Sunday, January 13, 2019

Gratitude #Oneword2019

It has been a busy end to 2018 with unexpected circumstances.  The best way to begin the year is with a blog post of being grateful personally and professionally.

Those who know me they know that I focus on positivity and connect to persevere personally and professionally.

My gratitude professionally goes to too many colleagues who boost my motivation for learning. There are too many to mention over the 25 years of teaching, from across Canada to International Baccaulearate schools.  So many mentors who have contributed and encouraged my learning.

I owe so much from the past 10 years to the present for grateful educators and colleagues. Too many to mention individually I will mention organizations with whom I work and network who have strengthened my emotions, boosted my learning with creative and innovative achievements.

I am grateful for working with an amazing team from Ottawa Catholic School Board at all levels who have given me and continue to fulfill many opportunities to connect and trust my experiences to share and lead locally, in Ontario, nationally and internationally.

I am grateful for my online community and my family from VoicEd Radio for the rich conversations about pedagogical practices that educators encounter throughout their career. For so many encouragements including my professional Podcast.

I am grateful for the Kids Guide To Canada family teamwith whom I continue to learn and share many connections for students from K to 8 across Canada.

I am grateful for  Rotman I Think team for the professional support by impacting students thinking to solve many wicked problems. Thanks, Nogah, Josie, Jennifer, and Erin.

I am grateful for the Canadian Geographic Education for the educational opportunities over the years locally and nationally. Your partnership of exploring and learning with the students and educators from across Canada.

I am grateful for the National Geographic Education for the professional community of learning the Geo Inquiry Process,  Nat Geo Framework and proud to be a National Geographic Certified Educator. A rich pedagogical process that focuses on students ownership of learning, caring about their communities and action taking.

I am grateful for being a community member with Digital Promise Network. I have learned so much from many professional connections opportunities from design thinking, computational thinking, social-emotional learning to connecting to amazing educators from around the world.  The opportunities with the Canadian team  Fair Chance Learning with whom educators connect and enrich their experiences through coding to learn and creativity for making a difference.

The most important team whom I am grateful for are my learners who make me a better educator every day. With many successes and failures together over the years that I have already shared through blogging. I continue to reflect with my learners in order to discover our next journey. I aspire to update about our pedagogical journey this year and how we continue to evolve. I owe my gratitude to my learners by sharing their reflections.

I will try to live up to #oneword2019 and continue sharing my gratitude throughout the year.

Tuesday, July 17, 2018

Unleashing Actions for Change

As educators, we evolve with our students' learning, we connect and co-create through many uncertainties during the learning process. Getting students to value passion for new ideas of learning by tapping into their own curiosity that empowers and relates to their community while unleashing actions that create change.

As mentors, we need to be skillful in giving opportunities for students to explore how they are creative thinkers. The previous post I focus on students' independent and personalized journey of Cultivating Own Giftedness. This post will focus on another journey of students' independent personalized journey; their passion and interests in their community from the United Nation Sustainable Development Global Goals (SDG'S) to their own community actions for change.

One class, I see seven times a week for French and Religion and another class that I see three times a week for Religion. Both classes focused on the well being in relation to the Catholic Graduate Expectations, the Ontario Ministry four domain of Well Being and reflecting during the process by focusing on the Six Global Competencies.

The students aligned the Catholic Graduate Expectation with the Well Being Dimensions from being a discerning believer, to an effective communicator and taking actions as a responsible citizen that is part of our School Innovation Plan for Student Achievement Wellness. 

We focused on being powerful citizens by impacting each other through the process of designing while taking actions by focusing on local and global sustainable changes. Both classes focused on being explicit collaborators, communicators, critical and creative thinkers and developing their character of persevering through the ups and downs of the process. The journey of effective citizens began unpacking the causes and factors and the connections between them through the Causal Models of the Sustainable Development Global Goals. 

