Beginning in November, we will be resuming the EML Podcast, including what you’ve always loved about the podcast – interviews with staff & students throughout PDSB and the sharing of best practices! We’re also adding Digital Tool Tips & Tricks and Innovative Mindset Sparks that will engage you & your students, both face-to-face communities and online!
We’ll be looking for participants so consider reaching out to your MLRT to share your EML experiences! Our redesigned EML Digital Newsletter will align with our monthly podcast, so watch for that, too!
Have feedback? An idea for an episode or a feature? Reach out to your MLRT via
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In this jam packed episode, the new Coordinating Principal of Modern Learning Luke Mahoney steps in to co-host with Emily, and Nicole chats with grade 5 Reema Khithani, teacher candidate Jenna Marinucci and a couple of students.
This or That? Traditional desks or standing workstations?
Luke and Emily debate the merits of both of these seating options. As always choice is important, but making the right choice for the purpose or need at the time. Flexible seating doesn’t have to cost a thing.
What’s New In EML
Luke dishes on his visit to the Google Canada head offices. He describes the balance between planning for comfort and enjoyment and efficiency. Noting that for Google the bottom line is still productivity, and creating the conditions under which their staff can do their most creative, collaborative and innovative at work. See for yourself:
Emily shares some of the great things going on at the Field Centre with Rob Ridley including his cool new parabolic mic. Capture the sounds of nature and then layer on your own music in Audacity or GarageBand to create your own mindfulness soundscapes.
From the Interview
Try This! Word Association
See how your colleagues or students associate EML terms with a quick game of word association. OR try it with another topic. It can make a fun get to know you activity, or help to surface connections between ideas and students own schema.
This week we get to hear the great things Ruthie Sloan is doing in the Innovation Studio at James Grieve PS supporting students from K-3 and core French.
This or That: Live PD vs Twitter Chats
Emily and Nicole agree that both have their benefits. With live PD you can get deep into topics and really engage with the people who are face to face with you. A Twitter chat on the other hand, broadens your audience. In some cases you can get answers from around the world. PD in your PJs is a definite draw, as your learning is documented, but the fast pace may be overwhelming for some. Having both options means you can choose what works for you under different circumstances.
What’s New in EML?
Nicole shares about a conversation with some aspiring podcasters. Advising them on everything from branding, and sponsorship to episode length and format. With the podcasting kit from the lending library, the students are on their way to creating something they can launch to an audio. Keep an ear out, for more info about the podcasts.
Emily discusses planning for a parent engagement night. These nights are important for keeping parents connected, and helping them to see what is happening in the school their children attend. Parents will be introduced to the Makerspace, as well as other stations like a universal design challenge, Kahoot and EML, and an EML overview.
From the interview
Visit Ruthie’s Twitter page to check out some of the learning that goes on in the Innovation Studio.
This week we are encouraging you to try out a Twitter chat. With many different chats available, including book chats, subject specific chats and Peel’s very own #Peel21st chat, there are fantastic opportunities to connect with colleagues from the comfort of your own home. #Peel21st chats happen on the first Tuesday of every month from 8:30-9:30. If you missed last night’s chat, don’t fret, you can still have your say in the March Madness App Competition. Just keep an eye out for the polls throughout this month, vote, and see which app comes out on top!
As is becoming a theme with the discussions Emily and Nicole decide each has its role. iPad is still a go to for creative products while chromebooks gives access to the productivity tools for planning and collaboration through the Gsuite.
What’s New in EML?
Nicole shares her experience running a session at the Black History Month Celebration at CBO. The day kicked off with with some awesome performances and a keynote by Natasha Henry. Then students got to head to breakout sessions. Nicole’s session had students creating a website or clickable app prototype to showcase black inventors, historical figures, entertainers and more. Google sites makes it easy for learners to create sites with text, video and embedded content. Creating a clickable app prototype just involves, changing the page setup, adding shapes, images and text boxes and hyperlinking them between slides to simulate the navigation you’d want from an app.
Emily describes the conversations she has had around Google Sites for student created portfolios. Putting students in control of curating their learning. It can happen in different formats due to the flexibility of sites, and can be for single projects to show process, full courses, or follow an individual student long term across subjects and grades.
From the Interview
Over the years elementary schools have received Lego Mindstorms EV3 robots. If you haven’t seen it before, find out if it is in use somewhere, or find where it is and dust it off. As you can see from the sumo tournament action above, these robots are small but mighty with motors, sensors and all kinds of pieces to design and code something awesome. Check out this video of an EV3 in action.
This week Emily sits down with Christian Stepien, a gr1/2 teacher and k-6 planning time with a modern learning focus at Plowman’s Park PS.
This or That?: Podcasting vs Video Production
Emily and Nicole discuss some of the differences in these two mediums, explaining you can have more involvement in a video than on a podcast because podcasting generally requires a smaller crew. The use of green screen, the need for props/costumes, stage direction, and more add layers and can provide more opportunities for collaboration with video projects. With that said, for the most part you can have the same success criteria and both mediums could allow students to show what they know.
What’s New in EML
Nicole describes her time with a grade 6 class introducing micro:bit as a part of the Let’s Talk Science – Living Space experience. Students enjoyed having success with a new tool for coding – They were already familiar with Scratch. Students coded a step counter that actually works, and added motivational messages, a clear counter command and more. Giving them time to explore openly also led to a cool discovery and a birthday acknowledgement!
