Episode 30 – Cheers

Katie Novak

In this episode, we interview Katie Novak who is the author of UDL Now! A Teacher’s Guide to Applying Universal Design for Learning in Today’s Classrooms.  Katie shares some great strategies that teachers can use when they are planning for their students using a Universal Design for Learning (UDL) lens.

What’s New in EML?

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.forever imagine prog share
  • 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.

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Links from the Interview with Katie Novak

Katie shared a number of resources including:

Shares for the Week

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.

Episode 29 – Daredevil

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In this episode, Jim and Amit provide some commentary and connections to Empowering Modern Learners after listening to various guests who stopped by and shared their thoughts at the Digital Tool Summit that took place at Central Peel Secondary School on Saturday, May 12.

In order of appearance, here at the guests who stopped by to chat at the summit:

  1. Kyle Pitman – @MrKPitman
  2. Nicola Bailey-Bennett
  3. Manroop Virk (SAC President)
  4. Ruthie Sloan – @Roosloan
  5. Kevin Murray – @everythingkevin
  6. Shilpa Sharma – @shilpasharma__
  7. Sylvia Moll – @SylviaMoll4
  8. Saloni Ohri – @saloniohri
  9. Suril Shah – @thrillsuril
  10. Ana Dhanoa – @anadhanoa
  11. Colleen Hartman – @MmeHartman

Please note that each interview was several minutes long but we chose one idea from each guest to highlight in this podcast.

Episode 28 – Wings

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EML BeliefsIn this episode, we interview Thanh Trieu who is a Grade 5 teacher at Cherrytree Public School. She shares how the EML Belief Statements and the three words in the vision of “Inspire, Innovate and Ignite” have really helped to shape the amazing learning environment she has created with her students. Together with her students, they have created a proposal to seek funding from the Board for an Outdoor Learning Space, and Thanh speaks about how she has helped to nurture the creative side in her students.

What’s New in EML

Jim shared the work the he is doing at Madoc Drive Public School with various teacher teams who are producing their own mini-documentaries exploring modern learning. Each collaborative team has chosen a focus, one of the six innovative elements, and are making changes to practice in their classrooms. The 2-minute video being produced, and eventually shared at the end of the year, will communicate how those changes and innovations have improved learning and/or how student interest and actions have been inspired or ignited. Teachers are finding this to be a fun activity and one that useful strong professional learning.

Amit shared the work that he is doing over at SouthFields Village Public School with a team of Grade 4 teachers. They met earlier in the year to discuss what tools they could use to help with their study of geometry, and they began to explore Scratch together. Amit shared about the co-teaching he did with the team and the Instructional Coach, and how students went from having fun, to thinking the activity was hard and then having the feeling of both: “hard fun”. It was a great opportunity for learning for the students and the teachers.

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Links from the Interview with Thanh Trieu

In the interview, Thanh mentioned:

  • AJ Juliani
  • She mentioned really liking a lot of his books
  • She also mentioned being really inspired by his podcast

Here is a recent image from Thanh’s class with students sharing their outdoor playground proposal:

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Shares for the Week

Screen Shot 2018-05-09 at 9.38.01 AMJim shared a book he is reading called The Play’s the Thing: Teachers’ Roles in Children’s Play (Second Edition) by Elizabeth Jones and Gretchen Reynolds. He is enjoying the book because he feels that play and learning are nearly synonymous and is always looking for ideas that help teachers and adults be more effective in contexts where children are taking an active role in their learning. Jim thinks that models of learning like project-based learning and inquiry-based learning, making and designing–all of these are still play-based but the play just looks different than it would in an ECE context or a Kindergarten context. Jim likes the ideas in the book because they focus explaining on various roles that teachers can play and why those roles are important.

Amit shared the Digital Toolbox Summit that is coming up on May 12th at Central Peel Secondary School. He wanted to make sure he mentioned all of the people who have been working tirelessly behind the scenes to make this Summit come to life:

You can see the various sessions being offered on the website for the Digital Toolbox Summit.

If you are attending the Digital Toolbox Summit, be sure to drop by the front foyer at the beginning of the day, or during session 1 or 2, and share your modern learning moments / thoughts / experiences on our podcast. We will edit together various selected conversations into a podcast (or two).

