Know Your “Why”

child-646149_640Recently we had session 2 of our Communicating Learning via ePortfolios Team. When I wrote up this session to post for the group, it struck me that these thoughts applied to everyone especially at a time when we’re all focused on assessment, report cards and all the things that come with the process. 

  • Learning is doing
  • Learning starts with the learner’s own ideas
  • Learning involves getting personally involved
  • Questions drive learning and are also outcomes of learning
  • Learning involves uncovering complexity
  • Learning can be a group process and a group outcome
  • Learning and thinking can be made visible

How might these ideas affect the way you approach a Fast ForWord learning environment, an assessment environment or what this means to think well (critically, creatively)? If you know your “why”, it’s easier to frame the assessment. I’m especially captivated by “questions drive learning and are also outcomes of learning”. Not the teacher’s questions but student’s questions. 

We’d love to have your thoughts on this through the comment feature here. 

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Thinking Math Supports?

In partnership with Ron Coleborn (Math consultant), we are pleased to announce two Math softwares available for teachers:

  • Dreambox Learning (Math)
  • Skoolbo (Math and Literacy basic skills) (Canadian version)

dreamboxDreamBox is an online Math resource (K-8) intended to support personalized instruction for students from intervention to enrichment. The ongoing formative assessments within the program can align classroom practices and lessons creating a blended model of instruction. Some of our schools have been using the program in pilot and can share their stories. A small number of purchased student licenses are available. More information can be found on our Learning Technologies site (WEB RESOURCES > DREAMBOX LEARNING).   Teachers who are interested may apply on our FORMS page.

skoolbologoSkoolbo (Canadian version)(K-5) is now available for those who are seeking practice in basic skills in Math or Literacy (building blocks). This is an online resource that provides a “game type” environment to hone basic skills. Create your avatar and the program can take you through the skillsets (based on a set of pre-tests). Or a teacher can assign specific content where practice is needed. This may enhance (RTI) Tier 2 and Tier 3 supports. We’ve registered all schools (elementary and secondary). More information can be found on our Learning Technologies site (WEB RESOURCES > SKOOLBO).   Teachers who are interested may apply on our FORMS page for a class account.

Watch for a full launch in September. Perhaps I see a coordinated song and dance in the future?

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Learning on the Edge – Reflections on Pro-D

northvikingbandWe just finished a districtwide Pro-D, where for the first time we squeezed 2000 people into one building. So parking was quite hairy and the deluge of rain didn’t help matters. Once inside, the atmosphere was positively electrifying (thanks to the facilitators and participants). Our opening started with North’s own Viking marching band, keynote Abe Fernández (Director of Collective Impact, the Children’s Aid Society and Co-director of South Bronx Rising Together) and then hundreds of workshops and ‘edcamp-ish’ conversations to choose. My team of three led four sessions – a crazy rewarding day of connected energy.

Here are some things I learned:

  • Building community and togetherness is everything even though the only building that can handle the numbers is a very old one! Crossed our fingers as fuses blew…but all was wonderfully organized. North’s school staff and students were amazing!Comfort Zone Quote
  • New experiences have to be connected to what you understand and then move from there
  • Individuals make personal conscious decisions to learn new things. What is ultimately worth learning is difficult and messy. It takes courage to make the leap.
  • Sometimes people will try something only because they know you will support them
  • When you see something with a new lens, you can never go backmyquote_changethelens

 

Pro-D, while meant as a learning experience, is really an event. How will you carry these ignited sparks and these challenges to thinking into your classrooms and offices? That’s where the magic happens.

“Citizenship” is Everyone’s Business

February 1st is the 32nd day of the year in the Gregorian calendar, the day before Groundhog Day, digicit_relationshipsthe day (1920) of the newly established Royal Canadian Mounted Police.  But more importantly, it is the official launch of our Digital Citizenship Initiative (K-7).

While some may hone in on the word, “digital” implying that it is related to computer lab activities or technology classes, we suggest it is plain “Citizenship”. And everyone is responsible for learning and modeling citizenship (both in-person and online). At the heart of this, resides the core values and beliefs that we all hold.  This in turn, drive our behaviours and actions.

Citizenship is fully integrated in the new curriculum. It is embedded in the Core Competencies of Personal and Social competency. As well you will find targeted Curricular Competencies in every curriculum including the latest draft Applied Design, Skills and Technologies.

The Digital Citizenship Initiative has been divided into themes:

  • February – Relationships and Communication
  • March – Internet Safety
  • April – Footprints and Reputation
  • May – Cyberbullying
  • June – Credit and Copyright

Lesson launches are provided as starting points for teachers and students. As well, there is a FOR PARENTS area to explore at home with family. Keeping open communication is key to understanding how one lives and learns in all the environments we encounter. Schools have been invited to participate and share their class stories through school websites, principal newsletters, home communications, and PAC meetings. We are in this journey together. DCcontest

For classes, there is an added bonus – a monthly DC contest starting this month. Hop on over to the Digital Citizenship Contest page or click on the DC button found on your school’s website for information. We sincerely hope you’ll join us as we learn together.

We’d love to hear stories that you may wish to share. Please leave a comment below.

Celebrations

Around this time of year, the terms of celebration, myquote_celebrate_500reflection and sharing, become even more of a focus. It’s almost cyclical in nature. Beyond the “let’s have a party to showcase all the end products”, I wonder about the little things. Things like perseverance and tenacity and the courage to turn around and face the dragons of failure. I wonder how those are recognized and celebrated in such ways as to give them power. I wonder if we truly understand how much effort is needed for some of our students to acquire the smallest of steps (though mountains to them). I wonder if the students believe it when we congratulate them on achieving those steps. I wonder how we take that spark, started with determination and sometimes “downright fear” and lift it up so they can share their success in ways that help others grow and gives dignity to the learner.

I doubt there is one answer. Many ideas come to mind, past and present. While these may be overt and probably fun, they may yet capture the essence of the journey.  How do you grow and share the sparks?