A Lengthy Absence

As the date stamp in my previous blog post would indicate it has been quite some time since I last put fingers to keys for a blog entry.  But as a part of leading by example I am participating in a challenge that I have set out to my students which is to complete different Language based activities everyday for the final 30 days of the school year.  I also felt that this would be a different way to approach meeting the curricular expectations in Language and students would still be reading, writing, and communicating.

In the 30-day challenges, students are blogging, they are creating podcasts, live streamed conversations, keeping photo diaries, watching YouTube videos and talking about what they have watched, learning sign language and teaching others some of the basics, reading about countries unknown and sharing what they learn, researching topics of interest and producing a short summary of their findings and more.  Hopefully, the ability to change it up every single day will keeping them going as we move into that very long part of the year where the schools become too hot to learn within, schedules become crazy and the days until summer are not short enough for all of us.

Updates to come….

#peel21st March Blog Hop: Collaborating Near and Far

#peel21st March Blog Hop: Collaborating Near & Far

The ministry recently released 21st Century Competencies: Foundation Document for Discussion where they discuss 21st Century skills and competencies. We thought the competencies could be a great way to explore the conversation as a community.



The Prompt: Share a moment of Collaboration and/or Global Citizenship in your practice

Check the snapshots from the chart on page 56.

Screen Shot 2016-03-30 at 11.18.31 PM Screen Shot 2016-03-30 at 11.18.43 PM

What does collaboration and/or global citizenship mean to you?  Have you had a moment that made you think this is collaboration, this is global citizenship? How did technology support and assist in the learning experience? Any reflection on the prompt is welcome.

When I saw the tweets going out about the #peel21st Blog Hop on the topic of Collaboration and Global Citizenship I immediately thought of an experience that my students and I had earlier this year.  An opportunity to be a part of a global exchange with students near and far.

Back in June of 2014 I saw this Tweet go out with details about a Global Adventure connections classrooms, their teachers and students.

I immediately signed myself up.  I was moving to a new school and what better way to get my students familiar with making connections beyond our schools 4 walls that to participate in digital exchanges with students from all over the world using Skype or Google Hangouts.  Months passed, and more schools signed up….The updates were frequent.  Almost year later and….

Another 10 months would pass and several emails later…

We would also attempt to connected with schools in New Zealand and South America only to find that time differences and technology can provide great challenges when connecting halfway across the globe.  We did connected with a school in northern Spain and with one from just outside of Chicago.  My students were excited for the opportunity to make some virtual friends but also to see what life is like elsewhere in the world for students roughly the same age as them.  They were also able to share what life is like here in Brampton.  The exchanges were interesting, my students had expectations that,

  • the other students would not be able to speak english
  • the other students would have the same likes and dislikes when it came to music
  • the other students would have the same interests
  • school life and classes would be very similar to what we have here in Canada

They quickly came to understand that this was not the situation especially for the students we spoke to in Spain.  Our exchanges continued with both groups until the Christmas Break with both groups as we further our relationships with these new friends.  Unfortunately since then our schedules have been very difficult to align.

I look forward to participating in this global exchange in 2016, this time having an opportunity to be a part of some amazing virtual tours of Warwick Castle and the Museum of Arts and Science in Daytona Beach Florida.  Check out their site http://anadventure16.org

And don’t forget to check out the other amazing an on time blogs from my fantastic @peelschools colleagues.

Our #10in10 Challenge

A little less than two weeks ago I challenged students in my class to attempt a #10in10 blog challenge, that is 10 blog posts in 10 days.  While not every student chose to participate a significant number of students did elect to.  I even had a few student who thought they would jump the gun and write 10 entries in one day and then post them out 1 per day over then 10 days.  Most who participated wrote their one entry a day and successfully completed the challenge.  I on the other hand failed to date at completing the challenge myself.  I have written 5 entries on the 10 day period, this if we could count it would be my sixth.  I must remember that blogging requires time and that time must be set aside if I am to be successful at maintaining an up to date and current blog.

So here are a few of the entries my students wrote over their #10in10.








Day #4 Challenge: Deforestation

Rekindling the curiosity and creativity….5/10 #10in10

Somehow I let my #10in10 get away from me…I knew going into this challenge that blogging over the weekend would be my greatest obstacle…unfortunately avoiding a  weekend was an impossible if I was going to blog for 10 consecutive days.  As such my 10 in 10 will be stretched out and more like a 10 in 12.