The intentionality of students' autonomy and leadership is giving them a purpose to define their world through their own process of problem-solving. Having them define and experience their own cognitive, physical, social and emotional learning while dealing with obstacles to critically think through group learning. 

The autonomy is for them to problem solve and invest the time ideating and iterating their process for taking action. Experiencing the mindset of learning, evolving and connecting the skills and developing their competencies.  Designing is about inclusivity and diverse perspectives for problem-solving. The key for them is to reflect on their learning throughout the process and to be aware of how learning is taking place through iteration and ideating together for better solutions. It is important to allow time for students to think about their thinking to focus on how problems were solved and why decisions were altered to improve. 

Each class took on their personal journey and full autonomy for taking actions and engaged in inquiries and the design process that impact change. Students' inquiries were for improving the school community as well as contributing to the local community. How SDG's world issues could also relate to our school community and the local community?  

The slides capture some of the students' evidence. From creating an Instagram account and starting a movement for strawlessOTT to making sandwiches, or impacting the school community in so many sustainable projects.  The Ladder of Inference per group is shared as it is a metacognitive tool for students to be clear about their actions and the data of reasoning to come up to the conclusion. They have accumulated lots of data compiling the actions that they have experienced during the process. The importance that they concluded their effort of perseverance and critical thinking to take action has been implied and determined through a rich process of design thinking and creativity. 

The key to the success is always partnership and consultation for feedback. Mr. Sean Kelly, All Saints High School principal partnered with a class whom he connected with them face to face, visits to the classroom and via many emails guiding them for the next steps. The actions of autonomy are described on the following slides:

The following slides share the self-directed actions of a class that I met three times a week for Religion. They partnered with Mrs. Noble Moore via emails for permissions about dates and the plans. 

The students designed their inclusivity of collaboration and problem together, bringing the best in their critical thinking and creativity for action taking. Giving them a chance to embrace the framework of ideating and iterating for solutions as well as meeting with experts for feedback and recommendations for solutions.  The students created their own process of how to problem solve and take actions. By driving their own facilitation and tackling many obstacles during the process, they developed life skills of ownership as proven that the adolescent brain likes to take control. 

To have students understand how they learn and how they react, we listened and reflected on a Ted Talk, The mysterious workings of the adolescent brain - Sarah-Jayne Blakemore  We explored the functions of adolescent brain seeking out risks and being sensitive to Social and Emotional sensitivity when making decisions and regulating the emotional responses to their own behavior in teams. Having them navigate their decision making, when confronting with interesting challenges, generating new ideas and promoting creative thinking and taking risks. The reflections and the discussions during the process connected the emotional thinking and dealing with their emotions during team decision making. 

Below are  reflections during the process based on the progressions of the 6C's from New Pedagogies for Deep Learning: 

This student shares how everyone viewed the problems during tasks in different ways and how they each respected the personality and the quality of individual creativity.  They all became good friends and collaborated well by respecting all perspectives. This specific student had a difficult time at the beginning of the year accepting perspectives by the end of the year she became a great listener, leader and collaborator. 

In the beginning, this student thought she is developing as she always welcomed the ideas of others and thought her idea was not good. As she listened to the team they then found more flexible ideas. As they went on with their inquiry the team members had a hard time listening to each other as they were optimistic that their idea was going to be the best. They started the rule of the talking pencil that each one holds a pencil to share while others listen. 

The first part the student describes how they iterated their ideas and respected the point of view of team members.  They decided that the initial idea was not effective and they pursued to contact the farms for compost. The social, emotional and intercultural competencies are accelerating for her as she is conscious of her own perspective and how it differs from others. Also during discussions, she is able to listen and understand others ideas. 

The importance of self-awareness of emotional learning is key to the success for the adolescent brain. Working and dealing with their own personal journey and reflecting by identifying how their behavior is relevant to the team and the decisions of the team. 

This experience for me from the students is the start of the importance of developing the social competencies of perspectives on learning and confronting the effect of their social and emotional intelligence to their own development and their community of learning. 

