooms.)

BELOW is an ingenious theme park, this video may be shown before the challenge or after. Is this theme park inclusive?

 

Got How? You Also Need to Know Your Why

In May of this year, I wrote about The Elusive Why: Yours and Theirs, and today I continue this stream of thought with looking at the HOW but really to need to KNOW YOUR WHY. Whether this wny is personal or professional there are some important pieces that we need in place in order to find our “calling”, our “passion” or the reason why we get up in the morning every day.

Just taking time throughout the week to look at the upcoming personal/professional activities is important. Yet, having some sort of growth plan will allow for these weekly overviews to connect and make sense with your BIG goals. With this “big picture” plan of personal/professional life in place, we can begin to make incremental changes in our daily habits and routines, and our life will start to change. If you haven’t read Stephen Covey’s, The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People: Powerful Lessons in Personal Change, definitely check it out!

As well, watch Michael Jr’s short video clip on this topic. It’s a video definitely worth showing your colleagues, family, friends and even students.

Now it’s my time to work on my annual Teacher Professional Growth Plan. As per my teacher organization (Alberta Teacher’s Association), “developing the plan is a professional function through which teachers demonstrate their commitment to lifelong professional learning while fulfilling their regulatory requirement pertaining to continuing education. The key components of developing the plan found in the policy governing growth plans states a teacher’s annual growth plan shall:

  • Reflect goals and objectives based on an assessment of learning needs by the individual teacher
  • Show a demonstrable relationship to the Teaching Quality Standard
  • Take into consideration the educational plans for the school, school board and Alberta Education”

I hope this inspired some conversation on your part!