Emily describes a visit with a Kindergarten team to talk documentation. They discussed focusing on learning goals to help narrow the focus of documentation so as not to be overwhelmed and how to track which students have more or less documentation so educators can direct attention towards learners who fly under the radar. Student use of technology through creation apps, is another way to collect documentation directly from student created products at an iPad centre. Having students be a part of documenting their learning while their young and open will hopefully become habit so that as they get older they continue to share and reflect on their learning so the assessment process can include them. Digital portfolio options are many, and there is a new kid on the block in the form of Brightspace Portfolios from D2L. This K-12 portfolio has the potential to remain with students throughout their schooling.
From The Interview
A digital breakout is a learning experience where students explore links and resources in order to solve puzzles or find various codes. They input the codes into a form that employs data validation so learners can’t move on without having the correct code. Here is an example.
Nicole shares her recent experience facilitating a carousel session at a staff meeting. More and more administrators are providing differentiated learning for their staff rather than the one size fits all sit and get staff meetings we traditionally see.
In this week’s episode we speak with social worker Marvin Arthur about his role as a part of the Reaching Out program and some ideas for keeping kids engaged in the classroom.
This or That: Live Streams or YouTube?
Emily and Nicole talk out some of the ways live streams like those available through earthcam.com can add some global perspective, but YouTube remains champ. With a seemingly infinite library of videos you are bound to find something for the subject you might be diving into. Not to mention 360 and VR content that is now available. Don’t just use videos for research and to gather information. Video can be a great way to get students to write descriptively as they try to convey the images and sounds in a vivid way.
What’s New in EML?
Nicole recaps her visits with grade 6 and 7 classes to explore the new and improved Scratch 3.0 The challenge to both students and teachers was to animate a joke told between 2 characters. If you are curious about the model project I used to introduce the challenge, check it out here.
Emily reflects on helping a school’s climate team consider how they might implement a school wide gentle entry. Students are late for various reasons, but we want them to feel welcome rather than judged. Gentle entry offers a way for students to ease into the day by choosing an activity that is a good fit for them until.
In this week’s episode we chat social justice, culturally responsive and relevant pedagogy and equity with grade 8 teacher Zohrin Mawji and a few students in her class.
This or That Online Coding vs Robot Coding?
Nicole and Emily struggled with a definitive answer on this one, explaining how robots give students immediate concrete feedback on their code, but that online apps like Scratch can actually be more versatile. Also, many robots can now be used with Scratch so you can have the best of both worlds! Whether online or with robots there are many options for coding at different levels for different grades and different complexities. We mention Scratch, MicroBit, Lego Mindstorms, Sphero, Dash & Dot, and vex robotics. Bottom line: there are lots of considerations to make when choosing how students may be introduced to coding, right down to their personality.
What’s New in EML?
Nicole shares a discussion she had with a secondary principal and teacher librarian about adding or upgrading different learning spaces in the school. The conversation was not a “we want a makerspace” conversation but rather, what might the process be for determining what spaces would best suite the needs of students and teachers for the type of learning we would like to see. A teacher/student committee is being created to survey the school, take a look at innovative spaces that already exist in Peel schools and some post secondary institutions and then to put forward a proposal.
Emily shares her experience working with a grade 3 teacher who reached out wanting to try something knew. They settled on trying Dash Robots. After a quick tutorial going over the major functions of the Dash, students got a chance to play around for a half hour before a nutrition break. During that time Emily and the teacher co-planned how the Dash could be used as part of an activity related to perimeter. Students taped down shapes, coded dash along the perimeter making note of the distance, and took pictures to document their learning along the way. Afterward students used PicKids to mark up their images, and add text.
This week we resume our conversations with Phil Dodson and Gwen Reitemeier.
This or That? Edcamp vs Traditional PD
Jim joined us and shared why he enjoys the Edcamp model over more traditional PD. It all comes down to choice and just in time learning. Emily argues that there is still a place for regular PD as well.
What’s New in EML?
Nicole shared an experience helping a group of grade 3s get started with green screen for a trip to various structures around the world. What she hadn’t anticipated was the chance to show a student how to get started with Stop Motion Studio and seeing what he would create in only a few minutes. He was ready to be an expert and share his new knowledge with the class.
In this episode we chatted with Phillip Dodson, principal of Ray Underhill PS. Later, we were joined by teacher Gwen Reitemeier and a couple of grade 5 students as they discuss how their experiences with Indigenous education has created a stronger sense of community in the school.
This or That? Real Tree or Fake Tree?
We landed on opposite sides on this one with Emily in favour of real trees despite the pesky pine needle clean up. While Nicole sided with the fake trees due to condo act restrictions.
As promised, here is a photo of Nicole’s beloved Charlie Brown Christmas Tree.
What’s New in EML?
EML Teacher Leaders from across the board have been gathering for PD over the past two weeks. We reflected on how the open format beginning with provocations in the morning and an EdCamp style event in the afternoon provided these teachers with opportunities to share and learn from each other. If you aren’t quite sure what an EdCamp is check out the EdCamp site for more info. It is a great way to leverage the expertise of those in the room and to allow participants to drive the learning in the direction they need.