On Twitter, two models had me reflect to persevere with next year and validate the importance of students' agencies of learners.  Katie Martin the 10 Characteristics of Learner-Centered Experiences and Stages of Personalized Learning Environment V5 by Barbara Bray and Kathleen McClaskey 

How are we impacting students' ownership of learning? What imperfections are we allowing in order for the adolescent brain to grow, collaborate through emotional risk-taking, reflect on the emotional awareness during the autonomy of actions? Are we making time for students to reflect on self-awareness of their emotional learning when meeting realistic expectations and experiences?

How are allowing our students to be agents of change to
  • design new solutions within their lives and school, community?
  • become a thinking culture?
  • become changemakers?
  • be optimistic of their own creativity?
  • to focus on compassionate and empathetic curiosities?
  • create their self-directed learning through inclusivity and collaboration?

"It's through mistakes that you can grow. You have to get bad in order to get good" Paula Scher

"Creativity is inventing, experimenting, taking risks, breaking rules, making mistakes and having fun." Mary Lou Cook

Monday, July 9, 2018

Cultivating Own Giftedness

I continue to be inspired by my students as we take risks and innovate together.  We evolve to change together while focusing on competencies based learning, risk-taking, personalizing inquiries, proceeding with uncertainties and embracing many challenges that lead us to learn thinking skills and transform our learning.

From September to January the students explored guided design thinking inquiries. Previous blog posts describe the process.  The purpose from February to June was for the students to independently lead and develop their design thinking inquiries on sustainable structures based on Global Goal #11 Sustainable Cities and Communities.

Goal 11 Sustainable Cities and Communities

The students innovated and created their design thinking process and entrepreneurial process. It is also the marriage of the curriculum on structures through personalized inquiries to develop competencies, leadership, and entrepreneurial creative mindset. Every team of students pursued their own leadership, responsibility for searching, creating sustainable purpose and partnership with experts or having an end user for feedback.

Learning is more than just exposure to content it is for students to arouse in their own inquiries. It is the independent connection of the curriculum with students skills and to cultivate their own giftedness and identify their self-development of their personal leadership when collaborating and finding out of what they are capable of doing.

I am sharing two classes that pursued sustainability on structures.  One class, I worked with two blocks a day and another class I saw once a day.

The learners who I saw twice a day decided to define their own sustainable structures.  The following self-lead inquiries were persevered by the students:
  • Three teams focused on the classroom flexible seating
  • A group on proper recycling of the school bins
  • Another on a scientific solution for decomposing and recycling plastics
  • Two students tackled a city problem of the Prince of Wales bridge
  • A team focused on electric cars for the city of Ottawa Police
Throughout the year and during the discovery about structures the students were provoked through current events locally and globally. This is so important to always open up the classroom to real local and global events. The presentation includes some samples of students process.

The learners who I saw only once a day for Science and Social Studies, all completed designing their own hydroponics structures for sustainability. The project developed from geography on natural resources and water with the problem in Cape Town disaster of zero water.  Thanks to the Ottawa Catholic School Board for enriching and personalizing teachers' learning by providing experiential learning fund. The Science department approved the funding for this project, all materials and electronics were covered.

The video captures the process from provoking to the designing.

More of the students evidence of the process from planning to the science and reflecting on the 6C's.

The process had many layers in which students guided their own decisions. Not only the design thinking process, also thinking models from Rotman I-Think like the Causal Model, the Pro Pro model and the Ladder of Inference to come up with better solutions or unpack the causes and factors as well as interpreting the collected evidence of the process and the data from the end user. The process is never linear, many teams ideated their ideas in order to be realistic for taking actions and creating prototypes. The following are the specifics of the process:
  • Defining the problem - Why is it important to pursue? 
  • Developing the empathy map- Who are they empathizing with, why and how meaningful is it?
  • Steps to achieve it-from research, to contacting experts, the necessary technology for use
  • Actions of how to achieve it, from determining the how and the time to achieve it, also getting feedback from an end user. 
The full planning process was student-driven, from the thinking strategies to the creation and feedback. Design thinking is about solving problems from defining and understanding the problems around the students. What really matters is allowing students to act on creative solutions like a designer with a purpose, inspiring and imagining new solutions by iterating what exists and solving how to make it applicable.

