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Category Archives: Environment Conducive to Learning

Don’t be Wasteful!

In Alberta, students in grade four study Waste and Our World where they look at their local, national and international environments and see how they can make a difference in being eco-friendly.

There are a variety of resources available for this unit for teachers and students to interact with. What I’d like to point out is how teachers can structure this unit so that students not only consume the pertinent information but that they also have time to collaborate and then create/demonstrate their learning.

Background information

The village of Kamikatsu in Japan has taken their commitment to sustainability to a new level. While the rest of the country has a recycling rate of around 20 percent, Kamikatsu surpasses its neighbors with a staggering 80 percent. After becoming aware of the dangers of carbon monoxide associated with burning garbage, the town instated the Zero Waste Declaration with the goal of being completely waste-free by 2020.

Possible Tasks

  • 7 Day Household Waste Challenge and then make a copy of this Google Form to tally the results. How can your home, classroom or school become a Zero Waste environment like Kamikatsu? Post your findings and ideas in an online environment to get feedback from other experts and/or classrooms around the world.
  • Make A Difference Presentation template – create a Zero Waste proposal for your teacher, your Principal, the Superintendent, the Mayor or even a local community store. Post this to a classroom blog or other online environment.
  • Videoconference with various Waste Management experts, other schools who have or close to Zero Waste
  • Waste and Our World Action Plan
  • Waste Reduction Challenge

 

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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?

 

Spotlight on Strategy: 25 Things You Didn’t Know

 

 

SOS: 25 Things You Didn’t Know is a teaching strategy that allows students to explore resources and filter out important details. Students identify new information from media resources and share the information in order to create a collaborative list of facts.

NOTE: the link goes directly to a Discovery Education account. If you do not have a license for this resource, feel free to contact @DiscoveryEd for more information. If you would like to try out this fantastic instructional strategy, check out some of the ideas below!

 

When looking at a new concept or topic, have students break down the ideas and share it then with the whole class. Gather students into 5 smaller groups and either share the specific resources for that section OR have them research it on their own. It is important to set up the expectations beforehand. Do you want multimedia information, print materials, etc.? And how many of each? Would you like the list of references? Once the groups are put together and they have the materials that they are needing to digest, ask each group to create a list of at least five things that they did not know about their assigned concept or topic. Have them share it via a collaborative tool such as:

  • Google Slides – assign each group ONE slide to showcase their give things. Ask for images, text and video if that is what you are looking for. Once all groups have their information on their slide, the whole class can have the information as a study tool after each group has presented.
  • Padlet – create a Padlet whereby each group can have a title and then add one sticky “note” per idea that they find. You should see at least 25 new sticky notes that may contain text, images, video, etc.
  • Adobe Spark (teacher needs to sign in) Post or Page could be created and students can then input their findings. A unique link would be created.
  • If you want it text (and list based), you could share a Google Keep note with each student and one person per group would add their item to the list. Each student would end up with at least 25 listed items! Teacher could add an intro image.
  • Realtime Board (free edu version) allows up to 30 people on a board to draw, work with images, post videos, mark up PDFs, write notes and comments using stickers.

Overall the idea of having students digging into the curriculum and sharing with their classmates is quite appealing and makes the content a little bit more memorable. Once can even review the 25 Things You Didn’t Know at the end of the unit of study to see if students know them all, found out some new ideas (think KWL) or still have some questions.

 

 

Google in the Classroom: Holiday drawings, Whisper and Choice Boards

No matter what season, content area or grade level, Google Suite Apps for Education have a variety of supports and resources for students to use in the learning environment.

  • Whisper is a free Chrome extension that lets teachers message their class as whole or individual students without interrupting the work. Notifications show up on the student machine as a browser notification that can be viewed in the moment or any time later.

                                          OR

 

Google in the Classroom: GSuite for Early Learners

Our Early Years students can utilize the Google Suite Apps for Education just as well as our Middle Years and High School students. We want them to not only use the tools but also to CREATE!

Check out this fantastic introductory-level session that shares fantastic examples of Early Years students using various online resources. While you are watching I’d love to have you think about: what do you wonder? what is exciting for you?

 

Tools shared:

  • Google Classroom
  • Screencastify chrome extension
  • ViewPure for YouTube videos
  • Google Slides
  • Google Docs
  • MyMaps
  • Kids Wordsmyth
  • iPad annotation
  • Google Forms
  • Google Sheets
  • Google Drawings

Here is a copy of @TechCoachSusan’s slide deck for Using GSuite in the Early Years Classroom at https://goo.gl/izeT8K.

 

Creative Construction with MakeDo

INTRODUCTION

Makedo is a simple to use, open-ended system of tools for creative cardboard construction. Using the saw, screwdriver, and screws, students of all ages can build imaginative and useful creations from everyday cardboard. Makedo facilitates an interdisciplinary, hands on learning experience which engenders a deeper understanding of concepts with application to real-life scenarios. What’s more, Makedo is accessible for all types of students and their differing learning needs, Makedo teaches students to value the learning process as much as the results and Makedo develops collaboration skills.

EARLY YEARS


 

 

Design Thinking into Biohacking?

I just recently read Brian Aspinall’s (@mraspinall) blog post on Coding: Developing Rigorous Thinkers where he discusses the reason why students should learn to code – to think, problem solve, take risks, modify their work through trial and error, etc. All the competencies (specifics from Alberta Education) we want them to engage and grow as learner and it reminded me of an amazing TED Talk from Andrew Pelling where he “grows” human ears from other objects that you would never suspect.

He also recently founded pHacktory which is an independent research lab founded on extreme play, curiosity, undertaking audacious projects, taking risks and learning from failure.

I wonder how we could take Andrew’s zest for engaging in dramatic and disruptive learning and put it into our learning environments?