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Episode 27 – The Day After Tomorrow

Sayema

In this episode, we interview Sayema Chowdhury who is a Climate for Learning & Working Resource Teacher in the Peel District School Board. She shares how in her work she helps build relationships with all staff so they can be their best selves in their learning environments.

What’s New in the World of EML

Jim has been working with some teachers from Wilfrid Laurier PS who are at the very beginning of transforming the library space into a modern learning space, aligned with the Empowering Modern Learners vision and Together for Learning. It’s exciting to think, rethink, redesign, vision, plan. One of the key principles we are thinking about is the idea that the space will continue evolve and change in response to students and learning needs. One of the many very interesting / inspiring messages in Together For Learning are the pedagogical shifts inherent in the learning commons (page 35) and these are being reflected upon very carefully at these early planning stages:

Ped Shifts TfL

Amit shared the work he is doing with a grade 3 teacher over at Larkspur Public School around Design Thinking and using an Empathy Map. The students watched the film “Soar” and worked through an Empathy Map in an effort to prepare for designing their outdoor learning environment that is coming to the school soon.

Links from the Interview with Sayema Chowdhury

In her interview, Sayema talked about:

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Shares for the Week

Jim continued to build on Seyema’s theme of relationships and learning together. She talked a lot about creating spaces where student voices are heard and where we are building relationships so that student feel safe and can bring their authentic selves into the space. Again, as described in Together for Learning, the Learning Commons provides a space where everyone in a school can work together. Teachers, teacher-librarians, principals, technical staff, students–all can collaborate in learning partnerships. And it is place where the school community can switch the emphasis from teaching to learning. With everyone learning together and sharing how learning happens consistently, the learning process will become a natural part of a student’s being.

 

Amit shared the Findings and Recommendations from the Independent Review of Assessment and Reporting that can be found here. He mentioned the different overviews and recommendations that were made to make changes to both Growing Success as well as EQAO. He was pleased to see the links between the work of Empowering Modern Learners and the recommendations that are being made to the Ontario Government for changes to assessment and reporting. 

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Episode 26 – Futurama

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In this episode we interview Melanie Mulcaster, who is a Teacher Librarian at Hillside Public School with the amazingly supportive principal Jim Brooks. She shares how she engages student voice & choice in their learning to help them be successful. She also shares her passion for Making and the positive effects it has on learners of all ages.

What’s New in EML

Jim shared some reflections of some co-teaching and co-learning he has been involved in with a grade 5 class who are working on coding-based genius hour projects. He noticed that the quality of the conversations he was having with students about what they were doing was unique (referring to the second meaning of quality, that is, of a different kind) than is typical in many cases. Students were using their code as the written language of problem solving and, in so doing, were able to have goal-based conversations with others to work out problems and plan how to put new ideas into action.

Amit shared the work that he is doing with teachers in the Business Department over at Castlebrooke Secondary School. This is an extension of the Project Based Learning approach the school is taking that Q Hoppie talked about back in Episode 14 – Inside Out. He talked about how they started their journey with Overarching Learning Goals, moved to the Learning Map, and then finished by “blowing up the course” and reorganizing based on the Overarching Learning Goals and the Final Evaluation. He also mentioned that students will be having their Market over at the school on May 24th.

Links from the Interview with Melanie Mulcaster

In the interview, Melanie mentioned:

Shares for the Week

Building on Melanie’s interview and her discussion of students and making, Jim shared his understanding of constructionism (this term is sometimes used in discussions about making and the maker movement). He sees eight essential elements of constructionism outlined in this resource called Constructionism – Concept, Conditions, Practice & Examples which he shared at BringIt 2016:constr_invis.png

Amit shared a blog post by Matt Miller where he talks about using Google Slides as a template to create digital yearbooks, and that you can even have them printed from there if you need to. He talked about how Kasey Bell refers to the tool as the “Swiss Army Knife of the Google Suite” and also shared that there’s is some more learning to be done about Google Slides through the GEG-Ontario Learning Series.

Episode 25 – Divergent

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In this episode, we interview Joanne Milligan who is the Department Head of Mathematics at Mississauga Secondary School. She shares how she believes that the students she sees each and every day are shaped by the ever-changing world we all live in. She talks about how she has adapted to meet the needs of these learners, and how she gives students the power to direct and be aware of their own learning.

