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

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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:

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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:

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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Episode 22 – The Director’s Cut

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In this episode, we interview Peter Joshua who is the Director of Education in the Peel District School Board. Peter shares his passion for teaching and learning in a new age, and offers encouragement for teachers who are trying to empower their modern learners in their classes each and every day. He talks about how classrooms are constantly changing, and shares how he has been inspired by the work being done in Peel by our teachers, students, administrators, superintendents and trustees.

What’s New in the World of EML?

Jim shared an a-ha moment he had recently where he thought this is it – this is what empowered students do. Working with another teacher in a grade 5 class, Jim noticed and took note of, the quality of the interactions between the students and their teacher. In every case, when students approached the teacher, they did not have questions about what to do, how to do it, what should they be doing next, or saying that they were done.

Instead, the questions students were asking demonstrated they were driving their learning and their actions. Questions were more about asking to leave the room to go get a resource, or if they could borrow her phone for an experiment, or if they could bounce some ideas off her to receive some input, or ask when some supplies would be delivered because it was part of the project they were working on. Interactions that were initiated by her were open-ended, asking questions such as: How’s it going so far? What’s coming up? How did you solve that issue you had yesterday?

Jim’s reflection was that paying close attention to the kinds of questions and the quality of interactions between students, and between students and teachers, reveals crucial information about the level of empowerment of students. 

Further reading: Empowering Students to Find Their Own Way

Amit shared the work that he was doing with the “Modern Family” Department at Mayfield Secondary School. He talked about how a conversation about Empowering Modern Learners led to conversations about assessment and then revamping major components of the course itself. He advocated for teachers to be given this time to be released together as there was so much they were able to accomplish in one day as they were offsite and together.

Links from the Interview with Peter Joshua

If we teach

Shares for the Week

Jim shared an excellent video created by Education Alberta. It was created to serve as a brief but informative introduction to Universal Design for Learning principles. Jim also discusses UDL’s application to teaching practice and how the Empowering Modern Learners vision aligns with UDL principles.

Amit shared a video from the World Economic Forum about the innovative ways that India is working toward reusing plastics to make roads. He talked about how important it is for teachers to provide opportunities for their learners to be creative and innovative in their learning to prepare them to be creative, innovative thinkers when they leave school.

He also talked about the Call for Facilitators for Peel’s first Digital Toolbox Summit. Digital Toolbox Summit Image (1) (1)

The Summit is just for educators in the Peel District School Board, so if you are looking to facilitate a workshop for the day, you can find the information here and/or you can apply here. You can email Amit at amit.mehrotra@peelsb.com if you have any questions.