I teach a group of 27 grade 7 students who have had the better part of 9 years of education and 9 years to  be trained to learn in a particular style.  They come from communities from around and beyond the GTA with learning experiences that very greatly and so when they are asked to think freely, I often get questions like, “How do you want me to do that?” or  “What should this look like?”  Two TED Talks come to mind when thinking about what students bring to the classroom in terms of their love for learning…

In Tony Wagner’s TEDxTalk he discusses the 7 core competencies a young person needs to be successful.  While all are equally important the one that sticks in the last, #7, “curiosity”.  Do kids demonstrate this curiosity as they get older and move through their elementary grades or do they lose it?  If they lose it, why so?  Why do some retain the curiosities? How can we REKINDLE to early childhood curiosities?

Sir Ken Robinson speaks of schools killing creativity…I wonder, do schools really kill creativity?  Is he correct when he says, “I don’t think there’s a kid in America, or anywhere in the world, who gets out of bed in the morning wondering what they can do to raise their state’s reading standards.  They get out of bed, if they’re motivated, by their own interests and their own development.”  What are your thoughts?

I would love to hear what others are doing to rekindle the creativity and curiosity that children begin their lives with.

Tearing down the walls…4/10…#10in10

From day one when I was offered the position at Countryside, I looked to tear down walls that had yet to be built.  My plans was to provide an inside look into our school for the families of the students attending Countryside by sharing what we were doing using a few different social media platforms like Twitter, Youtube, Instagram and Smore.

Over the past 18 months at Countryside we have replaced walls with windows and allowed families to catch a glimpse of what their children are learning.

Check out @CountrysidePDSB on Twitter, @CountrysidePDSB on Instagram, our Youtube channel Countryside Village and our school news letters on Smore

Finding the balance…3/10

I remember my first teaching placement like it was just a few months ago…I was in a grade 6 class in a fairly large K-8 elementary school in the north end of Thunder Bay.  I was enthusiastic and excited to have the opportunity to learn the ropes in an actual classroom.  I learned many strategies to cope with a variety of student needs and abilities but the one thing that I learned which still sticks with me today was the advice my teacher advisor Alison shared with me.  She said “always remember that you need a balance between you job and home life”.   That being said, I always have to challenge myself to maintain that between no matter which way life swings.

Changing the way things have always been…2/10

I find myself constantly evolving my teaching practices, I like to try out new approaches to teaching, new apps to support the teaching and learning in my class, and just about anything I feel might be able to support my students in a positive way and today was no different.  I have been trying out new methods of documenting student learning and providing feedback this year, the old spreadsheet I have been using to record achievement just does not work to support recording immediate feedback on student work especially with my students producing virtually all of their work digitally.  My replacements for my traditional Spreadsheet have been the integrated Markbook in Edmodo, Engrade, and currently SesameHQ or Snap on the iPad. Unfortunately I’ve been having a lot of issues and now look to others to share what they are using as a digital documentation a tool that can be used to record achievement And provide students digital feedback for the work that they’re completing online

A Fresh Start…1/10

I think….I know that I have written at least one of these posts in the past.  But a challenge posted by Tina and seeing that a few other colleagues were up for the challenge, I too accepted the challenge of writing 10 entries in 10 days (#10in10) and at the same time I have challenged any of my students who were willing to do the same.

My goal for this challenge is to revitalize my blog, my reflection on my teaching practices, my sharing of resources, my documentation of what is happening in my class.  I also hope to inspire and encourage my students by “doing” rather than being the one to set the challenge and not be challenged.

Check out what others have done for their #10in10



Did you challenge yourself to #10in10?  Share your blog, I’d enjoy reading what others had to share over their 10.

#peel21st Blog Hop: A Few of My Favourite Things

Well for most our 2nd #bloghop has come and gone but I share some of my favourite things to go with what several of the others shared earlier in the evening.  Please check out what the others have shared by following the links below my post.

My Favourite Things!

My favourite things are just a few of the gadgets the students @CountrysidePDSB have been getting their hands on this fall.  From tinkering and exploring with the littlebits to learning to code with the Ozobots and Dash there have been hours of fun learning.

Littlebits – tiny electronic boards that magnetically snap together to create circuits that can do just about anything you can imagine.  Students have been explore with some of the kits (SynthKit – DeluxeKit – SpaceKit) and we look forward to exploring more in the new year when we break open the ArduinoCodingKit and the CloudBitKit)

Ozobots – these tiny #bots have produced children who just won’t give up as they attempt to make these little machine do unimaginable manoveurs with a variety of colourful lines and dots.  Of course the kids believe they can some how “code” with their lines an instruction that will tell these little guys to jump but have not realized that they might need a hand from Dash and his launcher to make that jump to the next step.