Having the students lead their own designing process is giving them the opportunity to be optimistic about creating for the future and that it is possible to implement change. The importance throughout the year and through their current experiences with designing is giving them the experience of not always getting it right the first time. This is critical thinking and creativity is giving students the space and ownership of always questioning, assessing and rethinking for learning. Why do we always supply the students with what we think they need than allowing them to explore? The students need to know why they need to learn and how could they approach the learning.

Learning is connecting through designing and creating. We should not leave a gap in taking action within the curriculum.  The students unpack their literacy, science, math and the arts when they are creating. As teachers, we are mentors at transferring the curriculum better. For the students to be successful we need to give them a chance to grow and be successful, not to get it right at the first time; that learning is prototyping. How many things could go wrong? That is important too! Not be fearful of mistakes when things don't work. Learning is about continually designing and not approving or disapproving, it is continuous. We need to move from the mindset of approving and disapproving and adapt to the mindset of being optimistic by implementing not to be perfect all the time.

How are we orienting continuous learning? How do we allow problems solving?
We have to carve the space to suspend the perfection and look for the feedback.

Our students tell us a lot about our teaching. We need to believe in ourselves and keep on trying. I always love students reflections throughout the year about our learning space. I have learned so much this year with the support from the leadership team and working with a great team of colleagues.

Are we constraining students from opportunities for creativity when we are just ensuring to just get through the curriculum and testing? How are they cultivating their own giftedness?

Friday, March 16, 2018

Unlocking Students' Superpowers

What stories are being told? Whose voices are being included?
Being an educator in the classroom is the most fulfilling experience as you succeed and fail with your community of learners and together you unlearn and relearn for growth. How does learning takes place and becomes so eventful, from block times to individual learning styles and many emotional peaks from students? The classroom is the living lab that co-exists by decentralizing the learning and building a community of learning and leaders.  I have been blessed and continue to work in schools with very supportive leaders to experiment with my learning.

Learning is about sparking creativity through communication and collaboration. Building a culture of thinking by allowing students take the responsibility for their learning process. Students can unlock their superpowers when they are given the chance to experience them.

These are important reflections that as educators we need to be sharing:
  • How am I giving opportunities for my students to communicate and to learn from each other?
  • How am I creating opportunities for students to collaborate and take ownership of their process?
  • How am I leveraging digital for thinking?
  • How am I allowing students to build their confidence for risk-taking, failing and reflecting?
  • What opportunities am I giving to students to create knowledge together?
  • How are students reflecting and dealing with the discomfort of their social-emotional learning?
  • How are students building the trust to be community members?
I am going to keep this blog post short as I am behind in telling the stories of learning from the students. My stories are always based on students evidence. I am going to present two stories one from Geography and One from French on Sustainable Development Global Goals.

Why not unpack the curriculum?

The Grade 7 students took the leadership and ownership of unpacking the curriculum and creating criteria of the process.

Can students co-construct criteria independently?

The students teamed up to plan how to explore the physical pattern of a changing world by focusing on the Canadian physical regions.

Why not design compasses using Micro:bit?

Please click on the link to watch the video The students applied the math and geography by programming a compass for an amazing race of team members across Canada.

How can students connect causes and factors of Canadian physical regions?

Through the causal model, students applied their thinking and developed their competencies by finding causes and factors of natural events and human activities that apply on the physical regions. They also analyzed challenges and opportunities presented by the physical regions.

Can students reflect on Collaboration, Communication and Critical Thinking while thinking the causal model?

Can students research and develop perspectives on natural resources?

