Episode 35 – The Final Countdown

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We’re tried to do a ‘mic drop’ in this photo… but the mics ended up getting blurred so they’re hard to see. Thanks for listening this year!

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.

Episode 34 – The Force Awakens

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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.  

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Notes from the Interview with Adrian Graham

In his interview, Adrian mentioned:

Shares for the Week

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 Csikszentmihalyi describes 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. 

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 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 23 – Dream Weaver

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In this episode, we interview Kathryn Lagerquist who is a STEAM teacher at Brisdale Public School. She shares how she connects the 21st Century Competencies found in Empowering Modern Learners to the work she is doing with her learners. She talks a lot about using creativity and tapping into the imagination and dreams of her students. In her interview she also shares how she believes that critical thinking should be the cornerstone of education.

What’s New in the World of EML

Jim shared some work he recently did with the English teachers at Turner Fenton SS. We spent some time exploring the opportunities afforded by using green screens and digital storytelling and video production. The app we looked at was Green Screen by Doink. There are many learning opportunities afforded in each of the three phases of production: pre-production, production and post-production. Another exciting thing we talked about, and actually did on the day, was the experience of discovery with the technology for students: what can this technology do to help tell a story? What’s the potential and how does it work. That can inform new ideas and provide a structure for design and innovation, much like the creative learning spiral:

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Amit shared the work he was doing with new teachers through the NTIP Program specifically around the work that is being done in secondary schools around Final evaluations and assessment. He talked about how sometimes new teachers feel like they need permission do try innovative things in their practice, and how the Empowering Modern Learners vision document gives teachers permission to not have to teach how they were taught.

Links from the Interview with Kathryn Lagerquist

In the interview Kathryn shared:

Shares for the Week

Jim shared book called Invent to Learn by By Sylvia Libow Martinez and Gary Stager. The book is an outstanding resource for teachers and parents and includes comprehensive and detail information about how students can make and learn through good projects that align with their passions. Here are some of the topics addressed in the book:

  • Maker movement
  • Constructionism
  • Design thinking, invention and innovation
  • Project based learning
  • How does it look in the classroom
  • Examples of activities
  • Shaping the learning environment
  • Chapter 14 includes quite a large list of linked resources

Amit shared a video entitled “What Dark Skinned People Will Never Tell You

He mentioned why it’s important to use texts and content that is culturally responsive so that our learners can not only see themselves in their learning, but that they see that they too are beautiful and we do not limit them to one concept of beauty. He mentioned that if we truly want our students to be empathetic, global citizens, we need to show them more than just a Euro-centric view of the world. He talked about the connections between this Belief Statement and equity:

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