Nicole and I are very excited to get this season’s EML Podcast underway. Our Technical Producer, Jim Cash has been busy passing on all his ’tips’, which we are so thankful for. Thanks to Claudine Scuccato and Carla Pereira, we are fortunate to have a new space available to us at CBO in the Media Services Department.
In true EML tradition, we would like to invite you to contact us if you would like to share an inspiring success story for our Peel colleagues.
Welcome to the final episode of Empowering Modern Learners for Season 1, the 2017-2018 school year. In this episode, Jim and Amit look back over the season and highlight a few favourite moments from guests they have interviewed. They also listen to some bloopers from the past 34 recording sessions and share some laughs. Nicole James and Emily Farkas also join in and talk about next year’s podcast.
In this episode, we interview Adrian Graham who is the Superintendent of Curriculum and Instruction at the Central Board Office here in the Peel District School Board. Adrian shares his own journey through Empowering Modern Learners and he encourages teachers to continue to be co-learners with their students so they can be empowered as well. He also talks about some of the upcoming events and opportunities teachers have to learn in Peel about Empowering Modern Learners.
What’s New in the World of EML
Nicole shared about using Google Earth and Google Maps to give grade 3 students better context for comparing communities in Ontario. Being able to explore points of interest, examine different physical features and get different perspectives (street view, arial etc.) students were able to make some inferences about the communities. It also lead to great questions and conversations. Along the lines of making things more real for students, Nicole also mentioned BBC CivilisationsAR App for Android and iOS, which puts amazing artefacts right in front of you, through your device. With additional information and audio support you can bring the museum right into your classroom.
Emily shared about the Coding Playground at Maple Wood P.S. this week. Students and educators were learning together about the concepts of coding, such as how we use symbols in block coding to represent commands and how to design challenges to support the Math Curriculum. Students collaborated to problem solve predetermined coding puzzles and then quickly moved on, to creating their own challenges. This is one example of how coding can support the many layers of the EML Vision document.
Jim shared a recent blog post he made about summer learning. One of the ideas he would really like to encourage colleagues to consider is to take on a project that focuses on a passion or an interest. This is something he looks forward to each summer. The idea is to intentionally outline a project one will take on over the summer that’s centred on an interest one has. Make as the project goal achieving flow as Mihaly Csikszentmihalyidescribes it. The professional learning comes as a result of the reflections one makes about the experience and the learning that happened.
Amit shared the work that is being done at Central Peel Secondary School by Justin Schikschneit and his students around the podcast series they created in their grade 12 law class. It is a great example of Project Based Learning as a different Model of Learning and really speaks to the Belief Statements in terms of believing that your learners are able to accomplish something like this. Justin can be found on Twitter where he will share more information about the project moving forward and where the podcasts can be found.
In this episode, we interview Emily Farkas and Nicole James who are both Modern Learning Resource Teachers and will be taking over the EML podcast in the new year. Emily & Nicole share what parts of the Empowering Modern Learners vision document speak to them as well as about the amazing things that are happening in some of their schools.
What’s New in EML This Week
Jim shared on ongoing, five month project at a few of the schools he supports. Teachers chose a specific element to focus on and then began to research and extend their understanding and application around ideas within that element. The project goal is to create a two-minute video at the end of the year that shares details of how student learning was improved after innovations were made within a focus element:
For example, if the focus is Learning Environments, a teacher might explore in greater depth how the physical space affects learning, research concepts such as the ‘third teacher,’ and looking more intentionally at the use and placement of tables, seating, positions, walls or dividers, access to materials, floor areas, colours, zones, and so on… and not just the physical space but also how those physical spaces are used. The focus question for the two-minute video is: How did the changes/innovations you made within the chosen element empower students and improve learning? One of the biggest ‘take-aways’ shared by teachers is a new level of understanding of the extent to which the six elements are intertwined and how deeply they interact with each other.
Here is an example video from a teacher at Kingswood Drive PS:
Amit shared the work that Sapna Khosa’s grade 6 class at James Grieve did when they were presenting their business to the grade 10 students from Mayfield Secondary School. The students used the Global Goals for Sustainable Development to create their businesses and then created a 3 Slide Deck Pitch and a website to present to their authentic audience.
Links from the Interview with Emily Farkas and Nicole James
Jim shared the notion of learning concepts through immersion. Seymour Papert often spoke about creating an environment, a Mathland, in which students had a variety of opportunities to think, speak and create mathematically so that they could learn the language of mathematics as easily as a child who grew up in France could learn French. Jim shares a little of the discussion he had with some teachers who were talking about times in their lives in which they learned things through immersion, not through courses or school. Some of the ideas were:
First using social media
Collaboration, working together
Parenting / raising children
Finding one’s way around a city after just moving there
Rules in sports through playing
Fractions – one teacher who grew up in a family with 7 children said she was always thinking about what would be her share or portion of whatever was being given the children
Amit shared the work that he is doing over at Alloa Public School with Julie Vandendool, who was featured in Episode 19, in the school’s Library Learning Commons. He talked about how you can create a space that is inviting for students from K-8 and mentioned that trying to incorporate student voice as much as possible is important.