Dash – Dash admittedly has been quite some fun….at first I took Dash on a tour of the school….knocking on some doors and mooing like a cow or quacking like a duck, I even programmed Dash to ask the Grade 1’s for some Jellybeans from the floor that they were using to create patterns.  But there is some much more that Dash can do with the Apps developed to control him.   We have been exploring Go, Blockly and Path.  Most of our time has been spent with Blockly where the students have learned to visually code with blocks in order to complete challenges that Dash must complete. Some students have simply enjoyed dragging and dropping blocks into the workspace, clicking RUN and watching Dash move about.  In the New Year I hope to venture out to more classes to let them explore the world of coding with Dash as well as putting Dash to work during our Nutrition Break coding camps.

A hopeful gadget for our Coding club is BB-8 from Sphero but I’ll need to do a little reading before I can justify its price tag.  For now I am quite pleased with what Littlebits, Ozobots and Dash have done to give our students some experience with new technologies and coding.

I would be happy to hear what others think.  Don’t forget to read on….

1 Jason Richea http://beyondangrybirds.blogspot.ca/2015/12/a-few-of-my-favourite-things.html
2 Heather Lye http://teachinginspirations.blogspot.com/2015/12/my-favourite-things-december-bloghop.html
3 Amit Mehrotra http://mramitmehrotra.blogspot.ca/
4 Jason Wigmore https://jwigmore.wordpress.com/2015/12/15/a-few-of-my-favourite-things/
5 Melanie Mulcaster http://valleyslearningcommons.blogspot.ca/2015/12/five-of-my-favourite-things.html
6 Jonathan So http://mrsoclassroom.blogspot.com/2015/12/5-favourite-things.html
7 Jim Cash http://makelearn.org/2015/12/15/a-few-of-my-favourite-things/
8 Tina Zita https://misszita.wordpress.com/2015/12/16/peel21st-blog-hop-a-few-of-my-favourite-things/
9 Maggie Fay https://www.dropbox.com/s/vusno76viphg63c/My%20favourite%20things%20post%20%20for%20Peel21st.mov?dl=0
10 Sapna Gandhi
11 Pam Taylor http://mindfulauthenticity.blogspot.ca/2015/12/december-peel21st-blog-hop-few-of-my.html?spref=tw
12 Gina Loutrianakis https://docs.google.com/document/d/1Fp2u3s801ZLXGnGOS6h2gtYkYPDaya-b1rbFjPdnn5Y/edit

#peel21st November Blog Hop: A New Year

Tina said it right….

“This hasn’t been a typical fall start up but we know all around there have been amazing moments of learning.”

I’d like to share two pieces of my 2015-16 puzzle…

First, in the days leading up to the new school year there was great excitement.   As the year began at Countryside Village we were preparing for the unknown, why?  The answer was old news, we are holding at the Peel Hotel “James Grieve Public School” as we await ministry approval for the funds to build the “Countryside Village Public School”

Still, my nerves were getting the better of me because I would start the year with a class unlike last year. It was however, a small class of “9” with just 1 male student. My thoughts, “We were out numbered!”  On the first day,  he was concerned, myself not so much.  Who wouldn’t be happy the have a 1 to 9, teacher to student ratio.  The learning that could go on.  The REALITY was, my class would grow as the houses closed in the CSVPS neighbourhood and the learning would go on.

My other Ah Ha moment of this school year was just as we are doing here….Getting them “my students” going….on Blogging!  I started the year with a plan to have my students keep a blog that would serve as a place to share their/our learning journey throughout the subjects as we dive into learning with an inquiry approach.  I knew that this would be a challenge much like the shift in learning that they would experience here at Countryside Village.

Looking back at the first severals weeks of the school year, I introduced the idea of blogging, many students had that look of shock.  I guess it may have been the fact that they had never blogged before.  Some showed signs of interest, some did not.  We started by exploring the Edublogs dahsboard to get familiar with the interface that we would use for blogging.  Some students explored the App for their device, others would get their first experience using a Google Chromebook.

Most of my students were interested in customizing the look of their blog.  With the 100’s of themes, every student had the chance to put their own mark on the blog that they would keep.  From there we set up categories and a menu structure for their main page.  This would serve the purpose of keep entries with common threads connected and in one place.  Once this was done, we were ready to begin writing or so I thought we were.  Where would we start?  Something random?  Something with a purpose?

After a little thought, I had the class start with a Bio page, a place for future blog followers to get to know the author, the learner that would be sharing their journey.  Within a few days, the Bios began popping up in my reader and on the student sites.  From a few sentences long to paragraphs, the students began sharing a little about themselves.  We had made the leap.  The students were now blogging.  The next steps, more posts!  Topics, unknown!

Here are some of the other memorable moments from the 1st couple months of the 2015-2016 school year as shared by some #peel21st colleagues!

Jason Richea

Jonathan So

Amit Mehrotra

Tina Zita

Jim Cash

Melanie Mulcaster

Heather Lye

Erica Armstrong

Matt Fletcher

Jason Wigmore


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