The grade 7 students analyzed aspects of extractions/harvesting of natural resources in different regions in the world and assessed ways of persevering these resources.

Can students analyze and interpret data of natural resources between Canada and the world?

Can students learn from experts online?

The Geography Grade 7 students spoke with Doctor Rich Petrone Professor of Geography & Environments Management at Waterloo University, online. Students also had a webinar with Dr. Jennifer McKellar from Partners In Research Video recording.

Sustainable Global Goals 

Can students choose and unpack the causes and complexity of each of the Sustainable Global Goals?

Can students interpret and analyze data about the Sustainable Global Goals?

How do students consult with experts on world equity problems?

A hangout with Dr. Annemieke Farenhorst about First Nations Quality of Water Video Link. In addition, they spoke with Sarah Begum, explorer and journalist with Royal Geographical, investigating the impacts of oil exploitation and deforestation on Huaorani tribe land in the Amazone Rainforest.

Meeting with Midia Hassan a biochemist and a Chemical Engineer who makes change locally and globally through many innovation hubs. Midia is also a recipient of the Queens Young Leaders award for 2018.

Can students reflect throughout the process?

Some Reflections just specific to the causal model

 Can students unpack the 6c's while explicitly unpacking their thinking?

There are many layers throughout the process from analyzing reading, researching skills, consolidations and co-constructing criteria by students as needed.

The Flow Theory is when students are engaged in meaningful tasks, take ownership, make choices and build positive relationships. The learning goals are clear; the learning is attainable and achievable by students focusing on their thinking, connecting learning and mastering their skills. The Students scaffold their own learning taking leadership by pausing and reflecting, searching and critically solving and connecting their experiences and new experiences. The students are completely taken by their concentration and focus.  This is the focus in the classroom when students are engaged, being agents and owning their process of learning.

Through Integrative Thinking, the students are immersed in conditions that allow the 6c's - collaboration, communication, critical thinking, creativity, character, and citizenship - to be explored and immersed throughout the process. When students are thinking through the causal model, Pro Pro model or the ladder of inferences, all competencies are enabled. No skills are separated when the students are collaborating, they are communicating and critically analyzing each others thinking, valuing ideas, connecting them and creating knowledge as a team. They are persevering to problem solve and are in the state of the Flow. They are very focused to connect thinking, values, benefits, and interpreting data. It is the equity of learning where all voices are accountable and all perspectives are valued. The students are agents of their own learning with perspectives shared and leveraged with the whole team and equitably achieved.

The students enable their own conversations and scaffold their own inquiries when it is needed to research and persevere to apply their thinking through the models. All voices are heard, all perspectives are accountable it becomes a collective responsibility. Learning is very dynamic and their thinking becomes very explicit and builds their confidence. The students ignite their own fire and develop a culture of learning. Where discomforted learning becomes enjoyable learning, the students are in the state of hyperfocus connecting their thinking and willing to critically think, collaborate and communicate to persevere in making thinking explicit.

As William Butler Yeats is quoted as saying, Education is not the filling of a pail, but the lighting of a fire.”

Learning experiences happen when students are immersed in tackling problems relevant to their real-life experiences. Building relationships while managing social-emotional learning creates a sense of belonging to the community of learning. The students feel they are important to the space of learning. They are compassionate, making differences to their own experiences and knowing that learning is reachable within themselves as experts and with an online community of experts.

How are we impacting and empowering students in deep learning?
  • Who is setting the goals for learning?
  • How is learning equitable?
  • How are students taking full ownership and responsibility to keep interested in owning their learning?
  • How to grow in experiences of valuing and trusting their learning?
  • How are they developing self-trust in thinking and risk-taking?
  • How are they building compassion to their learning?
  • How are they reflecting on their learning?
  • How are they aware of competencies and being enabled during the process of learning?
  • How are students feeling accepted and their ideas are validated?
  • How does their perspective matter and is understood by others? 
Looking forward to telling more stories about Grade 7 sustainable actions in their community and how their learning will make a difference and contribute to change. 

The Theory of flow from the master himself, Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi A short video on Flow  Another short video on Flow by John Spencer Video

Thursday, January 4, 2018

#Oneword Action!

My gratitude to VoicEd and Julie Balen for bringing this challenge on. Thanks to Sarah Lalonde for the graphic.

As I look forward to growing with my learners, who enrich my experiences on the how and the why of the learning process.

Every day, I look forward to engaging with my learners and taking actions in applying meaningful learning situations that make an impact on their thinking and lifetime skills by connecting compassion, empathy and valuing each other, also reaching to a local and a global audience for feedback.

By investing time to learn with the learners, is to take action to care, share and take risks.  Actions that the learners and I will continue to explore and learn from:
  • investing time to reflect on the learning process.
  • giving feedback and getting feedback
  • supporting risk-taking to experience the culture of emotional learning together
  • taking action to learn over time and develop the thinking together
  • being mindful of everything around them
  • changing and impacting someone in their daily lives
  • exploring the discomfort of learning
  • being grateful and positive for attending school every day
  • being fearless with discomfort 
  • choosing to matter
  • learning not to fit in
  • allowing tensions in determining next steps
  • more of goal getting than just goal setting
I will continue to take action to reflect on how to be adoptable and adaptable with my learners for learning together? 

Friday, December 29, 2017

What Happens When Students Are Designers?

The year always begins with a focus on our classroom community. Trust and value within the community are important to encourage risk-taking and allow students to be engaged in the process of reiteration as Mentioned in my previous post. I try and lead a classroom without compliance where the students take a lead in their learning experiences.

I have been privileged to belong to the Digital Promise Learning Studio (DPLS) community. DPLS provided me with a 3D printer, HP notebooks, and an HP Sprout. Learning studios are equipped with powerful tools and technologies, where students use the techniques of an artist to acquire meaningful knowledge and skills that will serve them and their communities throughout their lives. It is a collaboration between Digital Promise Global, HP, and Microsoft, to reinvent the classroom as a space for learners to design, create, and invent.

The students with the Learning Studios collaborate and engage in activities and projects designed to expose them and enhance their competency in areas including:

  • Empathy and Design Thinking
  • Visual Communication and Design
  • Three Dimensional Design and Modeling
  • Digital Storytelling and Production
  • Social Entrepreneurship

The projects were designed by the students to make a difference in our community. Some students solved problems with the Humane Society and a veterinarian clinic, while others focused on autism. Most of the projects are still in the process of prototypes, using feedback from the users for improvements. The Innovation club of Grade 7 and 8 students teamed up with our retirement home community to design tools to help them with their daily needs.

For all of the projects, students collected data by interviewing both Stephanie Youngdale the Humane Society Coordinator and Dr. Ellis for the IV tool for animals and also by observing the autistic students at the school. Both groups had clients to provide feedback. The Innovation Club regularly visited the retirement home and shared many games that were designed/coded using Scratch and Micro:bit. They built a relationship to observe and design utensils for easy grip.

Please review the projects on this link. To view students' reflections and documentation, please click on the images. The designing process will continue and I will be updating the links on the blog.

The learners have reflected and documented their progress throughout the process. The design learning process focused on conversations through problem-solving. This process allowed learners to value emotions, opinions, perspectives, ideas and authentic self-learning and self-driven thinking. This learning was acquired by giving students the opportunities to empathize with a community for a community.

The learners regularly reflected on their competencies of collaboration, character, and creativity. Creating solutions for problems provided learners with the opportunities to take action of their learning by living the process of design thinking/makers thinking. While designing, learners are creating solutions and making a difference, learners:
  • continue to wonder
  • question to take risks and problem solve 
  •  invent, reinvent and learn together
  •  fail many times to learn
  • are creators of learning 
  • deal with social-emotional impacts on their learning
  • build friendship relationship, independence, social consciousness, compassion, imagination, originality, enthusiasm, passion, sincerity, trustworthiness, generosity and sincereness
How do you get every student involved in thinking and learning?

The students become involved when they embrace the system of innovation and become self-driven and self-creative. Have students create; to adjust their learning and feel the impulse of embracing innovation and creativity. As educators, we should never close our classroom doors on creative opportunities. We become a project facilitator, a collaborator and a co-creator when students are embracing full ownership of the design process. We should reflect on:

  • how are we creating opportunities for ownership of risk-taking for learning?  
  • how are we allowing students to negotiate and socially network their thinking? 
  • how are we allowing emotional problem-solving?
I will share some students' reflections as a conclusion:

"While we created our conception we were very enthusiastic about being able to help out animals with our own ideas, we encountered problems, but we persevered and finished our conception. Our hard work paid off and I am proud of what we made together. I am glad that we have these opportunities to work together and be part of a community."

"To create our ideas, my group and I created our own ideas and took one factor to build onto the other ideas. We were very creative and it showed when we interacted our conception to improve it. We iterated our project four times and every time we fixed more problems we encountered. Our experience will help us improve our critical thinking and collaboration, While also being able to improve our interpersonal work because of what others have taught me. "

"In my group, we had a lot of open-ended conversations. We discussed all the ideas we had, the pros, the cons, who will do what, who knows how to use Tinkercad, ect. In the end Austin did Tinkercad, but he didn’t know Tinkercad like other people in our group did. That’s just one example of learning how to use tools we didn’t know how to use very well. To find the final model we went through about 4-5 different ideas, each person added to one of those ideas, but they still weren't the best idea we could come up with. I heard “What if I might” or “What if we did this..” a lot. Finding the solution to all the problems took up a lot of time. Then when Stephanie came, she told us more information on what we’re doing and what she’s looking for. "

"During our working process, we worked as a group. We worked as a group while we worked documenting our process. I think my group developed good, thought out ideas because we all know each other well and know that the other people won't judge our ideas. "

"We collaborated efficiently and constantly to create a solution that will help animals. Our solution is a 3D printed model that follow the criteria while enabling us to add our own creative ideas. Our conception has evolved into more advanced designs. We began with a ring with hooks to attach onto the bars, the lip of the bowl would be held up by the ring. My group and I thought of some possible problems though, one of the problems were the size of the bowl, some of them would be too small and would be able for the ring to hold it up and others may be too big and wouldn’t fit. After considerations we decided on making a bowl with hooks instead, then there wouldn’t be a problem with the size of the bowl. "

"I think I’m in accelerating because my group and I were extremely determined to finish the task. We all gave feedback to each other's ideas we had, for example: My first idea to print two connectors, they would snap together. One wound be on the inside and the other on the outside. The bowl would rest in an outline of a circle which is also connected to one of the pieces that snap together, then, you just snap it together and it stays in place. When I presented my idea to the group, I got feedback, good and bad. I got one saying that it would work, I got another saying that it wouldn’t fit because we don’t know the measurements of the bar. My team preserved well because like I said, we gave back feedback and we discussed the pros and cons. "

Sunday, October 1, 2017

Are We Enabling Students to be Explorers of Deep Learning?

September ends with so much learning and discoveries. As we build our community focusing on trust, valuing voices, perspectives, compassion and ownership of learning.  The students are overcoming the emotion of judgments and gaining the emotion that their opinions matter and there is no right or wrong.  The focus has been in believing in each other and connecting together by trusting each other's learning.

In this post, I am reflecting on: How have we been shaping up the learning? How are students owning the process?  How are students focusing on a purpose for their learning? I will also be sharing a glimpse of some of the tasks that we have and continue to explore.

The video of the babies provoked compassion and collaboration discussions. The students developed the collaboration criteria and determined the importance of intrapersonal, interpersonal skills, attitudes, listening, communicating and valuing others' thinking.