Jim really connected to the ideas in this paragraph and the point that Chen Jining made about students not demonstrating the creative, innovative spirit needed to succeed in modern (and future) society. This is one of the underlying goals of the Empowering Modern Learning vision and is the rationale behind the moral imperative.
Amit shared a video entitled “Women of Colour Share Their Imposter Syndrome”
The video defines Imposter Syndrome as “feelings of inadequacy or phoniness that make one believe that they are undeserving of success”. It goes on to state that “factors such as racism and doubts about one’s abilities due to race, gender or background can lead to the development of imposter syndrome.” Amit reminded listeners that as educators we have to be flexible and responsive to our students’ needs and that ultimately means we need to have a deep knowledge of who our students are and make sure they are at the center of what we are doing.
In this interview we interview Joe Dallaire who is a Science teacher at Stephen Lewis Secondary School. He shares the work that he is doing with the collaborative inquiry process with his students. He also talks about the work he is doing with the Peel Science 9 Resource.
What’s New in the World of EML
Jim shared some of the visioning and planning going on at one of the middle schools he supports. The grade 7 team is looking at ways to make learning more powerful and relevant by integrating curriculum areas but focusing on a few big questions or themes that connects the topics. They are looking at competencies, and discussing how skills and competencies could be more of a focus by using the curriculum content as the context in which they are developed. Most of the big picture thinking is complete and currently they are planning the nuts and bolts of how it is going to work with timetables and resources.
Amit shared the work that he is doing with the teachers at Castlebrooke Secondary School around Feedback Based Assessment. There were 6 different departments all collaborating to ensure that they are all on the same page delivering a consistent message to all of the stakeholders who are involved once they start their pilot in September.
Jim shared some exciting inquires a grade 5 class were involved in. Students were exploring different aspects of designing and building a structure with the end goal of being a strong structure able to withstand various forces, such as a bridge supporting a load moving across. Students were experimenting with different methods of attaching wooden popsicle sticks together (wood glue, hot glue, tape, etc.) and then testing each method. They used a free app called Hudl Technique to record the forces acting on the structure until the point of failure. The app made it easy for students to step through the frames and investigate how and why the structure failed. Then, an improvement was made and another iteration took place in the design process.
Amit shared Jim’s Blog Post entitled Scratch vs. Swift Playgrounds where he talks about the differences between the two platforms for coding. Amit shared how he feels Scratch allows more of a coding to learn rather than learning to code with Swift Playgrounds. He also talked about the Grasshopper app which also has a place, but he felt that using Scratch allowed for a bit more creativity.
Jim shared some of the major themes that were discussed in his workshop at the recent Aylesbury Modern Learning Summit on May 16, 2018. His workshop involved looking at how coding can help students play with and visualize mathematical concepts and processes. Some of the key points discussed were:
Coding makes abstract thoughts concrete. Ideas become “manipulatable”, discussable, and visual
Coding allows students to access a level of complexity in mathematical and logical thinking that might not be attainable from other methods
Importance of curriculum content but questions arose about the arbitrary nature of various concepts assigned various grades within some linear sequence… using coding as a thinking and design tool is an open challenge to that kind of rigid structure.
Scratch is the right place for coding – it’s a learning environment, first and foremost (not just a coding environment), it supports PBL, it supports social interaction and discussion, it supports a very wide variety of projects which can be highly personalized, and it can be used to create very simple or very complex projects, and everything in-between.
Amit shared the workshop he ran with the teachers at the Aylesbury Modern Learning Summit around docAppender and how it can be used as a tool to help with pedagogical documentation using Google’s CS First Program. This is a great tool for teachers to use as it not only has its own curriculum built in, but there are different themes that teachers and students can choose from.
Jim shared the tool we used to record Katie Novak’s interview, who joined us from Massachusetts for the live recording. We used Zencastr. Jim talked about the potential for students to use Zencastr collaboratively to create podcasts, documentaries or dramatic presentations (and the tool allows for students to be in different locations for their recording). Zencastr could also be used to connect classes of students living in different parts of the province, country or the world to discuss ideas, conduct interviews, play music, sing, or share audio that is unique to the locations where each class lives.
Zencastr used a technology called voice over IP which means that voices and other audio are carried as data on internet-based networks, not traditional telephone networks. After sign up initially, you get a complimentary “Hobby Pro Trial” account for two-weeks which provides access to higher sound quality and a few more features than the free version.
Amit shared a blog post by Erica Armstrong which talks about how you can use Google Sheets as a tool to help make math thinking visible. He talked about how Erica, who was a guest on Episode 7, provides some very helpful videos to help teachers navigate through the tool. He also mentioned Sapna Khosa, who was a guest on Episode 5, and how she uses Google Sheets to create Pixel Art with her students.