What’s New in the World of EML

Jim shared an idea to support project-based learning activities. The status, details, goals, and so on of students’ ongoing project-based learning can change from session to sessions, day to day. One of hallmarks of PBL is regular and open sharing of ongoing work. A simple solution using Google tools is to create a Slides Doc in which all students have edit access but each student owns a slide. This slide acts as their project portal and can contain images, videos, descriptions, details, instructions, links, comments pertaining to their project. The slides are dynamic and continuously updated. This approach not only serves a project management purpose but also can be a source of assessment as learning in the form of ongoing reflection and planning.

Amit shared the work that he was doing with the teachers over at Caledon East Public School on a three part workshop on Empowering Modern Learners. He talked about how they spent the first part really diving into the document and into the Innovative Elements, and how the teachers wanted to focus in on one Element in particular: Access to Technology. These discussions led them to conversations about docAppender as a tool to use, and Amit mentioned how sometimes these tools can be used as the spark that “Ignites” the passions of learners.

Links from the Interview with Joanne Milligan:

In her interview, Joanne mentioned:

Shares for the Week

Jim shared research into computational thinking from Harvard. The research helps educators think straight about computational thinking in three domains: defining, assessing and supporting. Jim also shared ideas from the Creative Computing Curriculum Guide.

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Amit shared a new podcast that he is listening to by Jen Giffen and Kim Pollishuke who are two Digital Learning Resource Teachers in the York District School Board. Their podcast, called the Shukes and Giff Podcast, is a weekly show that shares some really cool EdTech “treasures” they have found and where they talk about how they use them in their work with teachers. They share some of their “Ahas” and encourage teachers to “give it a go”. They are using the Anchor App to record their podcasts, and having a lot of fun sharing their ideas.

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Episode 24 – The NeverEnding Story

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In this episode, we interview Jael Richardson who is the author of The Stone Thrower: A Daughter’s Lesson, A Father’s Life which is a novel about her father Chuck Ealey. Jael is not only a former Peel student, but she is a celebrated writer who was a Toronto District School Board Writer-In-Residence in 2013 and 2016. She has an MFA in Creative Writing from the University of Guelph, and she lives in Brampton, Ontario where she founded and continues to serve as the Artistic Director for the Festival of Literary Diversity.

What’s New in the World of EML

Jim shared some of the work he is doing with a team of teachers from Turner Fenton who are passionate about changing and improving how they are assessing students. One of the key themes that came of out the work was that one of the most productive and useful conversations between staff was to share how teachers in different departments and courses are finding, recording and organizing the different kinds of evidence of learning from students in their context. Triangulation methods are not identical between different classes and subjects.

Amit shared the work that he was doing with some English teachers over at Humberview Secondary School around assessment. He mentioned that they started their work around looking at docAppender as a tool to collect evidence of student learning, and that brought them to a point where they started having conversations about why they are doing some of the assessments they currently have. He encouraged teachers to continue to take a step back and examine the why when it comes to any assessments to ensure that the assessments themselves are empowering for students and that they offer them a chance to build on skills.

Links from the Interview with Jael Richardson

Jael shared:

Shares for the Week

Jim shared an Edutopia article entitled Finding Students’ Hidden Strengths and Passions written by Maurice J. Elias. One way we can ensure that students feel empowered is to foster learning that grows from each child’s interests and passions. But, sometimes, that information is not clear to the child or to the the child’s teacher. The article includes some simple advice to help teachers take action in order to find out:

  1. have all your students tell you about their hobbies or other things they really like to do or are very good at
  2. ask students to talk about times when they found out something surprising and good about someone else
  3. have students talk to their parents or guardians about “hidden talents” (you may want to use this exact term)

…action must be taken to find what is hidden. Let’s be sure we are taking those actions so that our students do not lose some of their most deeply treasured possessions: their strengths and passions. —Maurice J. Elias

Amit shared his visit to the Google Offices in Kitchener that the GEG Ontario Group hosted as a kick off to the EdTech Team‘s Ontario Summit this past weekend. Here are some of the images he captured on his tour: