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Category Archives: Student Learning and Creativity

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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Harnessing Skynet for Good: Using AI in the Classroom

When we think artificial intelligence, it is very likely that we conjure up scenes from franchised science fiction thriller (Terminator) or complete infatuation with a computer (Her) or even autocorrect on our own smartphones.

Check out a basic video overview on Artificial Intelligence. (5:27)

Examples in Everyday Life article and more HERE.

 

How teachers can utilize AI in engaging student learning with next practice strategies?

AUTOMATION: assistance with grading. Here teachers can give quick feedback to students through a survey that is autograded. Opportunities for exit tickets, anticipatory knowledge gathering of a new concept/topic or just general interest will give both teachers and students a baseline of information to work from.

  • Chatbots like those found on Snatchbot (https://snatchbot.me/) can be created by students and teachers. Examples like Mitsuku, WestJet’s Juliet and Snatchbot gallery.
  • Chatbots for students – these at https://goo.gl/wtu7M6 can be used to get organized or to have a conversation.
  • Siri is found on an iOS device in Settings > Siri & Search. Allow “Hey Siri”.
  • Cortana is a digital agent for Windows 10.
  • A caution for teachers in using Voice Assistants like Amazon Echo Dot or Google Home in their classroom. Currently these smart speakers connect with a personal account which would not use a school division’s filtering system. Once these smart speakers are able to utilize or be connected to a hosted O365 or GSuite Apps for Education teacher account, they would be more secure and safe to use.

Such as text-to-speech or speech-to-text online systems that reinforce and provide tools to remove barriers for students so that they may demonstrate their learning.

 

Artificial intelligence resources in education are great in providing secondary sources of information and support for learners. The above examples are a small sampling of what teachers can do to provide students with access to machine learning in a purposeful way. Yet it is important to note that AI does not provide the humanity and emotional-social support that is so important in the classroom. School staff are an integral part of making a learning environment the most engaging, safe, imaginative and creative it can be.

 

#oneword2019 – MAKE

Ahh, a new year has now started and I am releasing my #oneword2019. This is something that I have enjoyed choosing and thinking about over the past few years.

After eight years, I changed office spaces and in my new office (image below), I had the words MAKE IT HAPPEN put up. (Our wonderful and creative Admin Assistant in Learning Services made the letters for me.) They sit above my standing desk (you can see the “happen” sneaking in at the top of the panoramic photo. These words remind me of the supports, services and the learning that I provide and experience in order to move our important educational work forward of Student Success and Wellness (PSD70 2018-19 Ed Plan).

So, whatever I will do over the next many months, I want to remember that I can MAKE it happen, MAKE it real, and MAKE it matter.

This #oneword activity for the New Year is not just for adults! Check out the One Word Google Slides activity that @meredithakers created that I am sharing with teachers.

Go to the ONE WORD Collaborative Slides Activity link to get started with your students! You can even print the slides in color and post them in your classroom or hallway, what about in a staffroom if staff want to share their one word? Lots of possibilities.

See my:

#oneword2018

#oneword2017

#oneword2016

 

Greetings That Make Your Day

We all want to be recognized, valued or noticed during the day. Whether we are at work, home or out in the community. At a recent sporting event, I was so enamored and excited at the musical greeting we got, it reminded me of the importance that greetings can have on a person’s emotional state and their readiness to engage in the work or event.

Here is the greeting I spoke about:

Doesn’t it make you feel good? You want to be there, you want to be part of the moment.

Check out a few of the educational greetings examples that I have scoured the internet or my archives for and see how you could start greeting your students or how they could learn to greet each other.

 

GSuite in Action: GDrawings

Last school year, I collected and created some bimonthly BioBreak PD posters that were made available for all staff washrooms at all of our school sites. They were well received so for this school year, with a concentration of revising GSuite Apps for Education, these BioBreaks were made monthly and started in December. Here is the first poster with the linked resources below.

Classroom Uses

This web-based diagramming software allows users to collaborate, embed flowcharts, mind maps, and interactive features. Google Drawings can be used in any subject area at any grade level. Check out some of the exemplars on this page to get you and your students using Google Drawings!

 

LANGUAGE ARTS

 

MATH

 

SCIENCE

 

SOCIAL STUDIES

 

OTHER

 

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Learning Today in a 24/7 Connected World

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Photo Credit: Kellie M. Simpson Flickr via Compfight cc

Like a traditional board game, learning has moments where all the experiences connect into some genuine learning wins while other times it seems like there are not enough resources and/or supports (like board pieces) in place to be successful. This post reflects on the many discussions, resources, and ideas that Will Richardson, renowned blogger, author, and outspoken educational advocate,  shared during his two keynotes at the BlendED Alberta 2018 Symposium in Edmonton. 