The Grade 7 learners also began the creative design thinking process through different tasks. Some worked on designing a toy for children in refugee camps. The teams who are working on science began exploring the design thinking process by looking at an injured bird with a missing a leg.

After creating their own individual designs, the learners shared them. Each colleague then had to value a team member's design to come up with one inclusive team design based on all values. Throughout the process, students paused and reflected on their collaborative and communication skills. I am so proud of how they have progressed by taking risks and accepting the ideations and the iterations of their designs through collaboration, respect and team compassion. 

From designing to building knowledge and valuing everyone's thinking. The Gr 7 learners unpacked French writing skills as they co-constructed texts and analyzed the grammar. They collectively ideated the text, improved the grammar by taking risks and learning together. The learning was then consolidated with the whole class. 

A video sample from a team about their toy. The students are sharing the videos of their designs with elementary students for feedback about their toys. 

In science the students continue to explore the process of valuing thinking, sharing, knowledge building, risk-taking and the importance of ideation and iteration.

Students are agents of their learning when they take full ownership of the process and collaboratively explore and construct knowledge together. They question and connect to all background knowledge which lead to  acquiring skills such as; researching to confirm, the ability to analyze, synthesize and explain in order to collectively decide on their learning. 

On our walk to Beaver Pond, the students explored and assessed 3 ecosystems. They learned about the interdependence of the systems, both positive and negative human impacts. They tested the water, learned the history of imported plant species and the geography of the systems. They collaboratively documented about their trip and are still interpreting the data by using the Ladder of Inference (Rotman IThink). This week the learners will unpack their research through the Causal Model (Rotman IThink) of the living and non-living elements for a healthy ecosystem. 

Below is a copy of a student's documentation and consolidation with the team about what he has learned and confirmed. The richness is in the communication and thinking skills that the students explored during the collaboration of the documentation. I made a copy of the slides, unfortunately the feedback comments do not show. 

Documentation and analyzation were used to interpret the collected data that took many forms. Some on papers, some on whiteboards and some were able to communicate and type directly online.

The essence of the ownership of learning is reflecting. The students reflected about the process of collaboration and communication during learning tasks. They reflected about their actions on learning while determining anti-goals or unlearning in order to make room for more learning.  Students had very powerful reflections about the fear of communicating and collaborating.  The students need to believe in their voice, and have confidence in experiencing learning and owning it. They are learning that mistakes are important and not failure rather it is learning through risk taking. During collaboration and communication skills, it is important for the students to connect intrapersonal ( background knowledge) and interpersonal learning with others.

During Science discussions the students talk about the rewilding of the ecosystems in order to re-establish life back. I think the same needs to be introduced in the classroom, is to re-establish students ownership and love for learning.

  • Re-charging for learning and risk taking
  • Re-releasing students for thinking and confidence
  • Re-owning the process
  • Re-exploring by creating their learning than consuming
  • Re-connecting their background knowledge
  • Re-creating trust to innovate and learn through failure/mistakes

The students need to feel comfortable making mistakes together and rebuilding by collaborating and communicating with their peers without any fear and embarrassment.

As I continue this journey with my Grade 7 learners within the 50 minute blocks, I am learning the path by reflecting and learning from them. As I refocus by re-establishing thinking skills, ownership of learning, creativity, citizenship and character for learning. My ultimate purpose is to constantly change with my learners' needs. Focusing more on problem solving and interdisciplinary creativity.

How can we make the curriculum flexible? How can we make the learning from the curriculum deeper? How are students being creators and innovators than imitators? How are students learning by collaborating, communicating and creating? What learning tasks and opportunities am I creating for student to feel safe at making mistakes for learning?

How will students become agents of their own learning? Unpack the fixed mindset to start rebuilding and developing their confidence of risk-taking that their thinking matters and there is no judgment! Celebrating mistakes, allowing retakes and reflecting as the students and I believe that vulnerability is encouragement to be a class of risk takers.