Whether in an Outreach program, learning centre, distance learning program or classroom, teachers are using the online environment to expand and extend learning opportunities, building flexibility to student learning.  The blendED Symposium is designed to share emerging practices while providing opportunities for networking with sessions that will inspire and provoke delegates to think outside the traditional learning environment.

With today’s society changing at a rapid pace in all aspects of work, life, and general society, what are schools doing to prepare students?

An important question to ask ourselves is: what is PRODUCTIVE learning?

How do we set up a learning environment that is relevant, active, engaging and supports the needs of all our students?

Sarasenlearning

What is your belief? How does your school or even school division support this work?

Another book to put on your professional reading list is Harari’s 21 Lessons for the 21st Century is a collection of essays, many of which build on articles for the New York Times, Bloomberg and elsewhere. This book follows a similar use of evolutionary psychology as self-help as his previous two books. The world is a scary, fast-changing place, so it’s no surprise our primitive brains struggle to navigate through it. We simply haven’t evolved to cope with automated checkouts and emailing after 7pm. Harari points out that humans are endlessly creative and sometimes we solve problems by changing the question rather than answering it. Hence, the large role that lifelong learning plays in each of us!

What are the contexts and conditions for this to occur?

Teacher answers around the world:                What people never say:     

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

For further reading, check out Timeless Learning a book written by an award-winning team of leaders, Chief Technology Officer Ira Socol, Superintendent Pam Moran, and Lab Schools Principal Chad Ratliff who demonstrate how you can implement innovative practices that have shown remarkable success.

 

How do we come up with the skills to address an algorithm-driven online existence?

In Alberta, some jurisdictions are already using gradeless report cards. Our own school division uses achievement indicators in grades 1-9 as seen HERE. Joe Bower, a former central Alberta teacher, shared the many ways he went gradeless in his classroom. His blog continues to be a great “go-to” for teachers to reflect on his experiences as well as update some of their own assessment practices.

Modern Learning

Some things to ponder:

  • What is learning?
  • What is “blended” learning?
  • What is our mission? Why “blended”?
  • Are we doing blended learning or blended teaching?
  • What is the most important role of the teacher in blended environments?
  • Do we have full empathy for the student experience in blended environments?
  • Are we co-constructing curriculum with students?
  • What opportunities are we creating for students to fulfill their greatest potentials?
  • How are we a model for blended learning?
  • Is our practice in “perpetual beta”?

Compare those questions with those directly from Richardson’s 10 Principles for Schools of Modern Learning. What do you think about being in “perpetual beta”? Is this a comfortable way to learn for teachers and students? How can we introduce this concept in the classroom? It certainly points to showing that nothing (like learning) is ever finished, rather knowledge is a constant conversation in the modern world. Have a peek into Peter Senge’s Schools that Learn (revised and updated) book.

What is the best way to provide a framework for students to show that productive learning is worthwhile?

Let’s make a move from Genius Hour and change it to Genius Learning; from Tinkerlab to tinkering our learning anytime/anywhere. We need to continue our professional conversations and provide the most inviting learning environments as possible. I look forward to seeing the influence that the new concept-based curriculum has in not only the K-4 classrooms in Alberta and also the upper grades as new curriculum rollouts will be seen over the next few years.

So, while we all like playing a “game”, it’s really not the games themselves that improve learning, but rather smart game design and its impact on the brain. Teachers and administrators want to provide students with modern productive and engaging learning activities.

 

 

Get Techy w/Literacy and Timelines

LITERACY

Demonstrating learning in the middle years classroom can take on many forms. Take a look at a few resources and pick one to add to a choice list for students to utilize while they are reflecting on a science experiment or math activity or even a character analysis in language arts.

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  • Introduce and/or connect current learning by using Kahoot! or ReadWorks resources. Check out the quick 30 second videos for both of these tools at Kahoot!, ReadWorks

 

TIMELINE

The ultimate graphic organizers, timelines provide a visual tool for studying a brief period of time — a day, a year, or an individual’s life — or for examining a topic across the centuries. Researching and creating timelines appeals to students’ visual, mathematic, and kinesthetic intelligences. Check out these three resources:

  • Timeline by ReadWriteThink allows students to create a graphical representation of an event or process by displaying items sequentially along a line. Timelines can be organized by time of day, date, or event, and the tool allows users to create a label with short or long descriptive text. Adding an image for each label makes a timeline more visually appealing.

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  • Sutori is a vertical timeline tool, take a look at the teacher’s section for ideas on how to use it in various subject areas.

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